For those not familiar with Stone Mecca, here’s a brief introduction: He’s a veteran guitarist, vocalist and producer/engineer based in Dallas by way of Southern California. His music career began in the latter role, working with such hip-hop luminaries as Ice Cube, Snoop Dog and Organized Noize.
On Nov. 9, Stone Mecca released his first “true” solo project Alienman, an EP that seamlessly blends elements of rock, soul and funk. More important than the components of the music on Alienman is what it represents for the artist: true creative freedom.
“This is really about who I am fully and completely,” Stone Mecca says. “When I first started making music and taught myself how to play guitar, the kind of stuff I was doing was more so what you hear on Alienman than the other stuff that I might have been known for. It’s just about me going back to my roots, wanting to play guitar and have fun with it.”
Stone Mecca’s career has included many stages of evolution. First was primarily in hip-hop. Then in 2007, he formed a nine-piece band and went on tour with RZA. The latest iteration of his musical journey finds him at a point where he creates without fear or inhibition.
For many African-Americans, primarily those who belong to pre-millennial generations, self-imposed limits pertaining to music, movies and fashion were common. Traveling outside of certain boundaries could lead to being ostracized by your own people, while also running the risk of white counterparts, who had appropriated selective elements of “being black,” dishing out the ever annoying “I’m blacker than you” comment.
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This phenomenon remains prevalent today. However, you’re more likely to find a black teenager with blond streaks in their hair, wearing skinny jeans, with sneakers of a lesser known brand, hop on their skateboard, while listening to Led Zeppelin, en route to meet up with friends who are all about to attend a Travis Scott concert. In previous generations, that kid risked being labeled a weirdo, wannabe or even being jumped.
Yet old mindsets die hard, and for Stone Mecca it took the prophetic lyrics of a 5-year-old in 2014 to completely shed those mental shackles.
“My son actually inspired me to break free and do this," Stone Mecca says. "At 5 years old, he had this phone he used to play games on and it had a voice recorder. He went in the bathroom and started recording his own songs. He came out and was like, 'Dad, I want you to hear this,' and one of the songs completely changed my life. Matter of fact, it’s changed things for everyone I’ve let hear it. It’s like something was speaking through him."
He took an a cappella version of his son's song and added voice effects, sparse guitar licks and used it as the intro for Alienman.
“You been trapped in your brain, you been trapped in your brain for your life," sings Stone Mecca's son on the song. "You gotta get out there. You gotta get out there, to go somewhere in life. There’s lots of things that will open your heart, there’s things that you would love out there.”
From that point moving forward, Stone Mecca says he pushed aside any preconceived notions of who he was supposed to be as a musician.
With a new lease on life, Stone Mecca carries himself like the embodiment of artistic freedom and eclectic taste. His fashion sense is vast. At times it’s unadulterated rock star when he wears colorful, long-sleeve shirts that seemingly emit as much electricity as his customized white B.C. Rich guitar that he affectionately named Eloise. Other days it could be introspective singer-songwriter clad in denim or modern-day revolutionary wearing all black. Regardless of the clothing style, he rocks a picked-out Afro worthy of a 1970s ABA all-star.
“I’ve always been different, I’ve always dressed my own way and did my own thing," he says. "But there was still a part of me that I hadn’t let loose. We all are unique, but there’s still this monster inside of most of us that’s waiting.”
The monster he’s referring to is different for everyone. It could be unique abilities, personality traits or simply a sense of style. However, as Stone Mecca progressed through this period of enlightenment, there was one more obstacle to overcome: his confidence in his vocal ability.
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Most of Stone Mecca’s projects before Alienman featured songs he wrote, composed and produced. He’d bring in other singers for the lead vocals.
“I used to think I couldn’t sing as well as I needed to because I didn’t sound like the greats," he says. "I’m a perfectionist, so I felt like if I don’t sound like Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, then I’m not even going to try and do it. That was another thing I had to get over and tell myself. You just have to be you, and whatever that is let it be. I know my strengths and that’s more so playing the guitar and my songwriting. I had to learn to be OK with that. It was just me holding myself back.”
With the new year approaching, Stone Mecca says his focus is promoting Alienman and touring. He’s optimistic about what’s on the horizon.
“We plan to be on the road a lot promoting this album,” he says. “We already have a small West Coast tour set up. We’re gonna tour all over the United States and Canada. I’ve had good reviews come in from different places, not just here but the U.K. and other countries. This project was me stepping out and saying the hell with my own insecurities, my fears and just doing it. The positive response has been encouraging, and it’s looking good for 2019.”