Wednesday, June 28, 2006

We Beat The Drums At Night

there is a thunder in the jungle, can you hear it?
A distant heartbeat rhythm, That’s flowing through the air
We’re gonna follow the beat, Of the nyabinghi drum
Tell me, can you feel it now? I and I soon come

There is a thunder in the jungle, Do you fear it?
It’s the heartbeat of a people,That keeps pounding away
A soul that never dies, That lives to fight another day
In the power of the drum, I and I will find a way
Chorus: we’re gonna beat the drums tonight
we beat the drums at night
Under the moon tonight, In a crazy trance
I and I just wanna dance
Chorus: we’re gonna beat the drums tonight
We beat the drums at night, The chalice is burning bright!

ad libs:African rhythms all through the night,Word, sound+power,African rhythms,Nyabinghi drums!Kumina drum,shango drum,yoruba drum,Bata drum,macumba drum,vodou drum

Lyrics:Rasheed Ali

CD: "Thunder in the Jungle" 2003


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

O Jogo Bonito: The Beautiful Game

If you are an American, you may not know who this man is but elsewhere, in this world of inner city slums, he is a legend. His name is Ronaldo and he has scored more World Cup goals than any man alive. He is a master of "the beautiful game", o jogo bonito, one of Brasil's many gifts to the world.
Not unlike the rhythm and verve of Samba, Brasil's version of futbol (soccer) is not easily duplicated or mastered. Have you ever wondered, as I have, how a samba dancer could create the polyrhythmic syncopation of shifting feet, swiveling hips and shimmying shoulders simultaneously? Once,in Brasil, I stood behind a girl trying to scientifically figure out how she was able to execute three separate but related rhythmic patterns at once.
Samba coordinates the rapid movement of shuffling feet with the sensual side to side sway of hips without disturbing the joyous freedom of shaking shoulders.
In Brasil, physical expression is a way of life for many people.
It is not uncommon to see older people doing strenuous activities, many people are fit and strong.
The beautiful samba dancers that have captured the imaginations of people far and wide also have the incredible stamina to samba through six days of non-stop carnaval.
These are same lithe bodies that interpret the deadly force of capoeira (Brasil's martial art form) as if it were a harmlessly delicate ballet. Many times I have stood in awe as I watched men and women choreograph their spinning kicks in the capoeira school.
I had that same feeling of wonderment when I watched pick-up soccer games in Brasil.
How could so many young men be so physically gifted with speed, graceful precision and fanciful creativity. These boys are so comfortable with the ball that it seems as though it is magically attached to the ends of their toes.
My mother would say of me: "he eats, drinks and sleeps music", because it always seemed as though my every thought and action was a rehearsal for playing music.
I am reminded of this phrase when I watch a great athlete with the tools of his trade.
As a young man who spent every waking moment practicing my craft and handling my tools, musical instruments, I can always spot 'that' kid. Only the soccer player who ate with his ball on his foot, who slept with his ball in his hands and drinks from the well of constant devotion to practice can do what Ronaldo and Ronaldinho (below) can do. The magic is in the time spent with their craft.
Unfortunately, in Brasil many young men have plenty of time on their hands.
One day it dawned on me that these boys were young enough for school but were not in school. Some were just old enough to work but they had no place to work. For them and for many such future Ronaldos and Ronaldinhos, there is more than enough time to dream of a life away from the desperate favelas or shanty towns that ring the outskirts of many urban centers.
The rest of the world has the same problem and unfortunately the same meager solution; give boys the dream of stardom in sports.
On the concrete playgrounds of Chicago's Cabrini Green housing project the next Dwayne Wade
eats, sleeps and drinks basketball. Somewhere in some rundown part of London, Paris or Naples some poor kid is dribbling a soccer ball on his foot while another kid in Santo Domingo tosses a baseball in the air. All of them dreaming of a perfect life after the beautiful game.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A Baia de Todos os Santos

In the middle of the Bay of All saints, a young man finds a place to escape.

A quiet place to contemplate away from the teeming city of Salvador.

Home to the largest population of Africans outside of the African continent, Salvador is a treasure trove of African culture and traditions. By 1850 the city's port had received an estimated 3.5 million enslaved Africans. The wealth they generated enriched Salvador, Brasil's first capitol city.

