Alien Liberty International, more commonly known as ALI, is a renowned hip-hop/funk band that is comprised of multinational members from Japan, Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. Initially, the collective was formulated in Shibuya, a special ward in Tokyo, Japan.
In 2019, their musical journey began. Helmed by vocalist Leo Imamura, ALI offers a unique perspective to the industry today. 360 MAGAZINE’s very own Vaughn Lowery had an opportunity to sit down with Leo and chat all things about ALI.
Founded initially by a selection of four members, ALI started as a group of young people seeking a change in their everyday lives. Inspired by the connection that music creates, ALI was formed to relay the message of unity in the community.
Motivated by the legacy of Muhammad Ali, the band decided to name themselves ALI. Capturing the essence of the legend himself, ALI asserted that they would have strong energy and overall presence to embrace more union throughout the world.
Always hosting and cultivating community around his childhood home, Leo has been intrigued by different cultures all his life. Growing up listening to his parents’ favorite artists like Janet and Michael Jackson, Leo has admired funk and R&B for quite some time. Mainly inspired by the sense of harmony that funk music carries, the group began covering old songs in the genre that blended smoothly with hip-hop roots.
With such a diverse group of individuals in ALI, they made it one of their key goals to show how differing people can come together to fight for peace. It has been vital for Leo to be able to showcase the diversity that Japan encompasses, to reveal what the country indeed looks like and stands for.
Having grown up in the city of Shibuya, Leo is passionate about where it comes from and how it helped him transform into the man he is today. Caring deeply for Shibuya, Leo remembered how there were varying sides to the city that he admired. The rich fashion and cultural influences that his home was full of set it apart from the rest.
Music is what truly matters. With such a deep culture that celebrates lifting up uniqueness, ALI embodies this through and through. Utilizing music as a bridge to bring people together, ALI hopes to demonstrate to the world that they’ve never cared what people look like.
“Music is what can break the wall,” stated Leo.
In 2021, ALI went on a hiatus after controversy erupted with the band’s ex, then-drummer. When discussing the conflict, Leo and another former member of the band Alex explained how one group member having a battle would further impact the rest of the band. In the Japanese culture of some of the band members, dealing problems with authority is looked down upon and not accepted.
Enduring, too, the pandemic during this time, ALI has proved their impeccable persistence despite their struggles. Their creative outlet was forced off for a long time, with Japan shutting down everything entertainment-related.
Nonetheless, ALI is now making their come back. As such an exclusive grouping that stands alone from anything we’ve seen before, their journey is exceptionally admiring. This summer, ALI is fully immersed back into the scene, playing at upcoming festivals for the first time since the pandemic began.
Make sure you check out ALI’s captivating performance on Japan’s most innovative YouTube channel, THE FIRST TAKE. With more than six million subscribers, powered by Stagecrowd, fans of all nationalities can now tune in and support their favorite musicians in streaming INSIDE THE FIRST TAKE.
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Article by: McKinley Franklin, Andrea Esteban, Iris Li x Vaughn Lowery