Everything happens for a reason. We’ve all heard this famous adage, but for many it’s hard to justify following. For rapper Alfamega, believing in it has saved his career and his life. While serving time at Atlanta’s USP Federal prison, the Georgia native had an epiphany. Motivated to get clean and begin a music career, Mega used his time wisely and penned over one thousand songs while in his cell.
Upon his release in 2002, Mega garnered offers from several major labels including Universal. Unfortunately, after a year-and-a-half on the label with no album in sight, the raspy-voiced emcee worked a release and began his search for a new deal. As fate would have it, another opportunity came in 2005, when T.I.’s Grand Hustle Records came calling. Since then, Mega has toured nationwide with “The King” and is currently preparing to release his debut, “I Am Alfamega,” on October 14.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth’s DJ “Z,” Mega steps inside the booth to talk about the sound and style of his forthcoming debut, his musical relationship with T.I., why people shouldn’t fear him, and what he is doing for the youth of America that he was not afforded himself.
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Alfamega Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on, everybody? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is a Head Banger, signed to a joint deal with Capitol and Grand Hustle Records. Please welcome my main man, Alfamega – how you doin’?
Alfamega: What it do, Z? What’s happening?
DJ Booth: What’s happenin’ is you’re joinin’ me inside the DJ Booth. Thank you so much for takin’ the time.
Alfamega: No, no, thank you for having me, man. All my time, man, it would be nothing without y’all.
DJ Booth: Well, you know what? You keep on makin’ that music, and this good relationship’s gonna never break, I promise.
Alfamega: Let’s make it do what it do.
DJ Booth: Right now, the buzz is about your upcoming debut, entitled I Am Alfamega. Since I don’t have a copy right in front of me, why don’t you let me and everyone else know, who is Alfamega?
Alfamega: I’m like your regular Joe, I’m a regular person in the world. I have my hustle down, I have my good days and my bad days, and everything. I got my story to tell, too. Just like the book, you ever read the book, Your Blues Are No Harder Than Mine?
DJ Booth: I have not read that book.
Alfamega: You know, I’m just like that. When somebody tells me they’re blue, [I’m like], “Listen to mine, too.”
DJ Booth: What a lot of people don’t know is, despite the fact that you have a record deal right now, you also had one in place five years ago with Universal, that did not work out. Do you feel that your situation with Grand Hustle and Capitol, has put you in the best possible position to succeed?
Alfamega: Yes, sir. It has. I feel that way on the simple fact that, the first deal I received, I feel I received the deal too fast. God gave me the blessing to receive that deal – you know, it was like goin’ to college. I had to learn certain things, then he snatched it away from me and put me in this situation, in order for me to go through everything I learned from the first deal. I applied it to this, and it put me where I am now; it helped lead me across the finish line.
DJ Booth: Had you released an album four, five, years ago, had that deal not gone bust, do you think that the quality of that material would be the same as it is right now?
Alfamega: No, sir. If I had released an album then, I don’t think I’d have been as successful as if I release one now. I had to grow, like I stated before, I had to grow as far as my penmanship and everything.
DJ Booth: Obviously, you’re backed by your man, T.I.. What has he been able to do for you, how has he been able to help you, to put you in this wonderful position that you find yourself in right now?
Alfamega: He really [let me do me]. Other labels, they feel that you should follow a trend. Like, if Joe Blow has a song out and it’s catchy, and then [someone else] drops a song that’s like Joe Blow’s song, and the people catch on, then the other labels want you to drop a song just like that, too. But with TIP, he wants you to be you. He’ll come in, once he hears what you’ve got, and gives you his input on how to make it better.
DJ Booth: Mega, there’s a lot of comparisons that have been made to your persona, your style, and your rapping ability. I’ve heard just about everybody, including greats like Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac. When you hear comparisons to other artists in the industry, whether they’re established veterans, legends, or newcomers, do you try to shrug that off and just say, “I am who I am – don’t compare me to everybody else?”
Alfamega: I let everybody know, I am Alfamega. That’s one of the reasons I named the album I Am Alfamega; like, I’m me. But it makes me feel good if you compare me to a Tupac or Biggie, someone of that stature. It lets me know, hey, I’ve come of age, you know what I’m saying? I’m here. Like, you’re not overlooking me.
DJ Booth: It’s gotta feel good, definitely.
Alfamega: It’s really a great feeling, a wonderful feeling. It’s like hitting the lottery in Chicago, the Powerball!
DJ Booth: [laughter] Gotta get that jackpot – you’re damn right!
DJ Booth: Mega, people have seen some of your promo photos, and some of the online videos that have been floatin’ around, and they have said to me, “Man, dude seems kinda scary!” So, reassure them that you’re one hell of a nice guy, and you put the left side of your pants on and then the right side, just like the rest of us.
Alfamega: I’m just like you, Z, and I’m just like any other man. You know, it’s the difference between bein’ a grown male, and a grown man: a male, just because he’s over 21, doesn’t mean that he’s a grown man; he still may have childish ways, and his thoughts may be childish and stupid. I’m a grown man, and I feel like, if I feel something’s wrong, I speak out, and that can scare a lot of people, because of the aggressive tone of my voice, and my demeanor, the way I look. But altogether, I’m just like everyone else, man – you know, I hurt too, I have feelings too. I’m don’t need nobody to be scared of me – I have have children, man, I have four daughters, so if my daughters aren’t scared of me, why should anybody else be scared of me?
DJ Booth: That’s what I’m sayin’. Don’t worry, I’ve been defending you all this time, no worries.
