Tell us the story behind “Warrior for Life.”
Your music has been described as an alternative to feel good music. What artists or songs are your tops for “feel good music?”
Good question. “Feel good” music can vary depending on your mood at that particular moment. My feel good music ranges from smooth jazz to classical orchestra; Bruno Mars pop to Damian Marley reggae; Dru Hill R&B to J. Cole lyricism. A simple way to describe my taste is to say that I have a profound appreciation for well-written, thought-provoking music. I’ll even say that NPR talk radio is feel good music to me, because I become enlightened on world topics while listening to the tones and cadences of people’s voices. The antithesis to my type of feel good music, however, would be songs that promote ignorant, reckless and culturally degrading content; the stuff that makes an entire generation of young people look ignorant. That said, I feel justified in admitting that most of my listening time is spent writing to instrumentals.
The Free Agents had heart to match the gifts God gave us. We were a trio: we all sang, we all rapped, and Smoke and Lex are from the islands so we infused reggae in our songs. Peep how we sold our albums: first, we would go to South Beach, the Hard Rock, the mall, a college campus – virtually anywhere we could find people hanging out at their leisure. One of us would approach a group of friends and tell them, “I don’t mean to intrude, but I’m here with my recording group. We’d like to sing something for you.” Reactions varied, but most of the time people were skeptics. Right then and there we would bust out with a full-out three-piece harmony chorus, spit a verse with live beat-box and ad-lib backups, go back into the harmonized chorus and finish up with a whole new crowd of people surrounding us. Man I tell ya, we blew people’s minds when they heard us live. We were the baddest acapella group around, and that’s how we sold 9,000 self-manufactured albums by hand.
A Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies can open lots of doors. Can you share your experience?
I majored in Communication Studies because I know that communication is the basis of civilization, and if I learn to communicate well the world will open up to me. It took me eight years after high school to finish my Bachelors degree. I kept attending college off-and-on cuz I was always heavily invested in music and was constantly booking recording sessions and shows. But when I did attend classes, I made it a point to weave music into my research. I would center the subjects of my papers around topics like ‘the effects of positive messages in music,’ and would even rhyme out presentations for my classes. It worked, cuz I made it through college and graduated with a 3.96 GPA, all because I stayed true to my vision and myself. Oh, and I managed to build up a strong core fan base at my university as a result of always being myself and always being about music.
When you're not making music, what do you enjoy?
When am I not making music? Ha. For real though, my number one priority outside of music is spending quality time with my fiancé, Dove, and our two-year-old son, Zion. And I love to travel. I like real simple stuff like sipping tea or coffee in places I’ve never been. Other than that I enjoy playing ball, lifting weights and swimming as often as I can. And Kung Fu. I feel clear when I practice Kung Fu.
TETRYS is pretty dope; can you share the story behind it?
Ahh, much appreciated. TETRYS – Get In Where U Fit In is my second solo album, following No Hype Just Hope. What I did was put together a compilation of songs that show my versatility as a writer and made it available for free download. In that regard it could be called a “free mixtape,” but it’s all original. The concept came about by comparing my songwriting process to the actual game of Tetris. I describe it as such: “Thoughtz drop down…I rotate shapez…figure out the best fit and then I put em in place – TETRYS.” So far I have three music videos online for songs off TETRYS. You can get the album and watch the videos at www.AlexanderStar.com (shameless plug haha).
Introduce us to your team.
Where to start…TK, my right-hand dude. He’s a producer, he’s an educator, he’s an outstanding brotha, and he’s the original DJ for Black Violin. TK has helped me out in immeasurable ways. Next is Nicko Rebel Music. Nicko’s a Reggae producer, and his riddims are dopeness. He executive produced my third solo project – the Badd Habitz EP – which is gonna be released in the next couple months. Itz gonna be fiya. Next we have AFR Clothing. We’re “Educating Children One Shirt at a Time,” and I’m the Chief Brand Ambassador for the company. AFR Clothing sells fashion-forward AFRo-centric apparel, then donates twenty percent of the revenue directly to the tuition fees of children in need. We also have a non-profit arm, the Amani Hope Foundation (look out for our Amani Hope Tour, coming to a city near you real soon). I gotta shout out the Stand Up Men organization, created by my big bro Lex Kelly. Stand Up Men is dedicated to community service, community enrichment, education, rehabilitation and mentorship. I’m also an artist representative for Employed By My Vision. EBMV is a motivational mentorship organization that was formed to inspire people to find their purpose, create a vision and take action. Johnny Mars and Chris Wynter of Singlehouse Publishing are also major players in my journey as an artist. And I can’t leave out my good people at New Twelve. They’re a multimedia company that wears many hats. For a start, check out my website – New Twelve developed it. There are so many folks to name, but I gotta hit the brakes for right now. My appreciation runs deep for every person involved in my career, no matter what the capacity of his or her role is.
So far in your life/career what's been the most funniest/craziest moment?
The funniest/craziest moment in my career has got to be when my group (The Free Agents) and I got thrown out of Disney World for singing. We were that good, I tell you lol. We happened to be in Orlando one day – I don’t remember what for – so we stopped through Disney world to try our luck selling CDs. We found a nice little spot with a lot of people passing through, did what we do best, and started drawing crowds and making sales. Our performances were actually drawing people outside from within the Disney souvenir stores, and apparently the Disney gangsters didn’t like that too much. We got approached by security guards with mean mugs, which was actually hilarious because they had on black polo shirts with Mickey Mouse logos on the chest hahaha. They informed us that we were costing Disney money, and then they escorted us off the property. All they had to do was offer us a better platform to sing on, and we would’ve cut ‘em in on some of the cash lol. Oh well.
Any advice for those looking to follow your footsteps?
My best advice is to set the priorities in your life. Before you try to accomplish anything, figure out who you are; that’s the only way you’re gonna know if you’re doing it right. Know what matters; know who matters; know what’s worth your time and what’s valuable enough to share. That’s what makes a genuine artist. If it’s not valuable, don’t waste your time or anyone else’s. Me, I do this to show the world that anything is possible with God. I do this because I was given the gift of creativity and because I have a strong calling to share my gift with mankind. I couldn’t stop writing if I wanted to, itz just what I’m wired to do. And I do this to make sure that my family, friends, loved ones and supporters are taken care of long down the road. I ain’t just out here talkin bullshit about how cool I am, how much money I make or some other foolishness like that. I’m writing reality in innovative ways. Please don’t be just another sloppy carbon copy of somebody else. Be yourself. The music industry has too many replicas on display; we need originals.
Thanks for hanging out with us.
‘Twas my absolute pleasure. Thanks for picking’ my brain. I’m happy to share with ya’ll. Call on me anytime.