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Hip hop artist Ali Tomineek featured in virtual Tucson Juneteenth Festival

Phoenix hip hop artist Ali Tomineek was featured in the Tucson Juneteenth Festival "Our Black is Beautiful" virtual event, live-streamed by Pima Community College.

The nearly two-hour 2021 Juneteenth video featured local black singers, politicians, dancers, and "living legends" commemorating 50 years of Tucson's Juneteenth celebrations.

Among the performances was a music video of "No Punch" by Ali Tomineek (featuring Lex Bratcher). Tomineek is an independent artist, producing and recording all of his own music alongside creating and editing the video, with captivating graphics.

Describing himself as "just a young boy from a hot city," 24-year-old Tomineek said that he has been family friends with Tucson Juneteenth committee member Larry Starks, who helped put together the festival.

Larry Starks is the brother of Burney Starks, the long-time Tucson educator and Juneteenth organizer who pushed for the date to become a holiday in Arizona many years before it was adopted as a national holiday this year. Burney Starks died in 2015 but left behind a legacy with his impact in the Tucson community and its Juneteenth celebrations.

Tomineek remembers when he was seven or eight years old, attending a Tucson Juneteenth Festival and "experiencing the togetherness" of the event, enjoying the outside and of course, the music.

The title of his song played during this year's celebration refers to "punching in" and "punching out", when rappers in the studio have to stop and go multiple times to record a song or verse.

"No Punch" carries a message of determination and perseverance, Tomineek said; an attitude to life in which "you go all the way through, 100 percent." Juneteenth celebrates being black and creates an environment of togetherness, and "we're attacking life. You just go after what you want, and don't stop," Tomineek said.

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"No Punch" tells the story of Tomineek's progression as an artist. The music video conceptualizes Tomineek's artistry by creating a world where people wearing the same full-face masks are watching and being entertained by Tomineek, who is confined behind a TV screen.

Tomineek said that Larry Starks wanted to use "No Punch" for the virtual event because he enjoys the song, but Tomineek feels he has other video creations and songs that he has put together that also represent the message behind Juneteenth.

"Hip hop is everything to me," Tomineek said. Inspired by rappers like Childish Gambino and Tyler the Creator, Tomineek said that they are "creative individuals that make things more than just music. They can make music, clothes, or make beats."

Tomineek has his own clothing brand, with the slogan "I Ain't Sorry," with a message of being yourself and representing yourself.

The rapper has grown from a 13-year-old rapping on Youtube, to being featured on Netflix shows ("Rythm and Flow" and "High Strung, Free Dance") and performing at the Phoenix Sun's halftime shows. To see and hear more of Tomineek's creations, visit https://31squad.com/home.

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