Alexander Spit, the Bay Area rapper formerly known as Alexander the Great, has built an impressive following over the last few years. There is a level of realness and sense of maturity around the 24-year-old’s art. His persona isn’t packaged with a gimmick, the certified California kid’s creative energy comes from his pride growing up around many genres of music and the time he spent listening to what the “old heads” with wisdom had to say. You hear it in the beats he makes and when he spits. You don’t need to take our word for it… Alexander Spit’s brand new album, Mansions is a perfect reference point. Now an LA transplant, his 28-track instrumental album was recorded in an apartment building in East Hollywood and as of today it’s available as a free download. Despite the fact that Alexander Spit doesn’t have the support of a major label and is a full-time independent artist just living life by fulfilling his passion in making music, we predict a bright future.
Hometown: San Francisco, California.
Currently Living: Los Angeles, California.
Origin Of Name: Back when I first started rapping I went by Alexander the Great. Around that time I had a verse where I had a bar that said: “supercalifradgilisticexpiAlexanderSpit.” It was one line that all my homies knew well at shows. It stuck out to me a bunch so I ran with Alexander Spit. Homies in high school would end up introducing me like, “This the homie Alexander, he spits.” Simple as that.
Weapon of Choice: Booming systems.
Est. Miles Traveled Per Year: Not enough.
Gigs Played / Nights Out per year: Not enough.
Source of Power: Dilla drums. Illy drum fills. Airy strings. Psychedelic pads. Low-pitched vocals.
I appreciate sound—probably more so than any of my other senses. Especially when I hear a certain piece of music, it’s one of the few times in life when I may actually feel something. It happens elsewhere with other experiences and what not, but I can always count on a good song to make me really feel and think a certain way.
Can you walk us through your various musical phases? From early interest to actual creative output, how did they tie into your waking life?
For as long as I can remember I’ve prided myself on being exposed to as many different sounds of music as possible. Like anybody else, I’ve gone through phases with particular genres, but through it all I’ve always been someone that simply appreciates good music. It’s hard for me to define what that “good” is, but I know it when I hear it—it needs no explanation.
I make what feels right to me at the moment. It’s important for me to make music based off of how I feel and what I’m thinking just to keep me sane. The music I listen to definitely influences every aspect of my life. I didn’t really do well in school and it’s safe to say most of what I learned growing up was from the songs I grew up listening to.
It’s 2012, I think if folks aren’t letting music be one of their main sources for guidance they’re living under a rock. More importantly, if you aren’t taking the time to enjoy as many different kinds of genres as possible, you’re missing out on a whole lot of creative energy that exists in the world today. Nowadays all music is a click away… there’s no excuse.
If you visualize music as your listen, what (generally) do you imagine?
Colors, shapes and how people will dance to it.
If you could send advice via a fortune cookie to up-and-comers, it would read:
D.I.Y. [Do It Yourself]
What (type) music makes you reach for the headphones? What (type) mood makes you reach for the headphones?
Listening to music on headphones is a whole other experience than listening to music out of a system. It gives you a chance to really hear every layer that’s occurring in a track. Some music definitely has a lot of layers to it, and to fully understand it sometimes it takes a close listen. I love listening to music loud so I tend to make sure my headphones can do that for me.
Over the years I’ve learned to listen to music in a pair of headphones that plays a song as clearly as possible so I can hear the track as it should be heard. These SOL REPUBLIC joints help me a lot with that. From mixing my own songs to simply trying to enjoy some new craze.
Is there a band whose album covers you love? Or a designer of covers?
I appreciate the unexpected. When it comes to rap artists and hip-hop, it’s easy to assume the art associated with it will include at least one of the many stereotypes: from gaudy jewelry, to craze ratchets (video hoes), to stacks of money, etc.
My good friends have a little group called Brother Reade consisting of an MC and a DJ. They don’t do that much music as that crew nowadays, but when they did, it was my favorite stuff to listen to. New exciting rap music with forward thinking production and witty raps with a Southern twang to it all. They made all their own art for their covers to their show flyers. It really tied the whole vision together. On top of that, it was art direction you wouldn’t expect from a rap duo. It wasn’t artsy or anything either, just something folks ain’t used to and I loved that.
