Interview with Amberleigh George who is the CEO of 100 Strong, a record label with artists such as Raxx Amillion and A. Queen.
Back in June, we caught up with Amberleigh George to talk about the crisis in Flint, Michigan. She and her team at 100 Strong had a benefit concert and raised over 2,000 bottles of water for the residents of Flint. Raxx Amillion is one of the artists signed to the 100 Strong record label. On September 1st, he released his EP, The Underdog. We talked to them again to find out about the state of the Flint water crisis and what has been done to help the people so far. We also talked about their activism, and the motivation that keeps 100 Strong always ready to help the community whenever there is a problem.
Amber, could you please introduce Raxx to our readers?
This is my guy Raxx Amillion, he’s a local hip hop artist from Cincinnati. He’s been doing some phenomenal work behind the scenes for a couple of years and has now decided to come back out. His new EP came out September 1st, and it’s called The Underdog – which he’s far from. Not only does he rap, he also can sing, he also can produce, and he has a movie script in the works right now.
So Raxx, what name do you like to be addressed by? 100 Strong Raxx, Raxx, or do you have any other names that your friends and fans call you by?
Some call me Raxx, some call me Raxx Amillion. 100 strong is the brand that I represent.
Could you tell us, Raxx, where did you find the inspiration to become a hip hop artist?
I’ve been loving music since Salt-N-Pepa. Salt-N-Pepa, Michael Jackson, they’ve inspired me since when I was a little boy and it just got a hold of me and I’ve never stopped.
And what’s the content and message of your lyrics? Is it personal experiences, or relationships, about community life, city life?
Both. Some of my songs reflect on my lifestyle, and a lot of my songs reflect other people’s lives, what I see. Lately, I got a message for everybody, in a good way. I can do all types of music but really I’m focused on sending a good message out there to keep your head out, not too much of this trash stuff, some feel good music if you’ll call it that way.
Yeah, his is actually outside-of-the-box of what most members of 100 Strong are putting out. Besides Raxx, we have A. Queen, and she’s got a real powerful and soulful voice. And she’s spreading the message, tight stuff too. She went opposite and her hit song is called Sober High. So they specifically are definitely doing that outside-the-box stuff which is working phenomenally for them.
How’s the reception? How are the fans responding to your music?
Well, I think the way I went about it was, I went the way they wanted me to go at first, you know, to get my name out there. I went to the streets and I did what they wanted me to do. And now that I got a name, I’m doing what I want to do and I’m getting a great reaction from it. I think it’s honestly because I already had a name out there, and so whatever I say they’re going to listen, but it’s kind of hard coming up as an artist if you aren’t rapping about the streets. It’s all they really want to hear.
At the moment you have quite a number of songs and video clips. What are your plans for the rest of the year?
His plans for the rest of the year, we’re going to possibly do a mini college tour throughout the Midwest, where we don’t have to be gone for 4-5 days at a time. Raxx has a business outside of rapping to run, so we’ve been discussing little pop-up tours here and there. And he’s going to have merchandise coming out too.
Yeah, I’m going to have merchandise coming out soon, T-shirts, I’m working on branding some pants right now, shirts definitely, stickers, everything that keeps Raxx’ name in your mouth.
We met with Amberleigh due to the Flint water crisis. As far as we understand, this issue still hasn’t been resolved. People say they can’t really see any changes. What is your mind about this issue? Have you still taken part in any actions to bring attention to the crisis and to make the local authorities resolve the problem?
What I feel about that? That’s horrible man. I mean, you’ve got to think. It’s been like that for a while now and you’d think upper powers will step in and take care of that, but that’s sad. If I was where I want to be and I had the money in my bank account, of course, they can have it. I mean it’s ridiculous, you’ve got to have water to drink. I can’t say enough about that, that’s just ridiculous.
So have you taken part in any actions to bring attention to the crisis to make the local authorities resolve the issue?
Raxx personally has not as of yet, but what he is doing now is, I have an artist in Flint, Michigan and he’s trying to set up a venue for Raxx to come and perform for Flint, Michigan. Speaking on that, I would like to also say that Raxx is by far the most humble artist I have been blessed to know, if there’s anything that he can do especially when it comes to communities and charity-wise, he’s the first one of my artists to hop on it, no questions asked.
Yeah, I like helping people. Music is number one and helping people is number one too. I know people who whenever I need help, they’ll be there, so I also try to be there for other people, even if I don’t know you.
Who are the guest artists on The Underdog EP?
I’ve got a couple of singers on it. I have some singers here from Cincinnati, Kwezo and Reko Porter, I have Kill Will. Those are a few features. I didn’t go all the way out for features on this because it’s really about me.
