Indie Mixtape 20: Alfred.’s Debut Album Broadens The Scope Of Hip-Hop

Ethan Hickerson

In 2019, there’s a lot of hip-hop music floating around on the internet. It’s becoming harder and harder to break through the noise. That’s why it’s always so pleasantly surprising when something pops up that is truly, genuinely great. This is exactly what happened when Like You, the debut album from Aaron Brown (they/them) under the moniker Alfred., came up on my timeline a few weeks ago. With the touch of multiple producers from the Richmond, VA rap scene, the record is deeply multifaceted, allowing the existential minimalism of Earl Sweatshirt to exist seamlessly alongside the inventive production of Kanye West and the anger of early Tyler, The Creator.

The flows and rhymes prove Alfred. a force to be reckoned with, with lyrics informed by a genuine curiosity of the world at large, while not overlooking internal hurt, grief, and, at times, hope. It’s truly something very cool and exciting. To celebrate the rerelease of Like You with a fresh signing to Topshelf Records and Citrus City Records, Alfred. sat down to talk Paramore, Step Up, and straw hats in our latest Indie Mixtape 20.

What are four words you would use to describe your music?

Hot, bright, dark and sticky.

Years from now, how do you hope people will remember your work?

I hope people remember my work for being a world I created for myself: a little story book, if you will.

What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?

I haven’t seen much of the world yet. Although I want to say Austin, I always have so much fun playing in Atlanta. I know so many good and friendly folks who are so hard to forget.

Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?

Although I don’t know every song he has made, I am a very big fan of Ab-Soul and how he uses his voice and particular wording to wrap around anything he raps on. “Book of Soul” is probably one of my favorite songs, definitely in my top five. I’ve never heard a rapper give such a detailed tale of their story from illness to heartbreak to the life of a loved one lost, to such a strong resolve at the end. His album Control System was one of those works that probably changed my life.

Where did you eat the best meal of your life?

I don’t know about the best meal but I definitely did have a memorable meal when I split a sixteen piece chicken finger from Lee’s Famous Chicken. Not my brightest moment in life.

What album do you know every word to?

The closest I am to that is with Brand New Eyes by Paramore. [laughs]

What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?

I saw a bbymutha live by coincidence at Cheer Up Charlie is in Austin, Texas and that sh*t was pretty banging not gonna lie.

What is the best outfit for performing and why?

Honestly anytime I wear my straw hat I know that I’m gonna have a good time. Oh, but there was this one time that I played a Halloween show in Whiteface as my white alter ego Samson Stillwaters and I think that confused a lot of people. [Laughs] I don’t want to say that was my greatest look but it definitely was a strong outfit. Hmmm, I had this rad silver jumpsuit that complimented this Marlboro fanny pack, but the VPO (visible penis outline) made it a little uncomfy to wear.

Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?

I follow this one account on Instagram called @patiasfantasyworld and it is so f*cking funny I can’t believe that they have those kinds of Memes that are so completely out of pocket. It’s a private account so you really have to dig deep to get there but that sh*t is so f*cking funny. People say that they have the best Memes but I have that real sh*t that three out of five n*ggas probably don’t want to read. Other than that I have a keen obsession for Pokémon fan art or fake drawings of new Pokémon. I believe the fans do justice to new Pokémon generations than the actual art direction team.

What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?

“Got Ur Self A Gun” by Nas, “Hole of the Moon” (cover of the Water Boys) by Kirin J. Callinan, “Room Temperature” by Faye Webster.

What’s the last thing you Googled?

Pokémon Sun & Moon

What album makes for the perfect gift?

For me personally, the first gift I ever got that was an album was Circus by Britney Spears so I’m going to say Circus by Britney Spears.

Do you have a favorite hotel you enjoy staying at when you tour?

I can’t really think of any hotel I had a great time staying at, but there was an Airbnb that I stayed at in Austin, Texas with a Jacuzzi and an aux cord (the aux cord wasn’t in the Jacuzzi of course) and I spent a fairly unhealthy amount of time sitting in said Jacuzzi, boiling.

What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?

I have a personal obsession with the number 33 and I got a friend to tattoo it on to both of my ankles, it was a cute and nifty stick and poke. My only tattoos.

What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?

I feel like I really don’t listen to the radio like that however if I did I might just go ahead and say A$AP Ferg.

What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?

My best friend threw a surprise party for my 22nd birthday, got so many of my friends and acquaintances to come out and scare the sh*t out of me. Like, homies from out of town came through to all peer pressure me to call out of work at this Security Job I used to have. Never got to feel so much presence and support for my existence, I cried so much. It was a gift to have a friend remind me that my life is worth living.

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What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?

Don’t be so goddamn eager, a lot of the times it’s not cute and you should never show your hand to quickly.

What’s the last show you went to?

It was actually at my house and there was a really cool band on tour from Nevada that was pretty f*cking wild, called Spring Breeding.

What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?

The 2009 version of Karate Kid with Jaden Smith or Step Up 2 : The Streets, unfortunately.

What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?

Probably spam, eggs, and rice because that’s all I really have right now and he would just have to deal with it. Probably split a bottle of Andre or Carlo Rossi.

Like You is out now via Topshelf Records/Citrus City Records. Get it here.