Are there any dots to connect with where/how you grew up to your musical output?
I grew up listening to what old heads had to say. When I say old heads, I don’t necessarily mean anybody older than me, but anyone who had some wisdom to share. The folks I learned from taught me what to appreciate in music. They taught me the good stuff and made it clear what was fake and what not to mess with.
I’m only 24 but I can safely say kids younger than I are too caught up to realize that there’s old heads with wisdom and experience they can learn from. The music I make and create is driven from the things I’ve learned and experiences I’ve actually had. So you can definitely connect how I grew up through the music I create.
How does listening to music figure into your creative process?
It helps and inspires me, but I’ve learned to try and not let it influence the kind of music I make. I think it’s important to make music that tells your own story. Sometimes trying to line up your story with someone else’s sound, or vibe, simply doesn’t work.
What value do you place on environment as a creative springboard?
I’m very influenced by the city I choose to live in. Living in San Francisco, I really tried to paint the vibe the city gave me in my music. Most of the time that was a dark, gritty vibe with lots of elements of something that’s different. Living in Los Angeles now, I’m amidst a bright environment—beautiful weather, beautiful women and lots of gaudy foolishness. All hella fun elements to work with.
I choose to do all my music out of my bedroom. I don’t really like working with other artists. Or anybody. Not because I don’t enjoy other people’s work, but because I work best when I’m able to really tap into what’s in my head. I do that best by myself. I fully support D.I.Y. artists. I think it’s the only way to go if you truly respect yourself and the music you make.
Talk about some of your “classic” memories of touring.
The homies and I got kicked out of Minneapolis by the cops. Long story.
Do you remember the first time you had a live audience’s complete attention?
When I was 16 or 17, I was in a crew. We were hungry to pay our dues no matter what. We really wanted to make it in this game. One time we had an opportunity to play a show in Colorado and had less than 24-hours to get there from San Francisco. Without hesitation we borrowed our friend’s two-door Honda Civic and hit the road. After almost a day of arguing, sweating in the desert—and horrible radio because the CD player didn’t work—we arrived at the venue a couple minutes before we were scheduled to go on. We hit the stage in front of a sold out crowd, and within the first 30-seconds of our first track I stage dived into the crowd. I was about 17 living a life that only exists when you don’t give much thought to anything else but your craft. It felt good.
Soundtrack Of Life:
I like taking photos. You can kind of match any song with any kind of photo, so the kind on music on this EP can end up all over the place.
When I first heard this song it blew my mind. No joke. The vibe, the arrangement, the content, everything—it was like the perfect song to me. It was everything I look for in a track and it still gives me that vibe and feeling when I play it. It’s one of those songs you can sit and analyze all day, but at the same time you can let it play mindlessly and handle what you need to do.
Dilla has influenced me a lot through my music career. From his sample chops to his offset drums. He opened a lane of forward thinking hip-hop that didn’t have to be experimental or too weird for folks to vibe to. This track is on the same tip as that Gayngs song to me. It has so many elements for you to pay attention to but you can also just play it in the background for whatever it is you’re doing. R.I.P. J Dilla.
I’m ashamed to say it, but at one point in my life I really didn’t like reggae. It was mainly that I didn’t like some of the trust fund kids I knew that geeked out to it. But when I finally started opening myself up to it, this is one of the songs that really did it for me. The line no pop no style, I’m strictly roots, is perfect to me. It’s simple and it says a lot.
The bridge of this song comes in amazingly. It contrasts the vibe of the rest of the song so well it takes you elsewhere. Black Sabbath is some really genius music. You can’t help but not play this loud when listening to it; it’s perfect for pissing some folks off.
This is the first track I had ever heard from James Blake. This kid is a genius and inspires me a lot. He really takes it there as far as alternative music goes. He does a lot of music tricks, and ideas I’ve always thought about doing, but never did because of some pathetic fear that I shouldn’t do it. But he does and it sounds great. CMYK has some of the craziest vocal sample chops I’ve ever heard. It’s a track you can vibe to quietly, or you can play it loud and really feel that craze.
Bago “Dr. Lock” (produced by Alexander Spit)
Bago “I Forget You” (produced by Alexander Spit)
Alexander Spit “The Kids Are Bored”