Dave Chappelle introduced local hip-hop artist Issa Ali as “one of our own” when Ali performed live at Chappelle’s July 4th celebration in Yellow Springs.
“Be proud,” Chappelle told the audience.
Ali was born in Dayton and grew up in Yellow Springs. Chappelle has been supportive of this up-and-coming local artist by featuring him at his celebrity-filled events, which have been hosted at the Wirrig Pavilion in Yellow Springs this summer. Even when Ali is not performing live, Chappelle has been using singles from his album to open and close out his events.
These outdoor concerts have been one of the few entertainment events happening in the entire country, and have brought in major talent from both the comedy and music worlds, including Chris Rock, Jon Stewart, Erykah Badu, Questlove, Talib Kweli, Common, Frédéric Yonnet, Tiffany Haddish, Michael Che, and Michelle Wolf, among others.
“It was truly a dream come true to share the stage with legends I grew up listening to,” Ali told us. “I’m a kid from a small town with a big dream. I’m so thankful for Dave. Only he could bring all of these legends together for this beautiful and safe event in the midst of a world crisis. I got to be a part of history.”
Performing at Chappelle’s events has also given Ali a chance to connect with rappers he’s looked up to like Kweli.
Kweli rose to fame through his work with fellow Brooklyn rapper Mos Def, and their group Black Star. He’s also collaborated with Kanye West, Pharrell Williams, along with his solo work. His most recent solo album titled “Radio Silence” was released in 2017.
On Tuesday, July 21, Ali and Kweli were interviewed together on “Table of Content,” a hip-hop show hosted by Jason Jordan (aka 3J the DJ) on WYSO 91.3 FM. Jordan’s interview included tracks from and discussion of Ali’s new debut album “Book of Issa.”
“I’d like to thank my team and everyone who has supported me on my journey as an artist and producer. Without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Ali said in an interview with this news organization.
“I’ve always wanted to inspire others who come from humble beginnings, and that’s the running theme of my album ‘Book of Issa’ — making something out of nothing, turning water to wine,” Ali said. “Collaborating with legends, and performing on legendary stages, makes it that much sweeter. I truly feel blessed.”