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Born Lauverneous Vondell Simmons on June 23, 1982, Chemical Ali grew up in a tiny three-bedroom apartment the youngest of 13 siblings on a northern stretch of Commonwealth Boulevard in Bellerose.

A rough neighborhood where crack houses, drug dealers, drive-by shootings and prostitutes proliferated, Simmons curiously took to music at a young age. He found solace and safe haven from the streets in an acoustic guitar his father gave him for his sixth birthday.

Sadly, it was the last gift Simmons would ever receive from his dad, who left the family never to return the following day.

In losing his primary male role model, Simmons turned to an uncle on his motherís side of the family for guidance and protection. Himself an accomplished rap guitarist and member of the C.B.C gang, Rasheed Williams, now known on the streets as E.Money Smooth, took his young nephew under his wing.

By the time Simmons was 10, he was a member of the C.B.C. By the time he was 13, he was going toe-to-toe with some of the neighborhoodís most skilled rappers. It from these battles that Simmons would earn his nickname, Chemical Ali, after a defeated opponent once proclaimed his rivalís lyrics "burned his ass like mustard gas."

Joining with fellow gang member and percussionist Nat King-slay, Ali and Smooth formed in 2003 what today is the most exciting and influential acoustic rap band in the hip hop culture.

Aliís musical talents are rivaled only by his thirst for the spotlight, an attribute that has at times alienated him from his band mates.

Aside from his musical pursuits, Ali said he enjoys "playing Playstation, breaking muthafuckas on the basketball court and waxing that ass."