Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Thursday, May 6

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« A Night At The (Mega Man Rock) Opera Ditch Your English: Chicago’s Latin Rock »

Concert Thu Mar 27 2008

Beyond the Niche

Brother Ali has the albino/Muslim/Midwestern rapper market covered.

The lack of pigmentation, conversion to Orthodox Islam and landlocked location are certainly interesting conversation fodder, but Brother Ali isn’t out to earn a big thumbs-up for the attributes that make him unique.

“I am what I am, I do what I do, I’m bold about it, and I believe in it,” he says. “I don’t think that that’s the focus.”

What fans are tuning into is Brother Ali’s tight lyricism and skills as an MC. After moving to Minneapolis at 15, the boy formerly known as Jason Newman — now Ali Newman — found himself knee-deep in the burgeoning Midwestern hip-hop scene. He was signed to Rhymesayers Entertainment, whose roster includes indie hip-hop heavy hitters such as Atmosphere and Eyedea and Abilities, and in 2004 released his well-received debut album, Shadows on the Sun.

A lot can happen in three years, and Brother Ali’s latest CD, The Undisputed Truth, is a chronicle of that time. His decade-long marriage crumbled. (At the mosque’s urging, he married at 17.) He gained custody of his son, but briefly found himself without a place to stay. Eventually, Brother Ali got back on track, and he’s now happily remarried.

Though Brother Ali has had difficulties in recent years, he remains proud of who he is and where he’s from.
“I think [Midwestern rappers] had to work harder to get it,” he says. “We basically learned a lot from the actual music, rather than copping off a scene, because we weren’t in New York, we weren’t in Los Angeles. We don’t make our music for the music industry. We make our music for people who listen to us.”

The Truth Is Here Tour, featuring Brother Ali with Abstract Rude, Toki Wright, and BK-One
March 31 at the Abbey Pub

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
Please see our submission guidelines.

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