Ali Baba Mwongozi is Ali Baba the Oaktown Griot, a native Oaklander who had his first recording contract at age 15. As lead singer for the group “The Shades of Soul,” he choreographed the routines that helped The Shades compete successfully in Bay Area talent shows during the early 1970’s. Mwongozi joined “God’s Creation”, another local doo-wop-and-step singing group, managed at the time by Lenny Williams, then lead singer for world-renowned band “Tower of Power.” Mwongozi next formed a band called “ZAM FAMily Band,” sang lead vocals and played timbales. Mwongozi moved in 1976, relocating to the Pacific Northwest where he joined his brother Rudi. Ali enrolled at Portland Community College. “Colleges and universities are where all of the really dynamic artistic stuff is occurring. ‘Tribe’ and ‘Fresh’ were two bands that I hung out with. Some of the members of these bands eventually became ‘Pleasure’ who had a couple of gold records. The Muslim Arts Collective (MAC) formed by Rudi, was also kicked off during that time. I was a part of ‘MAC’, playing marimba, timbales, and other percussion.” The Mwongozi brothers returned to the Bay Area in 1980. A band was formed with Ali on timbales, Rudi on piano, and James Lewis playing bass. “Other artists from the area played in or around the unit from time to time, including Muhammed (Tsofiosaam) Kaal, Rasul Saddiq, Diane Witherspoon, and Lady Bianca, to name just a few.” In 1987, Ali met the nucleus of what was to become “Ali Baba & the Fresh 40”, a reggae band. He sang lead vocals, played keyboard, and wrote and arranged the repertoire. The 40 Thieves, as they were known locally, were featured at Reggae Bash 1987. The band was a local favorite during a time when the “world music” scene in the Bay Area was flourishing. “We were in direct competition with groups like “The Freaky Executives,” “Strictly Roots,” “George and the Wonders,” “Lambs Bread,” and “Upskank,” but we were the only world music band that had a lead singing keyboardist who tore up his keyboard after the show. We had the only guitarist who would play solos that invoked images of Jimi Hendrix, while he walked around the bar on top of the tables. Plus we had an unrepentant extrovert of a drummer and the only five-string bass player around.” Ali put the band to rest in 1990, opened up a bookstore in East Oakland, and immersed himself in the Oakland rap scene. He had some cameo appearances on shows with groups from such labels as Oaktown Records, Ray-Town Records, Dangerous Music. Rap, particularly gangster-type rap, began to be of increasing interest to Ali; he began to tailor his sound to the underground. Ali Baba released his first tape, “Dis ‘n Dat” in the summer of 1992. In the spring of 1993, Ali put out an LP titled “White Lotus Catalogue.” In the winter of 1994, Ali released an EP titled “Black Rage!,” the first of his efforts to be carried in record stores. The songs were well-received and Ali went to work on trying to complete the album, until circumstances caused the loss of all of his equipment and some completed songs. With no equipment or songs, Ali rejoined Jah Bonz and started creating the songs on “AB the OG: From debasement to de-penthouse.” “The songs are really just some things I wanted to share musically before I move on to the next stuff I want to work on. When a pauper shares his last crust of bread with you, needless to say, it’s a sacrifice, but you know it’s from the heart.” Ali Baba Mwongozi is currently working on a screenplay called “The Kan Kings.” His next rap album, to be released on CD, is entitled “Twenty Seconds in the Mind of the Average Black Male.” He has plans for an album of instrumental works with the working title “Sonata for the Black Keys. He is also in the treatment phase of a novel called “I Grew Up in Pantherville,” based on the true-to-life experiences of a young African American boy growing up in Oakland during the civil rights era.