There are truly some astonishing people in this world with talents and gifts that simply electrify every cell in your body when witnessing them in the midst of their purpose. I’ve had the opportunity many times to experience it for myself. Opportunities that remind me of how remarkable life is. There’s absolutely no difference when it comes to watching Adam Collier, affectionately known as AJC or Nu AJC perform. It’s clear that he gives his all. He’s totally in his element and anyone who’s ever been to any of his concerts has left knowing that they got way more entertainment for what they paid for.
However, I doubt this thing called passion that AJC has for music is more than about entertainment. AJC is called The Envelope Pusher for a reason. Here’s why…
The Poet, Singer, Rapper, Song writer, Actor, and Author have been referred to over the years as a “Genre Jumper.” His earthy soul sound blended with a pop/rock sensibility and planted in the soil of urban trinity (gospel, jazz, and hip hop) allows AJC to weave a tapestry of sounds on the stage and on his forthcoming album Fallen Star Part I. Additionally, AJC is as diverse lyrically as he is musically. The singer, rapper, and spoken word artist, seems to always be able to choose the proper medium to effectively express his creative vision.
A visionary for music and its limitlessness, AJC has always been on the outside of the box looking in. for him music is spiritually and emotionally driven.
Genre jumper, visionary…these are just a couple of things I’ve noticed myself when watching him. I know that sounds a little stalker-ish, but there’s something enormous about a creative mind that can bring all the elements of poet, singer, rapper and actor to make a show unforgettable.
His inspiration come from pain. Pain of feeling alone and having nothing. He used that period of his life to express himself through writing and music. Once he was able to come out of that rut he was in he begin to allow the inspiration to find him. It was all around him and like today, he is inspired and led by his thirst for more.
The music that dwells inside him tells a story of who he is, what he fears, believes in and even the things that keeps him up all night. For a long time AJC didn’t think people wanted to hear what he had to say. And yet he was determined.
With a gift like that, I’m convinced the world should know about it and AJC isn’t afraid to tell you why…
“AJC is the coffee that you can’t start your day without having… He’s the cigarette that you take a pull on when you can’t handle the situation. AJC is the stress, the headache, the heartache, the laughter. But more than anything I’m the voice. I’ve gone through many things and done many things in my life.
I’ve been ignored by family and so-called friends and loved by complete strangers. I’m not the only voice, because there are many voices for the people, but I am one of them…
I remember Tate Nations telling me “they need to hear what you have to say,” and C. Leigh McInnis telling me that I need to “continue to bless the people and make them think and dance all at the same time.…” So, if I had to sum it up. That’s who AJC is, a voice that they need to hear.
Most of the time no one knows what they want or need because life has granted us too many options and not the best functionality of discernment… I think it helps when you know that you aren’t alone even when you feel that way. I think it helps to know that someone is in the struggle, in the grind. And I think it helps to give the encouragement when they think they don’t need it… Who doesn’t need encouragement? Look around you people are ready to give up just like I was about to give up at times in this album. Encouragement gives birth to hope and hope gives birth to action. I’m just another voice, just another encourager, just another dreamer, but at the end of the day I’m hope and the world needs hope more than anything.”
Way before he could remember, AJC was entertaining by every sense of the word. As he became more aware of his talents and what drives him he began to nurture it. Around 2006 or 2007, AJC finally decided this was it. This music thing had him completely in love and now was the time to push himself.
“I didn’t quite understand what it took, but small things to a giant was my mentality pressed into a cookie cutter that read the word faith. But even before then in the early 2000’s it was nothing for me to be in front of the entire student body battle singing or battle rapping.
But let’s go to 2007 when I first did my first performance at a place called Seven*Studioz [Jackson, Mississippi]. I couldn’t have been but maybe 20 years old. It was just me and a DJ and about 25 people. I had been doing these gospel open mics before that and I was kind of like I needed to flex my secular muscle even though for me music is music… I remember working so hard to write the lyrics for the show and getting the track together and I walked into the building and forgot every damn lyric to every damn song… I had to freestyle the entire show and that became my calling card… No matter what was going on I could walk on stage and make food for thought out of thin air.
