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Brother Ali Tells The Story Of “Own Light”

“I was trying to get the heart right…get my heart right so that I can really live more freely and live more fully.” –Brother Ali

Brother Ali is back on the scene — after a five-year lapse — with a deeply personal new project entitled All The Beauty In This Whole Life (out now). Upon first listen, the album’s second song, “Own Light,” immediately jumped out at me — as a seemingly overarching guiding principal for the project, and an overwhelmingly positive message. “I mean, it’s interesting that it’s the manifesto of the album,” he told me in conversation (for another publication), “it’s a mission statement of the album — and of my life right now.”

The song’s origin is just as esoteric and amazing as you’d expect. “I’d had that music for a while, and I knew that it was going to be the anthem of the album, he explains. “I tried to write it a few times, and it wasn’t quite coming together right. Then, while I was on a spiritual retreat, we had a period of silence, where you can’t — you know — read anything, write anything, or take in any content, screens, conversations or anything like that. You spend time with just yourself and your heart.I ended up writing that song in my head and my heart during that period of silence, where I couldn’t physically write it down. I had to hold it and keep going over it in myself often till I could get there.”

He also spoke on his downtime:

“There are these times where I just want to listen, and I just want to learn and grow. I’m not always interested… I don’t always feel like I have the thing that I need to tell everybody. If I don’t have something like that, then I don’t do it. A big part of the reason why I do this, and the beautiful thing about being an independent artist — especially because we’re not like wealthy — is that we have a lot of freedom in our time. I take full advantage of that. I may not be rich, but I’m free. I’m taking full advantage of that freedom.”

During our time, we discussed much more, which you can read here on Exclaim! Magazine’s website.

Riley About Author

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns