Tunisian-born French rapper and model Ali Latif tells life stories with his eclectic music with a positive touch, yet without naivety, drawing inspirations from both Georges Brassens and Frank Ocean. His latest single “Roko C’est le Texas” brings together his multicultural background often making references to his Tunisian heritage. The 23-year-old Latif’s music video is as ambitious as he is- brimming with youthful energy. While writing his first verse, he was inspired by his experience, his childhood between two cultures, his life as a young adult held back by dreams difficult to achieve, disillusionment, street life, and night. Maintaining a passion for popular Tunisian and Egyptian music, in Southern France, he grew up to the sound of French and American rap from the 90s. This desire to surpass himself also lead him to make his music videos and to open concerts such as rapper El Matador.
How did you discover your passion for music?
As far as I can remember I always loved music. One day when I was around 9 or 10 years old I was listening to an album at the end of the album there was a beat I loved so I decided to take a notebook and wrote my first song.
You were born in Tunisia and grew up in the South of France. How did the multiplicity of different cultures and traditions affect you as a person and an artist?
I think it makes me rich, all that I learned and saw the 6 first years of my life in Tunisia made me the man I am today, and all that I lived in the south of France as a son of an immigrant made me grow faster all this inspire me a lot for my music.
How did the aesthetic of the music video “Roko C’est le Texas” emerge?
While I was writing and recording I had a lot of images in my head, This song talks about a young guy who did create a whole universe to escape from boring reality. I’ve been inspired a lot by the country culture so first when we thought about the video with Malek ben Becher we knew that this song had to be warm in terms of colors we did a mood board I shared it with Saif Mahdhi who added his ideas and did found the right director for the video.
Besides modeling for Versace, Coach, H&M, and you have also shot for prestigious publications such as Vogue Hommes International and Spanish Vogue. Can you tell us the story behind your modeling career? Are you keen to follow this path?
My modeling career was not always easy I really struggled to be where I am today when I have been discovered and before I met Saif I spent months and months trying to be signed in Paris but nobody wanted me and when I contacted Saif it was my last solution to be represented in Paris. He was the only one who believed in me and the crazy fact is that 3 months later he booked me for the Versace campaign with Steven Meisel… I still have a lot of dreams in the fashion industry and a lot of things that I want to accomplish, I love being on set and I think that the fact I was discovered as a model was the best thing that never happened to me.
The world is going through extraordinary and strange times. How did the lockdown and the current pandemic affect you?
I’m happy because no one around me has been affected by the pandemic, for my part, I took the opportunity to spend the all-time recording in the studio and focus on my music.
As a young rapper and model, what do you think is the most inspiring thing about your generation?
The freedom to be who we are, The freedom to be able to fight for our rights, and the hope that things gonna change.
What are your upcoming plans?
I only know that I want to be free to do my music for the moment and continue to be a model and to work for amazing brands and magazines and later to become an actor. Right now the next step is releasing a second single very soon and my EP hopefully before the end of the year.
All things aside, what would be a typical day in Paris for you?
Drinking a coffee near to the Canal Saint-Martin early in the morning and then having a shooting for an interesting project and to finish the day working in the studio and end up the night working in a bar to make money …
What sets the soundtrack of your life at the moment?
Purple Rain by Prince.
As a cinephile, what is that one that you keep coming back to?
Rocco and his brothers (Rocco e i suoi fratelli) From Visconti.