The Rocks Off 200: Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.
Who? Hip-hop began in the streets, with rappers and DJs making tapes for each other and passing them around. The advent of commercially released hip-hop came long after the genre had captured the hearts and minds of urban youth. Now it may be retreating back underground in a very different way: the Bandcamp generation of rappers. See what Jeremiah Jae and crew are doing on there right now.
Enter Houston's Daniel Alexander, who has dropped two EPs so far this year on Bandcamp. His first came out in January and was called The Yung Life. Then he put out When Skys're Blue a month later. Just off those releases, he's already building a fanbase in the Houston area and playing some high profile shows at places like Warehouse Live and the legendary Numbers.
Born and raised in the northwest Houston suburb of Klein, Alexander is one more in a long lineage of rappers who today are making a name for themselves through word of mouth and grassroots efforts like the forefathers of the genre.
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With a laugh, he says he got started "by turning the radio on." That's where it all began for the young Alexander, who is honing his craft and coming up in the scene right now.
Home Base: "Lately I've been writing outside in the backyard," Alexander says. "Sometimes in my broken-down Cutlass, sitting in the driveway. There are a lot of memories in that car, and it helps to paint a picture."
Still, Alexander explains his inspiration can come anywhere at any time: "I practice and recite my lyrics everywhere," he says, then reciting a long list of places, including home, work, and whenever he's hanging out with his friends.
"Really anywhere. Where ever, at any time, I guess," says Alexander. "I love to entertain period, so it's fun when I'm around others who like to hear my music, whether it's an a cappella flow or an actual song."
As for his favorite venues, he cites the aforementioned Warehouse Live and Numbers because "the crowd is usually versatile and the venue is laid-back."
Why Do You Stay In Houston? To Alexander, it's hometown loyalty.
"I would like to have my music grow out of the city instead of anywhere else," he says. "I suppose being born and raised around here I feel that way. If I were brought up somewhere else I would probably feel the same way about that city or town."
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Good War Story: Knocking on wood, Alexander tells us it's all been going well so far.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "When artists are onstage and they're not performing the music," he says. "Instead, they're just singing like somebody wrote the song for them, and trying to make sure they don't forget the lyrics. It's not entertaining when you don't really look like you're into the music you're performing."
Best Show Ever: Interestingly, Alexander's best show ended up being so because he found out about an even bigger one. In his own words:
Thursday, August 22, I had a show at Numbers along with some other local Houston artists. After my set, I stepped back in the crowd and one of the homies told me I was performing tomorrow in their show at Warehouse [Live].
I was like 'word?' He said, 'no, I'm serious. You're performing tomorrow!' In my head I was like, 'SWEET!' Verbally I was like, 'alright, awesome. Thanks, man. I'll be there.'
Five Desert Island Discs:
- Common, Be
- Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?
- Cypress Hill, Slack Sunday
- Modest Mouse, Good News for People Who Love Bad News
- System of a Down, Toxicity
First Song You Fell In Love With: Little Dragon's "Ritual Union."
See who else joined The Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.
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