new music + interview: abdu ali & his banging baltimore club music ep #soundcheck

October 17, 2014

Abdu Ali’s last mixtape Push + Slay was a glorious mess of noise, industrial, punk, pop, and hip-hop. The forward-thinking queer MC and longtime collaborator / producer Schwartz have earned a reputation on their dizzying deconstructed beats and aggressive vocals that tread the line between industrial and hip-hop. On Abdu Ali’s latest Already EP, the Baltimore-bred and Brooklyn-based duo go back to their roots in Baltimore Club music, but with tinges of the avant rap that characterized their earlier collaborations. I briefly spoke with Abdu Ali about the EP and what went into making it.

Words by Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor

Opening with the sample “since the beginning of time, mankind has used music and dance to commune with the spirit of nature and the spirit of the universe,” a massive throwback beat announces the purpose: this is dance music as spiritual salve. Ali says of the return to their roots, “Before the Motivational Tour, me and Schwarz thought it’d be a good idea to release an EP, specifically a Baltimore Club EP, because we wanted to pay homage to something to something that had a big effect on us musically. I never did a Baltimore Club only EP and I felt like I owed my city that. It’s a genre that’s apart of the fabric of who I am.”

Of course Already has almost as much in common with Trent Reznor producing Saul Williams as it does with Miss Tony. The breakbeats and 909s are filtered through a claustrophobic mesh of noise and chaos (though for fans of Push + Slay, it’s definitely less noisy and chaotic: this is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your opinion of noise…). The EP comes alive on the confrontational “Flat Out” and the dope “I, Exist.” Both tracks include remixes by DJ Dizzy and Blaqstarr respectively. Ali calls “Flat Out” his “banjee hood alter ego kinda song; it’s a rebel cry against the shade of society. Like I had seen some mean Youtube comments on a video I was featured on and they were homophobic and ignorant. So basically I’m simply saying don’t fuck with me cause I will come.”

“I, Exist” (both versions) is the highlight of the EP. An affirmative declaration of existence, Ali describes the track as being “about how one’s presence perseveres time. We are just as poignant as the sun, the moon, and whatever we do has a big impact on the world. And will continue to exist even when the world comes to an end.” Blaqstarr’s version adds guitar and new verses and is a master class in the last 25 years of Baltimore Club. On working with Blaqstarr, Ali says “Blaqstarr is one of my musical icons, he’s a pioneer of Baltimore Club music, the afrofuturists of Baltimore Club. So I def needed to have him on the EP, and I simply asked and he was down from the jump.”

Abdu Ali and Shwartz are currently on a 30 day US tour. Full tour dates and more details are available at