Rapper Santana Ali Explains How The Animal Kingdom Inspires His Music And Image

The "For Real" rapper talks about his career, his inspiration for his music, and getting a big co-sign from Left Brain.

By: Shirley Ju (@shirju)

Santana Ali doesn’t give a f##k if you f##k with him, he knows he makes good music. Born in Virginia but raised in the DMV area, it was 5 years ago when the “For Real” rapper moved to Los Angeles.

If you see Santana out, you’ll immediately feel his energy. His animal tendencies shine through in his music and most importantly, his charismatic personality. Most recently, he shut down The Regent in Los Angeles, performing cuts off his last project Yor Robot.

AllHipHop: At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?

Santana Ali: My whole life, because I’ve always been above anybody I was working with. I advanced quick as far as the music goes. It's been my niche, somewhere I could feel like myself in without getting into trouble. Without none of that s##t, it’s just me.

AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?

Santana Ali: Unique, catered to me. Like a safari, because I take a lot of inspiration from the animal kingdom. I record all my own s##t. When I’m recording, I’ll turn on some safari. Every time I dye my hair — let’s say I dye my hair blonde, then I watch lion videos or hyenas. My content in my music will be based around what I’m watching, how I’m feeling. Just my experiences.

AllHipHop: Are you excited for the new Lion King?

Santana Ali: Yeah, I am actually.

AllHipHop: “For Real” is a bop. Best memory shooting the visual?

Santana Ali: The best memory was the Ricky scene. The first take, funny as s##t. We got the shotgun out of the car, have everything ready. The cameraman Jon Psycho tells me “when he pulls out the double barrel, you run away from the car like Ricky and reenact the scene.” As I was running away, I fell and skid. My thumb just healed. I had blood all over my hand the whole shoot, but I made it work.

AllHipHop: Did it hurt?

Santana Ali: Hell yeah it hurt. In the moment, that s##t was bloody as f##k. Me running away, we put fake blood all over my back to make it look like I got shot. The blood correlated, so it made sense.

AllHipHop: Talk about linking with Left Brain.

Santana Ali: Left Brain been a n##ga who always looked out for me, I’m forever grateful. He saw my potential when I was going under an alias name Niklo. I was dropping SoundCloud tracks that were getting 100K to a million views. n##gas didn’t even know it was me, it was a picture I got made from an animator of a cyborg. No one knew who it was until I told people it was me, but he put me on some shows. He did a lot for me. He saw my potential and believed in me — because my real name is Santana Ali. When I chose to rebrand and s##t, he stood behind me. I’ll forever f##k with him.

AllHipHop: Have you collabed with anybody recently?

Santana Ali: As far as artists goes, I haven't been really been collabing with anyone. Just establishing my own sound, but I’m definitely interested in seeing what the possibilities are.

AllHipHop: What can we expect from your forthcoming album 5000 Degrees?

Santana Ali: 5000 Degrees is my new album. It’s what the game needs. Classic, but it's new. It's refreshing. 5000 Degrees is all new material. It’s a whole different sound from “For Real.” I'm tapping into different sounds, but I’m learning how to categorize a sound with a certain project. 5000 Degrees is a whole different aesthetic. Introducing people to Santana Ali and what I really stand for, everything else is promo.

AllHipHop: Who’s the most played artist on your phone?

Santana Ali: I listen to a lot of YoungBoy. Free YoungBoy. He got one called “Preach.” He’s saying some real s##t on there, I respect it. That s##t hard.

AllHipHop: He raps a lot about coming out the mud. How do you relate to his music?

Santana Ali: I relate 100% because, at the end of the day, it’s adversity — no matter what level of adversity it is. I relate to being trapped, feeling like I don’t have nowhere to go and rising above it.

AllHipHop: Is there anything else you wanna let us know?

Santana Ali: I’m Santana Ali, child of the pyramids. 5000 Degrees coming soon. We’re coming to take over every medium, just be aware.

Comments


Shirley Ju
Shirley Ju