Now I don’t want to speak for too long on this because the video pretty much speaks for itself. But let me drop a quick piece of knowledge on Chi Ali:
Forget about those other child rap stars, I’m talking Shyheim, A+ and others where rumours of older ghostwriters were rife. Chi Ali was the original young rhyme-slinger. So young was he when he first started making waves in the industry, that you wouldn’t be called stupid for thinking the voice you were hearing on B-side tracks of De La Soul’s ‘3 Feet High and Rising’, and Black Sheep’s ‘Pass the 40,’ was that of a female emcee. At the age of just 16 Chi had cemented his name in Hip Hop history by releasing a solo debut, ‘The Fabulous Chi.’ The album basically summed up all that 90’s Hip Hop was; heavy drum-laced beats with a funky style fresh from ‘The Golden Age’ era partnered with a new exciting more complex style of lyricsm. It’s hard to explain but, with 90’s albums like that, even if the lyracism isn’t 100% on point it can be forgiven. It seems just that whole 90’s flow and style makes up for any lack of lyrical talent.
So what happened next to Chi can be described as a Hip Hop tragedy.
Given 14 years for second degree murder after shooting his Girlfriend’s brother in the year 2000 it wasn’t likely that we would be seeing much more of the once teen-sensation. But, here he is in a mini-documentary and with only 2 years until his release date he gives a somewhat refreshing outlook on prison life.
The reason I call this short piece of film refreshing is because Chi Ali is not doing what so many rappers did before him. That is, go in to jail, read A book, and then start trying to kick knowledge to everyone in sight. He comes across as a real humbled genuine kind of guy. Too often when interviewing convicts or ex-cons, we can forget the violent crime they committed to actually put themselves in that position. Ali makes no qualms about what put him in Sing Sing, though he does seem to have really matured as person and a man. His depictions on ‘impulsive’ actions don’t appear cliched, as an inspirational speaker or pastor might sound, but instead real and heart-felt. Even the break-down of his family being his only real friends is portrayed more realistically than the generic, “I only trust fam” or, “Blood is thicker than water” lines we so often hear in rap. And when you really think about that for a second, it is true. Friendship can be a selfish thing. We like those who make us laugh and allow us to enjoy ourselves. Therefore if you’re ever no longer around to provide someone with that kind of entertainment, why would they want to come visit you in jail?
The college program Chi is completing sounds dope. It’s good to see a once street cat relating to something like ‘Othello.’ His flow on the little freestyle at the end is nice though I for one hope he doesn’t get drawn back in to that street shit. This was nicely put together, a lot of introspective-type camera shots and the Piano loop in the background really set the tone. I’ve spoken for too long.
Props to T.R.O.Y for puttin’ us on.