Dayton-area rapper expands creative arsenal on new album



Music has been part of Issa Ali’s life since a young age but he continues to find ways to expand his skillset. The Yellow Springs-based rapper recently discussed his decision to add some new weapons to his creative arsenal on his new album, “Book of Issa: Verse III: Three Birds One Stone.”

Early induction: “My dad bought me a drum set when I was 7 or 8 years old. I used to play for the church choir. I used to have a little keyboard when I was 8 or 9 years old, and I’d be on it all day every day. I started writing rhymes in sixth grade and my friend got a little drum machine around that time. He had a little keyboard, so we learned how to manually program beats together. It’s been a natural evolution and progression of production since then.”

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One-man operation: “What’s unique about this album, I actually recorded it myself in my own studio. Of course, I made the beats, wrote and mixed and mastered it myself. This album was a complete, 100 percent, Issa production. There are very few dope artists and producers who do both at a high level. That gives me a lane that’s unique. Plus, I love it. I love making beats. I love writing rhymes. I love performing. They came up simultaneously and all work together hand-in-hand.”

Fluid evolution: “I started watching these little YouTube tutorials on how to mix and master to learn more about the process. I just needed to know the technical things like what plug-ins, settings and knobs to use. Once I figured that out, it was pretty much all by ear. I feel like I already have a natural ear as a producer. It was just time for me to do that part of it and I just basically kept making songs. I cut 20 or 30 songs off of it. It’s just in me. I can’t help it. It just always runs through me.”

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Embracing the process: “I found my ears in every part of making these songs and, for me, that gave it more life. That’s kind of the nerdy part of it, in a way, but I enjoy knowing how to do it. I feel like it gave me a level of freedom I’ve always wanted in my expression of art and music. Now, I don’t have to worry about anything. I can put music out anytime I want.”

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