A year after that I started working less with tracks and more with actual musicians. I figured out how to get ready for the show and have a game plan, but read my audience to know if I need to deviate from the plan. I don’t do that as much now, but every once in a while I will still do it and the audience can’t tell the difference because it seems like I do it so easy, but that came from years of dealing with battle rapping and having to think quick or become the laughing stock of a group of people… I wasn’t the one for embarrassment, so when I can I gave it all I had. The stage went from me and a DJ, to me and a couple of musicians, and now it’s me with a DJ and a stage full of incredible musicians. Such a blessing really. I don’t second guess myself at any time. And I just give it what I have.”
The “game plan” was shaping up nicely and soon everyone in his community knew the name and his sound. He was becoming a music force in which people couldn’t box in. There is no specific genre for him and he loves it just the same.
“For me it’s important to use various genres and be able to put them together and break them apart, so that the music has flare and push. I remember doing a show and this guy telling me that I’m going to come to see you perform, but you’ve got to do some reggae because it reminds me of home.
Switching the genre mid album, mid show, mid song provides excitement. It also gives the ears of the people a rest. If you are doing a hard rock show and you do a quick R&B song on the 4th song or a quick acoustic song on the 4th song, trust me someone appreciates it.
I’m an artist that just gets down right bored. Now great lyrics and great stage presence can keep an audience going no matter the genre, so it’s no disrespect to any artist, but I just do things my way (Frank Sinatra voice) and my audience enjoys it even though they find it hard to label my sound and that’s one of the thing that makes me unique and will probably grant me longevity. My audience enjoys the diversity and when I look out in my audience and see all walks of life, it makes me happy.
It’s important that artists understand what music does. It sounds cliché as hell, but it really does bring people together. You may have nothing in common what so ever, but music is a damn good place start.”
I remember my first time ever attending one of AJC’s shows and was like, WHERE DID HE COME FROM?! I hadn’t had that much fun from a performance in a long time. You can tell how fanatical he is about his music and how the sounds will make people move and sing even if they don’t know the song.
Dramatic I know, but to give you a glimpse of the man known as The Envelope Pusher is not as easy as a few adjectives. This is merely something you need to see for yourself.
Needing a band a group of like-minded talented people that felt the passion just as he does, he formed a band known as The Envelope Pushers back in 2008. AJC had this vision for what he needed and how his sound will affect people positively and so it was born.
“When I was about 20 or 21 The Envelope Pushers was just an idea really. I had been working in the studio and working with Eric Blanks from Atlanta who was producing at the time and a couple of other cats. I had given myself the name AJC the Envelope Pusher, and I was looking for cats that loved the music just as much as I did and didn’t mind combining different styles of music together in a chaotic way that still had structure. When I was in college I met a young man that would become my go to person for music and he was studying music in school at the time.
My style at the time was heavy lyrics over super soulfood tracks, but as I started doing open mics my style started to change and I would get really energetic. My energy level would just be ridiculously off the charts. I met my drummer, saxophone player, and bass player all though doing this live band open mic and of course one musician would know like ten others so I just asked the few cats what they thought about doing a show. And they were with it so in 2008 after a couple of months of rehearsal and getting the musicians together we did our first show.
I hadn’t even name the band yet because we had just got together to do a show. I had no idea that it would turn into anything as big as it did and has. Shouts out to James Powell iii, Ezra Brown, and C. Leigh McInnis by the way just to name a few because some of their actions indirectly lead to me taking music to another level and even forming the band at all.”
To another level in deed! AJC The Envelope Pusher and his band begin booking shows just about everywhere. The intensity of this group was simply electrifying. There was no way you were going to their show and sit pretty. Not at all. Everyone would be moving around in their seats, up dancing with a partner or in their own world just grooving. It’s really a sight to see. To feel the energy coming from those live performances is what makes music so therapeutic…so fulfilling…so life changing.
He and his band even performed a killer show at the infamous House of Blues in New Orleans in which he thanks Alvin Chapman, Tonya Boyd Cannon (now a contestant on The Voice), John Doe, and Chris Goyzueta for supporting.
But for AJC, there’s always more needed to really push the element and with growth there can many times be differences in opinion and style, especially in a band.
“Most people think that having a band is all you need, but you need to have a band that understand music and understands each other. Depending on if you have a manager or not then it can either help or create drama in the ranks.
