Posted on 2 Comments

The definitive New Year’s fitness resolution guide.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and success.

Every year at this time, many people make a resolution to finally get their health and fitness in check. Every year the majority of them fail. This is usually not due to laziness, nor lack of will. It is due to lack of information, and or proper education of how to do so.
This final post of the decade is my humble attempt to help any and everyone who has this desire to finally break the cycle.

If you find yourself, or someone you care about in this category, please read on?

Gyms make a huge amount of their profits from a couple things. First of which is selling memberships to people they know will never utilize them. Especially in the U.S. where places like Planet Fitness and the like offer rock bottom prices. They can do this because they lock you into paying for a year knowing that 90% of the people who do this will give up and quit after a month.

Un-flexed, relaxed position. You can tell because my abs are not all bunched up, but long and loose.

How and why can they be so sure of this you might ask…
It is because most people have no clue of what they’re doing in the gym, or why they do it. There is a saying that goes “abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym.” This is absolutely correct

I see many people in the gym in the gym doing things that will NEVER help them achieve their fitness goals. They use horrible form doing useless movements that don’t target any particular muscle or muscle group. They simply try to move the most weight, versus actually working the muscle.

Useless exercises……

Take a simple dumbbell hammer curl for example. You see people with weights that are too heavy. They start the movement with their hips and lower back to get the weight moving, rocking their entire bodies as they lean to the side to bring the dumbbell up to their chin.
However proper form would be to stand completely still and flex the bicep. Slowly bringing the weight up to the nipple then slowly back down. Controlling the weight the entire time. THIS is how you train your bicep. The other way is more of a lower back and oblique exercise than anything. And a very poor one at that.
The goal is to work the muscle. NOT to simply move weight.

Speaking of oblique training, anyone who is doing side bends with weights or a machine is likely trying to slim their “love handle” region. However, the only thing training the obliques does is make your waist, and love handle region thicker. It is completely counterintuitive. A total waste of time. Especially since the obliques are a diagonal muscle. To train them properly one would do the “wood chopper” movement .Which is bending downwards diagonally.

Abs are made in the kitchen. Not the gym.

Since we are on the topic of a slimmer and more defined waist area, I have to address the fact that anyone who is not a Boxer, MMA fighter, or a Martial Artist in general is totally wasting their time training abs directly. There is zero need to do so. We train our abs indirectly with every exercise we do in the gym.
Once again, abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym. We all have well developed abs. They are just covered by a layer of adipose tissue.
Facts!

You can’t out train a bad diet……

This is as true as any truth ever spoken. No matter how good your training program is, if you eat a bunch of empty, non-nutritious calories, you will never achieve your fitness goals. We are what we eat, so when one feeds their body calories that it does not even recognize as food, the body is forced to do the only thing it can. That is to convert these extra calories to fat so that they can at least be utilized in some way.

Doing Cardio To Lose Weight Is A Total Waste Of Time….

On any given day, in any given gym, one will notice that the majority of the people therein are utilizing the useless cardio machines. There are several reasons for this. They go as follows…..
Most people are trying to change their physique and improve their health. Simple to understand. And a very noble goal. However I feel so bad for them because they are totally wasting their time.

Why? You ask. Because doing cardio is the worst and most inefficient way to shed extra fat and get more lean. Here’s a bit of math. engaging in elliptical training for an entire hour would burn only 360 calories.
One could simply NOT ingest three of the following to get the very same result. A can of soda, a small bag of potato chips/crisps, a large banana, two medium cookies/biscuits, or a glass of orange juice.
Each of these is approximately 120-160 calories.

Better yet, one less Mac Donald’s Cheeseburger 300 calories, and a small french fry/chips/pomme frites 230 calories. Add a small drink 140 calories, and we are now up to 740 calories. But who eats just a small anything?
At 740 calories we are now at half the daily caloric allowance to maintain and not gain weight for the average woman. This is a third of the caloric allowance for the average man.
What’s worse is that eating these so called “foods” that are so low on nutrition will have a person hungry again in a couple hours or less.

So why do gyms even have this cardio equipment?????
Business. They are not in the business of helping people get more fit, lean, and or healthy. They are in the business of selling. Selling what? Dreams, memberships, and useless supplements. That’s what.
If people quit training after a month or two (like these gyms know they will), they still have you locked in for 10 more months of membership dues.

No one is there to teach people how to train, or how to eat more importantly; to benefit from proper training. Add to this the billion dollar (needless) supplement industry hoax, and you have a lucrative industry based on lies, shadows, and mis/dis-information.
They get rich off the ignorance of well meaning people who are trying to do the right thing.

Just Because We Can Eat It, That Doesn’t Mean That We Should….

Most of what is sold as food today is not at all food. It is “edible foodstuffs”.
Heavily processed, chemically engineered, and highly addictive poisons that are low on actual nutrients, and easily available at very low prices.
If it does not look like what it did when it came out of the ground, off the tree, out of the water, or when it was (humanely) butchered, it is NOT food. And is slowly killing you.

These items are engineered to be highly addictive by teams of scientists who work tirelessly to refine the ultimate “pleasure factor” in these products. This is done by the perfect ratios if fats for mouth-feel, savory salts, and addictive pleasure causing sugars.

It was a difficult question for obesity researchers: do some people overeat because they find eating more pleasurable or gratifying than others? Logically, that makes a lot of sense–it’s a time-tested principle of psychology: if a behavior feels good, we’ll keep doing it. But a new study published today in the journal Science adds to a growing body of research suggesting the opposite: that women who derive less pleasure from eating may eat more to compensate, putting them at higher risk for weight gain and obesity. The research also discovered a particular genetic trait that, when present, is associated with an even stronger relationship between low sense of reward and overeating.

“If you ask overweight individuals if they crave food, I really think they are legitimately thinking it’s more rewarding,” says study author Eric Stice, a senior scientist at the Oregon Research Institute. “They’ll say they’re really sensitive to the rewards. But when you look at the brain scans you get a different picture.”

Previous brain imaging studies have looked at what happens when we look at pictures of food. In those cases, obese individuals tend to anticipate a higher level of satisfaction of eating the pictured food than lean individuals do, supporting the idea that the people who overeat are the ones who find it more rewarding. But the Science study was the first to do those same fMRI scans while participants were actually eating–or, in this case, drinking a chocolate milkshake. “Nobody had ever administered food to people in a brain scanner and looked at what happens in the brain while you’re eating,” says Stice. “Now we have evidence that, when you give an obese individual a chocolate milkshake, there’s less of a response going on.”

* “The Pleasure Factor: Why Food Is So Addicting?”
By Newsweek, Newsweek11/17/2008 05:12am EST | Updated November 17, 2011

Sugar……

The nation of my birth is the U.S.A. Commonly known as the most obese country on earth. Coming up second on this list is the UK. Per captita, they are poised to surpass the U.S. in just a few years. There is also Ireland, Qatar, and so on. What these countries all have in common is the amount of sugar consumed.

Sugar is a highly addictive drug. One that fires up the brain’s pleasure centers just as much as any narcotic. If not more. Like heroin, it re-wires the brain and causes the person who ingests it regularly to need it. Or they suffer very un-pleasurable withdrawal symptoms. And even depression.

There are two forms of sugar. Glucose, and fructose. The body converts all carbohydrates into glucose to feed our calorie hogging brains, and for glycogen that our muscles need to do their work.
Fructose is not even recognized as food by the brain. When eaten, it goes directly to the liver, which induces an insulin spike that tells the body to store the empty calories as fat so the body can actually utilize them.

This over time can cause type 2 diabetes as the body becomes more and more insulin resistant due to spiking it so much so often. 100 years ago, type 2 diabetes and cancer were unheard of. These are modern, man-made diseases brought on solely by poor dietary practices.
We are literally eating ourselves to death.

Liquid calories…..

This horrible chain of circumstances is compounded by the fact that many in westernized society consume 25-30% of their daily caloric intake by drinking them.
The body/brain does not register these liquid calories as food. Therefore, one could easily drink half of their entire daily caloric requirement in one sitting and still be hungry enough to eat the other half at the same sitting by having a basic fast food meal.

In fact, the basic fast food meal is easily 50-200% of our calorie requirements.

So with upwards of 100 grams of sugar, starchy white flour, way too much sodium (which leaves us bloated and holding excess water), and unhealthy man-made fats, we get an epidemic of overweight, yet malnourished individuals and families.