The institution of slavery was not abolished until 1888 in Brasil. Today in Bahia, the most African of Brasil's states, Afro-Brazilians make up 80% of the population. Afro-Brazilians hold nearly half of the 35 Salvador city council seats but have only been elected to 3 of 63 positions in the state legislature. A growing consciousness among Afro-Brazilians has led to many political initiatives, including a slavery reparations movement.

Listen to: Voce Esta Na Bahia
From the CD: "Tristeza e Beleza na Cidade Negra"

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nao Pode Ser

Não Pode Ser

Uma noite bonita na Ilha
A sensação do Amor

Perto de meu coração
A musica sensual
Nessa seresta feliz com você
Assim, Eu quis passar o tempo com você
Mas, N
ão Pode Ser Meu Amor,
Não Pode Ser

Nessa noite na Itaparica
A sensação do Amor
Nessa noite dançando
Eu me lembro seu ritmo
Seu corpo quente pertinho de mim
Assim, Eu quis passar o tempo com você
Mas, Não Pode Ser Meu Amor,
Não Pode Ser

Não Pode Ser

To hear this song from the CD:'Tristeza e Beleza na Cidade Negra' click the link above:

Friday, June 23, 2006

Pourquoi le vert est-il ma couleur préférée ?

Pourquoi le vert est-il ma couleur préférée ?
Parce que les arbres sont verts
Et l'herbe est plus verte.

-rasheed ali

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Os segredos da selva escondida.

A selva escondida
uma história perdida
quem era desaparecido
quem tinha morrido
um país tinha sido nascido

-rasheed ali

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Color of Life

"It is the Rainy Season that Brings Wealth"
Hausa Proverb

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My Caribbean Sunset

I took this photo when I was on a boat, I can still remember the gentle caress of the Caribbean breeze. Are we thankful to come from a place with so much physical beauty? Yes! Now, if only we could live down there as easily as people live here. Our people continue to flee the region for purely economic reasons.

Monday, June 19, 2006


They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. My love affair with the work of photographer Wyatt Gallery continues. He has captures the essence of the Caribbean.

Listen to:
Vigil for the Dead from the CD: "The Empty Vessel Speaks"

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Buried on Foreign Soil

Photo: Wyatt Gallery

When I first saw this beautiful photo by Wyatt Gallery it sent my mind racing.
This evocative image portrays a burial ground in the Caribbean and it made me wonder what had brought these souls to the island.
Were they retired pirates or privateers?
Former indentured servants from India or China? Kidnapped Africans? European adventurers who reinvented themselves as New World royalty?
Our islands have always been this refuge for lost souls, even today you can find the odd escapee from the cold weather zone.
This seeming paradise on earth has not always supported its residents.
Many of us have fled and continue to flee to those same grey cities that house our gawking, fun loving tourists. Swept north by the currents of economic turmoil, our fate is to toil amidst the steel towers of Babylon.

Yet, countless foreigners have been buried beneath our palm trees, an idyllic final resting place for their remains. How many of us will never make the trip back home? How many of us will die like my grandfather, to be buried on foreign soil.

Friday, June 16, 2006

South Trinidad

South Trinidad is a very special place.
The East Indian culture is so strong, you might feel as though you are really in South Asia.
These Hindu prayer flags represent a steadfast devotion to keep religion and tradition alive.
This photo always reminds me that there's a strip of land that is disappearing into the sea near Icacos Point,Trinidad.
Scientist have noticed that Global Warming is causing the Ocean's levels to rise,as Antarctic ice melts.

Photo:Wyatt Gallery

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

African Bondage in the Caribbean

I took these photos at the African Heritage Museum in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
There were runaway slave ads as well
as advertisements for slave auctions.
There were also accounts of punishments to be handed out.

Somehow many people forget that most of the kidnapped Africans were taken to the Caribbean and South America.
To see the well-worn and obviously used condition of these instruments of punishment and terror, was a chilling reminder of the brutality that Africans endured.

