Tuesdays - Ali En / Dalaj Eegol / RecycleMan (Balkan Express 085)
This week’s episode of Balkan Express will take us on a journey to the past, then to the future and, finally, back to the present. Basically, we will prove that time is a flat circle and does not necessarily flow in *that* direction. Ladies and gentlemen, please meet Ali En.
Over the last 30-odd years Ali Džafić went by various stage names and phases of his musical persona. He is a multimedia artist and experimental musician. He also just happens to be one of the pioneers of Slovenian funk and rap. His 1994 album Leva Scena (Goofy Scene) took direct aim at most of Slovenian pop artists and superficiality of the society at the time. The dissing and coarse lyrics caused some radio stations to censor or outright ban his tracks, which only increased the attention and the controversy.
Goofy Scene took everyone by surprise. By that time Džafić had legally changed his name to Ali En, and in short order became the debutante of the year, a radio star and an author of a record that went golden twice over. He also opened for Beastie Boys in Ljubljana, only a year after he released his first album
Ali En was always more of an artist and an activist than a businessman. He was reportedly unhappy when a song about burek – a Balkan fast food pastry which we heard at the beginning of this here show – became the most popular tune of the entire album, even though it carried little message beyond the yumminess of the dish. Ali En also rejected the artist of the year award, saying it would be hypocritical of him to take the award from the hands of the people he so recently shredded to pieces. He started dabbling in acid jazz, nu funk and drum and bass. All of which was reflected in his second album, Smetana za frende, or Cream For Buddies
By the time Ali En released Smetana za frende in 1999, rap and hip-hop had become mainstays of global and – by extension – Slovenian music production. His work was cited, either directly or indirectly by almost everyone on the rap scene. He was credited with single-handedly kick-starting a genre that had very little social or historical context in Slovenia. Though it would soon go on to find one, especially in the societal/ethnic friction between “native” Slovenians and Slovenians with roots in former Yugoslav republics. But that is a story for another day. With his second album, too, Ali En managed to take everyone by surprise.
Soon after the release of album Smetana za frende Ali En changed his name again. This time he went by Dalaj Eegol for more than a decade. He released two experimental and utterly unsuccessful albums in 2003 and 2005. He took a long hiatus from music, moved to India and started producing videos and multimedia art projects.
But India was not the end of the road for Ali Džafić. He returned to Slovenia in 2009 and slowly grew out of doing experimental drugs and researching wider planes of existence. Always the alien – or Ali En, get it – he re-embraced his earlier work. He took on a self-deprecatory moniker RecycleMan and released two more albums. His latest album titled KWA was released in 2020, amid the pandemic.
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of, you guessed it, the Balkans. Forget gusle and tamburice, this show is about rock, pop and a sense of humour. Well, at least there’s guitars. On air most Tuesdays in a new-and-improved time-slot at 1100 hrs. Usually. Your train conductor is Aljaž (aka @pengovsky) who once did the world a solid and decided never to sing again in public. Which is why he ended up doing radio.
TuesdaysWith : Aljaž Every Tuesday at 10.00
Balkan Express takes weekly trips into contemporary musical production of the Balkans.