In part 2 of AllHipHop.com’s exclusive interview with Ali Shaheed Muhammad, the Brooklyn-bred artist discusses two upcoming celebratory career moments. This year will mark the 25th anniversary of A Tribe Called Quest’s debut studio album People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm, and 2015 will also be the 15 year anniversary for the release of his other supergroup Lucy Pearl’s self-titled LP.
The legacy of ATCQ also includes Ali, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Jarobi’s connection to the Universal Zulu Nation. The organization has been a big topic of discussion in Hip Hop over the last several months. Tip announcing that Nas, Big Boi, Joey Bada$$, and Freddie Gibbs as the newest Zulu brothers came as a surprise to some, but it was the inclusion of Young Money’s Lil Wayne that had more than a few observers scratching their heads.
Ali shares his thoughts on the new-found interest in the Universal Zulu Nation among Hip Hop stars and the controversy surrounding some of the new members. According to the “CPR” performer, more big names could be on the way.
[ALSO READ: Ali Shaheed Muhammad Talks “CPR” Single, Donating To The Eric Garner Fund + Joint Project Adrian Younge]
2015 is the 25th anniversary of A Tribe Called Quest’s first album. Are you guys planning on doing anything to celebrate that milestone?
We’re trying to figure that out. The funny thing is we talked about that 5 years ago, and then the next thing you know you turn around and it’s like, “Oh shoot, that’s tomorrow?”
In that “oh shoot, that’s tomorrow” moment, you’re so not prepared. We’re looking at it though.
What about Lucy Pearl? This would be the 15th anniversary for that project.
I don’t know about that. [laughs] I can’t really speak to that. I feel like we made such a really good album, and I don’t know if it was ahead of its time.
Actually with D’Angelo dropping his new Black Messiah record, maybe this is a good time. Maybe people are a bit more open to it. You never know.
I wanted to ask you about D’Angelo. He was originally supposed to be part of Lucy Pearl?
It was a group called Linwood Rose that was supposed to be me, D’Angelo, and Raphael Saadiq. D’Angelo was working on Voodoo at the time, and Raphael really pushed the button for us to go in. That never happened with D, but we did it anyway with Dawn Robinson.
Also, Q-Tip said he wanted to get Tribe back together to do something for his Last Zulu album. We’re you able to record anything for that project?
No, we have not.
Has there been any discussion about it?
It’s just the scheduling never happened. I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, I’ve been on the road traveling and recording heavy. At the time I was supposed to go over there I had to move the date. So I never made it to his crib. I wound up moving and leaving New York in between that time. I know he’s still working on it, so anything is possible.
There has been a lot of talk about the Zulu Nation over the last few weeks. Q-Tip and others have been in the center of adding new members. What are your thoughts about some of the new high-profile members like Lil Wayne, Nas, and Big Boi?
I think each of those brothers are very iconic, and they command a lot of attention and are able to unite a mass of people. So them coming into the fold of the Universal Zulu Nation, understanding what the foundation is, being able to absorb that into their own souls and skin, and to let that emanate in their art, brands, and businesses, I think is a very positive thing.
It’s planting the seeds of really uniting humanity at a point in time where clearly – when looking at what’s been happening over the past year – leaders are needed. Hopefully with them joining the ranks and with the ability to pull people together, it can be done under leadership that will present solutions for society, to help advance it in the spirit of love and unity.
There’s obviously been some controversy to a couple of the brothers you mentioned. There’s a [question of] “Why?” But why not? We have to stop using these divisive tools to prevent us from understanding we all come from the same place.
There may be a difference of opinions. There may be some areas of criticism that’s necessary to help align us a little better so it’s more harmonious, but you have to start somewhere. You can’t do it by having people in different corners of the world not talking to each other.
If you look at certain actions – like for example the move that America and Cuba made – there wasn’t any advancement in 50 years based off of the sanctions and separation with no discussion. Sometimes you have to do something different, bring people to the table, and align.
I’m hoping that a whole lot more people that you wouldn’t think being associated with the Zulu Nation will come in and sit down, because there are a lot of powerful brands that can help change things from a political perspective.
Do you think we will see more high-profile artists make the decision to join the Universal Zulu Nation? Do you see that movement growing to include even more individuals from the Hip Hop community?
Absolutely, I think 9th Wonder and Q-Tip have been very active in bringing people into the fold. When you get to the position of – and I’ll use the phrase in a positive way – “elder statesman,” that’s what is supposed to happen. Especially in a state where that’s not happening.
Now that those brothers are taking the steps to bring people in and organize, absolutely. There will be a lot more that will come in. It’s only a matter of time that people will understand. They look around and see what’s not working within their life. They’re seeing all the success and all the things that come with it, and there’s still something missing from a human spirit perspective.
The principles of the Zulu Nation is built on – it answers a lot of those questions from a spiritual perspective that unites humanity, not just Hip Hop. Different genres meld together under the Universal Zulu Nation. So not only will you see more people from Hip Hop – and I won’t put any names out there – but also abstract personas you would not see as part of it. I definitely think you’re going to see more of that. People from other genres as well.
Read part one of AllHipHop.com’s exclusive interview with Ali Shaheed Muhammad here.