photo by Brandon I. Brooks for Sentinel
photo by Brandon I. Brooks for Sentinel
Radio personality Big Boy goes XL with new book
By Brandon I. Brooks, Co-Managing Editor
Kurt “Big Boy” Alexander is the number one Los Angeles radio host, ten years running, and one of the most widely known hip hop radio DJs, heard in syndication on 30 stations around the country. This past December he embarked on a new journey releasing his first book titled ‘An XL Life: Staying Big at Half Size.‘
The Sentinel and the Watts Times newspapers were privileged to sit down with the legendary radio personality at the Power 106 offices in Los Angeles. He sat down for an exclusive interview during which he discussed many topics — from how he got to write a book to his lifelong fight with obesity and even opened up about his relationship with his family.
SENTINEL: Tell me about the new book.
BIG BOY (BB): I never thought that I would write a book. It wasn’t like I thought I had a great story to tell. I didn’t think when I had the surgery or you know getting into radio, like, let me document this because this will be a book. And I always had people that say, ‘How did you get into radio, how did this get started for you, who was your favorite interview?’ So you’re always kinda telling your story anyway. Once I had the surgery and started this post-surgery life with losing the weight and, you know, going through certain sicknesses and so on and so forth, it was like I got a lot of people that just kind of hit me up … Like if I am in the store, people would come up and say, ‘Hey, how you feeling, or, I’m thinking about getting a weight loss surgery, I’m thinking about doing this, I’m thinking about doing that. I would just talk to people, and it’s like I became an ambassador for either gastric bypass weight loss whatever it may be. So when I got approached to write a book, it was more on the level of, well, I can’t meet everybody in the Ralph’s Market! I can’t see everybody at the park or at the movies; this could be one way that I could kind of just put everything out there and talk to the people that’s intrigued to listen.
SENTINEL: How did you come up with the title?
BB: You know, what I didn’t — I’m a tell you straight up, we kicked some titles around and this is the one that when it came together it just made the most sense. I had some horrible ones, though (laughs).
SENTINEL: Your weight was a major focus of the book, but what did you want people to take away from this other than that?
BB: It’s not the weight loss book; it’s not that you have to have the bypass gastric surgery, or [have] been obese, or overweight to understand what this book is about. I think this book could work for anyone because I had roadblocks; I had dealing with bouts of homelessness, my father not being there … Everybody has something in this book they can relate too. Even if somebody told you, you can’t be something, or whatever you feel like was holding you back. I mean I had what we so-call a lot of restrictions that I should have kind of listened to the so-called evil voices and not been here, as we all do. So with this book it’s more so if Big Boy can do it — it sounds cliché — if he can do it, I can do it. But really you can because I had a friend whose uncle told him, “Man, why you hang out with him? He will never be nothing.” You know he had different words (smiles) I am cleaning up for you! A lot of us get that, you know, that negative influence or somebody that is trying to tell you something different. And this is really a book about somebody that seen an avenue and seen, you know, I am still a work in progress. That I could do it. I believed in myself, my family believed in me. I tried to make today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today. So as anyone picks up this book, you can apply that. How did Big Boy get through it? How did Big Boy make it? And that’s how you get through it, and that’s how you make it. You believe in yourself. Then I don’t need anyone else to believe me as long as I believe in myself, and I think that is what from page one all the way to the back cover we got.
SENTINEL: Tell me a little bit about where you are from?
BB: I was born in Peoria, Illinois, but I was raised all throughout. My mom had 7 kids, 4 sisters, 2 brothers. We were not rich, but we were very affluent on love. My mom took the best care that she could and then financially certain things kind of happened that we dealt with — bouts of homelessness but that love was always there. With Los Angeles, man, this is where I have been my whole life; this is pretty much all I know. I have never lived anywhere else. I have traveled, but I have never had anything outside of a Los Angeles or a California address.
SENTINEL: Are you going to get back into acting?
