2017 Steve Granitz
Steve Granitz

This Calvin Klein model and Oscar-winning actor used to go by the rap name, Prince Ali.

Mariya Moseley
Mar, 01, 2017

For the majority of us, when we hear the name Mahershala Ali, we instantly think of his Oscar-winning performance in Moonlight, Hidden Figures, House Of Cards or Marvel’s Luke Cage. But this Golden Globe winning actor is a man of many talents.

Performing under the rap name Prince Ali, he used to spit bars. And the thing is, he wasn’t bad at all.

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The 43-year-old actor began his rap career shortly after earning his masters degree in acting from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. As written in his iTunes biography, he’s described as a ‘Bay Area rhymesayer’ who ‘combines a flaunting, B-boy-like swagger with nuances of spirituality, a strong implication of his Souls of Mischief influence.’  

The Fader reports that the Oakland native founded his own label, Eye5 Recordings, and released his Corner Ensemble project in 2006. The project was later released by Hiero Emporium, the label founded by seminal Oakland hip-hop crew Hieroglyphics, who also released his Curb Side Service project in 2007.

In an interview with GQ, he talked about his first memory of hip-hop — when he heard Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s “The Show.”

“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,” he continued.