Lord Ali Ba-Ski – The Unkut Interview

One of the unsung heroes of the original Flavor Unit was Lord Ali Ba-Ski (aka The Human Body Chart), who wrecked shit something terrible on the 45 King Presents…The Flavor Unit album. I always wondered why he didn’t drop any other records after that album, and after I did a post about him as part of 2006’s Flavor Unit Special, the big man himself blessed the comment section. It goes without saying that I followed-up with an interview request, and as is often the case it took over a year before we finally got a chance to build – but it was well worth the wait.

What better way to mark the 350th post on Unkut Dot Com than an exclusive with this Flavor Unit originator?

Robbie: So you’re 6’8″ and you used to play ball?

Ali Ba-Ski: I went to junior school in Kentucky, then I transferred to a four-year in Alabama – Sanford University. I left there after the first year. We used to run them bleaches around the whole stadium, and then I got diagnosed with something called Osgood’s Slaughter. That’s when you real tall and the bone beneath your knee-cap slips from under there – you get mad tendonitis. After that happened, I was still able to play but I just lost my drive for it. They had me projected to play overseas professionally and everything! I was the number two player in the State of Kentucky as a freshman, and then I was the number one player in my sophomore year, before I got all the offers and everything. I was out there handling my business. While all that was going on, I wasn’t even thinking of rap.

Apache and Latee, they my first cousins. They pretty much pulled me in the game. They was goin’ over to East Orange, New Jersey – to Mark house – and they asked me did I want to go one day, so I went over there with ‘em. They used to be over there – Apache, Latee, Chill Rob, Lakim Shabazz – they used to be in there freestyling, and Taheed used to be there too. He used to be down with Apache, they used to have their little group, there was two of ‘em. I used to be in there, sipping on my 40’s while they was doin’ their thing, and then just outta the blue one day I shocked all of ‘em and just said something that I had written, and they was all on the ground rollin’ and laughin’ and cracking up! After that it was one verse after the other, it never stopped. All it did was get better.

Then you had four solo tracks on the Flavor Unit album. Was that an album that was put together from start to finish, or was that just a collection of songs?

No. When I signed with Tuff City and Aaron Fuchs, the idea was for me to complete a whole album. I was in the process of doing that – me and my DJ, Grand Wizard BK. After he left me he started deejaying for Sugar Ray.

BK The Bootsmoker? From Double XX Posse?

Yep. We went over to New York and we brought Aaron some tracks that BK made, and they was hot. So he came to the conclusion “OK, yeah” – we got in the studio. Mark was a part of it too. He still had tracks. But the only thing about Mark is – he never gave me tracks to write to. I had so many flows that my verses could go to any tempo – slow, fast, medium or what-have-you. It wasn’t until we got to the studio he would ask me “You like this? You like this? You like this?” as opposed to giving me something to write to. I never had that luxury like the rest of ‘em. So me and my man BK, after Aaron got us up in the studio, we started working on our album. He hadn’t done any of the tracks – every track that was done was with Mark. “The Flavor Unit Assassination Squad” wasn’t slated for my album or nothin’ but it was something we did and it was fun. The original songs was the ones that were slated to go on the album, that was on the so-called compilation album. When I was in the studio working on mine, he [Aaron] just popped-up one day all of a sudden and said “We need another Lakim Shabazz album tomorrow”. I’m looking at him like “Yo, what that got to do with me?”

What happened was, he put Lakim back in the studio and then there wasn’t no time set up for us! So I said to myself: “You know what, man? This is a bullshit label, because this guy can’t even afford to have two artists in the studio at the same time?” And after that happened, I was like “Well if that’s the case, then money-wise this is gonna be a bullshit deal”. Plus, unlike the rest of ‘em that waited so late in the Flavor Unit, I wasn’t at the point where rap was gonna feed me anyway, because I always worked hard. All of ‘em will tell you – I always kept a good job. So I wasn’t really beefin’ with Aaron or beefin’ with any of ‘em. When he put Lakim in the studio, I just left. I just cut off all ties with him. He was calling me, telling me he wanted to get me back in there, this, that and the third.

