Aesthetic as Activism: Abdu Ali
Nia Hampton | Monday March 13th 2017
In the late 60’s, a widely used slogan in the feminist movement was, “the personal is political.” And this past year, we’ve seen an overall increase in political awareness around the world. Everyday our favorite brands are vocalizing their support for a certain cause. Our favorite fashion institutions are taking a stand against injustice. We here at All the Pretty Birds are getting in on what we hope is more than just a trend. For a long time, Aesthetic was seen as something frivolous or only necessary in the world of art. But as the study of identity politics gains more traction, we’re realizing, you actually ARE what you wear. I’ve decided to talk to some very powerful people in their own right. Activists who use their mediums of art to fight for their personal cause, and find out not only what’s in their closet, but why?
This month’s feature is Abdu Ali a bad ass musician, writer and activist from Baltimore, Maryland who is known to Push and Slay. Abdu Ali is currently on tour in Europe but managed to squeeze some time in to talk to us Pretty Birds.
What does aesthetic mean to you?
They’re different meanings for aesthetic for different forms of expression. As an artist, I believe aesthetic is the armor of your creative expression. It’s what you choose to give people on sight and what they immediately have access to.
What looks are you going for right now?
Right now, I am feeling the glamour and freedom of blackness in 70’s fashion and on the other end I’m feeling the sleekness and industrial looks of futurism/the present. I like to look opulent but also always dressed as if I am ready to battle. I guess I am somewhat trying to bring into fruition my interpretation of afrofuturism as a look. I am inspired by blaxploitation films like Shaft or Foxy Brown, the black heroes of the 70s, and how they represent warriors conquering to protect their land, their people, and or themselves usually from white supremacy fuck shit. I fantasize as them on stage. I also love Japanese animation that focuses on post apocalyptic premises where humanity is fighting to sustain humanity against their own creations of destruction. The looks in the anime be so on and so about being dressed daily as if you are entering a warzone. I often feel like I am both a character from a blaxploitation film and an anime cartoon.
What are some internal/external changes you’d like to see in life this year? What changes are you making personally and what changes would you like to see in the world?
I def want to get my body to it’s finest. Not necessarily for vanity reasons but just to be centered and healthy. It’s also inspired by the idea of always being prepared for battle. How can I fight the daily challenges from antiblackness and white supremacy or homophobia if my body ain’t together?! I need not only my soul and mind and heart to be on fleek but my body too, so I can be fully focused for the fuck shit.
As far as the changes I want to see in the world, I’ve honestly been a pessimist these days, in a sense where I don’t see present society being able to change in a healthy way for us all because we are so deep in the destruction of this earth, animals, and ourselves. But being a pessimist doesn’t mean to be hopeless or inactive but to change your focus on a different way to progress. I think if anything, we have to find change within ourselves on a deep deep deep level to a point where we access internal liberation for the sake of preservation and survival. Everybody thinks that the only way to be radical or to gain liberation is externally and combating the IRL systems that plague our society but there are many systems and universes within ourselves that need healing and liberation too and thus are very important to be engaged with.
What’s your makeup/hair care/skincare/self-care ritual looking like?
For self-care body and skin upkeep, I definitely emphasize the importance of drinking water. Our body is water and needs it to regenerate and heal. I try to drink at least two liters of water a day. I don’t think people truly understand how much drinking mad water (preferably spring or alkaline water) can do for your body and skin. If you drink mad water I am sure you don’t need much to keep ya skin on fleek. And I use this shea butter mixture that MOVA QUEEN makes, that I swear by. I can use it for everything, hair, face, and body. I only use organic and natural body products too.
What are your Muses/Inspirations at the moment?
Hmm. I am inspired by the hustle and achievements of my friends. A lot of them are getting it in their creative fields and that is truly motivating me.
What creative projects are you working on right now?
Right now I am doing a lot of touring. But when I get time to sit the fuck down, I will work on my first album, that I will put out independently. I want to be more intimate and vulnerable. A lot of my previous works have been more of me speaking about external issues that I deal with but not really anything internally. Not only do I believe being more open will help me grow as a creator but also help my listeners relate to me more and get something else out of my music that I have not yet delivered. It’s going to be called, Keep It Flowing.
Keep up with Abdu Ali on all social media @abdu_ali and download his latest EP here: Mongo by Abdu Ali