Sugar cane was the cash crop that sealed our fate

Photo: Enslaved Africans, Puerto Rico

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

I will Cry for You

You were taken, captured in your homeland
You were stolen, from your mother's hands
No one remembers you now, but I will promise you

I will cry for you
Buried somewhere, you escaped the nightmare
All the horrors, trapped in a world without prayers
Your name is lost forever but I will promise you
I will celebrate your memory
and I will cry for you

I always wanted to write a song about the African holocaust. The hundreds of years of Institutionalized Slavery in the 'New World'. I wish people would listen to this CD just for that lyric. I actually did become so emotional in the studio that I cried when we were recording this, which is why my voice started to shake. This song came about because I once thought about how difficult it was to trace our complete ancestry as Africans. So many of us died
anonymous deaths here after leading anonymous lives as chattel. Or what of the disappeared and those who simply did not survive the voyages? Unceremoniously thrown overboard, to lighten the load of the slave ship. To be kidnapped and brutalized in a foreign new world was no minor difficulty. The burden of truth makes people squirm with nervousness whenever the subject of slavery is addressed. I've done interviews in support of the CD: "Thunder in the Jungle" and my more danceable, rhythmic Caribbean music is more what people expect from an 'Island" musician. Only reggae artist can be serious, right?

"I Will Cry For You" Lyrics: Rasheed Ali From: Thunder in the Jungle CD

Monday, June 12, 2006

Will time catch up with us?

Deforestation & Urbanization threaten my dear Caribbean.
Can we resist the lure of strip malls,better roads and bigger cars?
Will satellite tv convince us to pave over more useless beauty, so that we may sit proudly among the developed nations?
Will eco-tourist steady our idle hands?
Will time catch up with us?

Photo:Carriacou / Wyatt Gallery

Wyatt Gallery's Caribbean Treasure Chest

The beauty of the internet is that we might uncover dazzling artistic jewels quite by accident.
The evocative photography of Wyatt Gallery is one such treasure that I stumbled upon.
All of his Photos in this series were taken in the Caribbean, most of them in my beloved Trinidad.
The above photo startled me, because I stood at that very spot three years ago.
This is the ferry boat landing on the island of Vieques.

The last time I went to Vieques, the US Navy resumed war games, bombings, on the day I arrived.
I wrote a protest song called "Tirando Bombas" (Dropping Bombs). The millions of others who protested eventually forced the Navy to leave the island.

Click link to hear the song:

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Fullerton Museum Exhibit

This multimedia display at the Fullerton Museum included musical samples from my CDs, four of my handmade drums, an audio interview and the photo of me that appeared in Jake Jacobson's Book: "Hearts & Hands". The museum provided me with a very rewarding opportunity; they sold Rain People CDs in the gift shop and we performed a sold-out concert as well. I never knew that my love of making calabash (gourd) drums would lead to my inclusion in two museum exhibitions and a Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition.

Focus on musicmakers

© St. Petersburg Times

A noted photographer traveled the
country taking pictures of people who make the instruments they play.

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Florida International Museum creates a unique dynamic by capturing images of music. "Heart & Hands: Musical Instrument Makers of America" features 86 large, framed photographs of Americans who dedicate themselves to the sounds they make. From the Louisiana bayou to Rhode Island, music men and women are shown creating, playing and enjoying music.

The works are part of a traveling show produced by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Noted photographer Jake Jacobson, himself a jazz musician who specialized in the soprano saxophone and the bass clarinet, used the Iris print process to produce high-quality, finely detailed prints.

Jacobson traversed America looking for his subjects, starting at the mouth of the Mississippi River. There he found Adner Ortego, an accomplished fiddlemaker and player. In one photograph, Ortego, wearing a straw hat, plays one of the fiddles he made on the porch of the house where he was born. Now abandoned, the crumbling house stands as a sharp contrast to the polished amber instrument Ortega plays with obvious delight.

Rasheed Ali, of Altadena, Calif., wearing dreadlocks and shell jewelry, plays a skin drum. He specializes in making African and Caribbean drums, a skill passed down to him through many generations. In the quote below the picture, Ali says he hopes to entice young people to learn about the drums, so the instrument can link together the past, present and future.

