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ND Hip Hop Artist

Claire Stephens | Friday, September 23, 2011

While some of us hit the beach, took classes abroad or had an internship, junior Alex Andre was on his way to being discovered by the world.

Andre just released his first mixtape entitled “Good Day.” Andre, a big hip-hop fan, got his start when his friends experimented with their computer’s audio.

“A few of my friends used to record funny rap songs with their computer mic doing stupid stuff,” Andre said. “I went and I wrote a couple of verses and recorded over a beat and they were like ‘Alex is tight, I’m feeling that.'”

Andre began writing his own songs over winter break, and continued over the summer when he had more time. He recorded with DJ Spydey, a disc jockey from his hometown. His first show was at Acousticafe.

“It was kind of weird since everyone was doing guitar,” he said. “People’s reactions were interesting.”

Andre’s rapping ability comes as no surprise, given he plays bass for Voices of Faith and Jazz Band and has had his writing published in “The Juggler.” Eleven years of playing bass and six

years of writing poetry have heavily influenced his rapping, giving it a rhythmic intensity.

Andre said he writes lyrics, and matches them to music and beats, as inspiration strikes him.

“I write so many lyrics in class,” he said with a laugh. “Some of my best stuff I wrote entirely in class. I write lyrics, have ideas and write rhymes, browse instrumentals, shop for beats. I feel like that, boom, put it in. Sync has to line up, it has a feel.”

Andre said he was surprised how many people texted, called and Facebook messaged him once he became better known.

“They asked me if I was signed,” he said.

But Andre said he likes that hip hop is not a job for him right now.

“I’m not going to stop studying, I’m doing what I love right now,” he said. “If I’m not inspired I can not write for a couple of weeks. But I’m usually pretty inspired.”

One of the most popular hits on his new mixtape is “Dorm Party Anthem,” an addictive, tongue-in-cheek song about the Notre Dame party experience.

“One day, Cee Lo Green’s ‘Forget You’ came on the radio, and I started feeling a rap flow over the verses. The title “Dorm Party Anthem” popped into my head. At that point the songs write themselves.”

In discussing Notre Dame, partying and hip-hop, the classic on-campus entertainment that is Legends’ Hip Hop Night inevitably came up.

“Hip hop night gets me … I’m active in the black community on campus, so people come to be seen, but that music is just whack. You just can’t dance to it,” he insisted. “When I want to dance, I put on some Kanye or Curtis Mayfield.”

His all-time favorite music consists of big jazz and funk artists like Miles Davis, Coltrane and Keith Jarrett, as well a broad range of hip hop, covering Outkast, Tupac, Most Def, Public Enemy, A Tribe Called Quest, Common, Nas, Fashawn and Wale.

One of the challenges Andre has faced is fighting against people’s impression of rap, which he clarifies as different from hip-hop.

“Most people are exposed to club stuff, and it’s not hip hop. [Hip hop] is not money, sex, weed and fancy cars, it’s real life,” he said. “Humble yourself and talk about real things. These cats are saying nothing, they’re just trying to make money.”

Andre also discussed how racial expectations play into his musical endeavors.

“I don’t feel a huge need to prove my legitimacy as a white artist in a black genre, but you have to walk a certain line. I have a great amount of respect for hip-hop and its history as part of black culture. I’m not trying to appropriate it as white music. I’m just doing me.”

Andre hopes to confront important issues in his lyrics and inspire his audience the way hip-hop has inspired him.

“Hip hop has had a profound influence on me. It’s brought me out of dark places, it’s helped me though things, it encompasses all emotions,” he said. “Whenever I do music I have a respect for what hip hop has done for me and I try to emulate that. Hip hop is honest.”

Andre is a Stanford junior with an infectious sense of humor and an uncanny sense of rhythm. He prefers hugs over handshakes and strives for better music at Hip Hop Night. He represents Notre Dame’s next ferocious talent, hidden behind the smile of a tall white boy from Illinois.

Andre’s work can be found on his YouTube Channel, aandrehiphop, his Facebook page and for download at www.hotnewhiphop.com/en/view-album/22367-good-day.

Contact Claire Stephens at cstephe4@nd.edu