Fat is good…

In fact, natural fats are vital and healthy. Olive oil, sunflower oil, nuts, butter, eggs, and even animal fats are vital to good health, brain function, and the endocrine system.
Our brains are comprised mostly of cholesterol, i.e. fat.
The real culprit is sugars, and starches. These things are what raise bad cholesterol. Not fat.

Fat does not make people fat. Eating more calories than you burn makes a person fat. And when we eat things that constantly raise our insulin, it sends a signal from our liver to the brain to store these calories as fat.
I will not get into why these things are allowed to happen in this blog post, as it is already too long, and there is so much to cover with this regard.
If I see a good response, and or high interest in this type of information, I will elaborate in detail in future posts.

Overweight and Dopamine….

There is no denying that some people are born with a natural, genetic predisposition to struggle with weight. Yet they are a rare exception and NOT the rule.
For most, the problem is self induced. Mostly by lack of education. Followed by the ubiquitous availability of cheap, convenient, non-nutritious, highly subsidized, and highly addictive products that are sold as food.
So once a person becomes overweight they become trapped in a vicious cycle triggered by becoming overweight which goes as follows.
A person who is over weight has diminished their capacity for dopamine released when eating food between 20-50%. This means that they must eat more to derive the same amount of pleasure from a tasty treat.
Since many who find themselves in this unfortunate category are “pleasure eaters” due to having fallen prey to the scientifically manufactured addictive properties of these “foods”, they seek pleasure in eating.
This is a very vicious cycle indeed.

On top of that, if a person is actually able to become more lean and take the excess fat off, they can only eat 80% of what a person of the same weight who was never heavy can.
Unfair? Yes, but it is a sad reality.

Fitness is a lifestyle….

Any dietary practices that cannot be sustained for life will inevitably fail. Just ask anyone who is overweight and has been a victim of “yo yo dieting”.
These drastic fad diets, pills, and magazine articles do not address the root cause.
Lifestyle got you there, and it is ONLY lifestyle that can get out out and keep you from ever going back.
Facts!

Consistency Over Time…..

Getting the desired results from any fitness program, and or diet/nutritional plan requires a daily commitment. Consistency over a long period of time is the only way.
Many go into the new year highly motivated, and usually committed to improve their health and physiques. But after spending so much time, effort, and sometimes money with no results, they become disillusioned and give up.

The entire fitness industry makes it’s money on this fact. They function like the “medical industrial complex”. Which is to treat symptoms, but NEVER offer a true cure.
As a personal fitness trainer, it is bad business for me to tell you that no one really needs regular training for more than 16 weeks. That it unless they are a bodybuilder prepping for a show, or some other extreme case.
Money is made in this industry long term by never telling people what they need to know to succeed.
Or by never telling them what they really need to know in order to set realistic goals and stick to them.

But I actually want to help people. I do this by telling you the truth.
If I can help anyone improve their health, looks, and self esteem by taking control of their fitness, I am more than happy to do so.
Of course I seek clients for personal fitness coaching, and or nutritional planning. BUT my goal is to help you to not need me as soon as possible by helping people develop a new, and sustainable lifestyle.
THIS is what any personal fitness trainer worth the money will seek to do.

Cook your own Food….

Preparing inexpensive, nutritionally sound, healthy meals at home is very easy when you have the will and proper education with which to do so.
Anyone claiming otherwise is either lying, misinformed, and or have never tried.
I am living proof. I live way out in the countryside with only a bike and a backpack to transport my groceries.
I have lived on a starving artist’s budget for a few years now, but never have I had to resort to eating fast food as my primary source of sustenance.
If I can do it, anyone can, as I have literally been living in third world conditions for some time now.
Facts!

Track Your Macros…

A key component of a sustainable fitness lifestyle is learning how to, and getting into the habit of tracking your macronutrient intake.
Macros are Protein, Fats, and Carbohydrates.
Proteins and fats are necessary for sustaining life, but carbs are not. When getting lean, it is carbs one should cut. NEVER fats, in fact, some people employ a ketogenic diet to help lean out. This diet is up to 80% fat.
More on this diet in a future installment….

I track every single thing I eat, every singe day down to the gram. I typically know exactly what I will eat for the entire day before I even have breakfast. This is “nutritional planning”, and whether we are trying to become more lean, or to simply maintain a healthy and ideal weight, it behooves us all to make this practice a habit.
There are many apps and websites that make doing so extremely easy. So there is simply no excuse for not doing so. With the exception of not knowing how to read. But if you couldn’t read, you would not be reading this right now LOL!
Myfitnesspal.com is my go to website/app for this purpose. Consider it a facebook for fitness. In that you can interact socially, but it also has free tools to help you calculate and track for proper macros. Along with calculators to help you lose, gain, or maintain your weight.
Please check it out?
You can even add me if you want.
https://www.myfitnesspal.com/

True Story….

Happy New Year! May 2020 be the beginning of an amazing new chapter in your lives.
With the utmost love and respect.
Yours Truly,
Amir Alexander xx

Posted on Leave a comment

7 years completed. The 8th begins today. (An editorial essay)

Amir Alexander. Father, Artist, Lover, Man.

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” ― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

This quote pretty much sums it up. In 2012 I celebrated my 40th birthday in Paris for the first time, on my first international tour. In many ways the past seven years have been a dream come true. Yet, in a few particular ways it has been a living nightmare. Whether good or bad, I can truly say that I am grateful for every minute, and ultimately wouldn’t change a thing. The highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. These things have forged me into the man I am today. I am finally the person I have always wanted to be. The man I presented myself as to the entire world.

Much of the good I have done, put out, and or achieved is why you all are reading this now. Thank you for rocking with me. All of the bad are things I can never live down and must wear for the rest of my life. This I accept and have learned from.
I have been impatient, offensive, and seemingly arrogant. I have also been a fool for women who did not value the love they undeservedly got from me. Love they could never value because it was given too easy. Undying devotion must be earned. Now I know.

As I write this, I see that this pattern played itself out in many of the friendships I tried to foster. None of which I seem to have now. Live and learn, as the saying goes. Some will, some never do. It takes hella courage and humility for an entertainer to admit this publicly. I do not seek a pat on the back for doing so. I do it under the spirit of making amends to those I made feel bad along the way. I also do it as a cautionary tale for young artists coming after me. Hopefully they can learn from my mistakes.

Truth

Truth is like fiat currency. It only holds value when the the parties concerned agree to give it value. Thus, truth is actually relative. Not absolute. What is true for one man, woman, trans, or other, may not hold the same value for someone else. It is best to not force your truth on another person.

“Mistakes are the best teacher, I’ve learned a lot.” – Andy Bassich Life below Zero. The understated profundity of the way he said this hit me like a Mack truck. I don’t watch television, but I became aware of this show when going over to my child’s mother’s place to get him ready for pre-school on my custody days that started at 7:00 am.

The Flight Of Icarus

I am he. Icarus is an Ancient Greek mythological character. One whom, through hubris brought upon needless personal tragedy. In short, his father the craftsman Daedalus the creator of the Labyrinth, sought to escape the island of Crete with his son. The means by which were wings he made from feathers and wax.

Icarus’ father warns him first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he fly neither too low nor too high, so the sea’s dampness would not clog his wings nor the sun’s heat melt them. Icarus ignored his father’s instructions not to fly too close to the sun; when the wax in his wings melted he tumbled out of the sky and fell into the sea where he drowned, sparking the idiom “don’t fly too close to the sun”. In wearing my proverbial “heart on my sleeve”, and trying to force my truth at the time, I flew too high to the sun and crashed.

Blessed Are The Meek

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5 King James Version (KJV).
That which does not kill us makes us stronger. I firmly believe this. This is one of my personal truths. Some of you may agree. Others may not. We are both correct. As truth is relative.
I am a man of faith. However, I do not force my beliefs upon anyone. True faith does not work this way. I learned this too from making mistakes. My beliefs are my personal truth. Some believe, many do not. Christ teaches love and tolerance.

He ministered to the sinners and publicans. People whom the religious leaders of the time considered unclean and unworthy of sharing space with. Many believers could benefit from His example. It is not for us to judge one another. We are taught to love. This too, is my truth. As an entertainer who makes his living in the popularity contest (make no mistake it most certainly is) known as the music industry, we are subject to the whims of popular opinion.

