Iraqi–Canadian rapper, singer and songwriter Ali Gatie first rose to fame in 2018 through sheer determination, all on his own. He’d been consistently releasing his music on streaming platforms between 2016 and 2018 but wasn’t seeing results. He says, “I knew I had to change something, so I started taking time to build rollout plans for each of my songs. I came up with this concept of singing my own songs in my car and releasing them as Twitter and Instagram videos and then putting marketing money behind them hoping they would go viral because of relatable lyrics.”
Lucky for him, they did.
His track “Moonlight” has now racked up over 95 million streams on Spotify. The music video has had over 23 million views with the lyric video raking in over 77 million. Similarly, two other singles from that same year have been streamed by millions as well. In 2019 he released his first album, You, which included one of his most popular tracks, ‘It’s You’, which has been streamed over 400 million times.
So how did a young guy from a suburban town in Toronto manage to do that all on his own without any professional support or industry connections? While a bulk of it was his honest and soulful songwriting and vocals that are both rich and smooth, a lot of it was his social media efforts.
“I still remember the days I had no fans and I was the one constantly messaging people begging them to give my music a chance. So now that I have thousands of people messaging me every day I make sure to take the time to show them the love back,” he says.
There was even a time when he spent a whole day responding to over 2,000 Snapchat messages. “I think it’s a great way to connect with my fans and learn what they want,” he adds. “It’s also a great way to keep myself humble and grounded. I don’t think I will ever stop doing that.”
Most recently, the 22-year-old released his single ‘Running On My Mind’. It was a song he wrote right after he finished ‘It’s You’. “It’s about the same girl,” he admits. “I actually recorded it and wrote it at my home studio where I’m at right now. I’m really proud of this song because I also produced it with the help of my co-producers.”
Additionally, Don Diablo has remixed Gatie’s recent single, ‘What If I Told You That I Love You’. Gatie is ecstatic about it, saying; “Don brought a whole new energy and feeling to the song. He’s also just a really great guy and a really great producer and DJ.”
Gatie finds himself churning out song after song, mostly because he is inspired by everything in his life and his brain automatically turns experiences and feelings into songs. He touches on topics of love and devotion, incorporating his lyrics into his specific genre of R&B and contemporary pop. But what really draws listeners in is his ability to make himself relatable. Through songs like ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Can’t Lie’, he’s proved himself as a songwriter who isn’t afraid to be vulnerable.
“I think I was born to write music. I actually think I was just born to write in general,” he says. “Most of the time it’s things that I’ve been through and the things that weigh heaviest on my heart, but it could also be the things my friends and family have been through or things I’ve seen in movies. I just need a spark and then I let my heart do the rest. Because I write from my heart and my experiences, everything that I’ve been through is subconsciously reflected in my music. However, for me, it’s always been about the people I’ve met, not the places I’ve been to. Human connection has always been my favourite part of life so that’s what I write about.”
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Fire is both hell and purification and a means of exhibiting valid rage by blazing all that is toxic to declare revelation. Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức publicly burned himself to death in 1963 to protest the persecution of Buddhists at the hands of the South Vietnamese government. When all else has been tried, demolition is a legitimate form of protest. It acts as a hopeful prelude to the dismantling of the tyrannical structures that are being fought against.
In the fervent (mostly peaceful) protests happening across America in the wake of yet another Black life murdered, non-black people looking into the history, institutions and social structures that permitted this to happen is vital.
The present-day slave patrols.
Each part of America created police systems for varying reasons. In the South, the implementation of police forces was constructed to preserve the slavery system, an economic system. Upon the abolition of slavery, Black Americans were arrested in abundance for minor crimes to save a savaged economy because detained Black Americans were used to provide free labour. Years later, nothing has changed.
What’s more, the myth of Black criminality, delinquency and lawlessness has been planted to justify the high rates of incarceration and is rife in the present day. This has led to the over-policing of Black neighbourhoods across America. The illusion of Black chaos and the so-called ‘war on drugs’ spearheaded by the presidency of Richard Nixon garnered support from working-class white people and led to the persecution and mass incarceration of Black people. Today, the prison system is still biased against Black people.
Like slavery, the free labour provided by the prison system has meant that a predominantly unpaid black workforce built the America we have today. Every privilege people are given has been bought with (mostly black) blood.
Race rebellions birthed America and are etched into the country’s history. Ever since the theft of the land that is America today, rebellions against white supremacists and colonists have taken place.
The number of uprisings against brutality against Black people goes on and on. Most notably, the Los Angeles 1992 riots that erupted after four white police officers beat up black motorist Rodney King on tape, the 2014 Ferguson protests after unarmed teenager Michael Brown was fatally shot and the 2016 Charlotte protests which exploded after Keith Scott was also fatally shot by police. He was mistaken for being a suspect.
Capitalism thrives off of black bodies.
The disregard for Black life is written into American culture. During the American colonial period, Black slaves and whites of low class were both oppressed. However, when they rebelled together, white rebels were afforded the opportunity of a stake in the structure of oppression due to their whiteness and Black people were left at the very bottom of this capitalist pyramid.
Further, the exploitation of Black people allowed the white lower classes social mobility and the opportunity to partake in the myth of the American Dream by contributing to the structure of oppression. In contrast, Black people had no form of escape. In this way, ‘white privilege’ is an intrinsic advantage afforded to white people and racism is a tool of capitalism used to oppress the working classes, keep the rich rich and the poor poor. As long as there is racism amongst the lower classes, the capitalist elite can rest assured they’ll be no radical uprising against them and their repressive structures.
Businesses are being burnt down not because people want to destroy their neighbourhoods, but because capitalism does and shouldn’t come before Black lives. Business is not more valuable than bodies.
Allyship is the only objective that can make this moment sustainable.
This is why allyship is fundamental in driving change as it is the voices of the privileged who are listened to and respected. It is the only method of sustaining long-lasting change towards a post-racist society. The sheer amount of non-black allies is what could make these protests distinct.
Liberal left-wing politics is built on ideals such as freedom and equality yet is predominantly white and excludes the Black rights movement and Black politics. White political groups campaigning for any type of equality and progress need to help finance and uplift Black-led activism and initiatives and thrust them into the spotlight. Movements, including Gay Rights and Women’s Rights must become intersectional if there is to be radical change towards saving Black lives. These movements exclude Black voices and allow no space for Black people.
As a non-black person, educating yourself on Black history and accepting your place in the structure of oppression is only the start. Living in protest means being actively anti-racist, which manifests as showcasing solidarity for Black people every day. Boycott companies who have been outed as racists and defund the racist institute that is the police force.
Moreover, challenge racist white friends and family members, assess your fetishisized dating preferences and partiality for lighter-skinned Black people. Understand the issues faced by Black communities and how white supremacy caused all of it.
Momentary outrage is not enough, and to truly eradicate racism and racial-based murder and violence, your life needs to be an act of protest. Meaning who you vote for, where you shop, what you say and how you act in day to day life holds power. Use this power to protest against the slaughter of Black people.
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