[rock the dub Interview]: A.L.

You already know what it is: rock the dub bringing you the newest latest of the Hip-Hop world. This interview is with A.L., "The Crown Prince", who represents Compton, CA. Don't get it twisted, though, this isn't "Nigga Wit An Attitude, Volume 2"... this is a man who is fresh to def, ready to drop knowledge as well as pop bottles. Dude is nice on the mic, so nice that he has lent his talents to a few artists who are getting their feet wet in the game... he's been bubblin' on the low for a bit, but with a few majors already biting at his work, you might be seeing him on your TV screens in due time. Come follow us on a journey...

khal: Now when I say you are born and raised in Compton, California, there’s an immediate stigma involved with that: namely, movies like Boyz-N-the Hood, Menace II Society and others, and of course artists like N.W.A., all of which showcase the more “street” side of the town. While you are definitely reppin’ for your hood, your tracks don’t necessarily highlight the plight and sadness of the city. What sets you apart from some of your Compton peers?

A.L.: Growing up in Compton your always gonna see the negative aspects around you everyday, with my music I wanted to bring the other side of Compton, CA, because I personally feel that in order to move along to a better society you have to also focus on the positive and feeling good about yourself. Compton is one of the greatest places in my eyes and there is a new generation growing up on these streets that have a mind of their own and I’m apart of that generation. Yes this is where gangster rap started, but 90% of my friends gangbang, and they listen to Chris Brown, Kanye West, and anything that is great music, so with that I knew since I don’t gangbang it still wasn’t gonna be hard for me to get them to notice talent when the saw It….I have to just make quality music that everybody could appreciate.

khal: In reading up on you, I see that you were a pretty accomplished football player, especially in your college years. Are there any skills you picked up on the field that you could apply to the Rap game?

A.L.: Definitely, the first being desire, dedication, sacrifice and also to compete to be the best at what you’re doing. Also football helped a lot with my performance skills on the stage, because if you could play in front of millions of people on TV and 78,000 people in the stands and do well you should be able to rock a large who loves your music.

khal: Now to take it back for a minute, when did you start rhyming? Do you remember the first time you heard a Rap song that made you say “I can do that”?

A.L.: That’s a crazy question because I didn’t seriously start rhyming until I was about 19. I always wanted to be a producer and song writer, but I didn’t have the funds to actually invest in quality production equipment, and like I said earlier, if I decide to do something I want to be the best at it. I wrote my first real sixteen bar verse to “Jesus Walks” by Kanye…The first song that made me want to be just a rapper was Mos Def & Talib Kweli’s Black Star album; that is the album I say that made me feel I can do this.

khal: Where does the name “The Crown Prince” come from?

A.L.: It actually came from my homeboy Richardo when I spit a 16 bar verse for him for the first time and he told me that sooner or later I am going to be the next king in Hip-Hop, but for now I am the crown prince…..

khal: I’ve heard that you’ve helped co-write tracks for artists like LeToya Luckett, Sean P (of the YoungbloodZ) and Avery Storm. How hard is it to co-write a track with someone, from their perspective? Are you giving them a skeleton and having them fill in the holes, or is it more of a collaborative affair? Also, how well does one get a gig like that?

A.L.: At the beginning it was just coming up with hooks for them, but once I played them track that I had been working on with an fellow up-and-coming R&B singer they wanted my input more and more, and that lead to co-writing a couple of tracks with them. I usually give them a skeleton and help out with whatever they need help on (ex. writing the 2nd verse, or a certain hook or bridge) because I feel sometimes it’s best to let them zone out and help create the magic that we create. The best way I would say to land either placements or gigs writing tracks is to network and be wherever they are, and once you’ve grabbed there attention make sure you have confidence in your music and the vision you want to create for yourself, because producers or people with production teams are always looking for people to bring something different that’s hot.

khal: Take us inside your writing process – what works best for you? Are you more of a storyteller or someone who can just expound on any topic?

A.L.: I would like to say I’m a little bit of both, because I always admired artists like a Biggie, Eminem, Ice Cube, Big L and Slick Rick for their story telling skills. But I feel my strong point and the thing that makes me special is that I can write about any topic at hand and actually do it very well, because people go through many different things in their everyday life, from drugs, love, religion, self-esteem issues to just feeling good about yourself, and I’ve dealt with pretty much all of those things in my life and I’m pretty sure the average person has to, that’s why I want to be able to paint pictures of many different faces through my music.

khal: One of the big things these days is the freestyle: be it written or off the dome. Do you freestyle? What do you consider a freestyle, and why? What about battlin’ – is that something you do?