It is what it is, and I accept this whole heatedly. Music is a deeply personal, as well as emotional medium. Thus, our job is to uplift and provide positive emotions. Not to bring people down. To be a source of bad vibes is to miss the point, and is quite irresponsible. For, if we have made it to the international public sphere people are open to us. Cause unpleasantness and people will react by closing off to you. This is a basic survival reflex.
Lesson learned. x

The Phoenix

Referring once again to Ancient Greek mythology, I identify with the myth of the Phoenix. More specifically, Icarus Phoenix-ing out of the ashes of his former self. Purified by fire. Associated with the Sun, a phoenix obtains new life by arising from the ashes of its predecessor. According to some sources, the phoenix dies in a show of flames and combustion.

This entire journey from the me I was, to the me I am now has occurred under the scrutiny of the public eye. Super harsh, and brutally painful, I am extremely grateful for it. From 2012’s Freshman of the Year to Persona non-grata and back, these past seven years have been a wild ride.

Fatherhood

It is often said that when one is suffering malaise (physical, emotional, or otherwise), they should seek out others worse off to help. Who on this earth is more helpless than a newborn child?
My son is the best thing I have ever done with my life, by far. He has provided the impetus for me to both grow, and man up. I show him my gratitude daily by being the father I wish I would have had. Being a great father comes quite naturally. Parenthood is another of my truths. I wish that everyone could experience the infinite joy therein. Yet, I respect people’s decision to partake.

Moving forward

I am currently building a music career from the stage one beginning, as though I never had one. This too, is a blessing. As I get to live out the saying “if I could go back in time knowing what I know now”. Can you imagine? This opportunity is amazing. I have all the “clout” afforded an artist who has achieved all I have, yet everything is fresh and new. For this, I am infinitely grateful.

The past seven years have set me on the path to fulfilling my potential as an artist, a man, and a loving human being. I am well on my way to becoming a truly righteous dude. It just took me learning how to get out of my own way. Upwards and onward, as the saying goes.

That said…..

The medium is the message, and the message is LOVE.
True story.
Amir Alexander xx

Posted on Leave a comment

Brothers in crime (Afa pt 2)

top ramen, robbing crackheads, bad checks, and karma

a closer look

Last week we began to look at the con-man Afa, who went by at least three different last names. For the sake pf privacy, I won’t list them here. After publishing last week’s post, I googled all three of them just to see if he was alive. Last I heard, another of my former besties (also a druggie con-man), had beat him down and run him out of the city. More on that later.

As previously stated, he was the exact same height, weight, and build as I was at the time. 185 cm (six feet, and one and a half inches) tall, a hundred-fifty lbs, and lanky as hell. As we entered the rave scene proper, everyone assumed that we were brothers. He wore braces on his teeth when I first met him, but one day decided to pull them off himself. Being that he no longer lived with his parents, no one was paying to maintain them. Therefore, many of the brackets had broken so they no longer served their purpose. This left chunks of dental epoxy stuck to his teeth which he was always picking at.

He also had one A-cup boob. A tit. I now know this is called gynecomastia. If you’ve never heard of it, I’ll let you look it up yourself. I found out about it because I lift weights. Anything I am into, I research everything there is to be learned about it. Basically, males get it one of two ways. Naturally during puberty, or self induced by using anabolic steroids. No sure which was the case for him. With Afa, one can never tell.

He said that a spider bit him, but I never bought that story. At any rate, this dude seemed to know everybody. As we began to become closer as friends, I learned that he was a “spoiled rich kid” who had gone wild early and got kicked out of his parents house. The circles he ran in during his early teens were all trust fund, wealthy brats. As such, he was no different. When well meaning parents try to buy their children’s love things always go pear-shaped in the end.

and then there were two/thick as thieves

Anyone looking in from the outside could see that he was a horrible influence on me, and that we were heading in the wrong direction. The end point would either be prison, or the grave yard. Yet, the rebel in me felt that I could handle anything bad that came our way. The result was that I descended deeper and deeper into this strange world he had come from. By this point, Mike was hanging tough with a mutual friend named Will who was a percussionist.
We had met him while marching in the Magic of Orlando. A Drum and Bugle Corp, the previous summer. (Wow! OK, now I’ll eventually have to touch on that experience in a later installment).

The link is from the actual year I marched. Mike being a trumpeter played “soprano” bugle. I, being a tubist, played the “contra” or “contra bass” bugle. At any rate, Mike was one of the top nominees for Drum major the following season. He would go on to become the Drum major, and lead the corps to it’s first top twelve championship finish at world finals.
By then he had a long distance girlfriend named Danielle who is his wife to this very day. They have two amazing sons, both of them now the age we were back then.

Adam being a a high school senior about to graduate near the top of his class was much more focused on school. As he should be. Therefore he was hanging out less by now. This left Afa and I as the last men standing in our little criminal enterprise.

instant ramen, peanut butter balls, and “wobbing”

For my birthday in 1991, my senior year of high school, several of my friends had put their money together to buy me a giant garbage bag full of “oodles of noodles” Top Ramen. I counted like 250 packages. These would come in handy the following year at uni when we had to buy our own food.
That bag had already lasted over twelve months (my birthday being in September at the very beginning of the school year). I brought it with about 75 packages still left to Jacksonville.

By March of 1993 they were long gone, and we were often hungry. Afa, being the master of getting money without going to work a job had the bright idea to go “wobbing”. The cupboard was empty, with the exception of a box of generic cornflakes Adam’s mom had given us, a half jar of crunchy peanut butter, and some white sugar.
With this I made us some “peanut butter balls”. A recipe first introduced to me in kindergarten. We ate that for a couple of days, but I digress…

Wobbing is making fake crack rocks out of aspirin. You cut it into chunks and coat it with toothache medicine so that it numbs the mouth if a potential buyer (victim) tastes to see if it’s real. We made up a convincing batch and hit the streets to hit a lick so we could eat. The struggle was indeed real. I am not condoning or glorying this though. To be clear, it is NOT cool. Cheating people is never cool. Crackhead or not. No one who does any drug should be discriminating against another person because of their chosen libation.

Besides, it can get you shot, and or killed. As almost happened to us. Things happened so quickly therefore, everything is foggy now. I only remember a very skeptical buyer asking where we were from and who did we know (because they had never seen us in that particular hood), things going south,shots fired, and us barely making it out of there alive. Kids, do not try this at home, as the saying goes. It’s a very bad idea.

starter checks

By this point we are well known at all the department stores and running out of return opportunities. As part of the “loss prevention policies”, the stores had you sign each time you retuned an item for cash. After twelve, they wouldn’t let you return anymore. As, it was common knowledge in Jacksonville at the time that kids were stealing and returning for cash. This was their way of curtailing our illegal actives. This is what led to my eventual downfall.
More on that in a future post.

Somehow Afa had found a book of blank starter checks. The ones given when you first open a bank account, but do not yet have ones with your name printed on them. On this particular day I was introduced to the “bad check” game. To cut to the chase, we first hit a local grocery store and bought an entire shopping cart full of food.
Being spurred on by the success of the mission, we then decided to treat ourselves to a lavish meal at a very nice seafood restaurant on the beach.

We ordered all the most tasty and expensive items. We even gave our lovely waitress a huge tip. All with a bunk check. I felt guilty the whole time. Scandalously shameful, this. I am not at all proud of it, but at the time, we were literally starving. Extreme poverty, and no opportunities breeds crime and criminals. Especially when you are a stupid kid.

crabbing ass weed hoes

Turn about is fair play, as the saying goes. A week later we met these fine, but trashy chicks on the beach. Super low class. Loud, rude, and ruthless. They gamed us good. We had met them at this one dude’s place whom Afa knew. An older Caucasian gentlemen who was actually a good man. He had fallen on hard times and lived in a pay by the hour hotel in Jax beach. He was sort of a mentor to Afa.
Anyhoo, these broads were over there smoking, as he sold a few dime bags here and there to get by. We had gone over to get a quarter bag on a front. He would front Afa because Afa respected him and always paid him back. One thing I can say about Afa is that he was loyal to his friends. Everyone else he would fuq over, but if you were his people, you were golden.

all for now…

This feels like a good place to stop for now. We will pick up from here next week. Starting with how the game runners got gamed by these gully, weed crabbing chicks. So until next time

true story

AA xx

*disclaimer, I do not condone any of this behavior. Nor am I on this type of vibe anymore. I was a poor, stupid kid at the time. These days I am a law abiding “square”, who teaches his son that the police are there to help, and that we should respect them.

