Multi-Faceted Artist, Founder of Are U
Wasting Time?, Youth Advocate
and Motivational Speaker
Asim Ali: I would like to thank Talent Spotlight Magazine for allowing Are U Wasting Time? the opportunity to be interviewed. We are extremely grateful for your coverage of our efforts. Wow, there is a lot going on. Where do I begin?
We live in very different times! I don’t know if you know this, but in the U.S. it’s documented that in 2007, 1,626,523 children under age eighteen were arrested. Of the arrests in 2007, 73,427 were for violent crimes and 33,187 were for possession of a weapon. US fourth graders are among the top students in the world. By eighth grade, they’re in the middle of the pack, but in high school U.S. Students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations.(CWLA)
Not to mention, the violent street gangs Crips and Bloods originated in a single county in California and now have a documented presence in all fifty states of the U.S., globally and also in the United States Armed Services. – “There are no more safety zones!”
We are losing the battle – the power of denial is claiming lives! For many around the world, not just the U.S., street gangs, drug trade, usage and violence are ways of life. Literacy, low self esteem, drug trade and usage all seem to be factors connected to the growth of this alarming social phenomenon. Sophisticated entrepreneurial operations make enormous proﬁts while helping to expand the inﬂuence of gangs through music, music videos and violent video games. If you thought living in a million dollar plus home and community automatically protected you and your loved ones from what was once considered an urban horror, think again. Afﬂuent suburbs, small towns and rural areas are now on alert and rightfully so.
We at Are U Wasting Time? / Are U Wasting Time? TV (AUWT TV Cable Programming)” are making attempts to reach youth on their ground and speaking with them in their language. What I mean is stepping off the traditional high horse of adult wisdom and admitting that we are the blame for where our youth are today. When adults raise children, they are born knowing very little beyond instinctive behaviors. Normally, parents take proud credit for youth accomplishments, yet when they fall from grace are often times quick to blame peers and rap or hard rock music. To me, thatʼs crazy. Are U Wasting Time? begins our dialogue process with youth by ﬁrst stating, “Hey we messed up but still want to help.”
With the glorious images of wealth regularly cascaded across the Tel-Li-Visions of the world, it should be no mystery that so many stay glued to the idea that success may come to them through rap, reality TV or being some sort of star. To that end, we have developed a provocative platform of training that is anchored in the arts. We have found with many schools abandoning art programs and sticking to traditional methods of drilling students on right verses wrong, out of boredom and sheer disconnect issues a number of youth seem to be slipping through what appears to be an ever growing crack. This abyss is increasing leading to more arrest, deaths and violent behavior across the globe. We just think itʼs time to reach out to the Hip Hop Generation with art, a language that they seem to trust. (You can read the mission and check out the services that Are U Wasting Time? offers under TSM‘s featured cause.)
Jessica: What projects are you currently working on now?
Asim Ali: We plan to release my two disc set DVD/CD by the third quarter of 2011 entitled Are U Wasting Time? Volume #1. The proceeds largely will be used to help fund youth services. What can listeners and viewers expect to experience from the artistic works of television show producer, Hip Hop spoken word recording artist, youth empowerment program developer, student advocate, writer, entertainer, video grapher, and inspirational speaker Asim Ali? Focused, responsible passion!
The origin of all Are U Wasting Time? work comes from the heart of my life’s experience, observations, hopes, dreams and overall concerns for what ails us as a civilized society. The approach to creating music and film projects I use is aimed to increase awareness, and also looks to inspire change in the way we as a society think, act and interact with one another.
My art looks to brings to life the emotions of frustration, pain and also hope. I perform a unique brand of in your face “Hip Hop / Spoken Word” and the heart gripping real life images that have been captured on film.
I use powerful and inspiring words that are brashly combined eloquently with composed jazz influenced Hip Hop music and unforgettably eye catching images of everyday people displayed in their natural element.
My motto is, “Sometimes it takes the controversial to make the reversal.” Spoken word that touches the soul.
Also we are in production creating our third season of cable TV programming for The Comcast Cable Network. We are currently in talks with a number of other entities at this time as well.
Are U Wasting Time? TV is a thirty minute Guerrilla produced and marketed urban music video, celebrity interviews and reality talk show designed to be entertaining, provocative, interesting, and keep the viewers glued to their TV screens. The show will consist of quality entertainment, Hollywood celebrity red carpet interviews, comedians, music video of national and upcoming artist, live performances, community resources, creative culinary design and provocative in your face commentary from today’s youth.
Serious artists should send music videos to TV@AreUWastingTime.Com. We feature artist from all over the globe. All works must be owned by submitting party, radio edit, professionally polished and accompanied with a promotional budget. We sell a variety of ad packages to pay of air time. This is a great way to increase visibility for a product or service and drive trafﬁc to a business website.
Asim Ali: I draw inspiration from a number of spaces. The largest would be submitting to an inner calling to leave something on this earth that is good and that can be serviceable to all mankind. My message is that all things are in Divine and correct order. Even those things you don’t like or understand. It’s never about you alone, we are all a part of a whole. What we do as individuals affect the whole. On a more personal note, there are a number of individuals that are very close to me caught up in gang banging that to me are good people.
Unfortunately, the system has a vivid memory, affording those that may have started out slightly miss guided virtually no real chance to join the ranks of the so-called good citizens. So with their daily lives filled with despair, trouble finding good paying jobs or being unable to secure loans to start legitimate businesses, a number of good men and women stay in the streets. I push forward to inspire my family and any that will listen to a message of hope. Not to sound corny, or to bite off Obama but “Yes you can!”
