Brother Ali Interview: „Ego is just trying to destroy everything.“
Brother Ali war in Hamburg zum Konzert und ich musste ihn zum Interview treffen.
Dass Brother Ali mal nach Deutschland kommt, passiert gefühlt nur alle 3-5 Jahre. Heißt, wenn man die Gelegenheit in der eigenen Stadt den Kerl zu treffen, dann muss man ihn treffen. Gesagt getan und auf ging’s in die Nochtwache. Angedacht war ein Shooting mit ihm und ein Interview vor Ort. Herausgekommen ist ein Interview mit ihm bei dem wir vor allem viel über den Begriff der Heilung sprechen, über sein aktuelles Album und darüber welche Intention er dabei hatte. Brother Ali ist ein ziemlich reflektierter Mensch und befindet sich wie er selbst sagt auf einer spirituellen Reise. Das macht ihn nicht unsympathisch, sondern verstärkt nur den Eindruck den wir von ihm gewinnen: Hier spricht jemand mit allem was er hat und bei allem was er in den letzten Jahren durchgemacht hat. Ein wahrer Hühne. Jetzt lest aber selbst:
With your new album which was released in may this year you’ve tried to unite the nation. Maybe you can sum up all the impacts that your album had in your opinion? And maybe the impacts you had high hopes for but they never came true.
Brother Ali: “I don’t know what impact it had. I can not tell that. I don’t even know what my intention is in what the impact is. To be especially an underground and independent artist that is thinking about what the impact is a really not helpful thing to do because we don’t even know if people know that the album is coming out. There is no guarantee that anyone will buy it. There is no guarantee that anyone will listen to it. There is no guarantee that anybody would talk about it. But you know it’s a likely that some individuals will. So the only thing I can really control is the intention that I put into and the words that I put into and trying to execute my vision. I don’t really know what an impact it has. I know when I go on tour I talked to people and they tell me that it impacted them. It’s not a good thing to try to measure and that’s one of the things that Cuck D from Public Enemy told me: “You can’t measure what your impact is.” Because when you do that you always underestimate what you’re doing. If you think about all of the school teachers and even our parents and the impact they had on us, when you’ve asked us when we were 12 is that I can’t stand these people. And you say: “I want to be totally different!” And then we grow up and the older we get and the more we become adults you know: Firstly forgive them and then we start to empathize with them and then the older we get we actually admire them.”
You wrote this album because you know that there are big trenches between the people and the nation. Wasn’t this an impact of you writing this new album?
Brother Ali: “No, I wrote this album because I’m on a spiritual journey. I wanna be my real self. I wanna to be the best version of myself in terms of from the heart out. I wanna be close to the most high. And I wanna be what I believe that I was created to be. And I wanna be real and I wana be an agent for good. You know? I’m on a journey and this album is just talking about the journey that I’m on and sharing it with people. But I made it before the election. I’ve made other music in the past with that I was hoping to have certain political impact. In that songs I wanted to influence people in getting politically active, to be organizers and activist, something like that. I just want to report what I feel and what’s going on in my life.”
This album is full of very personal and intimate insides of your life. In which way your heart bleeded very often while writing the texts?
Brother Ali: “Yeah, there is a lot of pain! But it’s a purpose of healing. You know to talk about healing a lot of times. We have to talk about the suffering and talking about the things that I’ve experienced and then also talking about the healing I think that that could have the effect on people of letting them know that healing is a possibility. And that healing is real. If we will we can heal even the form of dharma. It’s one of the regular forms of healing your wounds.”
But don’t you think this is easier for you because you have the tool of making music?
Brother Ali: “Maybe, but I also have the challenge of being on stage. One of the things that destroy healing the most is the ego. The ego is just trying to destroy everything. As a performer I do have a lot of advantages because of the fact that I just get to explore self discoveries and self expression and a lot of travel and I have access to many amazing people. But the flipside of that is that it’s really challenging to the ego just for people that want you to talk and the people wanna listen to you and people look at you. And people see your gift because everybody has a gift. And the performers gift isn’t any better than anybody else’s gift. But it’s visible to people, that’s the only difference. My gifts are visible and an others gifts a not visible. So people respond to the gift that I have. But if I start to think that I’m somehow more special than anybody else that would destroy my path, that would stop my healing.”
Did you ever had a moment while producing and writing your new songs in which you felt like: Oh fuck, if I will go that far this could be a step backwards because it’s too brutal, too honest or too weak?
Brother Ali: “Yeah, I wasn’t sure if I wanna share the song called the “Bitten Apple” which talks about just what a poisonous thing pornography is. The truth is that all of us are being affected by pornography in one way or another. Even though if somebody do not actively go look at porno site or someting like that. It’s affecting the entire cultural shift because all of these sciences and technologies they’re just tools. They are tools to help to do what they want to do. But as I go back to what I wanna do and is that a good thing or bad thing. Because if I want bad things science and technology helps me to do bad things with a much more higher ease. One of the sciences is psychology and psychology is used to market things and to sell things to people that are good to them, to sell thing to people they don’t need. To make people to want thing that they never wanted. For long time if you do sex to do that. There are so many people that have access to hardcore pornography now. You know the type of sexual imagery that it takes to even advertise people now, you have to increase all of it. As I realized that and for me to really honor what I’m saying and doing in this music I have to be a murder in a way of being aware of being someone perfect. In writing a song talking about how destructive pornography is like what people know that I’ve been exposed to pornography. The thing is that everybody has.”
One of your topics on your album is the police violence. Did you noticed the violence during the G20 summit this summer in Hamburg?
Brother Ali: “Yeah, I did.”
Did you see scenes on TV in which this violence happens to people and what were your feelings?
Brother Ali: “It’s horrible! But that’s one of the things that modern society is done. Again: People are being tripped into rejecting anything pre-modern. Pre-modern wisdom, pre-modern spirituality because we think modernity is something so much better. In some ways it’s really good. But in some it’s not. The thing with technology in modernity and things like that it created methods for the people in power to be more violent to us and to spy on us and to be more intrusive. It really helped the totalitarian idea of the state in a lot of ways. They are brut for us against people that try to push back against them.”
To be a critical person is definitely one of the most important things nowadays. What is in your opinion the most important ability a critical person should have?
Brother Ali: “I think that intention is everything. I think that everything comes from what the intention is. I think it’s sincerity. Being sincer. We can actually grow our intention. But there is a science to expand your intention and there is a science to get more authentic and sincer. And that’s what the pre-modern spiritual wisdom traditions do. For example that’s what Yoga does, that’s what islamic spirituality does and that’s what hinduism as it’s best does and that’s what Buddhism does. The first nations in America that they’ve called the indians or the native americans all of these wisdom traditions they all increase these presents: intention and sincerity. More like: How to be more real and more authentic?”
You’re playing Hamburg tonight. Is there any special message you want to transmit tonight while performing your songs to the audience and which could be the most beautiful reaction you could get tonight?
Brother Ali: “I just want to be real. And I want to be geniun and I want to be vulnerable and I hope that the audience could do that too. And I hope that if I’m very sincer with them that I’ll give them permission just be themselves and then hopefully in doing that we get soft. The modern world is hard and will makes us being firm because we have always to protect ourselves and it makes us have to predetors all the time. So all this: Looking to hurt each other and to compete with each other. We’re always on guard that someone is hurting us. If the heart can gets soft, the real healing can happen.