Posted on Leave a comment

Decent into the underworld

Fast money, drugs, sex, violence, and crime. Street life in the early 90s.

This week, we take a look at a criminal genius, ne’er do well, druggie, and overall shady Character. Afa! Pronounced Aye-Fuh. A tall, lanky weird looking dude who truly has the gift of gab. He was born to be a con man.

The things youth bond over……

When we’re kids, proximity is everything when it comes to social relations. Case in point, our first friends are either siblings, and or preschool mates. In kindergarten it’s the same. All the way through university. We become friends first with the people we see daily. As we enter our teen years things like music, fashion, and extracurricular activities narrow our tastes. Coming into early adulthood; that time when we’re honing our individual identities, some become denizens of the night.

The world beyond the control of one’s parents, or guardians is rife with excitement. Since the dawn of time, people have done revelry, mischief, and debauchery late at night. For youth fresh out into the world as newly minted adults, many stray from the lessons and values we were raised with. Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.

As all these new and exciting things are happening, we are forming the last of those “childhood bonds”. Making friends as adults is a different animal altogether.

The Never-ending “J”

I’ve always been a bit of a scientist. Tinkering and reverse engineering my broken toys as a child, I loved the idea of elaborate contraptions in cartoons. Those things like that game mousetrap, you know? At any rate,
this eventually manifested itself as me being the blunt roller, pipe, and bong maker of the gang.
One day I was experimenting with a blunt rolled inside a spliff. The first semester of university is almost over. The Christmas break is fast approaching. I am a few weeks past the day trip day mare (LOLZ), and I am happy to be getting some time off from classes soon.

As per custom, Adam is up for the weekend. Out of all the mooching housemates we had, only Afa is left. He’s a lot of fun to be around, has great stories, and always has a hustle. By now he is quickly becoming one of the gang.
Mike is about to leave when Adam arrives. We all chief up at the kitchen table. The blunt hits good. Burns slow. After 20 minutes, Mike’s like “Man! this thing still isn’t done. I’ma be late for work. see ya!” as he bounds out the door in a rush.

“So what’s in this thing anyway? Adam asks. To which I reply, a bit of that Jamaican brick weed from Jessie, some of those fat dimes we get from E.P., and the last of that blue krypto. (We used to call good weed “kind bud”, or “krippies” after the kryptonite strain that was popular back then).
I rolled it in a Swisher on the inside, wet it all down with honey, then I rolled that in another a rizla spliff.
“Damn Bro! You be gettin’ all scientific wit da weed” Sputters Afa. As he coughs up a lung off dat weed.

After about 35 minutes of smoking the same blunt, Adam blurts “Fuq! I’m high. Let’s run up to the corner store man. Get some soda, bunts, and munchies.
“Cool cool cool” I say. “I’m good. Afa, put that out when you’re done.”
Afa looks at me like “da fuq?”, then says “Put it out? Done? Man, I think I’m gonna keep rockin.”

Adam and I head out, get some petrol for his truck, buy our groceries, and head back. We walk in to see Afa sitting in the exact same spot. Smoking. He gleefully screams “fifty-five minutes and counting. It’s still going. Y’all better hurry up and hit this.
Looking back on it, this was the day the three of us made “that” bond. A bond over the never-ending “J”.

Five finger discount

Christmas came and went. Mike and I went back home for the Christmas break. Afa stayed at our place while we were gone. We came back a week before class resumed.
Afa asked for a ride up to the mall to get some money. He said he needed to return some jeans he got for Christmas, then he would buy a half ounce and a 10 strip of blotter fo da gang!
“Word up then! You actually have money for a change” We often broke his balls for being broke, but always having drugs and nice clothes.

During the early 90’s it was all about designer jeans. Big money! We wore Polo, Guess, Girbaud, Cross Colors, and Levi’s Silver Tabs. Well, we wanted to, but they were mad expensive. Until……

So we get to the mall and all goes as he said it would. He even bought us food. Yet, his money ran out after a day or to so he wanted to go back. He told Mike and I that he actually had a little hustle going. Where he would go into one of the big department stores, try on expensive jeans, and then walk out with a pair on under his. Then you go to a different store and return them for cash.

“Man, you’re freaking crazy! Mike says. I follow with “That would never work”.
It indeed did work. Unfortunately.
Suddenly we’re flush with cash. I was easily burning through two or three hundred dollars a day at one point. Wearing $300 dollar jeans, buying half sheets of blotter, and smoking cheeba by the ounce.

Jessie, and George

We got some pretty decent Jamaican seedless brick weed from Jessie, who’s family was Hispanic. He was about 17, but super mature. His parents let him sell weed out of their living room. George was his bestie. He was our age. A couple few years older than Jessie. He lived there too, I think they were cousins.
Goerge’s name wasn’t really George. we just called him that because he looked like Curious George from the children’s books.

They too would run the jeans hustle, so sometime we would all go together. Mike could do it, and got pretty good at it, but he had a Mother who was not playing that. If he got caught she would do what any good mother should, and spit roast him.

This being the case, he fell back and went out with us less and less. He was working more at Subway now, and didn’t need the money like that. Adam was scared shitless about the whole thing and was nothing but a liability. He would be so scared that we would just leave him in the car. That left me and Afa.
This was the beginning of he and I becoming as close as brothers for a brief moment in time.

all for one, one for all

Hanging with a bunch of street dudes in the 90’s meant fist fights. You HAD to know how to throw hands. PERIOD! The mode was go out to clubs mad deep. This means with a huge group. Be prepared to fight at any minute. Bear in mind that these were meat market commercial clubs. As House Music was a newborn form that had barely made it’s way outside of Chicago, New York, and Detroit.

Bad situations popped off regularly, so there was safety in numbers. If one of your dudes gets jumped, the whole gang is about to issue some whoop ass. This actually kept the violence down to a bit, as not many people go out to a club looking to get into a gang war.
That said, there were a few skirmishes, and plenty near misses.

George goes down

Jessie and George were solid dudes. All the bros in their set would have your back if push came to shove. Back then, loyalty was a thing. A lot of the people Afa introduced me to had very appealing qualities. They just weren’t going anywhere in life. Most had zero ambition, and lived to get high, get money, chase broads, and run game. Jessie and George had a bit more depth than the average bro though. As such, they and I began to hang tough.

This being the case, they would often ride to the different shopping malls with Afa and I to run the return game. After a few months, I was by far the best at it. Up until a few years ago, I was hot or cold. Black or white. No shades of grey. No nuance. Fully turned up, and ready to “take it there”. On this particular day I demonstrated that fact by doing things I would cringe at if my son were ever to do them.

We were in Dillards, a high end department store doin’ that thang. It was a Saturday afternoon, I actually wasn’t planning to boost anything that day, but I saw this crazy Girbaud jacket I had to have, I also saw a pair of Levi’s fat jeans. Big baggy raver pants were just coming out at this time.

I was already wearing these dope Pepe jeans I had boosted a week ago, and they were slim fitted. As such, I got the bright idea (stupid idea) to put the stolen clothes on top of the ones I walked in with. This is the complete opposite of how the game is run. This was a totally brazen act. Arrogant even. This day marked the beginning of the end of my brief career as a retail thief. Yet, It was not in the stars for me to go down this day. Instead it was George’s.

We got in, Did the dirt and got out without a hitch. As per custom, we had to go to another mall to make the exchange of goods for return cash. This partucular day we decided to go to the Regency Square Mall Which was a bit of a hike to get to. At the time, it was also the biggest and busiest mall in the city.

The returns all went well, but George sees this Polo sweater he wants to take, He was spurred on by my newly acquired jacket to do so. Did I mention that I am still wearing the boosted clothing on top of my OG threads the whole time?
So George goes back into the store we just left. The rest of us wanting no parts of it wait at the food court.

