The Honest Hustle interview series highlights some of the amazing artists we have listened to and had the pleasure of supporting. We ask questions that will help people like us, (listeners & fans), learn about the artist and discover more about their music.
For the third installment we chop it up with Detroit artist Nametag Alexander. Check it…
LFL: Tell us who Nametag Alexander is: Who you are, where you grew up, and anything you feel like sharing here.
Nametag Alexander is an Independent Music Artist in true form. Nametag is a doer, someone who’s thoroughly ambitious. I grew up pretty much all over Detroit, Michigan. It seemed like we moved around every 4 years, lol. “Yea, we moved again. We’re on the westside now…man it ain’t that far!”….”Yea, we moved again. Nah, we’re on the north end now. Y’all, that ain’t far. It’s closer than when we were on the east.”
LFL: When did you get started creating music and why?
I got started creating music early, during my high school years. I had been writing often since late elementary, but the passion to go create music settled in high school. The passion to create music traces back as far as my mother (God bless the dead), and other relatives recording Gospel records as teens. I think they had a group called The Angelettes with a ‘45 record called “I Heard A Voice”. Besides that, the music bloodline is incredible. Just to show you what I mean…My brother is Black Bethoven, who composes and writes as well as his son, Ace who does the same. My cousins Black Milk, Chris Sholar, Kelvin Sholar, Ahk, are amazing producers. My cousin Mahd is relentless with songwriting and emceeing, and on the poetry side, my cousin the 3 Faced Poet gets busy. We’re all out here holding down our own lanes officially. Creating music chose me, and I couldn’t dodge it.
LFL: Almost every artist considers themselves a fan of hip hop first. Are there any influences that have stood out to you?
Influences that stood out to me as a fan of Hip Hop…I can name lists of artists, but what influences me the most is seeing how far Hip Hop has come. Hip Hop unites people. It has a strong influence on damn near everything pop culture. It’s the top…well Rap, which is part of Hip Hop, is the top genre, period.
LFL: Who are some of the current artists you are listening to? Any thoughts on the current Hip Hop landscape?
Some of the artists I’ve been listening to lately are H.E.R (R&B, but such an incredible artist), Aplus (an R&B group from Detroit), Jay Rock, Phonte, Royce Da 5’9, Westside Gunn, J. Cole, Chavis Chandler. That’s been the current rotation as of late.
The current landscape of Hip Hop is literally the wild wild west. However, there’s still a balance. I can say for independent artists, the landscape is in a great place. It’s literally direct to consumer now. A true independent MC can write, record and have a song mixed in one studio session, then it have that song out that same night, or the next day.
LFL: What do you feel is the best song you’ve ever released and why?
The best song I’ve ever released is “The Chapters” from the “Hello Victory” EP that’s out now. It’s probably my most vulnerable song to date.
LFL: How do you want to be perceived by the people who listen to your music? How can your fans get to know you better?
I want to be perceived as an artist who has an appreciation for the craft, by people who listen to my music. I also want to be seen as “not too cool for school”. We’re in a time, where listeners / fans connect more to the music artists when they appear to be relatable. It’s way easier to just be myself, so I’m trying to roll with that.
Fans can get to know me better by just reaching out, and it’s a bunch of platforms for that.
LFL: As an independent artist, the struggle can be real…From school, to studio time, to work outside music, what’s a week in the life like for Nametag Alexander?
A week in a life for me is based around fatherhood, and I’m appreciative of it. Week to week, I’m Dad. Me and my lady are strong active team players in our daughter’s life. It’s usually a very multitasking week. I usually have to wait until when the family’s asleep, so I can stay awake for about an extra couple of hours probably off a Monster energy, creating or mapping out the next move. That’s my week. Me, being the machine.
LFL: What are your biggest challenges as an indie artist?
One of my biggest challenges, as an indie artist is, timing. “When should this music be released?” and if fans care enough about a rollout.
LFL: What skills/personal attributes do you think are most important to being successful in this industry?
The skills/personal attributes I believe that are important to being successful in the industry are, consistent quality work, and maintaining good/necessary relationships.
LFL: Based on your own journey as an artist, what would you tell a young aspiring artist just getting started?
I would tell a young aspiring artist to, study the craft if you want longevity in this, and also focus on getting good or better first, not popular.
LFL: From an artist’s perspective, what does social media mean to you? As an artist, do you think there are more pros or cons with it?
From my perspective as an artist, social media to me, is a great tool for networking, and keeping your supporters updated on what’s going on with you. However, I see more cons than pros. I see more artists seeking validation through social media for everything that has nothing to do with their art. Sometimes, it causes less focus on the art because again, the need for being popular is heightened and it outweighs the craft.
LFL: If you were to start your own label, what are you looking for in your first artists?
If I started my own label, I would look for exactly that, an artist, somebody who wants to grow as an artist, build an organic following, and measure their future success in comparison only to their current success, and nobody else’s.
LFL: What is your songwriting process like?
For my songwriting process, I usually start out with a flow or pattern in my head, which typically ends up being the hook. Majority of my hooks, I’ve freestyled. Sometimes, if there’s no deadline…let’s say I get an instrumental on Monday, from there I’m piecing together flows, and rhyme schemes in my head, and eventually have it all written in my phone within a few days, a week depending.
LFL: What does being an emcee mean to you?
For me, I still see Emcee as being exactly what it means, “Master of Ceremony”…”Mic Controller” or, (I just made this up) “Master of Cadences”. An Emcee, isn’t going to just deliver you raps with that mic in their hand…they’re actually going to rock the crowd in attendance. People walk away feeling moved by Emcees.
LFL: Tell us about LABL…What it is, What it stands for, and any services provided.
LABL stands for Lead And Be Legendary. The purpose of LABL is for independent music professionals to lead by example, by using their gift or skill to be impactful. Basically, leave your mark.
LABL specializes in songwriting, music production, distribution, pitching music to be licensed for tv, film, ads, etc., and now podcasting. OH! Reach out to us, if you’re an artist, or music related podcast and in need of distributing your content via e-blast.
LFL: Aside from music, what other things are you passionate about?
Aside from music, I’m passionate about Fatherhood, and as of recent, Podcasting. With Fatherhood, it helps me to remember my why…like, OH! My purpose is beyond me. I HAVE to lead by example by default with Fatherhood, and that pushes me. Podcasting is therapeutic. We’re in the times where everything is “I can’t talk, text me”, or everyone being glued to social media…but with Podcasting, everyone involved is engaging in actual conversation, and absorbing different perspectives verbally.
LFL: Shameless plug time……Tell the people what’s next, what’s coming for Nametag. Where can they find your music? What you have going on?
After y’all read this interview, follow me on Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Youtube, Soundcloud, Bandcamp and of course lineforline.com. Just search “Nametag Alexander”. Be sure to stream/download the “Hello Victory” EP produced by Black Bethoven, which is out now on all the major platforms to get music. I just released “LABL Vol. 2: Mixta[EP]” for free stream/download, which can be found on leadandbelegendary.net Datpiff, Bandcamp, and Audiomack.
What I have going on now is, improvement. I need to improve my songwriting skill. So from that, I’ve been constantly creating and developing new music, more consistently with Producer/Brother, Black Bethoven. Expect to hear new music from me and Producer, Nameless too. We released the “For Namesake” album in 2013, so I’m excited about the follow up. I’m also working on improving episodes for “The LABL Podcast”.
Catch up on the latest episodes of “The LABL Podcast” available on platforms including but not limited to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, Stitcher, and more. Take a minute to subscribe, rate, and review. Join the mailing list at leadandbelegendary.net and order some merch while you’re there!