What does it take to master an art? Some may say that it takes discipline, constant practice, or just plain being born with it. How do you explain Kobe’s iconic fadeaway shot? The careful, precise, yet determined draw of Yo-yo Ma‘s on tightly winded strings? Or, the natural diction and verbal swing that is the flow of the late Notorious B.I.G? We pass it off like magic, euphoric, or that of an unexplainable, but much needed high. We live for those moments and experiences, so to be fortunate to witness the inception of a new artist breaking through, makes talking about artists like Butterfly Ali, an awesome privilege.
If he looks familiar, you’re right to assume. Born Titus Makin Jr., Ali has amassed many roles in his already ample acting career. From his breakout role in the hit TV Show “Glee”, to his recurring role on ABC’s “The Rookie”, it’s clear that he is destined to move the needle upwards if a thermometer was set to his career. We sat down with the multi-talented Butterfly Ali to gain more insight on his journey.
As a military kid, finding balance in your formative years isn’t an easy task. How hard was it to factor music into your life at an early age?
Honestly, I think moving around a bunch improved my taste. I was opened to a lot of different cultures, people, and different types of music. It took me out of a box, and to this day I put all those elements into my music. I attribute it to traveling a lot.
It’s clear that you have been inspired by some of R&B’s greatest icons. Along with a budding acting career; many can easily compare you to the likes of Jamie Foxx, and Tyrese Gibson. What sets Butterfly Ali aside from the comparisons?
Through acting and music, I can understand the comparisons, and I’m honored to even be compared. “Rose” is one of my slower songs, but when the up-tempo music comes out, you will hear the Andre 3000, Anderson .PAAK influence. It’s soulful, funky, and a little less R&B. That what separates me from those two, although we are all in the same pool of Actor/Singers.
Coming from a military and gymnastic background, there is a level of discipline that comes with it. How does that transfer into your music career?
It’s just work ethic. You set a goal, and you get that baby done! Not really slacking off, just honing in, pushing towards what you set out to do.
Are there any current artists that inspire you or that you would like to work with in the future?
The list that inspires me is the same group of artists I would love to work with. Chance the Rapper, Andre 3000, and Anderson. PAAK. Inspiration wise, Marvin Gaye. It would have been great to work with him. People like Cee-lo Green and Pharrell Williams would be great to collaborate with.
Who inspired you to the song “Rose”?
A break-up. I went through it with my ex-girlfriend whose name isn’t Rose, but Rose sang better. I wasn’t quite as ready as I thought I was, and I was like “oh well. I needed you more than I thought I did.” It was one of those things where you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.
What does your creative process entail, and are there any similarities in processes of composing a song and/or preparing for a role?
Well for me, I started out writing poetry a long time ago. For songwriting, I’ve taken poems from my book and adapted them into songs. Or I have gone into the studio with a life situation, which was “Rose”. It was a break-up, and I wanted to write about it. I want to be in this mood, so I created it from the ground up. Letting it come from whatever we play on the guitar, and the piano, and adding melodies and lyrics to it. As far as connecting it to the acting side, for me, they are two completely different preparations. Acting is not my words, I’m in character playing somebody else. With music, it’s my words, it’s my truth. It’s more intimate.
What would you like a new listener to take away from the experience after pressing play on one of your songs?
Relatability, Story, Truth. I like making songs that come from a genuine life’s place. Even with a dance track, there is a message there. I’m always learning something, or sharing something, just to let people know they are not alone. I’m not ashamed to share my break-ups and my mistakes. I have a new track called “Righteous” coming out on February 5th, and that is about all the judgment I’ve felt throughout my life. I always want people to take away a message, and to learn from it.
Are you currently working on a debut music project?
We have songs completed. We are going to strategize about a full release, working with a few labels, but for now, we plan on releasing a single each month.
Will you be going on tour anytime soon?
I would absolutely love to. I love live performances and would love to jump on a tour and open for somebody. It is a little tricky right now because we are filming a show that I am on called “The Rookie”. We are filming that until March, so until then we haven’t really had the conversation regarding touring. But I would be more than excited to hop on a tour.
What would be your advice for someone in pursuit of more than one career path?
My advice would be to go for it. I have had people tell me multiple times throughout my career, “Oh you gotta wait to be successful at one, and then you can think about doing the other.” Times have changed so much that we are in such an artistically-free time. You can express yourself however you want with the help of social media, you have outlets to do multiple things. You can go to your auditions regularly, focusing on acting, and with your downtime, you can be writing, doing fashion, and putting your work out there for people to see. I would say, focus one of them heavily, but don’t stop your other projects. I would say go for it for sure.
The rising star hopes to make an impact on the music scene with his honest, and purely refreshing vocals. Stay tuned for his future projects and releases.