Be Heard Featured Artist: Alkhemi Jones
Edge: Who are you?
Alkhemi: My name is Alkhemi Jones and I’m originally from Dallas, TX. I started playing the violin when I was 2 years old. I was trained in the Suzuki method. I did the concerto competitions and stuff, all state, all-region and all that. I later delved into the realm of hip hop in high school and one of my mentors and someone I consider a big sister, Erykah Badu, got me to become a part of a conglomerate called Soul Nation. I was the youngest person in Soul Nation, which ended up being a whole lot of different crews from different parts of Dallas and Fort Worth. I was a part of a group called Squad X, which is a huge underground hip-hop crew and I was a MC, a little backpack kid. And then I moved to NY and started doing solo things. I started incorporating singing back into my music because I was just rapping.
Edge: Describe your style.
Alkhemi: There’s something that we’ve been playing around with, we’re working at it…it’s called “Neo Hip-Hop”. There’s the foundation of hip-hop but I pull from things that have inspired me throughout my life: rock music or soul music or R&B. There’s several different genres. We just pulled it all together—neo hip-hop—which isn’t necessarily a genre but it’s something that I’m coining. People say I’m a female Andre 3000. I get that a lot.
Edge: What sets you apart?
Alkhemi: I’m a firm believer in being creative. I feel that’s what’s lacking in the mass music industry right now—the creative outlook. Everybody pretty much talks about the same thing in every genre and as far as the new blood that’s coming out, I feel that it’s important to be able to attain a certain creative power and display that. Because what people have to understand is that everybody wants to be a rapper, everybody thinks they can sing. EVERYBODY. EVERYBODY. You have to eventually sift through everybody who’s trying to do what’s on the radio to find and meet the people who are actually expressing themselves in a creative way. My focus is the creativity. Because music can do anything. Right now it’s so disrupted and so mechanized. Everything is too structured. Structure is necessary but creativity is important as well. And my mission is to show the world that creativity is very powerful and you can do whatever you want to with your music and there are enough people in the world that will adore you for that.
Edge: What is hip-hop missing?
Alkhemi: The problem is people are saying “hip hop is dead”, naw hip-hop ain’t dead. Hip-hop just grew up. When you don’t evolve, you die. You can’t exist in a structure that doesn’t embrace evolution and that’s what hip hop needs right now. It’s not people going back and trying to get the old records and doing that. We already know that that’s the foundation, that’s where hip-hop started, but where is hip-hop going? If hip-hop doesn’t go anywhere, hip-hop will die. It’s time to evolve. I really want people to understand it’s an evolution; it’s an evolutionary movement. This is a new mindset. Hip-hop’s not dead. She just has to recreate herself because she’s a grown woman. It’s time to get grown with her and experiment. When I was in high school, hip-hop opened my mind because all I knew was R&B and stuff they played on the radio. It wasn’t until I started listening to mixtapes and finding out about DJ’s that I really started being introduced to other genres and I thought, “this is really cool”. At this point that’s not what hip-hop does. It doesn’t do anything. They tell you “get the money, get the money, get the money then blow the money blow the money and get some more to blow”, to me that’s not an evolutionary message. That’s being stagnant. And real talk we got bills and stuff. We’re in a situation where it’s like really, is that ALL we can talk about? The radio is dictating to us what we’re supposed to think is good. They know if they open that door for creativity it can turn into an evolutionary process for the mind.
Edge: What can we expect from you in the future?
Alkhemi: Be prepared for “Collective Consciousness”. It’s something like a mixtape. It’s not just random song. I’m actually doing it as a prelude to my album, which is scheduled for early, May. The mixtape comes out February 11th. I’m also going on tour with the Nappy Roots starting on January 28th. We’re doing the Southeast region. 2011 is all about impact.
Edge: Why are you an artist who deserves to be heard?
Alkhemi: I help project artistry. I try to make my music so that everyone can relate to and comprehend what I’m saying. Sometimes my music might be a bit spacey but most times I try to do it so people can relate. Because right now what we all need is something relevant to everyday life. I just want you to feel good. I want you to play me in the car and say, “I like the way this makes me feel”. I want to give people the same feeling I got when I listened to Goodie Mob for the first time or when I listened to Outkast for the first time. I want the kids to know there’s more than to life than get money and blow it.
Written by: Iman N. Milner