Ali Tomineek dreamed of being a rapper since he was 13 years old. The Arizona-born performer started self-producing and editing World Famous Friday Flow, a series of videos that went viral. They took the musician from a local act to an internationally recognized talent. But Tomineek hit a major setback in the early phases of his career when his account was hacked in 2016.
“It was crazy," he says. "All my videos were gone. I had to rebuild everything.”
The 22-year-old performer not only rebuilt his platform, but has taken his success to greater heights. He dropped his latest album I Ain’t Sorry … For The Wait last summer.
Tomineek also makes his movie and television debuts this month. His song “Level Up” caught the attention of director Michael Damian. He reached out to Tomineek via Instagram to request that both the rapper and his song appear in the film High Strung Free Dance, which is scheduled for release on Friday, October 11.
For those who prefer binge their content, Tomineek is on the rap competition show Rhythm + Flow, which premieres on Netflix tomorrow, Wednesday, October 9. Encouraged by his fans, who call themselves the 31 Squad, Tomineek submitted a self-taped audition to casting directors online. He was ecstatic when he received word that he had been selected as a finalist.
“It was crazy,” he says of the experience. “There was about 200,000 entries and I made it.”
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Tomineek was looking forward to meeting his inspiration Chance the Rapper, but he says that being able to perform for and hear feedback from major acts like T.I. and Cardi B allowed him to take home more than just the experience.
“I learned to be myself,” he says. “There’s so many different artists in hip-hop, and I’ve seen it. On the show, I saw people from all over and the way that they carry themselves, their style, the way their art really shows who they are. The only way to stand out is to be yourself.”
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Tomineek won't be able to slow down anytime soon. On October 3, it was announced that he was selected as one of the winners of the Spark the Beat competition, presented by Doritos and Complex Magazine.
The rules for the online open call lined up perfectly with Tomineek's brand, calling for a clean verse, a simple request for the rapper who doesn’t curse in his music. His self-produced submission video earned him some studio time with chart-topping Atlanta rapper Lil Baby and an undisclosed portion of a $100,000 prize.
Tomineek stays humble by giving back to his community. He runs the campaign Make a Teacher Smile, but perhaps the most impressive aspect of Tomineek’s story is how he’s managed to stay true to himself and his fans.
“A lot of people are afraid to really live and be the people they’re destined to be because of what everybody else has to say,” he says. “I ain’t sorry for being myself. I ain’t sorry for being me."