Brother Ali: The Travelers


playing a slow hip hop beat (Brother Ali) This song is inspired by a book called The Fire Next Time. by one of my favorite authors of all time. Yeah… it goes like this. Shackles are heavy on the wrist Stacked like sardines, belly of a ship Live in your own… and being seasick Cracked across your back with a thick leather whip Salt water burns through your wounds Women are starving with babies in their wombs On your hands and knees trying to cry God please Exhausted your voice is too weak to speak Neighbors and strangers are dying beside you Their decaying bodies you’re tied to Cling tight to your fight for survival Wonder if your tribe will ever try to find you Arrive somewhere new the air is cold You can see your breath and you’re barely clothed Your first time ever seeing snow Sleeping next to it on a hard dirt floor Go from can’t seeing see in the morning to can’t see at night You work till your hands bleed white Your native language you can’t recite Murdered on sight if you try to read or write When you bend all of your life and can’t see the light It gets painful to stand upright Right? And your eyes bear the sight of your wife Being being torn out your shack and brutalized at night You only taste joy when babies are born Which becomes an occasion to mourn Separated torn from your celebrating arms Then as quickly as they came they were gone Sold away from your farm this is all they’ve known Never heard stories from home they forget your name The culture from which you came Teaching it’ll get you slain Praying to your god will get you the same And tortured to near death lest you complain No choice left you sing through the pain And pray that your suffering wasn’t in vain End of your chain end of your life Your grandchildren born with no end in sight So you muster up all of your might And your last breath comes out… fight This is actually true now stop and imagine that’s you But you’re not imagining unravel the truth And ask just who is it happening to Everything that the passenger do The driver experience too So if humanity is one then we all get burned When it’s hell that we’re traveling through You’ve got to save my soul soul soul Put me back together make me whole whole whole Said we don’t know which way to go Take my hand and place me on that road Let’s flip it around. Trapped in a history we don’t understand Can’t remember how this blood got on our hands Never been taught about the ugly past Expecting God not to punish man Our ancestors bought us control We realize now that the cost was our soul Got me feeling like an empty shell Prison guard that inherited a cell I’m desperate to find my place Emptiness lies behind my face Flowers only cry in a vase A heart only dies encased in this lie we call race We hear the song but we can’t sing along Something’s really wrong we can’t put our finger on Terrified to admit it’s wrong We’re living in the ruins of a legacy that still lives on Our identity is hinged upon the miserable myth We’ve been caught since we’re born Until we mend what was torn The debt of a sin lingers long after the victim’s moans And it’s actually true now stop and imagine that’s you Now you’re not imagining unravel the truth And ask just who is it happening to Everything that the passengers do The driver experience too So if humanity is one we all get burned When it’s hell that we’re traveling through You’ve got to save my soul soul Put me back together make me whole whole whole Said we don’t know which way to go go go Take my hand and place me on that road road road You’ve got to save my soul soul Put me back together make me whole whole whole Said we don’t know which way to go go go Take my hand and place me on that road road road You’ve got to save my soul soul Put me back together make me whole whole whole Said we don’t know which way to go go go Take my hand and place me On that road road road You’ve got to save my soul soul The author of the book is James Baldwin. We’ll try it next time. Thank you. cheers & applause (woman) Minnesota Original is made possible by The Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, and the citizens of Minnesota. orchestral fanfare

9 thoughts on “Brother Ali: The Travelers

  1. Shackles are heavy on the wrist
    Stacked like sardines, belly of a ship
    Live in your own piss and shit and being seasick
    Cracked across your back with a thick leather whip
    Salt water burns through your wounds
    Women are starving with babies in their wombs
    On your hands and knees trying to cry God please
    Exhausted, your voice is too weak to speak
    Neighbors and strangers are dying beside you
    Their decaying bodies you're tied to
    Cling tight to your fight for survival
    Wonder if your tribe will ever try to find you
    Arrive somewhere new, the air is cold
    You can see your breath and you're barely clothed
    Your first time ever seeing snow
    Sleeping next to it on a hard dirt floor
    Go from can't see in the morning to can't see at night
    You work till your hands bleed white
    Your native language you can't recite
    Murdered on sight if you try to read or write
    When you bend all of your life and can't see the light
    It get's painful to stand up right
    Right?
    And your eyes bear the sight of your wife
    Being torn out your shack and brutalized at night
    You only taste joy when babies are born
    Which became an occasion to mourn
    Separated, torn from your celebrating arms
    Then as quickly as they came they were gone
    Sold away from your farm this is all they've known
    Never heard stories from home
    They forget your name
    The culture from which you came
    Teaching it'll get you slain
    Praying to your God will get you the same
    Tortured to near death lest you complain
    No choice left, you sing through the pain
    And pray that your suffering wasn't in vain
    End of your chain, end of your life
    Your grandchildren born with no end in sight
    So you muster up all of your might
    And your last breath comes out (fight)
    This is actually true
    Now stop and imagine that's you
    But you're not imagining unravel the truth and ask just who is it happening to
    Everything that the passenger do
    The driver experience too
    So if humanity is one
    Then we all get burned
    when it's hell that we're traveling through
    [Hook]
    You've got to save my soul
    Put me back together make me whole
    Said we don't know which way to go
    Take my hand and place me on that road

    [Verse 2: Brother Ali]
    Trapped in a history we don't understand
    Can't remember how this blood got on our hands
    Never been taught about the ugly past
    Expecting God not to punish man
    Our ancestors brought us control
    We realize now that the cost was our soul
    Got me living in an empty shell
    Prison guard that inherited a cell
    I'm desperate to find my place
    Emptiness lies behind my face
    Flowers only die in a vase
    A heart only dies encased in this lie we call race
    we hear the song but we can't sing along
    Something's really wrong we can't put our finger on
    Terrified to admit it's wrong
    we're living in the ruins of a legacy that still lives on
    Our identity is hinged upon the miserable myth we've been taught since we're born
    Until we mend what was torn
    The debt of a sin lingers long after the vicitim's moans
    This is actually true
    Now stop and imagine that's you
    Now you're not imagining unravel the truth
    ask just who is it happening to
    Everything that the passenger do the driver experience too
    So if humanity is one then we all get burned when it's hell that we're traveling through
    [Hook]

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