Mr. Al Pete is the type of artist you hear and think to yourself, “How is this guy not on the radio every day.” But then you quickly remember that 80 percent of the music most radio stations play is unoriginal, uninspired crap.

After receiving an album review submission from the 35-year-old father and musician, I was simply blown away by his talent. After cursing myself for not knowing of Al sooner, I quickly arranged an interview and got to work on hammering out the final details on the interview.

Flash forward to a week later, and Al was sitting in our studio, about to be the guinea pig of our new interview series titled, “Unscripted.”

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A few questions in, and you could tell that Mr. Al Pete isn’t the type of guy who wants to sell-out, making top 40, formulaic singles to appeal to the masses. His style was built on the founders of hip-hop — the types of people who pioneered a new genre.

“I think we need to have some ambassadors or somebody that dictates [the genre] a little bit,” he said. “I understand that it’s free expression, but a lot of people are expressing some stuff that doesn’t really need to be expressed.”

Rather than succumb to the in-your-face, materialistic hip-hop culture of today’s radio stars, Mr. Al Pete has stuck to his guns and continued to release a stream of music with both powerful messages and nourishing substance.

This influence on his timeless style stems from his childhood, where his family, primarily his uncle, a hip-hop musician known as Tru.ski the Transmitter, made a lasting impression on a young Al Pete.

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From his parents, Al found influence in greats like Michael Jackson or Jeffrey Osborne, his uncle, Run DMC or A Tribe Called Quest, and lastly, his cousins introduced him to artists like Geto Boys and N.W.A.

When you stir these various influences together into one giant pot and pour it out of the mold, you get the glistening style of Mr. Al Pete. A brilliant standout amongst the scene here in Jacksonville.

The hip-hop scene here in Jacksonville goes by largely unnoticed when compared to other hotspots in the U.S, such as Atlanta or Los Angeles. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have an incredible amount of potential, something Al said is a bubble waiting to burst.

“We can brand ourselves,” he said. “We can build ourselves up to be this entity that other people want to seek out, but people are too busy trying to be stars. Once people get past that, we’ll be alright. Until then, it’s gonna stay mediocre.”

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When asked why he chose Jacksonville, Al said the city chose him. On one hand, it was because Al had a child here, but on the other, Al felt that the Bold City was his home, and where he belonged.

“It’s my city. I grew up here, so I have a lot of roots here and a lot of friends. I figured, ‘Why can’t I do this [music] here in my city rather than somewhere else.’”

Mr. Al Pete has let one expression be his guide since he began his journey as a musician, one he wears on his arm every day: “To the Top!” And if I haven’t convinced you to give this guy a listen yet, once you do, you’ll be left scratching your head and wondering why he isn’t already there.