Music Producer Alex Da Kid Shapes Culture for the New Listener
All generations have a particular culture that makes them unique to their times. The 20s had jazz and flapper dancers. The 60s had rock ‘n’ roll and hippies. Today we have electronic dance music and hipsters. But behind every era are the quintessential players that influence its direction. Alexander Grant, better know in the music industry as Alex Da Kid, is a fundamental component to the identity of Millennials in 2014.
At 32 years old, this Millennial Grammy award-winning London native has produced such iconic songs as Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie” and P. Diddy and Skylar Grey’s “Coming Home,” and is responsible for the discovery of popular indie band, Imagine Dragons. Alex’s transcendence of traditional genres bridges the gaps between various archetypes and offers listeners a common ground of appreciation. Now leading his own label– Kid in a Korner –Alex is stretching his wings and bringing on diverse talent that he believes will shape popular culture in this next era.
The Man Behind the Music
MiLLENNiAL had the distinct privilege of meeting up with the Kid in a Korner crew in Malibu during their Budweiser sponsored Made Underground series showcase. Hosted in a gorgeous beachside villa, Kid in a Korner represented Budweiser in style with intimate evening performances by X Ambassadors and Jamie N. Commons. As if the house wasn’t impressive enough, Alex led the way to the private beach that awaited our surreal interview setting. With the waves crashing a few feet away, we sat in the sand and dug into the mysteries that move culture.
Growing up in London with a Jamaican father and English mother, Alex was introduced to a much wider range of musical classics. He tells us, “I never saw boundaries or segregation in music growing up at all,” which would explain why he is so apt to mix genres. He believes that genres are nothing more than tones or moods that allow him the freedom to create based on feelings. With a sense of pride, he says, “I try to push my sound. I don’t want to stay in one box for too long. Everything is about the song for me. It’s about creating something that makes you think.”
Alex’s music offers a cutting edge approach to cultural relevancy, which straddles the line of danger and commercialism. It’s daring yet familiar, opaque yet loquacious. Kid in a Korner artist, Jamie N. Commons, points out the perfectionist nature of Alex in the studio, “He’s very good with lyrics and making them as simple and direct as possible which is something that I’ve learned off of him. Fewer syllables the better. The more direct you same say something the better.” Fellow label mate, Sam Harris of X Ambassadors, tells us, “there is nobody else out there that is making records like him, and I can honestly say that the stuff we’ve been making with him is really cool and unique. We wouldn’t have been taking it in that direction had we not have met him.”
Alex Da Kid & Kid in a Korner
Mentor to da Kid and Quest Management manager, Scott Rodgers, tells MiLLENNiAL that Alex sees things in artists that most do not, saying “he can take the alternative band X Ambassadors, blend them with blues/folk artist Jamie N. Commons, add a verse from Jay Z and blend it all into an epic Rock/Hip Hop anthem.” As the manager of some of the biggest artists in the world (Arcade Fire, Lykke Li, Mikky Ekko, La Roux), Rodgers has seen legends at their best and can easily identify influencers. Recognizing Alex’s long-term goals, Rodgers says, “His vision is to try and have an influence on culture, on what the music audience will listen to in multiple genres, ultimately to create influential timeless music.”
He adds that Alex is in the “process of building a full management and media company” under the Kid in a Korner umbrella and compares him to a modern hybrid of producers Jimmy Iovine, Dr. Dre, Jay Z, and Rick Rubin. General Manager for Kid in a Korner, Michelle Edgar, follows Rodger’s perception and says, “Alex is an innovator who is changing the landscape of the music business by creating a new artist development model. He is providing turn-key solutions across marketing, branding, and digital content in a way that inspires and encourages me to push the boundaries.”
Alex explains that his label focuses on the lost art of “artist development.” The goal is to “help young artists with their talent” while also configuring their live performance, exposing them to larger audiences, and connecting them with industry allies. He believes devotion to talent curation is “kind of lacking” to which his nurturing process helps push music and culture forward. Expressing joy in seeing his process, Rodgers says, “I’m happy to be on the sidelines watching this happen right in front of me. It’s inspiring.”
The obsessive nature Alex imposes on his artists is what challenges them to be the best. He says, “I feel that the key to any successful person is obsession.” The more obsessive you are about something, the more successful you will be with it. But success doesn’t always come in the form of money. Alex says, “I equate success with moving culture and improving human experiences.”
Uniting with Budweiser
Partnering with Budweiser on their Made in America campaign has certainly improved particular human experiences. Alex was tapped to lead the effort on creating a collaborative music series with Vice’s Noisey. The series chronicles Jamie N. Commons and Sam Harris’ journey of finding the best street musicians around the world. Camilo Durana, Global Director of Sports and Entertainment for Anheuser-Busch InBev, says “We loved what Alex was doing with Jamie and the X Ambassadors because it’s collaborative, it’s creative, it’s thinking outside the box, and he was the kind of person that we felt we could collaborate with too.” At the end of the series, all musicians will rerecord their track “Jungle” and perform it live at the Los Angeles Made in America festival on August 30.
In working with such a global brand, Alex says, “I love the guys at Budweiser. The way music is going you have to align yourself with the right brands because that can be a really powerful tool.” Durana reconfirms the opinion the industry has about Alex and says, “He’s the kind of person you can have a deeper creative relationship with and develop things that in the end are more authentic and more meaningful.”
A Healthy Dose of Obsession
Authenticity is what has built Alex’s career. Being obsessive with his craft made him strategic about the people he positioned himself around. “Every single person I was in a room with I would research and I would know what they have done, what they want to do, what they are about to do. We can do that with the Internet now.” Breaking into the music industry is a lofty goal only very few are able to attain. But for the persistent beat producer, Alex credits his drive as the fuel behind his movement. “Everything is about how much you care. Make sure you are around the right people who motivate you and bring something to the table. I just removed all the distractions out of my life. Sometimes that is hard for people.”
Understanding that his music will not only influence the listeners of today, but more importantly the listeners of tomorrow, Alex firmly stands by this principle: “Our job as humans is to make it a little bit better for those coming up behind us.” With a powerful creed supporting his capacity to shape our generation, Alex offers Millennials the chance to improve our world by being conscious about the choices and direction they take in life. He represents the true spirit of commitment and extends the invitation to make a difference to all that cross his path.
For updates about the Made Underground series or to learn more about Alex da Kid and Kid in a Korner, visit AudioKorner.com
Britt Hysen is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of MiLLENNiAL. In addition to being a media entrepreneur, Britt is a passionate humanitarian, international speaker, and an expert on all things related to the global millennial.