Published on December 7th, 2017 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson0
The Hype Magazine Interviews The Truth Ali
Meet Truth Ali- one of the hottest, most technically adept rappers in the industry hailing from Bakersfield, CA. He has songs with heavy-hitters such as Cyhi The Prynce, Royce da 5’9″, Kxng Crooked and Planet Asia. We got to interview Truth Ali after listening to him spit fire in his songs and we must say he’s killing the game while on the rise. Check out his interview below!
Your name is unique. How did you come up with “Truth Ali”?
Thanks. I started out as Truth tha Brainchild. The “ Truth” is kinda self-explanatory. I grew up in an era of hiphop when being “the truth”, whether it was complex bars, story telling or whatever was at the forefront. I always felt like my favorite emcees were “the truth”. And I feel like I’m all of them in one, but with my own twist and story. I changed to “Ali” because when my grandpops passed, he told me to “finish the last round”. He loved boxing and always spoke using sports analogies (laughs). He was a musician/singer so he was saying to finish the dream. And who better at closing a fight in the late rounds than Muhammad Ali? Nobody. The same applies to me.
At what point did you realize that you wanted to become a rapper?
It has always been subconsciously in me. My uncles Jelani and Marcellus use to make me freestyle over old karaoke machines that recorded. So we would get the single cassettes with the instrumental on side B and record on Maxell tapes…I know old school as fuck (laughs). But I originally wanted to be a basketball player like most rap niggas (laughs). I was ranked high coming out of junior high as a top incoming freshman in the state. I hurt my back and kinda gave up on that my senior year. And then my homie had hella mix CDs when niggas was burning shit off of Napster and Kazaa. I found one and the first song that came on was Royce da 5’9” and Eminem “Bad Meets Evil”. I immediately walked my black ass to Walgreens and bought a pen and pad. I would write and compare my verse to their shit, of course at first I was way off. But that was kinda like what built my foundation of what an emcee should sound like.
Who were/are your biggest inspirations?
I have a grip of ‘em (laughs). All I do is make or listen to music so I listen to tons of shit. In hip-hop, the cliche answers. Pac, Nas, Em, Jigga, Scarface, Cube, Snoop, e-40, Outkast, DMX, Twista, and you know the rest (laughs). But I also dig shit like Coldplay, The Doors, R Kelly, Nirvana, Maze and Frankie Beverley, Erykah Badu. I’m forgetting so many.
How did your upbringing/environment have an impact on your music?
I was blessed to come up with a lot of environments and class levels. I feel like I can relate to the majority of people no matter what race or class, because I’ve connected with every race or class. So I guess it made me think about just making good songs and not being boxed into one genre or style. But I’m hip-hop to the core so that’s always the main element. If you see my friends you’ll see everything from niggas who’ll rob you at the dice game to doctors and teachers and shit (laughs). So that definitely shaped me artistically.
You are a true lyricist. When do you find yourself writing your best lyrics?
It’s a weird thing with me. Seeing different cities definitely sparks inspiration. But the majority of my music is emotionally connected, no matter the mood. When I’m going through depression I usually write super quick…so I guess when I’m down. But then again I can’t say that either. I just love the idea of creative writing; it’s like a kid playing video games for me (laughs). I do something music related everyday…it doesn’t really turn off.
Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, what do you do to regroup?
I think every writer has a block. For me, it’s usually seeing the ocean…that’s why I live in San Diego. Also talking to my mother because she always knows how to press the buttons to get me back on my shit. Sometimes listening to other genres can spark me too.
Do you write before a studio session or during one?
It honestly depends on the timeline. I’ve done verses on the spot in 15-20 minutes. But I’m also known as a guy who will take my time if I can. Some verses are 15-20 minutes while some are a couple of days. I work well under pressure so it kinda varies.
You worked with a lot of people. Was there anyone in particular that you had great musical chemistry with?
Yeah definitely. I like rapping with other rappers who can really rap. If I know there’s another spitter on the track it usually makes me really go hard because I ain’t tryna get embarrassed (laughs). Definitely, Kxng Crooked and Royce because I feel like they reached the highest levels of technicality. Cyhi The Prynce was dope, and then all the folks in my camp.
Is there anyone in particular that you see yourself working with in the near future?
I’m all about energy. If you respect the craft, art of being creative, and have good energy, we can rock. Definitely would love to collaborate with Tech N9ne and Twista. And then of course the bucket list of all the legends that sparked my interest. A Nas feature would be my “momma I made it” moment (laughs).
What is your favorite song you have done so far and why?
Of my older songs it would be “Green”. It’s just a good vibe and it’s crazy because it’s the opposite of everything else I usually do. It’s kinda singsongy, but it’s about just feeling good. I wanna have my listeners in on all my layers. They know I can bar out, but I can also give you them joints that make you stop and remember exactly what you did and how you felt when you first heard it.
What are you working on now? Any new singles or albums?
I actually got an album on the way called “Resurrection Season 1”. I tried to make it like a TV show. So there’s an actual “Theme Song” which we just dropped as the warm-up single. I did a lot of storytelling and I definitely feel like I’ve grown both as an emcee and as a producer too. I produced the whole thing so I’m hella proud.
Who would you like to collaborate with?
All the emcees who pride themselves on lyricism (laughs). I think we’re entering into another golden age in the game. And I think emcees are back to competing. I’m hella hella competitive so I wanna rap with cats who think they’re the best because I feel like I’m the best.
Besides music, what are some of your other passions/goals?
Definitely basketball. Probably equally to music but my back wasn’t with the plan (laughs). Plus I wasn’t tall or athletic enough to really go to the league so, you know, change of plan. I still have the same love for it though. Two of my biggest inspirations and influences are Jordan and Kobe for their work ethic and killer instinct.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a rapper?
Just keep at it. It’s not an easy road to get on, but at the same time, you’ll go above and beyond for anything that you love. And don’t bend for the “rules”. Art rules are put in place to be broken…it’s that simple. So just sharpen ya sword and be yourself. There are a bunch of clones poppin right now, but if you can get on by being you, you guarantee yourself a legit chance with hard work and planning. Plus that’s how you have longevity. Every legend that ever laced me always said just be yourself. And a lil luck helps too (laughs).Tweet