Mahershala Ali’s alter ego Prince Ali made a recent appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival when the Academy Award-winning actor freestyled during an interview.
Ali is currently at the festival promoting his upcoming film, Green Book, in which he plays a pianist on tour in the American South accompanied by a white chauffeur (Viggo Mortensen).
Host Amanda Parris shared the freestyle on Twitter, writing, “That time I asked Mahershala Ali to drop some bars live on stage with no warning and he delivered.”
During the late 2000s, Ali was signed to Bay Area label Hieroglyphics Imperium Recordings, founded and owned by underground hip-hop collective Hieroglyphics.
Discussing his love of hip-hop in a 2016 interview with GQ, Ali said, “My first moment where I felt like I couldn’t live without this music [laughs] was when I heard Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s ‘The Show’ on the radio station in the Bay Area and I’m twelve years old.”
He continued, “I sat by the radio station the whole weekend changing the dial from different radio stations to see if they would play ‘The Show.’ I felt like my head was going to explode. I love hip-hop. It’s such an appendage for me. It’s something that’s always shaped my experience out in the world. I always make mixtapes for every character that I’m playing. Sonically, that character has a soundtrack.”
Hmm, we wonder what those character mixtapes have on them.