Like most that are born into impoverished neighborhoods filled with crime, poverty, and desperation itching at their finger tips, serving time is a part of life. This couldn’t be truer for Atlanta’s own ALFAMEGA. After growing up in the first housing project in the United States of America, ALFAMEGA was familiar with the justice system by nine years old. While seeing first hand that you’re born with the odds stacked against you, he also learned that if he wanted something he had to go out to get it. That’s exactly what he did, too. Even if it was something as simple as stealing a box of Twinkies, if he wanted it, he went for it. After being inspired by the early culture of Hip-Hop in the mid-1980s, ALFAMEGA realized that he too could be fly like LL COOL J, Kool Moe Dee, and Run DMC. Unfortunately, the road to riches wasn’t as glamorous as it seemed as he was forced to serve time in the penitentiary. Recently, Lexilex had the opportunity to catch up with Grand Hustle’s own ALFAMEGA to discuss how influential his jail time was for him. Here’s what he had to say:
Lexilex: What’s going on? I am so glad to see that you have a sense of humor because when I see you out and about at industry events in Atlanta, you always look like you’re going to punch somebody in the nose!
ALFAMEGA: (laughs) People always get it twisted. I just said that. When I’m by myself, I be looking and watching people. I watch their reactions.
Lexilex: You know, I saw you at Bloodraw’s DJ music appreciation party. I was going to speak to you then but I was afraid that you were going to pistol whip me just for looking at you so I kept it moving. (laughs)
ALFAMEGA: Pistol whip you? Oh my, God! Good Lord! (laughs) That’s another charge! Nah, ask your people about me. We took some pictures at the Ozone awards. They know I’m cool.
Lexilex: What’s been going on with you, lately?
ALFAMEGA: Aye man, I am on my grind. You know, I gotta get it. I have eight children.
Lexilex: Wow! Okay!
ALFAMEGA: Yeah, that’s what they all say, Woooooow! (laughs)
Lexilex: Tell me about your project, I Am ALFAMEGA.
ALFAMEGA: I have the album coming out October 14th on Grand Hustle Records/ Capitol Records. It’s called, I Am ALFAMEGA. It’s business as usual. “Uh huh” is the name of my first single. It’s produced by Nitti and it figures Tip. It’s on my MySpace page (http://www.myspace.com/alphamega) so tell a friend to tell a friend to tell a friend that ALFAMEGA is back at it again.
Lexilex: Okay, let’s talk about your past for a second. While in prison, you’ve managed to keep track exactly of the time – 7 years, 4 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 16 long a*s seconds – that you were in jail. What was that experience like for you?
ALFAMEGA: It was hell. It was really living hell. It made me strong. It made me who I am today. I wouldn’t change anything about it because I took the negative and make it into something positive.
Lexilex: During that time you wrote 1700 songs, had them registered and copy written. Are any of those songs on this album?
ALFAMEGA: Yes ma’am I did. The most touching song that’s going to be on this album is called “Imagine.” It starts out as a letter that turns into a poem that ends up in a song. I wrote it when I was in a housing unit up in prison. It’s called the ‘hole,’ ‘shoe’, ‘block’, whatever you want to call it. It’s giving eyes to people who have never been in that situation before to know what it is really like. When you hear it, you’re going to be like ‘damn!’ you’re going to feel like you’re there. I am giving you not just my side of it but anyone who is incarcerated side to it. That’s why I call it “Imagine.” People used to ask me why I was so angry when I would call home, ‘why are you so angry? Why you always in fights? Why are you always in the hole?’ and all I can say was ‘can you imagine what I am going through?
Lexilex: What did you actually go to jail for?
ALFAMEGA: I went to jail for being a knucklehead. I broke the law. I was J-walking on a Tuesday night. (burst into laughter)
Lexilex: You’re so silly!
ALFAMEGA: But you’re laughing though. Now, you can tell everyone that ALFAMEGA is a cool dude. If you ever see me fighting then it’s because someone has really done something to me.
Lexilex: Being that you’re from the first housing projects ever, do you feel like that experience has shaped you into the artist that you are today?