-reprint from St.Petersburg Times

The Call of Bahia

"A Chamada da Bahía"
Eu ouvi a chamada do berimbau
uma onda quente subindo em meu coração
uma lembrança de uma vida tropical
quem pode ser insensível
É Bahía.Quando você me chama eu voltarei

World Music Caricatures & Generalizations

In today's world, people are trying to micro-manage everything. Classifications of musical genres are not exempt from this phenomena.
In my quest to understand where my music fits in, I have encountered many laughable obstacles.
Some internet radio & download sites have multiple genre subdivisions that attempt to pinpoint a musical sound.
Ironically, at the same time when we musical artists are being scrutinized for our exotic authenticity, DJ stylist are given carte blanche to mix and match any of the world's styles and rhythms.
What does that really mean to me and others like me?
If we are proud to be African or Caribbean but live in New York, Los Angeles, London or Paris are we any less authentic? Do we have to dress in a costume and paint our faces to authenticate our traditions?
I played hundreds of private party gigs in the required "white pants & island shirts" costume so that some former tourist could relive an idyllic island moment. There can't be a double standard. If DJs can use our exotic rhythms to spice up their Anglo-Euro grooves, then no one should call us world fusion because we incorporate a little hip-hop or electronics into traditional roots music!

Ultimately, I am proud to be an Afro-Caribbean person. I speak English, Spanish and Portuguese, I will continue to express myself in those languages. Proud to have been taught the African traditions that saturate my music.I have composed music in the tropical rainforest and on the streets of New York City. I am not alone, there are many artist like me.

"No matter where you come from, as long as your a Black man, your an African" (Peter Tosh)

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Here or There?

When I awaken on the island
I can smile easy
and see clearly
I can do
or not do
but I never worry
like I worry
when I'm here...

In America,
I forget what I should remember and remember what I should forget

Because when I'm here, I can't see myself in every face and I can't see the ocean beyond every horizon

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My Favorite Movie: Black Orpheus

Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro) 1959

My Favorite Movie!

According to mythology, Orpheus was the son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope. He was a poet and musician with whom many legends are associated. It was said that Orpheus could play the lyre so well that he could charm wild beasts and even make trees and rocks move with his music.

He married Eurydice, who was a nymph of the forest. They loved each other very much but one day she was bitten by a snake and died abruptly, leaving Orpheus inconsolable.

Orpheus went down to the Underworld to recover her and by his music induced the goddess Persephone and the ferocious guard dog Cerberus to let her go. They allowed Eurydice to return to earth on the condition that Orpheus not look back until both had reached the upper world. Orpheus agreed but when they approached the world of the living, he forgot his promise and looked back. Eurydice immediately vanished and was lost to him forever.

Later, when Orpheus was thinking of his love, meditating and playing music, a band of Thracian women who were were jealous of his love for Eurydice tore him to pieces and cast his head into the river Hebrus.

The director of this movie was Marcel Camus. It took the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice and transported it into the tropical setting of Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro. The idea for it came from the Screenplay by Vinicius de Morais.
It was made in 1959, and received the grand prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Bruno de Mello and Marpessa Dawn were the main actors.

I now own this movie on DVD and it's even more beautiful than ever. I was in love with Marpessa Dawn,the gorgeous actress who played Eurydice,I thought she was an angel.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Home, the fertile crescent

The Caribbean basin has been a melting pot of peoples and cultures ever since Christopher Columbus first set foot on the island of Hispanola in 1492. With its vibrant mix of Spanish, English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, African, and even Asian cultures strung across more than 1,049,000 square miles of water, the region's music comes in many different flavors. While most people are familiar with the Caribbean's more famous musical exports ( Jamaican reggae,Cuban son & Trinidadian calypso ) fewer have heard of other styles such as Haitian compas, Bahamian junkanoo, or the zouk music of Guadeloupe .
It's a lot to take in, but the one thing that unites our many styles is a common origin.
All across the islands, regardless of language or nationality, the cultural interplay of en
slaved West Africans and European colonists produced a hybrid, Creole culture whose music was no longer European or African, but distinctly Caribbean.European melodies (from sailor's sea chanteys to the waltzes of the plantation aristocracy) were grafted onto rhythms from the Congo,Yorubaland,Dahomey,Guinea,Ghana,Gambia and Angola.European instruments were reconfigured to accommodate African sounds and ideas.
Today this music has moved well beyond the
Caribbean's shores and into the shared musical vocabulary of the entire world. Anywhere musicians are experimenting with son, reggae, or any of these styles, echoes of Africa's forced migration to the New World can still be heard.

