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Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio.

Straight outta Yellow Springs: the incomparable Issa Ali

Issa Ali performs at the Brightside in downtown Dayton during Sonic Spring 2022
Ruthie Herman | IG: @spaceshipruthie

Some people just stand out. They make heads turn in a room, they make people gawk at the mall. A few people in life are stars, and then a fewer number are even bigger stars…stars that burn just a little brighter than the others. You know ‘em when you see 'em. And in that category, you can place Issa Ali.

If you live in the Miami Valley, and you have a Facebook account, you know who Issa is. He’s one of the most popular citizens in the region. He’s got nearly 5000 ‘friends’ on The ‘Book, and probably knows way more than that. His posts are wildly popular, and a big part of that is because he often showcases his Hip-Hop endeavors. That’s right, not only is Issa a famous personality, he’s an exceptional rapper.

In the past few years, Issa has dropped albums, had a huge debut this Summer on national radio for his latest single Wanna Feel You, performed on stage and in the studio with rap music greats Talib Kweli, Kardinal Offishall, Hi-Tek, and rocked the stage during the Gem City Shine benefit, organized by Issa’s good friend…Dave Chappelle. Even one of the greatest comedians of all time is an Issa Ali fan.

“I'm an artist, producer, and songwriter born in Dayton Ohio. I started rapping in 5th grade with my friends. I have many inspirations, but I was largely inspired by a Timbaland album called Tim's Bio: Life from da Bassment. (The first hip hop album I ever bought). I was fascinated with the beats and the wide range /diversity of artists on the project. I still pattern my work off of that project to this day," says Ali.

I asked him about his ties and love for Yellow Springs, and he said, '' Yellow Springs is very special to me, having roots here. The cultural diversity and freedom of expression in Yellow Springs represents me, and I hope it continues to reflect those values.”

For those interested in listening to Issa’s music, he spoke about his most recent work, “I am working on all types of new music and production. I currently have two solo projects out: Book of Issa & 'Book of Issa Verse II : With All Due Respect. I have a lot more in store to be announced soon. Touring TBA (to be announced).”

In closing, I inquired about his ultimate goals for his career as an artist, and he laid it out, “The ultimate goal for my music and career is to bring more beauty to the world, and serve by helping others get through whatever they are going through.”

There you have it, the Issa Ali Experience. If you want to be a part of it, you may want to wear sunglasses, because his star is burning bright.

Miami Valley Music Focus explores the places and people behind the music of Southwest, Ohio. This series is made possible by support from Ohio Arts Council.

Greg Simms Jr. is a veteran content creator and cultural expert who's worked for numerous digital publications over the years. He's a resident of Greene County, but he's always aware of social-cultural events happening all over the Miami Valley. To contact Greg, email him at: grgsmmsjr@gmail.com