Prince Ali
Prince Ali

Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali certainly has a nice ring to it; one that the actor likely hopes will positively affect the course of his professional career. He can now count himself as one of the few to have received the industry’s highest honor; he’s cemented in Oscar history books.

Something else that’s also in the history books, which may not be widely-known, is that the “Moonlight,” “House of Cards,” “Luke Cage” and more star was a rapper under the name Prince Ali, before his TV and film career began to take off.

Prince Ali apparently released at least one album in the mid-2000s, titled “Curb Side Service” (2007), and (thanks to our friends at AV Club for unearthing this) a music video for a track from the album (titled “The Path”) is on YouTube, featuring Rakaa Iriscience of Dilated Peoples.

That Ali the actor is also (or once was) a rapper wouldn’t be a surprise to those who’ve been following him before the world knew his name; in an interview with XXL a year ago, he shared the following: “Hip-hop has definitely had a strong, perhaps the strongest influence on my life. 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. It’s an appendage. It’s a part of me.”

As for whether fans can expect Prince Ali to re-emerge one day, it’s possible; he certainly wouldn’t be the first actor with a dual career as a rapper (or some other kind of musician). But it’s more likely that Ali, the actor, will be the face that fans see the most, as he continues to stack up big screen projects – high profile studio films (“Triple Frontier,” “Alita: Battle Angel”) and indies (“Roxanne Roxanne”). However, should Prince Ali squeeze in a track or more between acting gigs, don’t be shocked.

Watch Cottonmouth spit in the video below, starting from around the 0:55 mark.: