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An interview with Jordan Ali

By Damilola Grey

Dami: What inspired you to start making music?

Jordan Ali: I first started making music when I was 18 for fun with my friends after we had come up with the idea to create a mixtape for our friend group. Secretly, I had always wanted to try it as I was one of the best freestyle rappers in my class and I loved singing at home. I took it as my chance to try something, and I got bit with the music bug. Kept at it even when everyone else moved on.

Dami: Who are your biggest inspirations?

Jordan Ali: Tyler the Creator, Andre 3000, Michael Jackson, Prince, Jay Z, Frank Ocean, Kendrick Lamar, and my grandfather.

Dami: Would you say they have a really big influence on your sound?

Jordan Ali: Earlier when making music, they did but now I analyze and feel inspired more by their techniques in production, curation, and work habits. I just recently started making music straight from how my soul feels.

Dami: When making music, where do you grab inspiration from?

Jordan Ali: My own life, interesting paradigms and situations I see or hear about, the Black-American experience, and seeing people vibe with my music at the live shows. Admittedly though, sometimes the shit just enters my mind from absolutely nowhere.

Dami: How would you describe your sound?

Jordan Ali: I’d describe my sound as a dynamic and genre-bending approach to classic soundscapes throughout hip-hop and black art as a whole. For example, my song “Deez Days” sounds very similar to an early Joey Badass/J Cole song, instrumentally. There’s a Tribe Called Quest interpolation at the end, and the flow throughout is more of a 90s gangsta hip-hop approach. I like mixing shit up lmao. Or even “Food4Soul” which is a lo-fi reimagining of a 2010 conscious rap beat, but I use a Southern flow on it with a really chill cadence.

Dami: What’s your creative process like?

Jordan Ali: I either write the song first and beatbox a rough sonic foundation to send to a producer or I have them turn on a beat and freestyle for a long ass time then go back and Frankenstein fly shit that I said to make a fun and compelling track.

Dami: You recently dropped a single titled “Food4Soul”. Tell us more about it.

Jordan Ali: “Food4Soul” was originally a poem I wrote for fun, which later turned into an audition for my university’s spoken word team, then the intro to an EP that never came to fruition, and now sits as a lynchpin song within my debut project. It’s been through a lot of changes, which is kind of funny because the song talks a lot about dealing with change you didn’t know you needed while simultaneously hoping for the change you want. “Food4Soul” is me asking as many questions as possible in hopes I find the answer.

Dami: Why’d the EP never drop?

Jordan Ali: I used to be with a production duo and they went back and forth tackling EPs with me. When it was time for the EP, one of them dropped off the face of the Earth, so I decided to try something new. New vision, new rap name, new message, and all around became a new man.

Dami: What’s next for you after “Food4Soul”?

Jordan Ali: A prelude EP for my debut project, then my debut project. The EP is currently called “Pack Your Bags”.

Dami: What should we expect from it?

Jordan Ali: Expect that it’ll be me once again experimenting and jumping into a new soundscape, but being authentically Jordan Ali. I recently started throwing shows and parties with my homies in Baltimore, so that’s really inspired the new music. The long nights out in the streets, the energy we cultivate in the venues, the days we spend together just discussing life, and all the times we’ve leaned on each other.

Dami: What do you want listeners to take away after listening to your music?

Jordan Ali: That we’re all here together, dealing with the human experience, and no matter how good or bad it gets, it’s a beautiful one. I want people to find the strength to do more and do better within themselves, in the most sustainable and authentic way possible.

Dami: How do you deal with writer’s block?

Jordan Ali: I usually attribute writer’s block to stagnation or burnout in my own life, so I’ll go hang out with someone I haven’t seen in awhile or take a trip to somewhere I’ve never been. You can never go wrong with just being Nature as well.  

Dami: What do you have planned for this year and what do you hope to achieve this 2023 too?

Jordan Ali: More shows, more music, more music videos, more travelling, more life, and more community. You gotta keep up with me to catch it all. The main thing I want to achieve is financial independence off the strength of music, doing 5 shows overseas, and doing right by the Baltimore Art Scene that constantly fuels me.

Stream “Food4Soul” by Jordan Ali HERE.

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