George comes back in a flash. Six or seven minutes tops. By now the danger vibes are screaming and we are itching to go, but NO!
Ol’ George decides that he wants to buy a hot dog from the food court. In unison, as if on cue, everyone is saying how this is all bad and we need to flee the premises STAT!
Less than a minute later, plain clothes security taps George on the shoulder and says he’s being detained for retail theft. We look at each other like. “Damn! I knew it” Suddenly everything goes all slow motion, yet it all happened so quickly……

Without missing a beat, George turns and sucker punches the officer in the jaw. Which actually staggered him for a second, Yet it wasn’t the “haymaker” knock out punch he was going for.
George then proceeds to do the funniest/saddest escape attempt in the history of petty thieves. He made about four slow motion steps before three people tackled him to the ground and gave him the business.
This was the last time I ever saw George.

much too much…

As I recount these experiences, a flood of memories rush forth. In order to tell the story properly, I will have to think serially. No need to try to get it all out at once. Therefore, with this particular era, the six month period preceding the first rave, I will have to segment this particular chapter.
Afa hasn’t even been covered. Plus we’ll have to visit the day I went down. As well as me meeting my rave princess, dropping out of uni, and leaving that life forever in order to pursue this new music lifestyle called raving in general, and House culture in specific.

it can never be overstated

House Music really did save my life. This is not a cliche. Over time I will continue to share with you my reasons for making such a claim.
It has been only about a month, but I can sense that many of you are rocking with me. I give you my most humble gratitude.
For almost a decade I have been described as aloof and shadowy. Standoffish, even. Perhaps there is a grain of truth in this.

Well, not anymore. I realized that I “have people”. People who actually check for and support my work, Regardless of how few, each one is extremely valued.
I have taken it upon myself to show gratitude to the people and the culture that has given me so much.
I am your servant, and I cherish you all.

to be continued…

True story.
AA xo

Posted on 2 Comments

Fear and Loathing in Jax Beach (Day trip gone bad)

“black empty eyes, teenage runaway jail bait, and the police”

Three Fountains

In the days before I began engaging in club “libational activities”, I was a Jazz Man. Double Bass Viol was my axe. As we say in the biz, “Upright Bass”. Bebop was my scene and it was all about building up my chops. At this time I shared a low rent 2 bedroom apartment with one of my two besties from high school in a Complex called Three Fountains.

Well past it’s glory days in the mid 1950’s the namesake three fountains now languished. Dry and filled with that grey Florida sand/soil, pebbles, an old shoe, and a few crack vials. One could imagine the way they stood quite regal in that old Florida art-deco style. Once upper middle class, the majority of the residents were now lower income families, students, and social outcasts.

picked up hella strays, init

Mike and I were on the lease. We both had full music scholarships, book allowance, and Pell Grants, etc. Mike also had a job at Subway sandwiches. His assistant manager was also named Mike. Somehow other Mike began to sleep over. Then live there. Then came his homie Afa Grant. The best (meaning worst) con-man I have ever met. He had a knack of finding and befriending drug dealers. He would eventually set them up to get robbed. Over time he and I became so close people thought we were brothers.
More on that in the future.

Other Mike had this very creepy ex-girlfriend who had some kind of weird sex thing in the past with Afa. She came to live with us when other Mike went to jail for a statutory rape charge. Apparently he was dating a 16 year old who lived in a trailer park.
Other Mike also had a sister who was around 25 at the time making her the hot older woman of the group. She came with a boyfriend who had just returned from living on a Navy ship. He wore the PopEye suit and all. Then there was the dude we called Mr. Wendal.

Mr. Wendal (after the song by the group Arrested Development) because he was a homeless dude who worked with the Mikes at subway. Bro would steal subway meat and eat it by the pound. His sandwiches were 30 slices of roast beef on both sides with 50 slices of turkey, and 25 slices of cheese in between. No bread. No veggies. Zero fiber. Dude would spend an hour on the toilet and shut it down for another two.

what the friggin hell

Perplexed, I found myself wondering “How did all these extra people end up living for free in our apartment? What is going on here?” After what seemed like forever, but was maybe only 2 months, they leave.

My friend Adam is a senior in high school and comes up to visit every weekend so he can be reckless with us two college freshmen. This year he has been selected to represent our Alma matter at Tri-State Honor Band as I had done the year prior.
I decide to take the trip up to Tallahassee with him to visit my ex girlfriend who attends classes at the university the event will be held.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

I’ve got a couple few trips under my belt at this point. The first was trip dope. It was with my ex girlfriend Amy at Florida State University. She was now a sophomore in the Marching Chiefs Band. She like me, played tuba, Or in her case sousaphone. It was amazing. She was an excellent vibe guru.
The second time was NUTS!!!! It most definitely needs it’s own episode. In fact, we’ll explore it next time.

So so, this particular weekend Afa and Mike will be gone on Saturday and Adam isn’t coming up. I’ve decided to do my first solo trip. A day trip of peaceful reflection, poetry, philosophy, and listening to the wild ways in which music mutates. What could go wrong?
Famous last words.

black empty eye holes

It’s cool, the dudes leave and I drop. Just as the trip begins to kick in, this one super sketchy dude Afa knows comes over looking for him. He’s with this one slutty girl from round the way who’s cool, but mad easy. Their eye holes are empty and black. He asks if he can take her up to my room so they can have sex. “FUCK NO!” I think to myself. They look at me startled as I realize I had actually screamed it aloud. Opps. My bad.

I tell him that I can take him a few places he might be, if he can run me over to see my man raver Russ, aka “Kid Nitrous”. He got that name because he used to suck whip-it gas straight from the huge tank in between filling balloons of laughing gas being sold at parties. Dude would go all blue lip and pass out humping the tank. One time he froze his mouth to it.

More on nitrous Russ later, as he most certainly needs his own chapter. Right now he’s just the roommate of my acid man and sometimes weed bro when my main, Jessie isn’t holding. Wow! I’ll most certainly have to do a few episodes on Jessie and his homie (Curious) George. Hilarious. This series is going to be so much fun!
But I digress….

gun play

We go a few places Afa and I would cruise, looking for him to no avail. Then we ride up into the hood where the Raiders have their trap house. There are 2 major gangs at the time. the Sox, and the Raiders. they wore the corresponding black baseball caps. Goofy and lame when you think about it, but they were lowkey feared in the streets.
At any rate, the dude I’m in the car with begins to chase this Raider kid in a Honda Civic. We pull up beside him and this fool pulls out a nickel plated Smith and Wesson 45 caliber cannon. He then proceeds to cock it and tell me that he and that dude fight on sight.
We chase this dude for miles. He eventually pulled into a neighborhood and started circling the block. I noticed that he would honk his horn every time he passed a certain house.

tables turn (for the worse)

After about three passes the dudes in the house catch on to what’s going on. They then start to pile up in their cars. All strapped up with their guns, they begin to chase us. I, at this point am a bit concerned for our safety. Yet, I don’t want to begin to have a bad trip so I remain calm.
We eventually pull into the police parking lot and act like we’re going in to shake off the heat. It works. “Holy crap! What just happened?” I think to myself. Next, I tell him to drop me off at friggin Russ’s place because Afa will be there later tonite. I can ride home with him. Somehow I’ve lost about three hours.

the cops raid?

As luck would have it, Afa had just called Russ from a payphone saying he was coming over right before I got there. The dude stayed, and they linked up do do whatever deal they had set up. Afterward, Mr. Soulless eyes and his crusty broad were off to get busy once they found a place to do so.

Russ had a cool apartment he shared with Chris and Cuff. It was a wild place. Chris was on house arrest from a prior drug bust. Needless to say, homie was hot. They had a couple very young girls over. Apparently the girls were living there now. We smoked some gravity bong hits and vibed out to the little mermaid. Which I had never seen.

“You ain’t never seen the little mermaid on acid?” asked Russ. “Nah man” I replied. “Well, you need to get on that” Right then, little mermaid it is.

A good two hours pass by and we’re all just talking and chilling. One of the girls is even cooking for us. Then suddenly there is a “Cop Knock” at the door.
We all freeze, startled. Russ asks who it is. “Police. We need to…..” That’s all anyone heard before everyone but Chris made a bee line for the backdoor running for dear life. We pour out into the back courtyard screaming and laughing wildly. Maniacally, even. There was a little old lady outside hanging up her laundry. We almost gave the poor lady a heart attack running up on her like that.

About 5 highly inebriated youth make a frenzied hundred meter dash to the other side of the courtyard. There was an 6 foot tall concrete wall. We run up, start throwing the girls over, then we shimmied up it ourselves and ran around the block. This way we could watch Chris’s place from the cut. By the time we got around front they were leaving.
We met Chris smiling at the door looking carefree. Heads was like “what the fuq?”