One day I’m on my way to work and I hear “Crunch Time” on the radio and I’m like “Wow” [chuckles], then I hear “Lyrics In Motion” another time and I’m like “Whoa!”. But it was enough bait for me, you know what I’m sayin? I used to literally bodyguard for Monie Love and Queen Latifah, when we used to do the college tour up on 95. Used to go to Delaware State and all the places where they had shows at. My job was to make sure they get to the bathroom and back! [laughs] Monie Love used to tell me shit like: “Ali Ba-Ski, I gotta wee-wee!” and I used to clear the way and let ‘em know “Back up! Back up! We coming through!” She’s back on the radio now, she’s with Ed Lover again.

She’s still in good shape from what I’ve seen.

Mmm, yeah.

So basically there were records that you’d made, and Aaron Fuchs just started putting them out after you severed ties?

Exactly! When he saw that I wasn’t gonna come back…then him and Mark always did work together, and that’s what they did. They put all of those songs together on that compilation album. I had mad other material to follow-up with that, but…It’s funny, I was looking at the [Unkut] site, with the comments that people was giving me, and I was like “Wow, I didn’t know I had any fans!”

A lot of the Flavor Unit had a deep-voiced style, like Lakim had a deep baritone…

His voice definitely don’t go with his body at all!

I remember when I saw his album cover, I was like “Is that the same guy?”

[laughs] He’s a little midget, he’s got the whole big voice. But none of us never had no problems. All of us made the decisions we made. Actually, me, Latee, Chill Rob and Lakim – I think everybody just learned from our mistakes, and Apache just waited everything out to see how this game was gonna go. Latifah had the first, best deal, and then Double J had a chance with 4th & Broadway, and then Apache got the next deal when he brought the “Gangsta Bitch” out. Then came all the new Flavor Unit people – Naughty By Nature, Black Sheep and all them cats. They learned from our mistakes not to jump in the fire like that. I don’t know what that garbage was Latifah put out in California. The Unit? Oh, that was a wack-ass album. Those guys are trippin’, that whole name was created by Latee. That whole idea and everything was his from the beginning. They just fired him recently from Flavor Unit Management.

He was still working for them until recently?

Yeah, after all these years! He was the head A&R! Maybe they stopped signing people to the management aspect and then they just let him go, out of the blue, saying there wasn’t no work – but they still kept all those non-discript people that wasn’t there from the beginning. Sha-Kim – that guy is a straight-up snake. For him to do that to Latee like that? The originator? I was like “Oh, this guy…”

Chill Rob told me how they just copyrighted the name without speaking to any of you guys.

Yeah. After the episode with Aaron Fuchs at Tuff City…even when we would go on the road, we had meetings. I remember one time I didn’t make a show, and they called me on the phone and they had me on speaker, and they asked me what was I going to do – as far as my music and everything goes – and I told them I didn’t even care. It didn’t make me no difference. I had a small-time goal – that’s to hear a song on the radio – and I heard it! They was all cracking-up in the background, they was like “He buggin’, man. He need to ghost-write for somebody or somethin!” All these years I just basically worked. I was back in the studio five years ago though. Me and my man Grandwizard Gary T – god bless his soul – he passed away while I was trying to make another album. We got five or six songs done. They was never mastered, they was demos – but they good demos. He passed away while we were in the process of doing that, coz he was so big. He was ten pounds bigger than Mark! He was damn-near at the point of being bed-ridden. But boy did he have Mark’s style and everything. This guy was good, so I was working with him and a couple of local cats from around here. I had my brother on one of the songs, and Latee and Lakim Shabazz was gonna do a song with me too. I gave them the concept and they was gonna get back with me on it, but when he passed away all that stuff was stopped. I still had a bunch of material, this album was gonna consist of at least nineteen songs, and all of ’em was bangers.

So what have you done with all of that material?

Nah, I’m done now. I’m done. It’s a wrap now. I still be having cats that want me to get down with ‘em, get on a song, every now and then. I might go to the old neighborhood, see people in the little ciphers, in the circle, freestyling or whatnot. They’ll flag me down, “Come over!” – think I still don’t have it, then I end-up chippin’ them up real fast, jump back in the van and go. [chuckles]

What do you think sets New Jersey apart in terms of style?

When rap first came out man, everybody was real intrigued with it and I think cats over in New Jersey, we did so much listening to the New York rappers when it first dropped, and they started having they little crews out here that used more different style and jingles to go with they music. Taken from the early Force MC’s, before they was the Force MD’s, some of Doug Fresh earliest shit, coz Doug Fresh used to come over here and rhyme with these cats called Sweet, Slick and Slide that was from Jersey City – Albee Al and them, god bless his soul, he passed away – we used to have all of ‘em come over here, and in regards to Jersey City, that’s who pulled us cats in the game. People like the Devastating Tito from Fearless Four used to come over here, everyone used to come over here, mixtapes of him on there, freestyling. Kool Moe Dee used to come over here, and this guy from Jersey City named Chief Chuckaluck – he knew all of ‘em, so he was the one that used to bring them over this way. We played the outside early on, but I think we did a lot more listening than anybody, coz we right next to New York.

You were saying that Kool Moe Dee was a big influence on you. Who else were you checking for?

KRS and Rakim, and LL with his earlier stuff. Not the lover-boy LL though. The hardcore LL – the very first album, with “Dangerous” and all that hard stuff on there.

Did you used to get into many battles around the schoolyard?

Aw man, plenty of times. You ask anybody about the little ciphers we used to have around here, man? Shhh, I used to chip cats up on a regular basis. We might be in a bar drinking and go outside and be like “Oh what’s up? You still got it? I’ll bust your ass” and just let ’em know there’s still some work in there that I could go upside you head with. [chuckles] Me and Chill Rob used to be out there, eating them cats alive. Going over Mark’s house – we couldn’t wait! He used to be fuckin’ around all the time, blazing his trees and we used to all be in there blazing trees and everything, waiting for this guy to throw some tracks on so we could get busy! He used to be in there bullshittin’ and we’re like “Damn, man! Are we going to get down or what?” Chill Rob or Latee used to have to be the ones that asked him to throw some music on so we could freestyle. If me, Apache or Double J was like “Come on, we wanna rip, yo. Put some shit on!” He was like “I don’t feel like doin’ it”, this or that. And when he did, we used to be down there for hours, like a golf round. Be down for three or fours straight, freestylin’. Everybody with mad material. I don’t think anybody had more verse than me, Chill Rob and Lakim. When they said all they could say, we was still goin’ back to back

Did you guys used to record all of that?

Yeah! I know Mark’s still got all of that stuff around the house. He’s still got all them old freestyles, he used video some of them and everything! He don’t throw nothing away. I actually used to write for Mark, I wrote some verses for Mark. Did he tell you that?

Nah, I forgot to ask him about that.

If you look at Latifah’s first album, I wrote a song on there for her too, and I wrote his verses.

“A King and Queen Creation”?

Yeah. That shit was hot, for a duo. They shoulda gave that song a chance, it used to ring in my ears all the time. It had the vicious horns on there!

Did you write any of his other rhymes?

Anything you hear with 45 King where he’s rhyming on a song? Either I wrote it or Lakim Shabazz wrote it. I didn’t get no royalties or nothing for it – I just did it for him coz that’s my man, you know?

How come there were never any pictures of you in magazines or anything?

All you had to do to catch me back in the days – any time there was something going on with regards to the Flavor Unit, I was there. All you had to do was look for the biggest motherfucker in the crowd! [laughs]

Did you used to perform in Jersey a lot?

I did some local stuff around here, like at The Boys Club and stuff like that. That used to be on the humbug, it wasn’t nothing that I anticipated doin’. Like Apache and Taheed did a show at the Boys Club in Jersey City and they called me up to get down with ‘em, so I got up there and was ripping with ‘em, had the crowd in a frenzy and everything, like “Yo! I ain’t even know this motherfucker rap, yo!” I’ll tell you boy, when we was in the Apollo though, I was hoping so bad he’d let me get up there and rip with him. Apache went against the grain though, man. Everybody that rolled with him, with the Flavor Unit, once he got on – you know how you’re supposed to bring your crew on and everything else? He just ended up with a whole different bunch of people, man! We was all of a sudden not in the mix with him, and he had a whole new crew and everything! I was like “Whoa!” And it’s family! What’s the science behind that? Apache is on permanent disability now. He has a bruised heart.


He has a bruised heart – really.

Sorry, I though you were kidding.

No, that’s real. He’s in the ministry now. He’s in the church like you wouldn’t believe, Robbie. He’s trying to be a minister and everything. He’s saved, sanctified, baptized and all of that stuff!

How do you get a bruised heart though?

He got his bruised heart from when he was with that label and making all that good money, coz Apache got the biggest shine – not including Naughty By Nature and Latifah and all the rest of ‘em – but as far as the original Flavor Unit cats? He got the biggest shine outta all of us, as far as money. I mean he had a $250,000 budget with his label, see. And Apache did show after show after show. He was getting triple what Chill Rob was getting for a show. He used to get anywhere from 7 G’s to 20 G’s a show! He went through some money. This guy used to get so high and drunk – his whole thing was a big ‘ol party. Then he bloated all the way up to 300 and something pounds, and mind you he’s like only 5’9″, 5’10”. He blew up to 300 pounds and the guys almost bed-ridden from getting so big, and then he went up and down. He had a couple of serious episodes, and then, you know how African-American people do – when shit go bad for them, they turn to the lord! [laughs] That’s what happened. Our family always was in the church. His mother, my father – we grew up in the church, prior to rapping and smoking weed and doing all that stuff, man. I ain’t gonna sit on this phone and tell you “I did five years down Borden Town!” or nothing like that shit. It seems like that has to be part of your M.O. to be successful – to have been locked-up before to be accepted into the rap game. I’ll tell somebody in a heart-beat – I went to church three times a week, and on the weekends, and still get in somebody ass! Without being locked-up!

Or being shot! That’s the new one.

Getting shot is a bonus!

Was “Top Gun” your favorite song from that compilation?

Nah. My favorite song was “Lyrics In Motion”, I liked that slow tempo.

Ali Ba-Ski – “Lyrics In Motion”

Unreleased tracks from Ali’s 2002 recordings:

Ali Ba-Ski – “Go Head Old Head”

Ali Ba-Ski – “Here It Is”

Ali Ba-Ski – “Sunny Days, Gloomy Nights”

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on RedditShare on TumblrDigg thisShare on StumbleUponEmail this to someone

36 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Dude is funny. Thanks for bringing this Rob. I think you should track down Apache and do an interview with him next.

Comment by End Level Boss 11.05.07 @

Another nice interview Rob.

Looks like Apache put Alibaski on for a bit – is he guarding Apache`s refridgerator in the first photo?

Comment by Beatlover 11.05.07 @

Nice interview yet again. These bits made me laugh:

She’s still in good shape from what I’ve seen.

Mmm, yeah.

Or being shot! That’s the new one.

Getting shot is a bonus!

and the bit where Robbie laughed at the bruised heart thing, although I would’ve laughed too, didn’t know that was a medical condition.

Comment by silent minority 11.05.07 @

yo does anyone have the remix to king and queen creation with the put it in beat? im from east orange and thats a classic

Comment by MERCILESZ 11.05.07 @

^ Yeah I posted it a while back. Re-up:

The 45 King – “A King And Queen Creation” (remix)

Comment by Robbie 11.05.07 @

oh my god…Lord Alibaski is one of my all time faves, he was crazy smooth with it, Robbie you never fail my good Man, another dope interview and jewels dropped.

Awesome work.

Comment by Jaz 11.05.07 @

Yo, what church is Apache in? Anyone know what state and church it is? Let me know if you do

Comment by Dave Cannon 11.05.07 @

haha Alibaski is a funny ass dude

“I’ll tell somebody in a heart-beat – I went to church three times a week, and on the weekends, and still get in somebody ass! Without being locked-up!”

Real Talk

Comment by Jaz 11.05.07 @

yo robbie…….wow…u get mad respect..i been looking for this for years….red used to play this in like 89…good looks i appreciate that 4 real…peace man

Comment by MERCILESZ 11.05.07 @

yo i havent hurd this since i was 10….this is great

Comment by MERCILESZ 11.05.07 @

dope interview… dope blog… bookmarked

Comment by max_bills 11.06.07 @

I still don’t see how you can bruise your heart from being 300 pounds. I know guys fatter than that and they don’t have bruised tickers.

I guess he spent that $250k advance on Chocodiles? At 39 cents a pop, those can blow you up quick!

Comment by Finally 11.06.07 @

good interview. I am a huge flavor unit fan. I always wondered about 45 King rhymes and whether he wrote them. I think that “king and queen creation” is his best verse so much props to Alibaski on that one.

Comment by kevin beacham 11.06.07 @

Great interview, Robbie. I always loved ‘Top Gun’ and ‘Lyrics In Motion’… The original incarnation of the Flavor Unit had to be one of the best cliques in hip-hop.

Comment by chr!s 11.06.07 @

I still had a bunch of material, this album was gonna consist of at least nineteen songs, and all of ‘em was bangers.
Yeah! I know Mark’s still got all of that stuff around the house. He’s still got all them old freestyles, he used video some of them and everything! He don’t throw nothing away.

Damn, I know dude said he was done, but can’t somebody get there hands on that stuff? The market for it is right here, readers of UNKUT, yo, we are the demographic, shit, put it out, pleeeeezzzzze!! Robbie stupid informative as always!!!

Comment by smoothtriumph 11.06.07 @

Great interview! Always dug Alibaski’s contributions on the Flavor Unit album.

Comment by R.H.S. 11.06.07 @

Great job as always. It’s a shame how all these guys are never mentioned with Juice Crew and all of them. Alibaski is dope. Shame we’ll probably never get to hear all the stuff 45 king has.

Anyways, if Alibaski reads this just know you definitely have fans still and we’d love to hear any material you have.

Comment by bbatson 11.06.07 @

Beautiful, as usual

Comment by Jay Smooth 11.06.07 @

Yo Robbie,

Way to put it down like I brung it to you. Everybody who shouted, good lookin’. I know a lot of people thought it was hilarious, but I was keepin it real gruesome like the only way I know how. I don’t sugar coat shit and again, if it made you laugh, cool. I don’t budge for no one! Some may not like the interview that is real close to me, but fuck em! Get over it. It’s the truth and it’s whatever!

Ali Ba-ski

Comment by Ali Ba-Ski 11.06.07 @

^ha when you’re 6’8″ do you need to sugarcoat anything?

anyways….. Ali Ba-Ski let’s release that stuff!

Comment by bbatson 11.07.07 @

yo Ali what bbatson said, for real

Comment by automatkalashnikov 11.07.07 @

whats with the shotgun is he hunting timberwolves?

Comment by sb 11.09.07 @

Shotgun status, clapping em up….Alibaski, what can I say……..You did and still have fans out there……Please release some more material, people are checkin for you more than you think……..It hurt my soul when Latifah tried to keep it poppin with those new Unit cats……In their ads they looked like some weirdo, lame, basketball cheerleaders or some shit…..Whatever……..Shame what they did with Latee, I always wondered what was up…….Anyway good to see this interview, get back in the lab…….Peace to you my brother……..Easy

Comment by shamz 11.09.07 @

Great interview as usual Robbie!!! Jersey has always had to take a back seat to NYC, but Jersey has always had innovators and has made major contributions to Hip Hop culture. Peace and respect to Lord Alibaski and the whole Jersey City, Irvington, Newark, East Orange, Paterson, Elizabeth, and Rahway areas. I have my share of memories of rolling through those cities during the eighties when things were poppin’.