I evolved as a gritty survivor of the crime filled streets of urban America. I was the oldest of five and was reared by my hard working mother who was plague with debilitating arthritis as a young woman but kept the family together as best she could. My father was an imprisoned Muslim and street hustler that maintained virtually no family contact. So determined to overcome the inner city statistical odds of poverty, jail time and early death, I refused to give up! And although St. Louis city will always be considered home, I credit much to living in the The Bronx, Harlem and Queens New York with helping shape my artistic direction. 130th and St. Nicholas in Harlem New York is where I recorded my first demo, and Jessica my friend, I never looked back. Never give up! That, to me, is wasting time.
Asim Ali: I would say a number of things helped me push forward. Near death experiences for one definitely played a role. Being shot or shot at is not cool. Catching twenty five with a L, which means Life in Prison, is not cool. Dying in a pool of blood face down at sixteen is not the move.
At some point Jessica, I realized that some Divine Presence was sparing me from all that was taking so many off this earth. I choose not to make this a religious retort, simple because saying Jesus or Allah over Divine Presence seems to cause separation, and Iʼm just not with that. In the end, the will to live and the desire to be remembered in a positive light won the battle of hustling in the streets over living and growing old as a positive man.
I would love to give you some high tech answer beyond that but I have none. Life is all we know, everything else is speculation to me. Of course, Iʼd love to go to heaven, or the land of milk and honey as it is often called. But Iʼm lactose intolerant, not sure how thatʼs all going to work out. Seriously, Iʼm just saying life on this earth is a wonderful gift and me creating Are U Wasting Time? is my way of proving it and doing good while I’m here. You feel me?
Jessica: Tell us about Are U Wasting Time? It’s an interesting name for your organization. What is the meaning behind the name? And what led to the creation of it?
Asim Ali: Are U Wasting Time? came out of a space of personal reﬂection. Quite frankly I looked at my life, what I had accomplished to date and had given myself a bad grade considering how intelligent and gifted I know I am. Asim, why have you underachieved? I asked, myself Are U Wasting Time? Thus, the movement was born.
Jessica: I read that New York helped shape your artistic direction and this is where you recorded your first demo. Tell us about this first demo.
Asim Ali: Wow, those were the days. Latin Quarters, The Red Parrot, Bentleys, RUN DMC at Nassau Colosseum. That was when every Hip Hop Star had a unique sound. Rakim, LL Cool J, The Fresh Prince, Grand-wizard Theodore, Chuck Chill-out, Cool DJ Red Alert, WBLS, 98.7, Ed Lover & Dr. Dre (Not NWA Dre.)
I lived in the Bronx and my good friend to this day, Ravon Parker who was from Concourse Village in The Bronx made some of my beats. We went to a place called Ready or Not Studios in Harlem. I remember using a loop from the loose end song “Donʼt be a fool”, we sampled it and I recorded my ﬁrst joint. For those that donʼt know joint means track. It was entitled “Itʼs all about coming up!”
Man I was so proud of myself. I fell in love with writing and recording. For me, it was like therapy. It was a way to release demons in the form of awful memories. It was a way for the world to hear my thoughts, feelings and experiences. I never found joy in rapping about a car I didnʼt really own. My style was always substantive. Living in NYC, we called it, “Kicking Knowledge.”
Man those where the days. I recorded with my good friend Rob Artist. He put me on with Levi from Teddy Rileyʼs Group Black Street, DJ Moet, King SUNʼs DJ, and I even appeared in a Rage and The Machine Video. Had a chance to sign with Proﬁle Records back then but it fell through. I performed with a well known group call LOD (Legion A Doom) while being signed to a management company in Jersey also, but hey it just wasnʼt my time back then.
Jessica: Who are some people you admire and look up to?
Asim Ali: There are not many people I can say that I look up to. After all, people are bound to disappoint you at some point when you project your value system on them and expect others to be all you want them to be, instead of just excepting them for who they are. There is one person that I hold high when it comes to admiration. That person is Ali. Why Muhammad Ali? Here is a guy that gave up millions of dollars, his heavy weight boxing championship belts that he worked so hard to achieve, and sacriﬁced the prime competitive years of his career for what he believed. How could you not admire that?
Asim Ali: I would give every person that sincerely wanted to change their life space into something positive the opportunity, know how and resources to do so. Why? Well on a selfish note, the good karma alone, perhaps might save my soul and besides I love a challenge.
Jessica: What is one of your favorite quotes (or lines) that inspires you?
Asim Ali: “Sometimes it takes the controversial to make the reversal.” – Asim Ali
Jessica: Anything else you’d like to share? And where can our readers find out more about you and your work?
Asim Ali: Thank you again, Jessica and TSM for this awesome opportunity to get the word out there. I would like to ask that any readers with common interest, individuals that are interested in having our Youth Empowerment Tour visit to help with students, sponsors, donors, collaborative producers and new fans to reach out to me for global partnerships. Due to U.S.ʼs inﬂuence via culture, music, ﬁlms, music videos, many of the problems we experience here in the states appear in other countries also. We believe children from all corners of the globe could benefit from our efforts. We want to come to your country no matter where you are. Let us bridge the gap in the name of providing real resources of empowerment through art!
Email us at Info@AreUWastingTime.Org
Jessica: Thank you so much again for taking time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. Wish you the best of luck with all your projects.
Asim Ali: Thanks again TSM and ask yourself, Are U Wasting Time?