A cara que o mundo vê

The face that the world sees,
smiles today
The face that the world sees,
laughs at yesterday
The face that the world sees,
that you will not be here
to see her cry

-rasheed in Brasil 2006

Listen to: "Beleza" from the CD:'Tristeza e Beleza na Cidade Negra'

La guerre n'est pas finie, la prochaine bataille:Amazon

The war is never over when you must fight for every piece of ground.
Today's battle was to upload lots of content for each of the (5) Rasheed Ali & Rain People CDs listed on

Saturday, June 03, 2006


"Sangam" by Charles Lloyd

Today I heard parts of this CD and it rocked my world.
I had to share my excitement with anyone who would listen.
Amazingly, this music is created by only three musicians.
The trio features Charles Lloyd on saxes & flutes with Eric Harland on drums & piano but this music is driven into a mystical stratosphere by the other-worldly drumming of tabla master Zakir Hussein. Wow!

I see that they will be performing in NYC at the JVC Festival on June 22. Wish I was there.

Actually, Charles Lloyd was my hero back in the day, I saw him at the Filmore with his Quartet featuring Keith Jarrett & Jack DeJohnette. He went through many different musical phases over the years but his soul is still vital, as evidenced by this new CD.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Come to My Island

A whispering breeze, flowing palm trees
Sweet kisses in the moonlight
Listen to the ocean, gentle is the night

In my dreams, I'm on an Island with you
Sometimes it seems, my dream will never come true
Unless you...
[Chorus:] Come to my Island, Come into my Dream

A magical night filled with passion
Let the moon caress you
Warm tropical waters, feel the waves caress you

In my dreams, I'm on an Island with you
Sometimes it seems, my dream will never come true
Unless you...
[Chorus:] Come to my Island, Come into my Dream

-lyrics: Rasheed Ali (from the CD: Thunder in the Jungle)

I took
this picture on one of my favorite beaches in the Caribbean; Flamenco Beach on the island of Culebra, PR

Rasheed Ali & Rain People are now part of Super D Distribution network.

Thanks to Digital Rain Factory's involvement with Super Internet Record distributor CD Baby,Rasheed Ali & Rain People are now part of the Super D Distribution network.

Super D is one of the worlds' largest 'One Stop' operations,
it supports
2,208 Retail Stores in the USA.
There are 24 countries in its international network, Super D
services multiple stores in
Canada,Germany,Switzerland,Hong Kong,Italy,Mexico,
New Zealand,Spain,Netherlands and Singapore,to name a few.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Uma Tribu,Muitas Vozes:Una Tribu,Muchas Voces

Usted puede escribirme en Espanol.

Soy orgulloso ser un latino.
Soy un descendiente de antepasados Africanos,
Españoles,Indios y Corsos-Franceses.
Es la mezcla de la sangre que llamamos criollo en el Caribe.

Es una verdad ineludible que somos una gente mezclada. De Cuba a Trinidad, somos más semejantes que diferentes. No podemos dejar lengua ser una barrera.

Mi música es el sonido de muchas voces que mezclen en armonía.
Somos una tribu unida.

La unidad es amor sin fronteras.
Nuestro futuro unificado será de gran alcance.
Todavía, somos niños criollos.
Seguimos siendo el mundo nuevo
pero no seremos parte de la ' nueva orden del mundo'.

Você pode me escrever no Português também.
Os Brasileiros são nossos primos.
Los Brasileros son nuestros primos.

Quem em Ámérica do Sul não ama Brasil?

¿Quién en Suramérica no ama el Brasil?

A unidade é amor sem fronteiras.
Nosso futuro unificado será poderoso.
Nós somos crianças.
Nós somos ainda no mundo novo
mas nós não seremos parte ' da ordem nova do mundo'.

The Rasheed Ali & Rain People Logo

I took a trip to New York City and I discovered this very interesting gift store in Soho that had cool items from all over the world.
A metal pendant with this symbol caught my eye because it reminded me of the Taino petroglyphs in Puerto Rico.
The sales girl didn't know exactly where it came from but she was pretty sure that it was from an indigenous tribe in Central America.

It was like magic, I could see a rain drop and two clouds along with a symbol that reminded me of an exclaimation point. For me, the 'exclaimation point' represented the thunder.
I was compelled to adopt this symbol, especially since it resembled an 'R' for Rasheed & Rain People.
As I began to meditate on the symbol I paid more attention to middle of the 'R' . I thought that it looked like the center of the universe or an ovum or cell.
I fell in love with this logo. It spoke to me.
Still, I wonder if someone will help me identify its origin.