Meet Michigan artist Jevon Alexander, who is shining a spotlight on the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti area
It takes about two and a half hours by ferry to get from Milwaukee across the wide expanse of Lake Michigan to the sandy shores of Michigan. Yes, believe it or not there are sandy beaches in Michigan, along with plenty of other hidden gems. One such gem is Jevon Alexander, a 26 year old artist who has been working his way into his career for a while. He was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan before bouncing to Atlanta to go to SAE Institute and then heading back to Ypsilanti, MI. He has put in the time in the classroom as well as the studio and has been slowly building himself up to be the next big thing to come from Michigan.
Jevon dropped his first mixtape way back in 2013, which seems like a hell of a lot longer than 7 years ago. Unfortunately for those looking to get acquainted with the old Jevon, he went in and pulled it off Soundcloud, a decision he regrets now as it would have been a great barometer of his progress since then. Back in the day he was more focused on becoming a producer than the voice on a track, putting out beats on beats in high school. Everyone would tell him that his beats were dope, to keep going, but no one was actually helping a homie out by purchasing and using the beats. Although frustrated by the lack of interest in his beats, Jevon continued to pursue music, trying his hand out at rapping by popping in and out of the classic lunch table cyphers. He continued to put out beats, but his interests rotated from just creating the beats to becoming an artist.
After graduating high school in 2011, Jevon trod down the well-worn path for new artists moving to Atlanta to pursue music. He enrolled in the SAE institute in Atlanta in 2016, a long-established institution of higher learning for those wishing to expand their skills within film, music, and photography. One of his first days there, a professor asked the class to raise their hands if they’re an artist, and about half the class raised their hands. Then the professor asked who was a producer, leading the other half the class to raise their hands. Finally, the professor asked who in the class was an engineer, and only about three hands went up in the full room. Jevon immediately saw that most of the students were not there to become engineers. The professor, and most of the people around him, made a lasting impression on Jevon and the way that he interacted with music. First, Jevon learned that engineering was a whole different lane than just producing, there was an art form to being able to work with artists across the board, altering one’s’ personal style to slide in and out successfully. Secondly, the professor was a huge jazz fan and opened Jevons eyes to how deep the sample game goes. Without having a library of samples to pick and choose from, a producer can only reach a certain level, but samples allow for different eras to be brought in and revived.
This time in his life was filled with the trials and tribulations that accompany many people when they move to an unfamiliar place without any connections. Believing that school was the answer to his problems, Jevon fell into a deep depression for a while, just going through the motions in school and not utilizing his free time networking but rather dealing with his own mental health. Huge props to him for being able to openly speak about it, even though the stigma around mental health has changed somewhat in the public eye over the past few years, it is still an incredibly difficult and sensitive topic for most people. Someone who helped Jevon during this time was an engineer, named Mac. They immediately clicked, partially based off the fact that both of them were from Michigan. Mac already had some shit poppin, he was working at Patchwerk studios while working at the institute. Six years after his first release, Jevon dropped an EP “Chasing Failure” in February 2019 which was mixed and mastered by Mac. It was the first project that Jevon dropped since the 2013 mixtape, and it gave him the much needed motivation to keep going with music.
Outside of music, church has always played a large role in Jevon’s life. He was raised within its confines leading it to feel like a place of refuge for him from the trials and tribulations of life. He was big on volunteering, and spending summers helping out with vacation bible school, and it also helps to keep Jevon grounded. Most Sundays, Jevon goes to church, taking the day off to focus on himself, something which no doubt has had a positive effect on his mental health. Perhaps it makes sense that Kanye West is Jevons largest influence within his musical journey, especially given Kanye’s well-documented love of church. “Jesus Walks” might still be one of Kanye’s best to this day, in the opinion of the writer. Although Kanye might be the biggest inspiration for Jevon in his own music, 50 Cent has always been his favorite rapper. Although Kanye and 50 might not seem to have much in common, their successes were within a few years of each other, and their influences in the game cannot be understated. Jevon takes lessons on becoming his own independent artist from both, and if you’re looking for two guys who have fought their way up from the bottom to become wildly successful artists and businessmen, these are as good as they come. With his desire to be as independent of an artist as possible, these two are definitely role models that any artist looking to create an empire could look up too.
Last year, Jevon moved back home to Ypsilanti, Michigan where he was introduced to a recording engineer and now close friend and collaborator named Benji. They met back in December 2019, and have been going strong ever since. Benji is someone who pushed Jevon to stay in the studio. This helped Jevon gain confidence, which resulted in him becoming the artist he is today. They have been locked in the studio working on his debut album “Balance”. The 18 track album was predominantly mixed and mastered by Benji, with the exception of his first single “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” which was mixed and mastered by Mac. Most of the records were produced by Jevon, with the help from BJAMES, Keondre Benson and Hvcks, who all played a key role in elevating the project to the next level. The album “Balance” will be released sometime in November, make sure to check it out as it will be available on all streaming platforms.