ALFAMEGA: It helped shaped me not only as an artist, but as a human. Being that I am from Techwood – big shot out to Techwood – I am from 118 Pine Street apartment number 4. (laughs)
Lexilex: Now let me ask you something. Today, we see more and more studio created and glamorized thugs in this business. How do you feel about those types of lifestyles that people, such as yourself, actually come from?
ALFAMEGA: I really can’t blame them. Everybody wants to be something that they’re not. Growing up, I wanted to be Captain America. I was little though. Then I got older and I wanted to be like LL Cool J. I couldn’t be like him but I could dress like him. Then I got a little older and I wanted him to be like me. It’s all about if the person is comfortable with themselves. For someone to want to be like someone else then they might not be so comfortable with themselves because they have that influence coming in from somewhere else. You have to also blame the powers that be too.
Lexilex: How did you and T.I. become friends?
ALFAMEGA: That’s my potna, that’s like my brother. We come from the same side of town. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t think anybody can question what I say. I don’t mean that in a negative way either. We knew some of the same people. Some of the same people that groomed him, I grew up with them. When I was with Universal Records, Block – shout out to Block Entertainment, hooked it up where I could do a song with Tip. It was a mutual understanding though because I was the only dude that had a song with Tip and Lil Flip together. This was at a time when they were beefing. When I got out of my deal with Universal, Tip found out I was a free agent. He shook my hand. We didn’t sign any contracts. He just said, ‘Welcome to Grand Hustle.’ He said, ‘I am the King, and you are the muscle.’ He said that people needed to hear my story.
Lexilex: Now, you once had a record deal with Universal Records. The album was shelved due to creative differences. What was that experience like? Where any of the (1700) songs on that album?
ALFAMEGA: The songs that I wrote weren’t even on the album. I went and did all new songs. It was frustrating because I wanted to come out but it was a blessing in disguise. I always look at things differently. I can get mad or upset. Then when I get by myself I think. You have to understand I was in an environment where I had to think. I thought about it and saw that it was something up with that deal but I didn’t let it stop me. Just because one person doesn’t sign me in six months doesn’t mean that someone else will not sign me.
Lexilex: Now that you’ve been with Grand Hustle for a while, what do you hope to gain out of this experience? What do you hope to achieve with this project?
ALFAMEGA: I want the people to know I am human. My thing is to bring reality back to music. I don’t mean reality in a negative way. I just mean it’s cool to party, it’s cool to floss and bust head, but when they cut the lights on and scream last call for alcohol, you have to come back down to reality. You have to go home. You have to pay bills. You have to go to work. Another thing, I want to show dudes how to be grown men; instead of being grown males. Just because you’re of a certain age doesn’t mean you’re an adult.
Lexilex: Do you have any features on the album besides T.I.? Or unique productions?
ALFAMEGA: Yeah, I have a song with 8Ball, MJG, Bun B, a hook with Pimp C. B.G., Jeezy, the Outlaws. I’m waiting for Lil’ Kim to give me an intro for this song called, “Never Be Me”. It’s crazy because the people who are like you within the media come to the studio, get to know me, listen to my music and they compare me a lot to Biggie and Pac. They say I’m a combination of the two. We all share the same sign, Geminis.
Lexilex: How does that feel to be compared to the two greatest rap legends of all time?
ALFAMEGA: At first, I was like aye man, don’t do that to me. Then I say, aye man it must be something. It was meant to be. God don’t make mistakes. He put me in a position to put those thoughts in the media’s head. Therefore it must be something he meant for it to happen.
Lexilex: So the next time you’re back at home in the “A” I can come and check you out.
ALFAMEGA: Yeah, call me.
Lexilex: Aside from this album, what’s next for you?
ALFAMEGA: I just did a movie called, Make It Rain. It’s produced by Snoop and Daz Dilligener. I have the star role.
Lexilex: Oh really?
ALFAMEGA: Oh really! Yeah, ya boy is coming on up in the world. I’m like the Jeffersons.
Lexilex: So we’re going to see some facial expressions instead of the mean mug all the time?
ALFAMEGA: You’re going to see some of everything. You might even see a scene that is going to make you call me at two in the morning! (laughs)