BB: Yes. I got something’s that’s coming. What happened was that I started to get that, they wanted me to play Big Boy all the time. I wasn’t hungry to be an actor. If the right thing came about, then OK, I will get into it. But now in 2012 I have a better position on some of the stuff I can do because there is ownership there. And then I have a movie that I executive-produced called ‘Exit Strategy.’ I have a great deal with VH1 — not like [the]“Radio Wives” (laughs) TV show that I am doing. Acting is something that I would like to get into, but I really needed to focus on me. I couldn’t go and do anything else unless my health was right, my body was right, my family household was right. I really had to take a step back and get me, Big Boy, together and I feel like I’ve been doing that. Not that I’ve done that but I’m doing that, and I can start to pick up some more of those scripts.
SENTINEL: Tell me about your family? Any kids?
BB: I have 2 kids. My son is 4 and will be 5 in February. My daughter just turned 3 in September. I have a beautiful wife, and I am just trying to be dad.
SENTINEL: Are you a family man? How is Big Boy on the weekends or during dad time?
BB: You know, I am always sitting with my family. I would rather be with my family than be anywhere else. Anywhere else that I have to be is because I have to be there. I love being with my family. If I can have them over, then that’s what we do. I love having my family around me.
SENTINEL: You have been a radio personality for a long time now; the music is ever-evolving. You have seen them come and go. What is your opinion on the current state for music and where do you see music evolving to in the next 20 years?
BB: The next 20 years as far as music, that would be hard to say. I like where it’s at now. Do I love it? I would be lying to you if I said I love it. I like where it’s at now because at one point, when it comes to hip-hop, we are starting to see some lyrics again. We are starting to see some concepts again as opposed to a few years ago everything was sounding the same. And no disrespect to anybody that has a record or has a dance, but if Soulja Boy blew up then we all felt like we had to go do a dance record. So I kind of like where it’s at now, and records are starting to sell again. Are the best things on radio? No, but I like the way it feel like people are starting to pay attention to what their recording again. And that’s what I was kind of missing with music. You know, you have fun when you get in there and you can create any record that you want to create. But everybody jumping into the same car, taking the same ride was kind of getting on me.
SENTINEL: Who was the most memorable interview you’ve had?
BB: Really man it’s crazy, sitting down with Michael Jackson. And the reason why is because everybody that’s watching, everybody that reads, everybody that listens to the radio, everybody knows Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson has been around everyone’s life in here. So to actually sit down with Michael Jackson and have hours of conversation with him — that was amazing to me because my first album was the Jackson 5 album. So then you fast forward, and here is this phenomenon. And Mike was laughing at things he shouldn’t have been laughing about. I hit him with some real Big Boy-isms, and I was like, wow, maybe you shouldn’t be talking like this.
SENTINEL: How did you hook up with Birdman and Cash Money to put out the book?
BB: It’s crazy how the Cash Money Content — CMC is what they call it. When I did the proposal for the book, they started to shop the book, and they were like, if we get one, two, three bites on it we’re doing fine. And we ended up getting nine different companies that wanted to touch the book. So [by a] process of elimination, they said we really feel good about this Cash Money deal. And I’m thinking about Cash Money (Records), they do great things in music but I’m thinking, man, I don’t want to do this hip-hop book, I don’t want to do this Cash Money book. So I’m thinking you know when you open up the back of a magazine and there is books back there like, Crack Daddy and all of these dark books but whatever avenue it is, cool, but I don’t want to be included in back of that magazine. But speaking with Slim and Baby, I remember just talking with them and they were just like, you know why our people don’t read books? And I was like, Why? He said because we haven’t told them yet. And that really struck with me and they were like the first people that’s going to buy your book, Big — is your audience and then you go outside of their audience. And who better to speak to their audience than Cash Money. And I was thinking, if we can do a fraction on the book side that they do on the music side, then I am doing fabulous. They really take care of you. I could get Baby and Slim on the phone. It’s not always about the book. Plus we have a relationship that is over 10 years old. The business relationship as far as Cash Money Content and then their deal with Simon and Schuster, you know Simon and Schuster that’s large so it felt good to get into business with them. I don’t know who Simon and Schuster is—no disrespect — but I don’t know if I can get Simon and Schuster on the phone, I don’t know if it’s a real person or what. But with Baby and Slim, I can actually put a hand on them, or I could put [in] a phone call, or I can hit an email and they can get back at me so it made the relationship more real.