“The music part of this album has taken me a little over four years to compile,” says Alex “Lex One” Cruz. “I’ve literally traveled to three countries and numerous states and cities to make every bit of this happen. I’ve moved to five different living situations, spent over $30,000 to create this, five of it via an Indiegogo campaign. I've had four different jobs during the process, broke a few hearts, had mine broken, mastered social media, learned digital marketing, and most of all found a place in the art world where I truly feel comfortable. I learned how to tell a story and create a vibe at the same time.”
Lex One — rapper, producer, DJ, and music-video director — is one of South Florida’s hardest-working hip-hop artists. A longtime player, Lex is best-known outside of our area code for his acclaimed work with alt hip-hop outfit Wizard Sleeve alongside Mike Beatz and Pusher FM.
“Not many people know that I have a gold- — now platinum- — selling single in the U.K. for a cheeseball electro hip-hop record I accidentally made with my closest friends in 2009,” says Lex. The track he's referring to is 2009's “Riverside (Let’s Go!)."
“As you can imagine, going from Joe Schmo to celebrity then back to zero again is a crazy roller coaster.”
Lex, however, has continued to grow and stay busy, releasing a number of projects while hustling to get this new effort completed. The album, Gold Plaque, is a self-deprecating riff on his struggle and an indictment on the self-aggrandizing state of hip-hop today. Deeply personal and conceptual, Gold Plaque is, as Lex describes it, “my glory, my Picasso, my Basquiat, my Shakespeare with spelling errors, my Dali minus the acid with an overpriced drink from Jugofresh with a bit of DMT — my whatever.”
Lex is already a multifaceted force. His artistry extends beyond just music. He promises the physical release of the upcoming LP will be “epic as fuck” and the release party itself has taken a life of its own. “This party is more than just an album-release party. It’s an experience I’m trying to provide the Miami hip-hop scene with. I don’t plan on just rocking the mic, holding my dick while I pace back and forth.”
Starting two weeks ago, Lex has been meeting with friends and fans around South Florida to shoot the shit and sell tickets. The tickets for the release party, like a hip-hop version of Willy Wonka, are metallic prints with rounded corners, signed and numbered — and the only way to enter the release party. The tickets are also available only through Lex himself or through one of the opening acts on the lineup, ensuring the party will be a close-knit affair. At the party itself, Lex will be giving away limited-edition gifts to lucky attendees.
Longtime collaborator Mike Beatz will be flying in from L.A. to help Lex celebrate, as well as Lucian White, Brian Breach, Pr$fit, Verbal Kush from North Carolina, Dopamine, Rello 2x, with Midwest Melly hosting and Haviken Hayes as the night's DJ.
Fans can expect videos and supporting content to start popping up after the release. “We shot a video inside Squiggy’s Pizza in downtown Fort Lauderdale," Lex says. "That was legendary. If you have ever been to downtown Laudy and got drunk, chances are you got a slice from Squiggy’s. Let’s just say we had special-effects makeup and girls getting down with pizza sauce and flour.”
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Gold Plaque is a solid listen from beginning to end, and Lex has no trouble grabbing your attention throughout. While the tracks ebb and flow with different forms of fluidity — from the orchestral antics of opener “Walk Alone” to the backpack vibes of “They Know” on through closer “Believe” — all the songs can live on their own.
Whether Lex recoups his sizable investment or not, this is a legacy album and a piece of art that he can be proud of and that is worth a lot more than financial returns.
Lex One Album Release Party. 10 p.m. Saturday, February 20, at Jazid, 1342 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-9372; jazid.net.