Comment by Bronxbred 11.09.07 @

Mad love and respect top an OG pioneer… still bump lots of your music on our radio station…

…the drums on your older material are far more funky fresh than the newer materials trendy drum patterns…

wish you well … peace…

Comment by OG 11.13.07 @

Great interview. Dude kept it 100 on all fronts. Respect to Apache for getting his life in order. To dude who tried to make a joke about Apache, please don’t get the studio figure misconstrued. Apache made a lot of money as a ghost writer, dude has a Grammy and some hits under his belt.

Comment by Chill Devine 03.18.08 @

Ski U crazy as hell man this thing got LMBAO call me man… sup Robbie

Comment by CRG 03.24.08 @

Here’s some additional context to the story.

I actually produced the version of “Crunch Time” that’s on the Flavor Unit compilation album. I had a loose affiliation with the Flavor Unit, having worked with Lakim and Louie Vega, but I was pretty much just an in-house producer for Tuff City doing my own thing. I was assigned to the Flavor Unit project to go in and assess some of the masters and do whatever was needed to finish up the album. I ended up doing the final mix for “What it takes to be a rapper” and a complete re-working of “Crunch Time” which at the time was just Ali’s rhyme over a drum beat that sounded like slow marching drums — the rhyme was hot and I had the perfect track for it.

Airwave Sound was the studio where most of Tuff City’s material was recorded at the time and Kevin Crouse was the main engineer there. We put that track together mixed and in the can in a few hours. I was pleased with how it came out. It’s one my favorites that I did for T.C.

I remember hearing Chuck Chillout and Funkmaster Flex playing it on the radio. It was the first time I ever heard one of my records being played without knowing in advance and it felt pretty good. When The Source reviewed the album, I don’t remember how many mics it got, but I remember that Reef singled me out by name in the review as one of the highlights on that album which was ironic considering it was mostly Mark’s production — score one for the small guy. ;o)

I don’t recall ever really knowing Ali Ba-Ski, but it’s possible that we might have crossed paths a few times during my encounters with the Flavor Unit. My bad, bro if this is the case. I always wanted to hook up with him for some more work, but I was beginning to go through my own drama with the label around that time.

Comment by Mighty Maestro 05.12.08 @

i can’t believe BK from Double XX was his DJ!
Double XX and Black Moon were my fave crews in 92/93…

Comment by arkitek 05.20.09 @

A lot of the Flavor Unit had a deep-voiced style, like Lakim had a deep baritone…

His voice definitely don’t go with his body at all!

I remember when I saw his album cover, I was like “Is that the same guy?”

[laughs] He’s a little midget, he’s got the whole big voice. But none of us never had no problems.”


Comment by BINGRIM 08.05.09 @

Pound 4 pound, “Crunchtime” by Lord Alibaski is one of the greatest hip hop songs ever!!! Pure, unadulterated, gimmick-less hip hop! And the production from 45 King definitely increased the potency. The original Flavor Unit was (is) the ILLEST!!!!!!!

Comment by Zebulon 12.16.09 @

This was the Best Interview I’ve read in years. THE ORIGINAL FLAVOR UNIT…INCREDIBLE

Comment by Legendary 05.23.11 @

ur 4 real a thug nigga……man *gimme that spliff*

Comment by BADman 02.14.12 @

Yo Mighty Maestro!!! I got mad bars! Should be on KOTD, URL, and all that!!!

Comment by Alibaski 12.08.13 @

Mighty Maestro, Holla At Me!!

Comment by Alibaski 12.08.13 @

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>