Brother Ali at Culture Room on September 23

Race relations, bullying, war crimes, and endemic hypocrisy are just a few of the proverbial elephants in the room that Midwestern rapper Brother Ali addresses on his forthcoming record, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color. And it's the U.S. government that's taking the brunt of the MC's criticism. During a recent interview with music website Pigeons and Planes, Ali opened up about the record's explosive title track, "Mourning in America," calling it "an observation and a critique of our culture of death and murder." Comparing battlefields around the globe with America's inner cities "where this summer's death rates rival war zones," Ali reflects on the country's judicial system. "We have a zero-tolerance policy of violence committed against us, but we're a lot more lenient and patient when it comes to the violence we commit," he says. "A life is a life, and a killer is a killer." As for Ali, he's just the messenger. Don't shoot him.

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Victor Gonzalez