Born and raised in Compton, the oldest of seven, this athlete-turned-artist now resides at Colorado State and is making (sound) waves.
One look at senior Alphonso Williams, a.k.a. A.L., and you might not see anything more than a constant smile. But for the former CSU wide receiver, his concert in the Lory Student Center Theatre on April 1 opens the next chapter of a dream career in music, which is now becoming a reality.
“Sports, that was always my thing,” Williams said. “But I was always around and loved music.”
Getting much of his influence from the music of the 90s, Williams appreciates the styles of 2-PAC, Jay-Z, Snoop, Nas and Talib Kweli.
“That’s where it all started,” he said. “The first Kweli album, ‘Internal Reflection’ really made me want to write.”
But Williams is more versatile than a simple rapper. Claiming his poetry was meant for music, Williams offers something for everyone.
“I don’t want to be put in a box and labeled as just another rapper,” said Williams, who strives for a more diverse sound. “I have the street-type, to the club vibe, to the ‘girl’ vibe.”
So how did Williams end up in Colorado?
The eldest son of a mother who played basketball and a father who was an NFL wide receiver, Williams knew when he graduated from high school that he wanted to play ball. He was a three-time national champion wide receiver at Long Beach Poly High School in California, but test scores prevented Williams from being NCAA eligible and going to a major Division-I school.
But after a stint at L.A. Harbor College, Williams had a revelation at Compton Junior College.
“That was a wake-up call; it was my second chance,” Williams said. “I took 24 credits that one semester, raised my GPA from a 2.3 to a 2.9 and got my A.A. (associate of arts). Without that it would be tough.”
Feeling a sense of now-or-never for football, Williams drove from California to Fort Collins the week before the semester started. The impulse trip was done to take a math placement test so he could become a student and play as a Ram.
“College was important enough to me to drive from L.A. to take a test,” said Williams, who needed less than an hour to get word of his acceptance. “That was probably the best day in my life. I knew if I wanted something bad enough, I could get it.”
At the beginning of last season, transcript issues interfered with practice time for Williams, giving him a chance to create music. He would eventually see time on the field but quit at the end of the year to focus on his music. With the help of his management group, Raquel Henry and Richardo Jones, a demo was made, and a show booked.
“They handled making a show that I envisioned and made it a reality,” Williams said. “(This show) I want to present to everyone.”
Williams is riding the hump of success right now, but with four sisters and two brothers, all younger, he knows it’s not just the crowd that’s watching.
“I feel the pressure to do something great for all my siblings so they can look at me and say, ‘he made it,'” Williams said. “I realize I’m always doing music for people, music is a reflection of (the person).”
But the business world can be a backstabbing affair – a lesson of which Williams is aware.
“You never want people to shortchange you,” he said. “You have to be a little selfish. For me, it’s a lot on how I present myself.”
With demo in hand, he has been in talks with record labels and is hopeful of a signing day.
No doubt, Williams has arrived and is eager for the opportunity. One way to show support – throw a concert. “The Next Generation” will be going down this Saturday.
“This isn’t going to be a show, it’s going to be a concert,” Williams said. “This will be a $50 performance for $6. It’s real, this isn’t a DVD on stage with beer.”
Check him out:
What: The Next Generation
When: Saturday April 1, 7:00 pm
Where: Lory Student Center Theatre
Tickets: On sale at Lory Student Center Box Office for $5; $7 at the door
Check out: www.myspace.com/ALthecrownprince for more.