In early 2012, Atlanta-based rapper Alex Faith toured with Christian hip-hop supergroup High Society Collective — formed by artists Sho Baraka, Swoope, J.R. and Natalie Lauren.
Faith wasn’t a rapper on High Society, though. He managed the tour. At this point, his music resume consisted of recording, mixing, mastering and featuring on Sho’s 2009 mixtape Barakology, engineering Lecrae’s single “Far Away” and much of Sho’s 2010 album Lions & Liars, and spot engineering on several other projects.
Faith had never released solo music of his own, but he planned to, and an artist he really wanted to work with just so happened to be on tour with him — J.R., who now goes by Courtney Orlando.
“Hey bro, I want to do some music with you,” Faith told Orlando. “I’m thinking about getting into rapping.”
Orlando didn’t even think about it.
“No,” he said. Orlando recently told Rapzilla, “I’m that way with everybody. If I don’t know you and no one has spoken of you or your work, I can’t work with you.”
Orlando knew of Faith’s work soon enough.
That summer, Faith signed with Collision Records and dropped his mixtape Honest 2 God. The following year, Collision A&R Wit reached out to Orlando to work with him on Faith’s label debut album, ATLast.
“Wow,” Orlando said, “this kid’s for real.”
This time, Orlando answered yes. His one-time tour manager featured him on “Bloodlines,” the second single for ATLast, and Orlando also produced track No. 4 of the album, “Hold Me Down” featuring Christon Gray.
Fast forward two summers and Faith had begun to work on his sophomore LP. Collision CEO Adam Thomason asked Orlando if he could send any music for the project, and Orlando emailed him a demo of the track he had started the day before, “Freedom.” Thomason and Faith loved it.
“When you get a record to stick like that from the very first mention when you’re working with an artist,” Orlando said, “it’s always a good sign that the rest of this work relationship is about to be something special.”
“Freedom” turned out so well that Faith asked Orlando to executive produce his album. Orlando had become a fan of Faith after ATLast, so he agreed.
“That was kind of a bucket list thing because I think he’s on the list of the greatest producers that have ever really touched our genre,” Faith said, “from doing stuff like ‘My Clothes, My Hair,’ to Cross Movement, to Flame, to producing ‘Jesus Muzik’ to fast forward from that, producing the title track from Gravity. To have him do my whole record was really special to me.”
Faith named the album after the song they had made two years prior, and they finished Bloodlines in about three months, taking advantage of Collision’s studio that Faith had built in Atlanta three and a half months ago with longtime friends, engineers Anthony and Gabe Fernandez.
“It was almost effortless,” Orlando said. “Everything else just flowed.”
Bloodlines dropped on Oct. 30, less than two weeks after Faith announced the release date. The quick rollout could mean a quick transition to even more music.
“I think the way that the industry is moving, man, people’s attention spans are really short,” Faith said. “The difficulty there is to not make fast food music that’s just a bunch of cheap junk, but hopefully the music will speak for itself. … I feel like with the studio, with the producer team that I’ve been working with, I feel like I got the keys to the kingdom — or at least the keys to the gym — so I can go in there and get to work. It’s pretty cool. It should be the beginning to a whole lot of music on my side.”
Faith’s social media accounts make it seem like he lives in the studio, and his skill set as an audio engineer allows him to be involved with other artists’ projects. He said as many as 20 artists have recorded there since it’s been built. Faith mixed Ki’Shon Furlow’s mixtape Keep an Open Mind, executive produced Justword’s upcoming album Ultra and helped record Corey Paul’s next album.
“[Faith] is probably the hardest working dude I’ve ever met,” said J. Monty, who is featured on track No. 4 of Bloodlines, “Clayco.” “He doesn’t call [the studio] home, but he might as well. They got a couch in there. I’m pretty sure he’s caught a lot of Z’s on there.”
What sleep schedule? pic.twitter.com/xLek4Lmw0o
— Alex Faith (@alexfaithATL) October 9, 2015
J. Monty guessed right. Faith said he actually lived in the studio for about a week when he mixed Bloodlines. It wouldn’t surprise J. Monty if Faith was back to work already.
“I’m back to work already,” Faith said. “I got a couple songs that are done that I didn’t put on the album that I’ll probably put out. Then I’m thinking about doing a mixtape or something before the end of the year, so that’ll be another project. I’m trying to keep the momentum going, and I got my foot on the gas. As far as Collision, though, everybody else is working.
“There’s a lot more music coming out from Collision Records this year — a lot.”
Faith’s grind ultimately helped him win over Orlando, and he hasn’t slowed down.