A.L.: I started off freestylin’ off of the dome when I was young, but as I grew up and matured I realized 97% of rappers don’t really freestyle off the dome anyway but I still loved what they spit regardless, so I don’t really care if it’s written or off the top as long as it’s hot…I never really did the battlin’ thing because I always mainly stayed to myself with my music until I got really good and by that time I was focusing on making quality tracks... but don’t think for a second I won’t bite someone’s head off in a battle cause I’ll murder a lot of these (MCs) on the streets talking that craziness…(laughs)

khal: I gather, from the articles posted about your past shows, that you are an entertainer in spirit. You seem to be dedicated in providing quality shows, and are willing to perform whenever, wherever. That seems to be a rarity in this genre. What’s an A.L. show like? What’s your greatest show experience, as well as your worst experience?

A.L.: Wow… an A.L. show is always a great time, high energy, very deep, and will leave you feeling like you’ve got more than your moneys worth… I’ve always admired Jay-Z, Kanye West and Busta Rhymes for their performance skills and I always said that when I perform, I wanna be known among that group of artists who just draw you in song by song, lyric by lyric, and that will always be my goal. My greatest show experience so far is the first show I ever did, which I put on. There were over 500 people there in a seated ballroom type of building so naturally the majority of the people aren’t going to get up out of there seats. But once I got done with the last song and finished my set I got a standing ovation which left me with a feeling like none other. I honestly haven’t had a bad show experience yet and I hope to keep that trend going…

khal: Do you have an album that you’re currently working on? I’ve heard that track “22’s” (ft. T.I.) on your MySpace page, which is a pretty hot track. Is this the jump-off to a larger project?

A.L.: Thanks I appreciate that 110%….Yeah it’s the jump-off for a major project/album I’m currently working on….I can’t really spill the details about It but I will tell you this: I am working on making one of the best all-around Hip-Hop albums of the 21st century…..

khal: With the way the music business is, there is a lot of confusion with the rise of the digital age (MP3s, blogs, etc.). How do you see yourself fitting well on all levels – appeasing the people who live for the new tracks, as well as those who still want to go cop a great CD?

A.L.: I think I’ll be okay, because I realized that the people who still go buy CD’s and legally buy music off of the internet are the ones who still care about the artist they have interest in and can identify with. That‘s why I think artists like MIMS and The Shop Boyz don’t do as well as people think they should, because people only identify with there songs and not them… I honestly believe that’s why artists like Jay-Z, T.I., Luda, 50 Cent, The Game and Nas still sell records because people still want to know what’s going on in their lives and I will make sure they wanna hear my story as well.

khal: One necessary trait in the game today is the ability to market yourself. I see on your page that you are going to have your own Nike Dunk sneaker? What’s that all about? Is that still going on?

A.L.: Yeah I still have that going on, it’s gonna be released only in sneaker boutiques though, hopefully right around or before Christmas. I’m actually a sneaker collector myself (Air Force 1’s lows and dunks only though). I have a friend who was interning for Nike and he always played my music while at work, so one day the head of his department became a big fan and wanted to meet me and later on down the road they developed a Nike Dunk that best described me, my music and my passion for sneakers, so we’re just waiting for this record deal to go through I’m currently in negotiations with. Once we drop the single (“22’s” most likely), the shoe will fit in place right around the same time.

khal: Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years, in terms of your career? Are you making any strides to get signed?

A.L.: In 5 years I wanna be on top of music’s elite, not just Rap, but music in general. I wanna still be making classic material for myself and others. Yeah I’m actually in talks with two majors right now, and I wanna have that process done with very, very soon…..

khal: Do you have any final thoughts/shout outs/etc. for the people reading?

A.L.: Shout outs to RTD (Rock the Dub)… and every beautiful person who’s reading this... Check out the page (www.myspace.com/althecrownprince), I will be dropping soon. Also look out for me on that Lil’ Mama “Lip Gloss” Official Remix, that will be dropping very soon… and just stay tuned because I am about to shake up the world…


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