Being the leader of the band you are subject to so much, but the main thing you are subject to and susceptible to is stress. So less roll with the cons first. One, you have to depend on people to be there, and what if half the band doesn’t show up? What if they show up to the show but they missed practice and didn’t learn the music at home, so they are second guessing during the entire show?
Having a band is being much more than just a person who gives out a list and tells them this is what we are playing. Having a band means that you have to keep them motivated. And some people that start off with you may leave and it may be bad blood or it may be a friendship formed that you have to sever. It’s a thin line between bandships, friendships, and all of the above. One thing that Gerald Morgan one of the original Envelope Pushers tells me all the time is “I don’t know how you do it.” Whatever goes on you just have to realize that if it was that easy everyone would have thrown it away cause it wasn’t much a challenge. Music is a rubrics cube meaning its 75% mental…”
The pros with having a band is the accomplishments. When you look to your left and your right and you see those people that made it to the House of Blues with you. It’s an amazing feeling. But also when you have a band, music has no boundaries, it has no limits. But that is all contingent on the kind of people you put in place… gigging and all that isn’t for everyone. Taking direction and criticism, hmmmmm everyone can’t deal with it. Doing music itself is one big dream, with a decent plan and sh*t ton of trial and error… band or not it’s going to be a journey from start to finish. I’ve seen cats with no band go through more than I have. In the end it’s all what you make it.”
From every experience growth is bound to happen. Years later and AJC is still pushing the envelope. Still feeding people his music while making them think. But time, he’s thinking greater…
“Envelope Pusher Music, I’m so excited about it. It’s the first venture that I’m going to tackle, but it will not be the last. I’ve always wanted a label of my own and to be the first artist on that label DUH; which makes Fallen Star Part I the first album. I have talked to one other artist about becoming a writer and a label musician in maybe 2016 or 2017, but I’m going to focus on my Fallen Star Part II and some production work and maybe some acting before I just really tie myself to someone else’s projects.
I’m going to go public this year with the label and let people know that it’s here… let them build themselves and cross the bridges as they come and keep a fresh bucket of water just in case I catch anything on fire.”
Fallen Star II, gives you a quick over view of who I am and what I’m about without giving you the full picture. The entire album is all about setting the pace for the career that I’m praying to have. I put so much information into the 9 to 10 songs that are on it that it’s like a great movie that you watch five times and every-time you notice something new… it’s vintage AJC and Nu AJC all wrapped up in one project… It’s all me. I wrote the lyrics. I came up with the melodies for the musicians and push the direction of the song to land it on the right genre, but Tre had a lot to do with making sure that the tracks complimented the emotion. This is a very emotional project and energy driven project. The songs were fine tuned to hell and back unlike my earlier work…
I have thought about doing a couple of tributes this year though maybe a Bob Marley or Lenny Kravitz tribute, but they are all just in the idea stage right now… I will say that we are going to play the album front to back at the album release with a few unreleased tunes that may make it to Fallen Star Part II and a couple of cover tunes that no one saw coming from two feet away…”
“I never wanted to be told what I’m doing or what I’m signing or how this affects my bottom line or anything. sure I’m going to still be told those things but I’ll know most of it before it said… if you are going to do this on any level especially a professional level you need to know what you are doing.
I’ve seen money stolen from artist, music stolen from artists, etc. When you understand how the industry works you protect yourself and your career, but you also know more about the do’s and don’ts of the industry… there are more do’s then don’ts, when you don’t know anything it really doesn’t matter.
You can work your butt off to create an album or a business, but if you want to see the next level it’s time to go to class. read it, read it some more, make some calls and ask questions, and then double check it and make sure it’s right… I have people that tell me all the time about the industry, but you telling me isn’t that same as me knowing it. You aren’t going to figure it all out because even the industry doesn’t know how it stays afloat at times, but you need to get some basics down before you walk into something and get blown out.”
Through all of his success thus far, you can imagine all the lessons learned being an independent artist with the USHER, my way mentality. After being told that when a person is vulnerable, that’s when the experience sticks, he knew that he had to create music that would make listeners truly vulnerable so that he would be unforgettable.
From that very first live performance to producing a number of albums and soon publicly announcing his newest projects, AJC The Envelope Pusher has branded himself gracefully and continues to do what he does best, push the envelope.