It is hard to believe anyone not feeling SOTS, with Alis combination of ferocious battle raps and moving storytelling abilities. Not to mention, an energy that is rarely captured on an album. That did not come easy. I was really uncomfortable in the studio cause I learned how to rap in live environments. Ive spent a lot more time in front of an audience than I have in the studio and I am still more comfortable there cause I can see their expressions and see what I need to do to make things better. I can see what they like, I can do things based on their reactions. Its a lot like having sex really. The studio is nothing like that and I can only thank Ant for bringing out the best in me.
The mere mention of the Rhymesayers producer will bring about endless praise from Ali. The chemistry that is evident in their music is just an extension of the bond they share. One reason me, Slug and Ant work so well together is that music is sacred to us. It is the one place where we can find peace and we guard it. We have a complete synergy there. Working with Ant is one of the purest relationships I have with another human being. His admiration of Ant does not stop there, there is not another producer in music right now that can fuck with Ant, Ali said. I dont just mean the beats cause there are some other producers out there who are making some beautiful music. You could make an argument that there are people making better beats than Ant, I would disagree with that too, but if someone preferred 9th Wonder or Rj, I could understand if that was your preference. But the reality is that Ant brings out the best in who he works with. If you are a good emcee and you are willing to open yourself up and willing to try new things, you will do your best work with Ant. I believe that if Nas did an album with Ant it would be another Illmatic, or if Jay worked with him...and that is something you cannot teach, that is something you are born with. He has a gift not only making really dope beats but at knowing what is the best way to present this person, he makes you look your best. That is something no other producer has right now other than Dre. I put him on the at level. When Snoop works with Dre he is the shit, it is no different than with Slug and Ant. To be honest, I dont feel most of the stuff Slug does with other producers.
When asked to assess himself, Ali is just as generous. Just dont mistake it as arrogance. I never said I was the best rapper in the world, I feel like Im one of em, but in terms of song writing, along with rapping, along with live performancein my particular equation, nobody can fuck with me. All egos aside, that combination, nobody can fuck with me.
The inevitable major label question always comes up when an indy artist garners significant attention. The way Ive understood it, Ali explained. They were originally interested in Atmosphere and their policy has always been they wouldnt do an artist deal, only a label deal. So then its like alright, lets hear who else you got and when they come to my shit they got really interested. But it has to be all of us. Theyre the reason that Ive had these opportunities. Slug paid me $100 a show last tour out of his own pocket, he knew that my being there didnt bring in an extra $100. Thats like $6000 out of his pocket over the course of the tour. That is just how it is at Rhymesayers. That isnt to say that Ali wouldnt like some of the perks provided by a major. The people who love underground rap think that every mainstream rapper is violating their integrity by being on a major label, and they do in a way because of the money involved. They dont realize that we dont get to do a lot of the things wed like to do without that money. I might want to have Erykah Badu or the White Strips on my album, not to sell more records but just because I think I could make something dope with them. Independently, I cant afford to do that. I also feel that there are a lot of people out there who would identify with my music that will never get a chance to hear it. That is just something you have to deal with.
Its ironic that one of the most asked questions has been where can Ali go after Shadows on the Sun? It doesnt take long to realize that Ali is an extraordinary man who is going to go where ever he chooses. He is casting shadows on the sun because the sky is the limit.