The visionary remixer and songwriter breaks down his sound and style, from ATCQ and the Ummah, to Lucy Pearl and the Midnight Hour.
With his high school friends Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Jarobi White, Brooklyn DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad launched the genre-defining ’90s hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Over five classic albums their innovative approach — sampling rare jazz and funk, clever rhymes, sharp bohemian flows and warm, full-bodied basslines — became pivotal to beatmakers and rap crews worldwide. Besides his output with ATCQ, Muhammad has worked as a producer and remixer; formed part of production unit the Ummah alongside Q-Tip and the late Jay Dee; and scored big hits for Busta Rhymes, Towa Tei and Janet Jackson, to name a few. After both ATCQ and the Ummah disbanded, he founded R&B supergroup Lucy Pearl with Raphael Saadiq and Dawn Robinson, and produced music for Angie Stone and Mos Def. His 2004 debut album, Shaheedullah and Stereotypes, saw him take to the mic for the first time, spurred on by his experience of being a Muslim in America post-9/11. In recent years he has been a radio host on Spotify and composed the music for the hit TV show Luke Cage, and in 2018 released his collabo album with Adrian Younge under the alias the Midnight Hour.