I’m done yo

Apparently the girls were indeed underage and the cops had been tipped off that they had been spotted there. Afa was going out to The Edge that night with Russ. Chris was chilling with the young ladies, but I was ready to blow that scene and go home.
“You comin’ out with us tonight, or are you all tripped out?” Afa asked. “I’m done yo. Take me home”

dwelt among the dregs

In the following months, occurrences like this seemed to become common place. I found myself hanging with a very “base” element. True losers who were headed nowhere fast. I would often think to myself,
“I do not belong here around these people. I actually have goals and dreams. If I continue down this path things will not end very well.”

I got deeper and deeper into the street life. Catching cases, dodging police, and becoming a very good criminal. Then one day I got a flyer for a rave. The rest is history.



House Music saved my life.

true story.
AAxx

Posted on 3 Comments

Raver meets His DJ Hero

Christopher Milo aka DJ Three (Hallucination Limited)

DJ Three – live at Robot Heart 10 Year Anniversary (Burning Man 2017) – September 2017

“I’m The DJ”

It’s been a few months now and the boys are beginning to take weekend road trips to rave all over the state. At this time in Florida, all the kids would do likewise. You would see the Orlando kids, Miami kids, Ft. Lauderdale, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Talahassee, Boca, Daytona, Coco Beach, etc.
After a while we all began to recognize one another, and we all began to clique. If you can imagine, there was a time when every raver in the state knew, or at least knew of one another. Good times.

During the early 90’s Kimball Collins was the most hyped DJ in Florida. The main sound was Progressive House and Trance. Not really my thing. I was quite new to all of this, but I already knew that I liked a more underground sound. A sound that went on to be called Chicago House, and Detroit Techno. Ahhz (Oz) in Orlando was the club to be at. It is where Kimball was a resident. At the time, the raves filled the void, as Ahhz had closed down for a bit.

search mission(s)

By this point, the ritual is to spend a couple hours trying to find acid. LOL to the naivety of these kids looking for “paper” when over 95% of the heads were eating “rolls” (ex/mdma, etc). For the time being, I am too afraid to try it, so we search for acid. A couple hours go by with no luck, then a dude says that his roommate is coming later. COOL! We roll out to the Chevy for a blunt, and then go back inside to wait.

too embarrassed to dance

Back when I first started going out people did not say I like to dance. They said I like to House. We called it “Housing”, and everyone was trying to get good at it. I felt that I would one day be an exceptional Houser, but at this time I am not. I was like the best of the worst, or the best of the newbie housers.

This being the case, I would wait until all the best dancers would go home at around 7 am before I would even go on the floor. As my pride/ego would not allow me to be seen not being as good as I would someday be. Kinda sad.
Glad I worked through those issues. At any rate, the dude came and we copped the cleanest blotter ever. The paper looked like bathroom paper towels, but the trips were clean with no strychnine feeling.
Then it happened. I heard this amazing music and said to myself “this must be the mighty Kimball Collins because this dude is rocking me.” Yet, when I looked up, I see the lasers spelling out DJ Three. Instantly I knew that this dude was likely the best DJ in the state. Despite Kimball’s hype.

fast forward……

It’s like 6 months later and I am feeling like a veteran now. There is a new crop of kids coming in after us and I am wondering were we this annoying also. LOL Backpacks, lollipops, and funny hats. Massaging each other with vap-o-rub, and wearing surgical masks. What a sight!

So by now I have met one of the loves of my life. Marissa. My little rave queen. Together with my buddy Adam, we make the rounds from city to city. It is almost Christmas time and so The Edge in FT. Lauderdale is throwing their annual party. DJ Three is on the bill.

One day I hope to do what you do

It is now morning and people are chilling outside in the back courtyard. I spot DJ Three chilling, so I decide to go walk up to introduce myself. He was quite approachable. We had a very long conversion in which I learned his real name. Where he was from, and that he worked at a record store.
I told him of how I had recently dropped out of music university in hopes of one day being a DJ/producer. To which he replied that his good friend Dave Christopher (Rabbit in The Moon” was also a classically trained musician.
He also encouraged me to stick with it. We parted ways, but kept in touch.

Later Marissa and I would move to Tampa on the strength of knowing many of the same people Chris Milo knew. Brian Busto, Terryn Westbrook, and DJ Jask. It was also here that I would go on to meet Chris Mitchell.
The scene was vibrant and healthy. If you played, you could gig and get paid. Lots of record stores, and cool parties. More on those in the near future.

advice not heeded

In winter of 2006 right after starting Vanguad Sound! I also started a myspace and found DJ Three on there. I was living in the Chicago suburbs and he had recently moved to NYC from Tampa where he held a residency at Twilo. After telling him that I was going to go all out and try music full time he warned me against it. He mentioned the lack of security, retirement, medical benefits, and the overall stress. I think his words were do not ruin your life trying to be a pro DJ. It’s not worth it. The irony is that there have been many times where I thought that perhaps I should have taken his advice.

yet, we are artists

throughout the history of humanity, many of the most lauded artists struggled to survive in their lifetimes. I am no different. the phrase “feast or famine” comes to mind. When it’s good it’s really good, but when it’s bad, the darkness can overwhelm. I am not so cheeky as to compare myself to people like Nina Simone who had similar struggles. Nor Bernie Worrell, or any of the other talented Black Americans who struggled in life, but were celebrated in death.

If I am actually of this lineage, I am more than honored. I do all I can to put myself in this class of artists, but only time will tell. Hopefully I won’t have to die for people to show love.

We shall see.

true story
AAxx

Posted on Leave a comment

Oh Sh!t

“we should most definitely have been arrested that night”

box full of blunts

Three young lads, tripping balls, and riding dirty on a Saturday night in the early 90’s. Amir is driving the “Pluto trip mobile”, Adam is riding shotgun, and Jamie is in the back with a box of 50 Tampa nugget blunts, and an ounce of cheeba. Later that night they will attend their first official rave, but for now they’ve decided to chief up a few blunts and ride out listening to the new Pharcyde tape.

“let’s drop now and let it kick in on the way”

Seemed like an excellent idea at the time, so we did just that. The plan is to do the scenic route on the way to the abandoned mall, chief up, and let the acid do it’s work so we hit the party primed and ready to dance.
All is going well as the tracers and body buzz both creep up on us. (By this time I have logged hundreds of hours acid driving. Not proud of it, it just is what it is). Coming out of downtown Jax we are the only car on the highway.

beginning to peak

This tape is DOPE!” Everybody is vibing out as the album unfolds. We had all seen the video for “Passing Me By”, so expectations were high. So far, the 4 Kids from LA have not disappointed.
Then I see them. Out of nowhere come 4 squad cars. The boys in blue. Jacksonville’s finest starting to follow me. Just as I tell the boys what’s up the speakers ring out “Oh Shit!”, then the song of the same name begins to play.

we’re surrounded

Suddenly they fan out and surround us on all 4 sides. Front, left, right, and rear. We ride like this for what seemed like an eternity. “Look normal! Act sober! Don’t look at them!” All these things could be heard as we prepare for the worst. The pressure was on me to not get us caught so “I focused power”, trained my gaze on the rear lights of the car in front of me, and hit cruise control to keep my pace steady.

poof!

After what seemed like forever, but was actually likely only 5 minutes we approached an off ramp/exit. In a flash all 4 po po cars peeled off the highway toward the krispy kreme donut shop that had the “hot donuts now” sign blazing.
For a couple minutes we all sat in silence trying to comprehend what had just happened. Then suddenly we all began to yell, and cheer. No jail for us tonight. “How the hell did they not just pull us over?” I asked. “Who cares as long as they didn’t get us” Adam answered. “Word up” Jamie chimed in.

and so…

We made our way to what would become our first rave ever. Acid heads in search of acid house. Doing unspeakable things. Driving recklessly, breaking the law, and participating in deviant activities.
Us kids with our Adidas suits, and super baggy jeans sleeping all day and staying out all night must have seemed quite strange to our families at the time. We should most definitely have been arrested that night, but it wasn’t meant to be.

over 25 years later

I am now the only one who still actively engages “the culture”, as it were. For the other guys it was a passing phase. For me it was like an orphan finding his tribe. The music has given me the opportunity to live my dreams. To discover myself, and to almost destroy my own life.
I am thankful for it all. As I cannot imagine even being alive right now without such a life giving force underpinning my life for the last three decades.

