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Based in the sunny state of Arizona, hip-hop artist Ali Tomineek has come a long way in his music career. And he’s only getting started with his diligent, self-made, can-do attitude. He often says, “Hip Hop is not about who’s the best but it is about what you do when you have the mic, and now it’s my turn.”
Before he turned 18, Tomineek released his debut album “February 31st,” having written, produced, mixed, and mastered it all himself. On top of that, he’s opened up for headliners such as Tech N9ne, T.I., Kid Ink, Logic, and Rae Sremmurd. This June, Tomineek released a second album, “I Ain’t Sorry,” which fans can purchase on iTunes.
Interview questions by ChinLin Pan
You’ve accomplished so much at a young age. How did you get your start in music?
Ali Tomineek: I’ve always been into music for as long as I can think of. Around third or fourth grade, there was this new music class at my school that introduced me to different types of instruments (bongos, tambourines, recorders, xylophones, etc… I’d never seen any of this stuff in person before). I thought it was the dopest thing I’ve ever done! After that, I started getting piano lessons at a really young age, so from then on, I gained this giant passion for music. The time that I really started getting into producing my own music was towards the end of elementary school. My eighth grade year, I was always either at school or at home so during all the down time I would spend at home, I would play my keyboard and teach myself basically how to create my own songs from scratch. I didn’t know where to get drum sounds from, so I would beatbox everything into my laptop on a Rockband USB mic. It was all horrible but it was a start for me!
In two to three words, how would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t heard your music yet?
Ali: Straight up original. I produce all my own beats, so all my music has my influence inside of it and you can feel it.
What was the inspiration behind your mixtape “I Ain’t Sorry”?
Ali: I went through this long period of time where I looked down on myself. I didn’t think I was good enough. I felt that a lot of people around me always demanded more from me or wanted me to do everything a different way. “Do this like him” or “do that like this” and I just got tired of it! That’s why “I Ain’t Sorry” because I got sick of doing everything to make everyone else happy. I wanted to be happy and I knew I needed to accept myself first before anyone else would. So the reason I made “I Ain’t Sorry,” the title of the mixtape, was so that anyone who can relate to that feeling of not being good enough could follow what I did and just live unapologetically.
Which music artists inspire you?
Ali: I have a lot of different musical inspirations, and I think I separate them into two categories: producers and writers. Producers who inspire me: Tyler, The Creator, Noah “40” Shebib, The Internet, 6ix, Hopsin, and Sam Gellaitry. There’s so many more but those are just off the top of my head. Writers who inspire me: J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Earl Sweatshirt, Childish Gambino, Logic, Tech N9ne, Eminem, Tupac, and even Muhammad Ali.. He actually had some bars haha.
If you had to pick one music artist—dead or alive—to have dinner with, who would you pick and why?
Ali: I would probably have to go with Michael Jackson, because he was just so talented, from the vocals, to the music, to the dancing. He was just completely mind-blowing. It would be amazing to hear what it’s like to be in the position of a performer like himself. I feel like I would learn a lot about the game.
Do you have any projects coming up this fall or winter? Or perhaps next year?
Ali: I’m constantly working on projects whether it be singles, mixtapes, videos, and/or short films. I always am writing or creating something, so you can expect a lot from me in the upcoming year, and next year will just be a step up from those.
I love how you created the Ali Tomineek Music Club to stay in touch with fans. What made you decide to do this? How are the fans?
Ali: As a fan of music, I was thinking to myself: I’ve never been able to actually connect with any of my favorite artists. I think it would be the dopest thing if someone I looked up to went out of there way to talk to me, or thank me for supporting them. Since a lot of my fans tell me things like, “Ali you inspire me,” I think the least I can do is give them quality content and stay connected with them! They show me so much love and I always want to give it right back!
Which songs are currently on your Spotify playlist?
Ali: I actually don’t use Spotify, but in my playlist I definitely have a lot of Logic on repeat, Tyler The Creator, Kendrick Lamar, just started bumping YG. A bunch of MF Doom instrumentals because I like to freestyle all the time.