2007 was the year of his audaciously autobiographical album "The Undisputed Truth"
Here are some of the many places you could have seen Minneapolis rapper Brother Ali in 2007, the year of his audaciously autobiographical album "The Undisputed Truth":
On Conan O'Brien's and Craig Ferguson's TV shows; in Rolling Stone magazine (a feature and a 3½-star review); on the Billboard album chart at No. 69 the week "Truth" debuted in April (it has since sold 43,000 copies nationally); at the cooler-than-thou Coachella music fest in California; on tour with East Coast hip-hop vets Ghostface Killah and Rakim, and in front of sold-out crowds two nights in a row at First Avenue on his own tour.
It might be more telling, though, to mention some of the places you couldn't see Minneapolis' latest underground hip-hop star this year:
• Driving a car. An albino, Ali is legally blind. His uncommonly pale skin and red eyes, and the leering/jeering he's endured in his 30 years, are all addressed and dismissed in the triumphant track "Lookin' at Me Sideways."
• Stepping up to the bar. A Muslim, Ali doesn't drink alcohol. That's right: One of the best-known Muslim rappers in the country now comes from the same city -- and even attends the same mosque -- as the only Muslim representative in Congress (Keith Ellison). His religion is a backdrop to such songs as "Daylight," in which he thanks Islam for helping him find an identity.
• At a Citizens League meeting. Ali's mistrust of government (past and present) permeates songs such as the slavery-scarred "Uncle Sam Goddamn" and the war-torn "Letter From the Government."
• Recording, rehearsing or being interviewed before 10 p.m. when he wasn't on tour. He goes to work after 6-year-old son Faheem goes to bed. The final few tracks on his second full-length CD chronicle Ali's painful divorce and custody battle, and how he rebounded from them to close in on domestic bliss.
Happy endings all around for this guy this year.