Of course it is.
With the reach of Hip Hop having impactful touches within the different cities and little towns throughout the country, even overseas, it’s hardly farfetched that Oakland, California native and newly Oscar Award winner Mahershala Ali’s accounts of Hip Hop being one of his biggest influences would not be true.
The Moonlight actor confirmed in an interview with XXL that he was in fact a heavy hip-hop head back in the day. Not unlike many others, Ali said, “I think there’s so many people of color, and even White kids, that have been tolerating the stresses of their own problems and what not and were able to navigate so many things through the culture of hip-hop and create jobs, have opportunities and been able to express themselves and finding their identity in.”
Before taking on the acting world, Ali confirmed to being a little bit of a b-boy and a break dancer at one point, like most hip hop heads in their adolescence. Ali talked about his many influences as a kid from the Bay, with his father being from New York, his preferred sound of hip hop would stretch beyond the West Coast.
Listening to folks like Hieroglyphics and the Hobo Junction guys, New York’s Diamond D, Nas, Brand Nubian, of course Biggie, Organized Confusion, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Digable Planets; OutKast, and some of the L.A. cats like Defari, Dilated Peoples and Likwit Crew. Not to mention, the Luke Cage series of which he stars tying to hip hop in an unmistakeable way, with each episode being named after a Gang Starr song; and his Cottonmouth character being a big Notorious B.I.G. fan. There is hardly a person in today’s lifetime that can’t say that hip hop hasn’t crept its way into their homes in someway or another.
Even when mama said she didn’t want you playing that rap stuff in her house, you would somehow find a way. Now look, today Hip Hop reigns.
Seriously, who didn’t have their own crew back in the day?