By Brandon A. Gracia
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to put on your own show, featuring some of the most talented indie artists ever? Well, that’s what Vē Jano Alexander does nearly every month.
Back in 2014, Vē Jano Alexander, better known as “King Cosmic” or simply “VJ”, started the UnderGround Concert Series (#UGCS ) with two goals: to give unsigned talent a chance to perform, and to inspire the youth in a positive way. Alexander knows the stigma of crooked promoters who charge artists to perform or outright take their money. Unlike those promoters, he does not charge artists to perform. Instead, he promotes the event and the artists on the #UGCS Instagram, and encourages the artist to promote themselves, as a way to build their own brand in and out of #UGCS. He supports artist development first and foremost.
“It is an electrifying feeling to know that your energy sets the tone for each show” says Alexander, when asked what being the show host feels like. “To be able to connect with everyone and get them relaxed and opened up to artists that they’ve probably never heard of is an amazing experience. I was born to entertain, so I feel right at home on stage.”
One of #UGCS ’s signature concerts is “The Upper Class Takeover”, a show featuring #UGCS ‘Upper Class’ artists who have shown consistent growth since their first performance. Two of these artists are Ace Cartar and Genique, two artists from New York City. Ace Cartar’s “Motivate” has become a staple at every #UGCS show since the creation of the song. It’s hipnotic, feel-good vibe doesn’t sway from the meaning of the song, which speaks to everyone with a goal. Genique’s “Touchdown Freestyle” shows her versatility as a rapper, while “Rude” channels her unique sound with her Jamaican Dancehall roots. As their two styles may differ as artists, they have something in common: they aren’t afraid to be themselves on the path to greatness.
While Alexander’s shows are widely focused on supporting local indie talent, there is more to these shows than music. Last May, he wanted to do something special. At #UGCS ’s Mother’s Day show, he hosted the “##UGCS Bless Our Mothers” Drive, a fundraiser for single and at-risk mothers. Soap, diapers, tampons and more were donated at the event. “Being raised by an immigrant mother taught me a lot. I learned how strong my mother really is,” says Alexander. “I also realized how financial issues can be such a burden, so that’s why I wanted to host an event, to give back to those that need a hand.”
Alexander’s love for the community did not stop there. In August, #UGCS hosted “This Is For The People”, a free, all-ages outdoor concert at Herbert Von King Park in Bedstuy, Brooklyn. The park has a built-in stage that can be rented for free with approval from the NYC Parks Department, which Alexander saw as a perfect opportunity. He went around to local businesses and posted up flyers and talking to business owners and locals alike. These newly- mended relationships, along with a steady social media buzz, contributed to a great concert that was full of smiles, dancing, and most of all, good music.
Alexander has plans to give back in the near future. “I plan on doing even more in terms of dedicating and building shows around different causes we (#UGCS ) believe in, partnering with and throwing shows for hard working non-profits who are making changes every day, and using our growing platform to give a voice to issues that need to be heard.”
The last show of the year was in September, but #UGCS is making a solid return in January for Alexander’s birthday. In addition to more concerts and community-based events, he plans to release a compilation album featuring all the #UGCS artists in a crossover that is sure to grab our attention.
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