Born Jason Newman in Madison, Wisconsin and raised in Michigan until age 15, Brother Ali converted from Christianity to Islam when he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota. A lifetime lover of Hip Hop music and culture, he became involved in the local Hip Hop Scene. Ali is an integral part of Rhymesayers Entertainment, an independent record label founded by Slug, the frontman of Minnesota rap group Atmosphere.
Due to his original reluctance to discuss his race, it was at first wrongly reported that he was African American. Like many albino people, Brother Ali is also legally blind. He has stated “I’m albino, my family is white, but I was really raised, and taught my important life lessons, by the black community.” Although his appearance made him the brunt of bullying in high school (his response is chronicled on the track “Win Some, Lose Some”), he has come to be unabashedly proud of his distinctive features, celebrating it in a track called “Forest Whitiker”, where he called on “anyone out there who’s a little different” to stand up and exult in who they are, rather than stay ashamed. Ali is also a devout Muslim, religion being a theme that is mentioned in several of his songs including “Self taught” and “Victory.”