Alfamega: Yes sir, thank you for that, Z.
DJ Booth: You’re very welcome. A second ago you said [that] when something’s wrong, you speak out. Let’s focus on the music industry right now – what do you think is wrong? Because clearly, it’s not succeeding like it should. Speak out – what needs to happen in order for everyone to succeed?
Alfamega: It’s just like I stated before, with Joe Blow. That’s what’s wrong right now. You got a lot of dudes mad talkin’ about “The DJ is dead.” The DJ ain’t dead, man! If you start puttin’ out good quality music, and have a good relationship with these DJs, instead of thinking that they’re supposed to play your songs because you have a name, you could sell some records, it wouldn’t be so much bootleggin’. Communication, man – that’s all it takes, is communication. Communication down here in the music industry has been broken down; once we build communication back up, you’re gonna see the numbers start rising in hip hop. Like, Soulja Boy – to me, Soulja Boy, he’s doin’ his thing. To me, he’s the new Fresh Prince. You know, back in the day, when he was comin’ up, the music Will Smith was doin’, Fresh Prince was doin’, a lot of people was like, “Yo, what is he doing?” But, he made people dance, he didn’t make hardcore gangster music. And that’s been going on forever, you know?
DJ Booth: Exactly. So we need less followers, more creativity, and better communication, and in the end, everybody will succeed. I couldn’t agree more. Let’s talk about this company that you formed, and correct me if I’m pronouncing it incorrectly, Kotu Global.
Alfamega: Kotu Global, Kings of the Universe.
DJ Booth: I’m real impressed. This is a corporation that’s comprised of real estate holdings, music and entertainment endeavors, charities, community programs… I could go on, but I’m gonna let you go on. How did this come about, and what will this do for outside of the music community?
Alfamega: It came about as a thought. I thought about it when I was in prison, then I wrote it up when I was out here. I was like, yo, I need to set up something, ‘cause I need to give back to the community. You ever saw the movie Pay It Forward?
DJ Booth: Yes.
Alfamega: Okay, it’s almost like that. I got a hundred kings, I got a hundred underprivileged youths from around the world, not just from Atlanta, from everywhere. Whatever they wanna be in life, if I put ‘em with the right people, and have them do that, it makes me feel like I did what I was supposed to do as a human. That’s how I look at it; like, if I get a young dude, and he wants to be a writer, I’ll hook him up with you, Z.
DJ Booth: There you go.
Alfamega: Because it’s what you do. So instead of him goin’ to class, you can give it to him uncut and raw. You can show him the [tricks of the trade], and then he can pay his own tuition with it, to make yourself better.
DJ Booth: I couldn’t agree more. And thank you, by the way, for that compliment. Had you received the opportunity to be part of a mentorship program, like you are setting up right now, do you still feel as though your track record would be the same? Would you still have gone to jail, would you have gone through all the trials and tribulations?
Alfamega: No, no I wouldn’t, because I’d have had something to look forward to. I would’ve had something to interest me, I would’ve had something to keep me focused. The Boys and Girls Club had got boring, the Boys and Girls Club wasn’t teachin’ us nothing. They was lettin’ us go swimming, and we was playing video games and stuff like that.
DJ Booth: Is your personal history, what you’ve gone through, the primary motivation behind what you’re doing right now?
Alfamega: Yes, sir. A hundred and ten percent it is, because I wouldn’t wish what I went through on my enemy. ‘Cause I went through a living hell, Z. I’ve been through a living hell, man.
DJ Booth: As they say – I don’t know who they are, but I know they say, “What does not kill you only makes you stronger.”
Alfamega: And that’s the truth, it’s the truth. It motivated me. I told myself, “[I won’t get] up in this again,” and that’s when I started writing my music harder. I wrote 1,700 songs when I was in prison. I went real hard on it, and when I [came] out of prison, I could’ve had my first deal two weeks out of prison with Beanie Sigel and Roc-A-Fella. But I didn’t do that deal; I got my deal six months later with Universal Records. This is something I wanted. I thought it, spoke upon it, and put it into action, and made it happen.
DJ Booth: Well, I can’t tell you enough that your time was well-spent. Mega, go ahead, give everybody a website or a MySpace page, so they can find out more about you and, of course, the exciting debut album that you have dropping this October, I Am Alfamega.
Alfamega: Yes, sir. You can go to myspace.com/alfamega, and we’re settin’ up a dot-com page, iamalfamega.com. It’s gonna be a classic album. I’m not tooting my own horn, you know – I’m comin’ at you real.
DJ Booth: Mega, you know how I know you’re gonna be a success in this industry? Ask me, “Z, how do you know?” Go ahead, ask me.
Alfamega: How do you know, Z? Tell me.
DJ Booth: I know, because you were able to successfully give me your MySpace address, and, like a smart businessman, you repeated it twice. Three unnamed artists, this past week, who I’ve interviewed, did not even know their own MySpace address, had to put the phone down, ask a manager or a publicist what the address was, and then when they gave it, they gave the wrong one.
DJ Booth: So, if that’s not proof enough, that if you don’t know to market yourself, and know what your own website or MySpace address is, you’re never, ever gonna make it.
Alfamega: You’re not on top of your business if you don’t know all that– how are you gonna be successful?
DJ Booth: That’s what I’m sayin’. But then again, that goes back to what we talked about earlier.
Alfamega: Yes sir, Z. I take my hat off to you, man, and salute you as a grown man to another grown man, for sayin’ that.