Once upon a time, a kid could have a dream and pursue it to fruition. A nobody kid from nowhere special. These days, not so much. Time and place (context) are crucial. The luck of the draw must be accounted for. I write these episodes to demonstrate my “universal normalcy”. Meaning, my story is not different than most every other kid in the scene. Except that I totally went for it.
This is something that anyone who believes in themselves can do. Surround yourself with people trying to accomplish similar goals. Support one another, and NEVER GIVE UP!

taking my own advice

So now I find myself returning from hiatus to find the entire climate has changed. And thus, I must rebuild everything from square one. Much of the sector that was home to me and other similar House artists has been decimated and doesn’t exist anymore. So many artists don’t even play out these days. Yet, I choose to remain positive and be optimistic.
This is my career, my business. Built up over the course of almost 3 decades.

So despite the leanness of the land, as it were, I must struggle to find a way. For the culture, the artform, my son, my self, and for those coming after me. Each one, teach one. In the scene many will grow old, but few will become elders. It is a responsibility one must accept.
Looking back on my life in this scene, I am inspired to continue to be that “regular guy who broke out” (even though according to the industry press, I never have. LOL) At any rate, I either let the story end, or I blaze ahead and forge the next chapter.

Any artist who completely dedicates themselves to their craft can begin to feel some kinda way when they feel ignored, or slighted. This is natural. Yet, at some point, dealing with the industry creates the opportunity to truly become the positive and laid back person one claims to be. Because it’s either that, or become a stressed out A-hole no one can deal with.
After having tried on both hats, I’ve settled on the former, not the latter.

grizzled and torn war veteran

“The battles are with oneself. Convenience is the lure.”

I’ve never been connected. Just stating fact. Never had anyone to give advice, etc. Just a regular dude in an extraordinary situation trying to find my path, while making hella mistakes on the way.

Looking back, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. During my implosion I never did or said anything hurtful. I was just an unpleasant areshole who was bringing people down. It takes humility to admit this.
My bad.
Ok then, what’s next?

The struggle continues……

True story
AAx

Posted on Leave a comment

Entering the fray in earnest…

“Industry rule number four-thousand-and-eighty; Record company people are shady” – Q Tip (Check The Rhyme)

It is what is

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” – Unknown Wise man

Knowing the rules of engagement will get one quite far in the game of life.
Better late than never, I guess. Being a kid who has always marched to his own drum, I’ve been content with my outsider status.
Yet, I am a part of a broader community.
A culture, even. one with a code of conduct, values, and means of communication.

Good looks and talent have served me well in life. I must thank my parents for the genetic hookup! Yet, at some point, these very attributes have also stifled my development as an artist and a person. Thank GOD for self realization, and the will to be better me than I was yesterday.
That said, I finally get it. After my stint as the underground “Rude boy”, subsequent sentence to the “time out chamber”, and my “eureka moment” in Australia I am ready to “play nice” with others, and “get in where I fit in”.


“You’re dope! Why have I never heard of you?” – anonymous clubber

Yes. I get this from time to time. To which I reply “Thank you very much. I don’t know. Either I don’t know the right people, or I pissed off the wrong ones. LOL!” A bit of both is likely true. So then what?
BE HERE NOW!
Water under the bridge, as spilled milk flow to the path of least resistance. Accept what is. Learn from it. Move on. Do better based on the lessons learned.
Got it!

So what does this mean?

Many things, actually. In this case it means getting my sh!t together as an artistic entity in this music business we all orbit.
Me and my crew at the time were strictly about the art. No real business models. This carried us a quit far. We all found ourselves in the “international circuit” playing the game with the big boys and girls.
People who have their business models “Trump Tight”.
So at some point things began to stall out. This happens to most everyone. Fair enough, and that is where your business acumen comes into play.

None of us ever expected to accomplish half of what we have thus far. There was never a plan. Everything was ad hoc from the soul. Being a poor black kid from the ghetto now thrust into the limelight, living a dream, while suffering from low T, and in an abusive relationship is not conducive to adapting to the shifting sands of the industry. We humans seek comfort. Comfort in the stability of the static.
I will explore my experience being in a relationship with a BPD woman who felt compelled to “destroy me” in future posts, but for now I will just say that as a public figure, having real life problems are not very good for business.

Therefore I internalized a lot of stuff that eventually drove me to commit “internet suicide”. 100% publicly for all to see. That was fun….. NOT!

So what’s the freaking point?

Amends through acknowledgment, I guess.
This will be an ongoing process. As I now understand that congruency is paramount. Everything must add up. In the life of a public figure, one must be willing to disclose all. Because sometimes words and actions can be misconstrued without proper context.
I have grown in such a way that I can open up more about my epic fails, heartbreaks, and missteps. There is strength in allowing oneself to be seen in vulnerable moments. So get ready. You have no clue.

so much more soon to come…..

That said, I find myself super freaking busy. Like I have not been for years. Putting in the work it takes to earn a position in the ranks of working DJ producers. Starving has not been fun LOL
The industry is a lot like Janet Jackson. Who demands “what have you done for me lately?”
This means that unless one is a truly established artist who gets booked off of legacy, you’re a lowly foot soldier who must grind their ass off prove themselves over and over again. It just is what it is. Like it, or leave it.

The result

Much more output/content, etc. And an open window into my inner chamber as it were.
We are in the people business, one must give in order to receive.
AAx

Posted on Leave a comment

First Rave Ever

True tale from the streets Episode One.

“Yo man, nice skateboard. I need you to come swing it like a bat into my car window… Locked my keys inside”

I got a flyer
For weeks my friends and I had been going to The Edge in Jax Beach, Florida. They played “baby rave” music from 1:00 – 5:00 am on Friday and Saturday. Bruce Wilcox was the DJ. He played the usual commercial “meat market” club music of the early 90’s in Florida. Hip Hop, Alternative Rock, Indie, Punk, Shoe Gaze, and finally the “rave music” we would all come to hear.
I loved the nonstop music, the lights, the super baggy pants, the cool girls, and the way they moved. This was my new home. Then it happened. Somehow there was a flyer with a number to call later that night. I would attend my first real rave. LIT!

Pluto
I am 20 years old in 1992. A Jazz/Music Education major at my first year of university. I drive a 1985 Chevy Cavalier with black sharpie graffiti all over it. New to the wonders of Lysergic acid diethylamide, the idea to do so came about during a marathon trip. Seemed like exactly the thing to do at the time.
My naive, newly minted raver mind could not conceive that my car looked like a “druggy mobile” to the po pos. (boys will be boys. LOL).
At the time my nickname was Pluto. Due to being so “out there” with my dreams and imagination. (For example, being a famous DJ Producer someday, etc). The sides of the doors had the word “PLUTO” in huge bubble graffiti letters. Along with various scribbling and tags from friends and such.
We had gone out to the car to spark a blunt and vibe out to the Pharcyde tape Jamie had just bought. All was lovely. Mad kids were in the parking lot doing likewise. It felt so exiting to be out super-late at night in this makeshift nightclub in an abandoned mall. Dancing to this new music nobody knows of. What was cooler is that there were kids just like me. Different than most, but the same as each other.
We get to meeting and greeting as the acid kicks in fully. It’s like an open air chillout room. Next to my car is Big Red and his crew. Some good ol’ southern boys out for a rave. Red, Mike, Daryl, and Tony.
Good people.

Oh Shit!
“Time to go back into the club man. I’m high ass hell!”
“Yeah, me to yo. Let me just go put my backpack into the whip….” I say this just as I reach to open the door of my little Chevy. Looking down I can clearly see the keys in the steering column.
“Oh Shit” (This is the second “Oh Shit” moment of the night. The previous one will be chronicled in the next episode).
I tell the homies that we’re locked out and that must sacrifice the tiny back window in order to sort the issue.
Bet. It is what it is we all agree and look for someone with a jackhammer.
On the way I see Big Red again. This time he’s riding a Natas Kapas skateboard and attempting to ollie while shitfaced. Seems like a good idea, right?

Yeah, Break it!
“Yo man, nice skateboard. I need you to come swing it like a bat into my car window… Locked my keys inside”
“You serious bro?” inquired Red, sheepishly. “Yeah, break it. I’ll go to the junkyard on Monday and get a new one to put in myself. It will be much cheaper than a locksmith at 4 am on a Saturday night.”
“Ok then. You’re not gonna be mad, right?” quipped Red. “You good bro” I replied.

