While he’s been working on music for about 11 years, Jackson, Miss. Rapper Akeem AliThe time in the spotlight actually came faster than expected. Now 26, Ali enjoyed a whirlwind of buzz last year, sparked by his neighbor alter ego Keemy Casanova, whom he brought to life with both a video and a song last year. However, his sweet rhyming abilities don’t get lost in the character he employs. Ali has a lot of flow, is very intelligent and has a unique sense of humor which he mixes in his raps.
He wrote his first rap at age 11, on Chris Brown’s 2006 single “Poppin ‘”. From there he got involved in rap at age 15, and began to devote more time to it, feeling that his love for music was making it the right way. In 2015, he released his first mixtape, described as Lil Wayne’s No Ceilings “to old school beats”. He eventually took it off, but continued to create and study acts outside of music he admired, like Jamie Foxx and the Wayans Bros., to sharpen his showmanship. With time came the birth of Keemy Casnova, a fully formed character with years of music work behind him.
When he released the track about the character in early 2020, Instagram and Facebook were the first platforms he chose to debut. The music videos for “Keemy Casanova” generated enough interest in his favor, so the Down South rhymer decided to put the song on streaming services. Entrusted to loyal friends who pushed songs like this, one of them got in touch with comedians Karlous Miller and Chico Bean from Wild ‘n out Fame. The duo, alongside DC comedian-actor Young Fly, have an ongoing comedy and interview show called 85 South exposure, in addition to EightyVybe, a version of the show focused on musical performance. Miller and Bean said they were fans of Akeem Ali’s music, and in December 2020 they released a video of Ali performing on their platform, including live renditions of “Keemy Casanova. , “You Ain’t Seen What I Seen,” “Love Me” and “For Real For Real,” as well as a freestyle alongside Miller and Bean, which has gone viral on social media. The moment quickly turned Ali into something of an internet sensation.
With only one project to its name, the 2019 Rollin ‘, the buzz that Akeem Ali has managed to generate on a few new songs is impressive. The release of his next project Mack in the day is imminent. His second effort guides listeners through Keemy Casanova’s lifestyle. Prior to the project, Ali’s new singles “Shugga” and “The Mack”, both arriving last month, racked up more than 460,000 views on YouTube.
As his name keeps going up he cut it with XXL via Zoom for the latest edition of XXLof The break.
Hometown: Jackson, miss.
My style has been compared to: “I get a lot of Andre 3000 comparisons. Suga free. They say the vibe reminds them of Snoop [Dogg, but they don’t say ‘The new Snoop.’ It’s definitely a compliment. Who’s gonna be mad at someone comparing them to André 3000?”
I’m going to blow up because: “Just having faith in myself, first and foremost. Faith in God, having the confidence about it, knowing that material that I put out is gonna be solid, and that it’s gonna stick with people. And the people’s reaction to it, and the love that they give me. I’ve only put that one song out, and they go back and listen to ‘Rollin.’ When they hear me rap, they keep digging, so they go and find the EightyVybe interview, and listen to that stuff. The love that they give and the support just kinda confirmed it.”
What’s your most slept-on song, and why?: “‘Rollin.’ At the time, I didn’t have the money and the resources to push the way it should’ve been pushed. I think people are catching on to it now, but that’s just how that is sometimes. Sometimes it’s slept on and they come back around to it, and it’s like ‘Oh, OK, I hate that I did.'”
My standout records to date have been: “[‘Keemy Casanova’]. I think people listen a bit with their eyes and ears. Yes, they hear it, but if you don’t have anything in front of them to feed what they see a little bit, these days it doesn’t work very well, unless you’re already an established artist. People want to see some kind of visual to keep them entertained. Our attention span is getting shorter, so we need to have something in front of us to grab our attention and grab us.
“I think it was the visual. Half was the visual, I guess if you hear the song without seeing the visual you’re like, it’s just a song. But when you see it, it brings you back to the song. ‘The 70s, the nostalgia it gives you. You see the razor blade, you see this guy with his chosen one, filing his nails. He talks and carries himself like a pimp, so once you see him, you believe it. “
My highlights so far have been: “Being able to go to LA and go into the studio with Snoop [Dogg], and just sort of get a game of him and create, and see how he does what he’s been doing for decades. Just pick his brain a bit and be inspired by the things he said and the things he has. “
Most people don’t know: “I’m really cool. I’m not a pimp all the time. When they see the video [for ‘Keemy Casanova’], they assume I’m like this all the time, or talk like this all the time, and I don’t. When I play, I have to get into the character. I have to make you believe what I’m selling you. I think a lot of people have a misconception that I’m supposed to be dressed with my shirt open all the time. I do interviews and they like, “Dude, I thought you were gonna come with the costume.” I’m like, ‘No, I wear white t-shirts and joggers like every day.’ “
I’ll be next: “GOAT”
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