You might recognize Titus Makin from shows like Glee, Pretty Little Liars, or The Rookie, but when the Honolulu-born, Los Angeles-based performer isn’t acting, he writes and sings under the moniker Butterfly Ali.
Videos by American Songwriter
Most recently, Butterfly Ali shared “Pray For ‘Em,” a groovy r&b / electro-funk number about racial injustice. Now the multi-talented artist is back with a soulful, stripped-down performance of the track, premiering below.
“I did this acoustic version of ‘Pray For ’Em’ with Aaron Kellim because I wanted to show the truth & reality of the song’s content and story behind why I wrote it,” Makin says in a statement. “I added some spoken word sections that really enhance the message within the lyrics, really pressing home that racism & racial injustice are very much alive and real. It felt organic so I went with it. I love being able to share an acoustic version of a song because it allows the listener to really tune in on the lyrics and melodic nuances that can sometimes be masked by a driving production.”
The original version—produced by Sam Barsh—followed Butterfly Ali’s previous singles “5 Minutes,” “Listen to Me,” “Righteous,” and “Rose.” (Last month, “Righteous”—written by Makin along with Aaron Kellim, Jeff Laliberte, Paul Laliberte, and Shelby Archer—was named one of the top 35 songs in our 35th Anniversary Song Contest.)
“‘Pray For ‘Em’ came about from the racial climate we have always been in & have recently seen a heavy resurgence of,” explains Makin. “I couldn’t quite figure out the right way to speak my thoughts on the topic, so I put my thoughts into this song. The song is truly just my inner voice & internal monologue seeing all that is going on around me, experiencing it, and also having faith and hope for progression. Loved being able to couple such a heavy message with a fantastic producer and musician Sam Barsh. He really understands strong storytelling through instrumentation, while honoring my soul/funk stylings. Coupling our worlds really brought a relatability sonically to the song.”
In terms of production, Butterfly Ali’s new acoustic video is a no-frills affair—a far cry from the song’s lavish official music video.
“With this music video I wanted to take all of the inner thoughts I’ve been having during this climate and resurgence of many already in place systemic racial issues, and paint the aspiring picture of a peaceful, beautiful, non racist, world,” Makin says of the original flick, released in October.
“It was such a blessing being able to feature my family in this music video,” he adds. “These visuals of my family represent the unity, love, & support that we as people are capable of having for one another. The female dancer represents the beauty, peace, and serenity that sometimes comes before the storm of agony, fear, and fight. All of these expressions are the internal colors of each and every one of us, which proves that we are all alike no matter the color of our skin. I need to judge someone for looking, speaking, or believing differently than you will get us nowhere.”
The acoustic video, meanwhile, highlights Butterfly Ali’s impassioned vocal performance. Check it out below.