Ali Shaheed Muhammad: Beats, Rhymes & Life

(Photo credit: Summerfest.com)

DJ, record producer, and rapper, Ali Shaheed Muhammad is probably best known as a member of A Tribe Called Quest. With members Q-Tip and Phife Dawg (and sometimes Jarobi White), the group released six studio albums to date. Now, the talented producer is using his music and voice to speak out about racism and inequalities.

Muhammad began his musical career in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York. It was there that his uncle, Michael Jones, a bass player and DJ himself, pulled aside 8-year-old Ali and began teaching him music. Ali then spent years DJ-ing parties in his Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood and recorded a slew of demos before co-founding Tribe in 1985 with Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Jarobi. He was just 19 when the group released its first album, and then the rest is history.

(From l-r: Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad)

After the group disbanded in 1998, Muhammad formed the R&B supergroup Lucy Pearl with Dawn Robinson, formerly of En Vogue and Raphael Saadiq, formerly of Tony! Toni! Toné! Together with Jay Dee and Q-Tip, Muhammade also formed the music production collective The Ummah. They produced music for Janet Jackson, Mint Condition, Brand New Heavies, Heavy D, Whitney Houston, and more.