EB: Alexander Mack! Welcome , how are you ?
Alexander: Im doing well, I’m doing well!
EB: So if someone hadn’t listened to your music before, what would be one word you could describe your music with?
Alexander: I would definitely say that you could always expect it to be nostalgic, definitely a nostalgic feel.
EB: That’s dope! So I heard that you’re a VA native, what part of VA are you from ?
Alexander: I’m really from a small town called Blackstone, a town with like 5 to 7 people which is right by Richmond!
EB: Thats whats up ! I’m originally from Newport News so I’m familiar !
Alexander: Ahhh the 757 ! Nice!
EB: Right! Bad News ! So you’re an artist on the rise who originally started out producing. Now I was listening to your Biggie Small’s edit right before I called from like 3 years back and then I heard you rapping on a song with Masego on a Crystal Waters sample. What made you transition from one to the other?
Alexander: Um I would say I started producing when I was about 14 years old and I really started playing the piano at 6 years old. So I went from playing the piano to singing in the choir to producing and then to rapping. I would say I started rapping to get better at songwriting because I originally just sang and then I started rapping to get better at flowing and rhyme schemes and then went from there. I actually rapped for a year before I ever put anything up. I just kept rapping and kinda kept it to myself.
EB: So I’m curious, how did you and Masego link to make “Like That” ?
Alexander: It was probably about 3 years ago. We actually had a mutual friend in college and that’s how we ended up meeting so it was just super by chance!
EB: Now I heard that Stevie Wonder was your biggest influence which I feel like rarely gets referenced in this music era that we’re in. Maybe two or 3 people in music that I might see that Stevie influence come through is Blood orange and Theophilus London’s older material and maybe even Masego as well. In what way has Stevie personally influenced you as an artist ?
Alexander: I would say he has inspired me from his instrument chord progression to just how Stevie can sound completely different depending on what song he’s on. There has been times when he has changed his voice to play a woman on a song he’s on with himself. He’s produced a lot of his own stuff and I can definitely identify with that and then his songwriting is just next level. To me, he’s one of the greatest song writers ever. Theres just so many elements of how he does what he does that has always inspired me in my own music.
EB: So as an artist on the rise that is coming out the south especially, how difficult has your journey been as you climb up the come up ?
Alexander: Coming from like a smaller place in the south and being a different artist like me, it’s pretty difficult because you know….my sound and really just away from music, my personality and my mindset is so different. People didn’t really know how to receive the music at first and when I started out a few years ago, people didn’t know how to receive it because it wasn’t the norm. Now that you have artists like Childish Gambino and Chance The Rapper and people get it now, that opens the door for me a little bit but yeah it was super hard in the beginning. Even still down here, people are still heavy into Boosie and southern rap and being from the south, I definitely respect that art form because it captures a certain lifestyle that’s very true to the south. Growing up, I couldn’t relate to everything that was being said. I was listening to Gambino in like 2009 and Logic in 2010 and that stuff is accepted now but yeah that was a main struggle while starting because I didn’t know what I really identified with.
EB: When did you realize what was going to be your sound ? Like when did you have that ” I don’t want to rap on trap drums but maybe rap with a harmonica in the background instead” kind of moment ?
Alexander: I originally was inspired to do this jazz rap back in 2014 . Jazz was played in my house all the time and I heard it even before rap. When I was in college, I would listen to tons of Duke Ellington and then I got heavy into Tribe Called Quest and that’s when I kind of had the epiphany that I could mix these different styles. I think my style will continue to change but yeah tha’s when it really started.
EB: Now considering those experiences from being an artist on the rise out of a small town within the south to finding your sound, are these the things that made you write your latest song “Small Time” ?
Alexander: For sure. Small Time is basically about me growing up in a place where it was never seen as a plausible career choice to be an artist. Like the last person to come out of this area of VA was Lady of Rage from the 90s who grew up 20 minutes away from where I’m from. You deal with people that tell you to do something “different” and even professors told me to let this go . I think everyone who has a dream or aspiration that isn’t “normal” go through being told to think realistically about what you want to do at some point. I was going through that and I was really reluctant to put this song out. On this upcoming project I get really personal especially about the post grad struggle and depression that comes with it.
EB: Yeah, I definitely feel and that 100%!
Alexander: Yeah you see! I feel like it’s something that’s really not talked about almost at all!
EB: Definitely not !
Alexander: Then with social media, you’re supposed to put your best foot forward and everyone looks like they’re doing great when we’re all really going through the same problems no matter what area you’re in. Rather its going back to school, the financial struggle, or multiple struggles, they’re all similar . I was reluctant to put the song out but now that I have, it’s gotten great reactions, and Im honestly happy because I held on to it for about a year.
EB: Exactly ! Well I’m definitely glad you made the song considering that the content is so relevant to what a lot of people are going through right now. I know you mentioned that this song along with other personal content would be featured on your upcoming EP. Judging off the music I’ve already heard, I’m ready. When can we expect a project to drop?
Alexander: With a full length project….I would definitely say the end of the year or the top of 2019. I’m excited to put it out because I’ll hold things for a year and a half and later tweak things again but I think I have a good batch of songs that tell a story top to bottom. So yeah expect something between the end of the year and the top of 2019.
EB: Now with my last question for you, I usually ask “what are your plans are 5 and 10 years from now?” but we won’t do that here. What I REALLY want to know is: As an artist on the rise, what’s currently more mandatory for you to achieve? Impact or is it clout ?
Alexander: In a world where clout tokens are at an all time importance, I try to keep it about what I’m saying. You can do anything at this point in time and get clout especially on Instagram because you see some crazy things. It’s been times where I was going through something and Logic or J.Cole drops a song that related to exactly what I was going through and I made that a point to really pave that forward. I’ve been through some internal things so I try to keep it about what I’m saying. My music is very bright and positive but I know that everything in life isn’t good all the time and I like having a message to get across so that for me is my main focus. I want to also bring musicality back. I want to make it cool to play an instrument again or just like..sing in the choir if you want to sing in the choir or go do theater if you want to be in theater because I know we used to get made fun of back in the day (laughs). I just want to contribute and I think it was Kanye that came in and made black kids be like “oh you don’t have to look or sound a particular way to be a rapper”, then with Cudi then it was Gambino after that. Now you can look at all these different people and know that you don’t have to look a certain way right now to do whatever you want to do. That’s the most important thing that I want to keep going.