Mahershala Ali Was A Rapper Before He Was An Oscar Winner

Introducing Prince Ali

by daniel barna

While Lin-Manuel Miranda narrowly missed out on the elusive EGOT on Sunday's 89th Academy Awards ceremony, Mahershala Ali got one step closer. If you're wondering how on earth Ali will ever get the Grammy needed to complete the career sweep of Hollywood's four major awards, let us introduce you to Prince Ali, the moniker the actor used during his short-lived career as a rapper.

After earning a prestigious masters degree in acting from NYU, Ali self-released a mixtape called Corner Ensemble in 2006 and followed that up a year later with an album called Curb Side Service. While Ali has never discussed his former career in interviews, he's made it clear that hip-hop still plays a major role in his life.

"Hip-hop has definitely had a strong, perhaps the strongest influence on my life,” he told XXL in October:

I don’t think I’m at all unique with that. I think there’s so many people of color, and even White kids, that have been tolerating the stresses of their own problems and what not and were able to navigate so many things through the culture of hip-hop and create jobs, have opportunities and been able to express themselves and finding their identity in. I think that’s true with so many people, definitely with me.

As an actor, Ali relies heavily on music to help shape his performances and creates playlists for each of his characters. So, was his character in Moonlight a fan of Prince Ali? You be the judge. Watch the video for Prince Ali's "The Path/Honor Code," above.