So Amber, let’s go back to Flint. Is the city dying? Because recently there was a trash issue too. What’s the current state now?
The current state of Flint is that it’s in a state of disaster. That’s what it is. I don’t know why people can think that they can talk about it and do something for a month and that’s going to fix everything in Flint, Michigan. That’s not going to happen. This is not like a tornado run-through and we’re just going to go in and rebuild the city. With this we have to rebuild the whole water system, we have to relocate families, we have to do a whole lot more than just try to do something for a month or two.
Yeah, I mean, that’s why I say that it’s going to take the government, somebody bigger than us. Even if I had all the money in the world, I couldn’t fix it. It takes the government to fix that, people have got to be relocated, like she said, the whole water system’s got to be redone. There’s no other possible way. The government needs to put their foot down and get there and fix it for their people or its going to be another lost cause.
And what’s the Black community doing about this? How are they working to come out of this crisis?
Personally, I don’t really feel that the Black community is doing a whole lot about Flint, Michigan, because they are worried about other issues right now. And I’m not even mad at them for being worried about other issues.
When I pray, I pray for all of us. As far as the Black community, I mean, I don’t want to put us down because there are some great people out here, but majority of us now have got our heads in the wrong place and then we are out here looking to survive. We’ve got cops also trying to kill us for no reason, so I’m in my truck right now driving and I’m looking around as I say this. I’m legit, I’ve got my license and insurance but why am I looking around if this is just how I feel? Because they made us feel that way. That’s why we aren’t straight all the way in Flint, but we need to be. Honestly, besides the news, and maybe Amber, I haven’t talked to anybody about Flint, it doesn’t come up on anybody’s mind. That’s just so that you know, they aren’t even thinking about it.
Everybody in the Black community is worried about this cop issue, that’s what everybody is focused on. But I can’t even sit back and say that I spoke to them, that I’m mad at them for it. I’m biracial, and I still get worried, like when I’m in certain parts of town at night, I get terrified. And there’s a local artist here – Taylor Made – who is on this movement, Stop the Violence. He and Raxx are actually going to be teaming up soon to do a big benefit together for this movement. It’s not just a name, it’s a movement. There’s a lot of stuff that’s going on out here in Cincinnati and if people don’t jump on board and start handling the situation, what happened in Dallas and up in Minnesota is going to happen here.
The police brutality issue is one of the main things we are fighting and it’s great that artists like you are adding your voices to millions out there.
You know me, whenever there’s a cause, I’m always the first person to hop on board. And I tell my artists, if you want to put your name out there, this is how you’ve got to do it. Because if you’re not giving back to your community they’re not going to give back to you.
That’s why I do free shows sometimes, because sometimes people want to hear good music but they can’t afford all of that, so come on, I just do a free show sometimes. And I tell all the producers, let’s just do it.
There’s a migration process which started last year and is still going on now, people are moving from Flint. Do you think this process is going to stop anytime soon? Is there hope for the city to bounce back and people to move back in?
Personally, I don’t feel there is any hope for Flint. That’s why the African American community in Flint, Michigan, they’ve just thrown up their hands and they’re like, “F**k it! We’re just going to move. Rather than just sit here and try to deal with this they’re just moving.” Because the government is not stepping up. I’m sorry but when Katrina happened, you had Oprah Winfrey down there. But nobody’s been to Flint.
Honestly, I think there’s hope. It’s just that they’re not doing anything about it. I mean, this is America, we can do anything right? So it’s just sad. I think, honestly, there’s too much wrapped up into this politician stuff going on now. There’s a lot going on in there.
And talking about celebs’ involvement, what do you think? Is it just a publicity stunt or are they really gaining attention to the situation to get it resolved?
I really think like celebrities don’t really do it for the cause. I think that a lot of them just do it to get their name out there. There’s a select few that do it for the cause, like Leonardo DiCaprio, Drew Brees from the Saints. They, I know actually do it for the cause, not to put a name on anything.
So Raxx, to wrap up, what’s your message to your fans out there? What should they be expecting from you in the coming days, weeks and months?
I’m focused on promoting my EP, but as far as the community, besides the Stop the Violence act that I have coming up, I don’t really have anything else popping up. Basically, I really don’t have a lot of plans right now but I love the community, whatever I can give back I do. I’m just keeping it real
His manager Joe and I are working on getting some things together. We didn’t want to do it at the beginning of the school year when everybody else is doing the back-to-school thing. So I think come November, we will buy out like a VFW Hall and actually serve thanksgiving to the homeless. Not just hand them a tray or paper bag, but actually have them come in and sit down and we’re going to serve them and actually have a thanksgiving dinner. That’s one idea that we’ve put out there.