Rapper and activist Brother Ali is among the most prominent artists on the Rhymesayers label. A Midwesterner born Jason Douglas Newman, Ali spent much of his life living in various cities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan, where he was first introduced to breakdancing and graffiti and rapping. Eventually, his demo tape Rites of Passage made it into the hands of the still young Rhymesayers crew, who signed the MC and brought him along with them to the 2000 Scribble Jam, at which Ali was a finalist. In 2003 his debut, Shadows on the Sun, produced by Atmosphere‘s Ant and including a song (“Forest Whitiker”) that spoke of his albinism, came out, followed by the Champion EP in 2004. The next few years were tough for Ali, a devout Muslim, as he was dealing with a divorce and struggling for custody of his son. However, all of this just provided fodder for his music, and in the spring of 2007, Brother Ali‘s sophomore album, The Undisputed Truth, hit shelves and became his first Billboard 200 entry. His 2009 effort Us advocated a return to true hip-hop, and was followed in 2012 by the more political minded Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. In 2017, following a lengthy break between releases — during which he performed at Rhymesayers’ 20th anniversary concert — Ali issued the Ant-produced All the Beauty in This Whole Life, one of his deepest and most uplifting works.