Ali Shaheed Ali Shaheed

A Conversation With Ali Shaheed

Beats, Rhymes and Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest. The culture, the depth and the authenticity of it all thrilled me, but something was different for me.  Ali Shaheed Muhammed really showed a side that I never knew existed. Let’s just say it was very enlightening. -Mashonda

When did it hit you that A Tribe Called Quest was a legendary group?
It was at the 2008 Rock The Bells tour. That’s when it really settled in. For some reason, I’ve never felt comfortable on stage. It’s not that I’m nervous; this has to do with my spirituality. I feel that only the creator deserves any great amount of attention from humanity. Me standing on stage is like me knowing I’m going to be before my creator one day. I don’t want to ever get my ego involved. But when it hit me, I just said, 'Thank you,' and kept it moving on to the next moment.

What’s your favorite Tribe song?
I don’t have a favorite tribe song. I have a couple of standouts but not a favorite. They all take me to a certain place. We have songs that you guys have not heard.

How did you feel when you read Q-Tip’s group resignation letter?
I was shocked. I was also understanding. It didn’t hit me that he was going to do the solo thing until years later. These guys are my family. We made a lot of music together, and we’ve done a lot of things together. With that said, it was really about the brotherhood. I didn’t want to be selfish and be like, 'What about us?' I’m a very accommodating person. So much that it may annoy people.

Do you still have the letter?
Yes. I still have the letter. Everyone wants that letter.

I recently watched your documentary and even through the most difficult moments you always come across so zen and at peace. Were you always that way?
I don’t think I was always this way, but I learned how to balance life, look over, reflect and self evaluate. I’ve always had a balance of perspective. The guys call me the voice of reason. I get it now, but it was an annoying tag name. Negativity will only cut time off of your life and decreases your enjoyment. It’s a waste of your life being in negativity and not really embracing the opportunity that can come when you embrace something positive.

I’m going to be very honest right now! I don’t know if anyone has told you but you are aging so gracefully, you’re really giving off a lot of sexy nowadays.
[Laughing and blushing] I have heard that I sleep in an oxygen chamber. It’s interesting you ask me that. I’ve been hearing that. I don’t know…it’s God you know. I don’t know what else to say. It’s God. Thanks to Mom and Dad.

What do you do to stay fit and healthy?
I don’t like the taste of alcohol, so I don’t drink. I’ve never smoked weed or cigarettes. I drink a lot of water. I’ve even gotten into the habit within the past 15 years [where] I don’t drink too much juice because it’s a lot of sugar. It’s just a matter of balance, diet and exercise. I have my moments where I’ll go really hard for two months and then I won’t for another two years depending on how I’m doing everything else. I am a crazy chocolate, cookie and cake fanatic. It’s just really about balance. I also stay in prayer. They say it’s good genes. My great grand mother is 106 and still kicking.

What’s the best advice to having a successful relationship with someone in the music industry?
I don’t know. You might be asking the wrong person.

Really? Let’s just say you are dealing with a woman who is not in the industry, what would you tell her?
Well, first and foremost being in tune with yourself is a priority. You really need to know who you are, then you can easily articulate your wishes, your wants, your expectations and be in charge of your emotions. It is kind of a challenge to do that because we speak emotionally lots of times, and we are not really speaking heart. You have to have understanding. You have to understand that our lifestyle [and] certain environments are not conducive to a good union. And, understand that your partner is a human being, and it is understandable why emotions get heightened. It’s also about learning. It’s kind of like filtering through all these emotions and miscommunications or what you think is being conveyed. Really trying to have patience to understand and be honest. Being successful is important but at what stake? I can’t say that if you asked me this at 23 I would be able to answer that and be so connected. That’s just experience speaking, and even still with what I know, it is still a struggle.

Are you a momma’s boy?
I always tell her that she’s more valuable to me now as an adult, than I think as a child. I think that I can appreciate her experiences and views more now. When your mom tells you something and you’re seven years old and there’s a reason, you have no idea.