And so the deed was done
Red broke the shit out of my window. We went back in and danced way past daybreak. Who does this? The lawless wild wild west devil may care attitudes. The music. The fashion. The expression, and the individuality was addictive.
On the way out the party the promoter thanked me for coming and handed me a flyer for the next event. WOW!
Being the type of kid who always walked to the beat of his own drum, I was well accustomed to being on the outside looking in. Yet, he had just welcomed me into the fold. I was one of them. A raver.
20 years old and not a care in the world. It’s the summer and school is out. All I need is money for food, blunts, rent, gas, a few hits, and the next rave.
I felt like I had just begun an epic journey of unimaginable proportions.
Over 25 years later, this appears to be the case.
True story.

Until next episode………
AAx


Posted on Leave a comment

Ricky Spitzz! The One Man Gang.

In the Beginning
As a child, Hip Hop was my first love. My first musical love, that is. I was fortunate to be born in a family steeped in the love of Black/African American music. Both Gospel and Secular. My Mother was a Gospel Choir soloist in her youth, and my Father was an avid music collector.
In my parents house I heard R&B, Soul, and Disco daily, but in the early 1980’s I heard rap for the first time.
Like many kids not living in New York City, the first rap I heard was on the radio. Songs like The Double Dutch Bus, and Rappers Delight. This was new music. A new genre entirely, and I loved it. These were but mere shadows of the real rap and hip hop going on in NYC of course, but my interest was piqued. However, it was the mighty Planet Rock that changed my life, and birthed the musician I am now.
I remember it like it was yesterday. The extended version of Planet rock came on the radio in the car. When we got home I asked my Dad to leave the keys in so I could hear it all. I was transformed. It was that day I truly realized how music could stir one’s very soul. 
By this time I was already a little B-Boy and graffiti writer in my small town. I was listening to Jam On it, U.T.F.O, Roxanne Shante, Whodini, The Skinny Boys, and the like, but it was that particular Saturday that I was transformed. Thinking back on it, in the years prior, my ears just weren’t mature enough to really go deep the way I did that day. I came pretty close though, listening to the Skinny Boys tape. My soul really felt those Bros, and could instantly tell that they were the real thing, as opposed to the Fat Boys. I spent hour upon hour listening to that Skinny Boys tape.
Shortly thereafter, we moved to the extreme west side of town with my Dad, as my parents had officially split up by that time. There a dude named David Spells let me dub his Doug E. Fresh tape that had the legendary The Show, and Ladi Dadi by Slick Rick The Ruler.
For those who were fortunate enough to have grown up in Hip Hop’s Golden era, nothing else can, or ever will compare.
I myself embodied all 5 elements of the culture (DJ, Rap, B-Boy (Dancer), Graffiti, and Beat Boxing). Mediocre at first, but as the years progressed I have achieved expert status in most, if not all of them.
I have been fortunate to travel the world performing as a DJ, and have been called a “living legend” by many of my peers and fans of my work. To which I humbly reply, that I am one in training, but I need a few more years to solidify my status among the greats with my contributions to the culture(s), as it were. That brings me to the reason for today’s post.
Rap, my first love. Before I could even pop-lock, or B-Boy, I felt that I had the soul of a rapper, but at the time I was much too shy to even attempt it. In our little crew Junior (Daniel Gibbs) was the natural rapper/MC. Kid had a gift. It was me, him, Charles Pittman (my bestie), Adolph Brown, and later Pompie Drake.
We were all young thugs and petty criminals with long rap sheets even by the ages of 12 and 13 years.
*(Another notable influence with respect to rap was Jamie McLeod. A kid I met in my teens who was known as a dope MC/Freestyler around town. It was my freestyle sessions with him and my crew at the time where I discovered I actually could rap).

Trouble with the law
I was on my way to a very long bid in juvenile prison (Raiford, I believe), when I was just beginning to learn music in 6th grade band. I had been told many times that if I kept it up (my devious unlawful ways, accompanied by my “smart mouth”), that I would not live past the age of 12. They were correct.
Luckily my Grand Parents made me go to church every Sunday and I had a huge sense of right and wrong. All the rest of my homies indeed became cliches. Either dead, or in prison at a very young age. All but me, God, and my music kept me alive.
I had already alienated most of my family who had given up on me as a habitual offender, good for nothing bad seed, yet my Music teacher, Mr. David Vezzetti saw something in me. The potential to become the artist I am today. God bless him.

I found my love of music (which saved my life)
He, along with my high school band director, Mr. James Pignato trained me and set me on the right path. I graduated as the most decorated musician in the history of the town I grew up in. An achievement that will never be eclipsed, as the Arts Education system that birthed me has been decimated. In 6 short years I had completely turned my life around, but I digress…..
Today’s blog is about Rap Music. Specifically my first officially released rap project. I say rap, because Hip Hop as it was is no more. It is a relic. Married to a specific time in history. A time I hold near and dear to my heart. Like every other kid (now in middle age), that was blessed to experience it.

Today
I now do Trap and Drill rap. For adults, and kids who want a message, versus media brainwash, i.e. drugs, sex, and violence. It has taken over three decades for me to refine my craft to a level that I was ready to present it to the world. As I take the “art of rap” quite seriously. I understand it’s transformative power. Be it for good, or for evil.
My first project to be officially released is actually my 4th (hip hop/rap) album. The third I’ve written this year. The first “Chicago Gun Times” is my take of Chicago Drill. From the perspective of an old-school head. Within it, there is “The Trilogy” that chronicles a child becoming radicalized by watching his best friend killed right in front of him on the way to school. Who grows up to be a leader in his gang who eventually gets killed himself. The last part explains the whole “revenge killing” nature of Drill, and what is at the root of all the violence in Chi-City. I close the album with an epilogue. Giving my advice to these talented kids who drop like flies everyday.
Upon it’s completion, I felt that I could in no way contribute to “death culture”, so this album sits in “the vaults”.
The second album was me breaking rule #1 as a male songwriter. Which is “never write a song for a bitch” LOL. I composed 10 songs and dope ass beats for one of the 2 loves of my life. A 42 year old woman whom I have known and loved since she was 14. We in many ways are 2 peas in a pod. However, with almost 30 years of life under the bridge as it were, we live 2 completely different lifestyles. I am a Christian meat eater, she is a pagan vegan. Nuff said.
Yet, our love for one another is as strong as ever. The album is called 17-21.
More on that later.

The new album
This brings us to “Separate Myself”. An ode to the current sound of Chicago. The album is a modern rap Mix-tape of “remixes”. Where a rapper recreates hot songs of the day with their own words and style.
In doing so, the youth of today know undeniably that I am hip to them and the sound of today. Both in the choice of tracks, as well as how lovely I spit over them. I felt that this was my best introduction into today’s rap climate. Again rap, not hip hop. Because Trap and Drill are just that. 2 different sub genres, but not hip hop. Which birthed them all. I am Richard Amir Alexander Junior. My father is Richard Senior. 2 different people. He birthed me. I am his son. Trap and Drill are the sons of hip hop.
So if you’re still with me after all of this, I present to you the first video from the album. Track #9 “One Man Gang”. It’s way slept on at the moment, but crucial in understanding who and what I am as a rapper (my rap persona, as it were).
The intro “Separate Myself” has the most listens, as it is track one as well as the title of the project.
Yet, I felt the need to “push” One Man Gang” as the lead single for the above stated reasons.
I have no favorite track on this album. I think that they are all dope equally. As such, I hope that those of you who rock with me will dig into them all.
The surface “onlookers” will listen to the first (title track) and move on, as I am but a mere curiosity to them. Same as it ever was.

My place in history
However, for those interested in really knowing an artist who has worked over 30 years to become one of the “true greats” of his generation in the entire history of music, here you go.
My “magnum opus”.
Out of all my Chicago House Music contemporaries I am the only one (with the exception of *DJ Taye, perhaps), who makes the “Modern sound of Chicago”. Taye isn’t necessarily a House Head, so I put an asterisk beside his name. He’s also of this current generation and not a student of Chi music going into it’s third decade as far as I can tell.
Since age 13, I have been working to carry on the lineage of great artists, such as Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, John Philip Sousa, Hector Berlioz, Igor Stravinski, Erik Satie, Beethoven, Mozart, and Bach. If an artist does not set out with this in mind, it will never happen.
I am like a Monet painting. One must stand back and look at the whole to get the clear picture.
Focusing on a single aspect gives one a blurred impression, at best.
So without further ado.
One Man Gang
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmzbOGIUrgg&t=0s

Listen to and download the full album here