Today, Baltimore rapper Abdu Ali debuts a phenomenal “black self-care mixtape” with a Nina Simone reference on the first track, Alice Coltrane harp on the second, and nods throughout to the icons of resistance music, not least of all Miss Tony. One of Baltimore club music’s brightest stars before her untimely passing in 2003, Tony would no doubt lose her stuff to the genre gem “Did Dat” (and how many Baltimore club songs are as straight-up pretty as this one?), but also to Philly producer DJ Haram’s wholly nuts “Tears of a Black Mova,” Gobby’s mutantly haunting “How? (Keep Fighting),” and the classic break that emerges like sun through rainclouds at the end of the resilient “Sirens.” There are nine tracks, and none are lacking. I’m a king, Ali says rightly on the final song. I’m a fuckin’ queen.
Below is a short essay from Abdu Ali intended to accompany the mixtape, and some bonus portraits of Ali from photographer Elliott Brown Jr.
i wanted to give up. ovah and ovah again. why? look at me, then look at the world i live. you see what im saying? life for me, aint been no crystal stair. do i even have a life? do i own one? i got a lot of debt. broke af, cant really obtain the wealth america promised me. am i here? is my life alive?
i believe i do have a life because…i cant give up. esp after witnessing the shade of it all in my city, post freddie gray's death. vividly i saw through that moment and still what i see today, are the attacks from media, all the systems, and the white hooded neighbors…is something that can really bring a bitch down. so im surprised by the fact that i am still here. after the shade of it all, i still rise. Maya Angelou, is that you?
something in me. the fire inside that makes me feel like no road cant be unconquered. what is that? i say its my mother’s hand, my lineage, my ancestors. the voodoo. the music. the music keeps me alive. the drums, the beat, and voices, (that cant ever be mimicked). my genetically passed down unbothered mien to be so me. to be black. even after being bleached a thousand times. my blood aint sterile. that pain i felt last april provoked the energy, the fire, to rage a bit more. my vision became a bit more focused. so my music became more and my performances became more. this mixtape, MONGO is who i am and what i am for what i be. its only for us. Mongo, I consider to be the blk self care mixtape consists of: Anthems Mantras & Narratives. Fela, Marvin, Nina, Lauryn, Tupac, Octavia E. Butler, and Miss Tony, I see what y'all was saying now. I know what I gotta do. I just gotta do me through us. The revolution is not just communal, it can also be an individual protest through thy work, sweat, or screams. Energy is infectious like the many systematic diseases that plagued our people. Teach one, teach all. also our other experiences are worthy to be art, our love trials, being queer and black, missing our deceased loved ones, or consuming the fruits of the green, because the self care is important. all of that deserves a song too. but I still don't know what it is that keeps my fist up, my hair nappy, and my skin so gold. but what i do kno is that me and u gonna get thru this. for some reason we have to. Is it just justice? is it the return of the black gods? deep down we know they will be back. cause one thing is for sure, the sun don't hurt me none. RIP PRINCE (CONTROVERSY IS THE REASON WHY I THOUGHT I COULD MAKE MUSIC). - ABDU ALI
APR27 OLYMPIA @ OBSIDIAN
APR28 SEATTLE @ PIKE & BWAY / THE COCKPIT
APR29 PORTLAND @ RENNE FAYRE @ REED COLLEGE
APR30 PORTLAND @ THE COMPOUND
MAY14 BALTIMORE @ THE CROWN
MAY28 BROOKLYN @ TRANS PECOS
JUN11 BROOKLYN @ THE BELL HOUSE *DJ SET*
JUL2 BROOKLYN @ SILENT BARN
JUL22 BALTIMORE @ THE CROWN
JUL23 @ BALTIMORE GAY PRIDE