In A New Life After New Kingz, Sly Luke & Aliforthego Stand Tall As Futura Bloom

Photos by Michael Salisbury

In the beginning, they were two musicians using their voices as tools to uplift their community. Luke and Ali, better known as Sly Luke and Aliforthego, are lovers of music from both an artist’s and a fan’s perspective. This duality fueled their ambition to reach those of us who rely on music when the highs turn to lows. Born and raised here in Chicago, Luke and Ali understand the trials and tribulations some face growing up in this city and they want the people to know that they too have faced tragedies associated with Chicago’s violent reputation. Even after all they’ve been through, here they stand, like kings. As kings, they aspire to create a safe haven for their fans through music.

They began as the New Kingz, purveyors of sound with an unofficial bachelors in music psychology. Back then they told stories of perseverance. They prescribed their audience doses of their realities, heartfelt medications like, “Through The Wind” featuring Syd Shaw. Along with Glassic’s nostalgic production, together they provided all the classic and soulful vibes needed. The song had all the fixins of an old school Kanye track, with a little Do or Die sprinkled on top. They were making music for Chicago, and they knew exactly how to get their message across. “As I walk into the wind, I can’t hear myself think and it’s lovely. Feel it coming from within, this that music for my people and my country.” Today, we find them in a state of metamorphosis. With the release of their new project Honey, Sly Luke and Aliforthego enter summer officially as Futura Bloom.

Ali comes from West Garfield Park on the city’s west side. He grew up playing instruments with his family in the gospel choir at church. His family runs Spirit of Faith Missionary Baptist Church, so at a young age he got to participate in recording a gospel album with the choir. Always the youngest of the group, Ali looked up to his older cousins, some of whom made music as well. While most of them got into dancing and footworking, Ali remained the musician of the family. Getting his start on programs like Garage Band, he started putting his raps to beats around middle school. Over in Bronzeville around the same time, Luke was learning to play the drums and piano. It wasn't until around 2012 when Luke started recording his music. 

Luke and Ali eventually met at Whitney Young High School, which served as their connection to other creatives around the city. Whitney had a rich battle rapping culture where both Luke and Ali used to spit rhymes in front of fellow classmates after school. Eventually they turned their passion for rapping into crafting actual records. Choosing to make music instead of just battling allowed them to channel their diverse musical influences. Now, as Futura Bloom, Ali and Luke seek to challenge themselves as musicians. By shedding light on the aspects that made them the men we know today, for them, Futura Bloom is just a deeper look within. 

“With Futura Bloom, the purpose isn’t just to uplift but also have relatability, and relate to people’s feelings and emotions. So, sometimes people you know, want to be happy when they’re listening to a song, sometimes people are listening to a song to feel sad, and relate to the emotional rollercoaster that is life,” says Luke. The six track EP is produced entirely by Dougy, a long time collaborator and go to producer for Ali. That being said, the new project is a large step in a different direction from their past as New Kingz. As the new name suggests, Futura Bloom aspires to be in a constant state of progression. This album is a testament to that goal. Although it’s just a small preview of the future, Luke and Ali display how immersed they’ve become in the art behind the music.

Before Futura Bloom, they approached the studio more so with a sense of competition. After all, they were used to cyphers and battle rapping. Coming in with a more traditional outlook on hip hop, the duo was sure to make music they could respect. What’s so amazing about this transition is how both nothing and everything have changed about them creatively. They’re still writing songs with purpose, they’re still telling their story, but now they’re channelling their emotions over more experimental, and modern pieces of music. This new way of thinking is evident in the music they’re listening to as well, “I really like DAMN by Kendrick. I’ve been listening to a lot of John Legend, and a lot of old Outkast,” Luke says. “Love Below is like my favorite album of all time.”

Ali’s been listening to that new 4:44 album from Jay-Z, “You know how people listened to it, and they took what they took away from it? And afterwards people talked about his stories and how personal they are?  People don’t do that with every album. They did with this album because of how in depth it was. I think about that and how we want our album to be remembered.” 

We got our first taste of the project last week with “Rare Candy”, eight months after the last New Kingz release. With the emergence of Honey today, the age of Futura Bloom is here. They plan to use this new EP as an interlude to their newfound purpose. Above all else, they plan on letting the music speak for itself.