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Los Angeles rapper Ahmad Ali Lewis was only 18 when he burst onto the scene in 1994 with the laid-back groove of "Back in the Day." With its images of playground foolery and junior-high discovery, "Back in the Day" depicted Ahmad's South Central neighborhood in an idyllic, wistful light — a Norman Rockwell painting in rap. In the years after Dr. Dre's G-funk masterpiece The Chronic, West Coast hip-hop found other voices in Ahmad, Montell Jordan, and MC Hammer. Songs like "Back in the Day" and Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" were G-funk lite. They were more about the partying than the thugging, and in doing so tapped into what's always made California pop music successful nationwide — everyone knows the party's always better out there in the sunshine. The rapper rode "Back in the Day"'s remix — which was based around a sample of the Teddy Pendergrass hit "Love T.K.O." and produced by Barr 9 Productions and Ahmad — to the top of the charts, and saw Giant release his self-titled debut in May of 1994. After the remix of "Back in the Day" landed on the soundtrack of the 1999 film The Wood, Ahmad formed the jazz-rap group 4th Avenue Jones and released the albums No Plan B (2002) and Stereo: The Evolution of Hiprocksoul (2005), both on Interscope. Taking a break from music, he returned to college, graduated from Stanford University with a degree in sociology, and worked as a personal development speaker and author. He also became a songwriter, working behind the scenes for artists like LMFAO and Flo Rida, but in 2010 he stepped back out front and issued The Death of Me, his sophomore album and first for the WeClap label.

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Birth Name:

Ahmad Ali Lewis


United States

Years Active:

'90s, '00s, '10s