What can we look forward to from Mr. Muhammed?
I am working on my second solo record. I have taken these past few years to really sharpen my emcee skills. I have a song on there with Phife that I really love. It’s a fun song. There’s a song with De La Sol, so I got some classic stuff. I actually am doing three records at one time--hip-hop, dance and alternative. I’m also writing for a few other people and just staying inspired musically. I’m still growing as a musician. I am trying to find enough quiet time to play cello. That’s like my ultimate instrument. It’s a very warm, emotional instrument. I am just striving to earn the creators favor.


It was pouring outside of the New York City restaurant that we chose to meet at. I prayed that Ali wouldn’t cancel due to weather but as soon as I walked in, there he was. Timeless and classic. Not only was our conversation one of the most spiritual ones I’ve ever had with a stranger, but I knew that he honestly had become the man that he said his mother wanted him to be. “I can tell you what my goals are and that is to strive to earn the favor of the creator and that is not easy to do with all of the vastness that this world has for the eyes to see.” | |

From the Web

More on Vibe

VIBE Vixen- Karissa Maggio

Best Of VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk Podcast: Saweetie, Amara La Negra And More On Making Boss Moves

VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk podcast amplifies the voices of women and she/her-identifying individuals in their respective industries as they discuss their journeys toward becoming the bosses we know today. From their demeanor and confidence and persevering through life’s pitfalls to make a name for themselves in their own way, being a boss is much more than 'just running sh*t.'

We rounded up some of our favorite pieces of advice from our first few episodes! Our bosses so far have ranged from rappers (Saweetie and Kash Doll), to authors (Karyn Parsons) to activists (Peppermint). Each of the bosses invited on the show have had some incredible journeys, and we thank them for giving us insight into how they've become the bosses they are today.

Whether they're thanking their mothers for inspiring them to be their best (like Amara La Negra), or chalking up some boss moves to being their authentic selves (Bevy Smith), this retrospective episode focuses on the awesome words these bosses have shared with us thus far.

Listen below to our "Best Of..." episode as well as all of the episodes of Boss Talk Podcast. Be on the lookout for new episodes coming soon.

Continue Reading
Photo by Chance Yeh/Getty Images for A+E

Andrea Kelly Says She's Been Attacked For Calling Out R. Kelly's Behavior

Andrea Kelly has found it hard to march for women as they continue to support her polarizing ex-husband, R. Kelly.

The former choreographer shared her sentiments on an upcoming episode of Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta shared on Entertainment Tonight. Speaking with close friend Debra Antney, Kelly tearfully expressed her frustrations with her ex-husband and praised Antey for sticking by her side.

The former couple was previously in a child support battle for their children Joann, 21, Jay, 19, and Robert, 17. During the time of filming, Kelly owed $161,000 in back child support to his ex. In May, it was reportedly paid off by a mysterious donor.

"When I think about the ways that I have been abused by Robert, from being hogtied, having both of my shoulders dislocated, to being slapped, pushed, having things thrown as me, the sexual abuse, the mental abuse, words can't even describe," she said.

In addition to the child support case, Kelly was charged with 11 felony counts of sexual assault. He's pleaded not guilty despite reported evidence of videotapes that reportedly show the entertainer engaging in sexual acts with minors. Andrea tells Antey how difficult the process has been for her since speaking out about Kelly's behavior in the Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly. 

"Here I am, putting myself in a position because I want to help women, and they are attacking me," she said. "There's some things that I don't even speak anymore, that I feel like, once you give it to God, you better leave with God, because if I don't leave it with God, I'm definitely going to be somewhere with my hands on the glass, visiting my children every other Sunday."

Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on WEtv.

Watch the clip here.

Continue Reading
Courtesy of Baby Tress

Baby Tress' Edge Styler Ensures Women Of Color Will Always Shake The Beauty Table

"Do you have edge control in here?"

It's an inquiry my niece asked me over the weekend as we got ready for our cousin's graduation. Atlanta's heat is friendly but mixed with nimbus clouds, frizz (and thunderstorms) are on the horizon. Given the circumstances, a high bun seems to be the best choice for me and my niece, a slick-back style with extra attention to our baby hairs. It's typical for either one of us to grab a toothbrush to slick and swoop our edges with pomade or gel, but with The Baby Tress Edge Styler, the process is easier and equally as stylish.

Created by boutique communications agency Mama Tress, the styler is everything baby hair dreams are made of. It's also a testament to the rise of the "style" in popular hair culture. With a dual comb and brush top, its pointed tip elevates a consumer to baby hair connoisseur.

But the styler isn't something created to appropriate black culture or piggyback on what boosts the most likes on social media. The handy styler was created by Mama Tress CEO Hannah Choi and her team consisting of other women of color like public relations coordinator Mariamu "Mimi" Sillah. The New York native tells VIBE Vixen the styler was made as a gift for an event they hosted but its intentions to propel black hair were always present.

"We try to make it clear that this is for women of color. Because we all understand the history of baby hair, we all have connections, we all have stories, we all do it differently, some people swoop it; if you see some of my coworkers they do the swirls," she said. "This is a product that we want everyone to see and think, 'I don't need to be using a toothbrush. I deserve more than a toothbrush.' This is a tool made thoughtfully with women of color in mind and we are women of color who came up with the idea because we know what we need."

Coming in six different colors, the styler's bristles are stronger than a typical toothbrush and give anyone's edges a look all their own. Over the years, styled baby hairs have gotten the white-washed celeb treatment. From the runways of New York Fashion Week to fans of black culture like Kim Kardashian, its recent love affair among popular culture crosses out its rich roots.

Many have attributed the actual rise of baby hairs to the '70s with pioneers like LaToya Jackson and Sylvia Robinson of CEO Sugar Hill Records sporting their luxurious edges with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas being the all-time queen. Recent entertainers like Ella Mai and FKA twigs have made them fun and creative. There are also the many Latinx and black around the way queens who have kept the culture alive.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ebony Brown (@wildcatebonybrown) on Jun 3, 2019 at 1:31pm PDT

“Our tool is more than a beauty product, it’s a conversation starter," Choi, who is of Korean descent, previously told fashion site Beauty Independent. "There are nuances of someone’s world that you won’t see if you’re not part of that community. And we felt that the conversation around why this market is so underserved should be brought to light and talked about. We are seeing such a big change now in fashion and beauty in terms of representation, and we want to be able to have that conversation without it being heavy. We want it to be approachable. Our brand is very approachable.”

When it comes to moving in the black hair space, Sillah feels empowered at Mama Tress. It also makes it easy to develop black hair tools like the styler. "I feel like my voice is listened to because I am a consumer of all these things. It's empowering to be in a position to have more control," she said. "If we're being honest, a lot of the black hair spaces are not owned by people who look like us. To be in a position where I can say "No, don't create this product, we don't wear things like this,' or 'Actually you should name it this because this resonates with this community,' I'm an advocate for my community. That's part of the reason why Baby Tress was created because it's about a larger conversation, about things not being thoughtfully made for us."

Baby Tress' next steps are to make the styler accessible to consumers and create even more products dedicated to black women.

“We need to be in retail spaces because this is a product you need to see up close and touch it and play with it,” said Shannon Kennard, account executive at Mama Tress tells Glossy. “Everyone who tries it falls in love with it.”

Sillah is more than ready for women of color to elevate their beauty regimen, one creation at a time. The future of Baby Tress includes an array of more products designed with women of color in mind.

"Anything that has to do with baby hair, we can bring to Baby Tress and make it beautifully designed and effective," she said.  "That's what this is about. It's about that step up. Again, we should not be using a toothbrush anymore."

Learn more about Baby Tress here.


Continue Reading

Top Stories