If you walked into Touch & Agree Barber Shop on Columbus’ South Side you would most likely think of it as a place to simply get a trim. Delve beyond the friendly customer service and neighborhood feel that protrudes from the inside and you also might find it’s a creative space for one of the city’s most promising up-and-coming hip-hop artists.
Jalen Ramsaw visits the shop run by his father and uncle, walking in with a backpack containing a laptop and mini-versions of larger stereo equipment (the tiniest keyboard and sampler you’ll ever see). Known simply as Jalen inside T&A’s walls, Columbus’ music community calls him Alexander Dreamer, and rather than exclusively consult music heads and friends, it’s at the barbershop where some of the rapper’s best criticism comes.
“This is where I come to get clearance because this is an older generation,” Ramsaw said, looking at his dad. “They give me motivation, positive/negative feedback. It’s where I come to get my haircut and see my Pops.”
This personal history reverberates in his music. His recently released album Dancing With The Devil is teeming with tales of Dreamer’s life as a musician and an ordinary person.
“There are so many days I wake up and I live a regular life and I just remind myself that that’s not what I want so the only realization I have of myself is that I’m not where I want or where I need to be,” Dreamer said when describing his music. “Dancing with the Devil is just the life of a young man out of high school just trying to find out what his move is in life.”
Fresh off his second appearance on MTV Rapfix, Alexander Dreamer has been getting love from numerous national publications aside from the live online television show. He said the MTV experience was humbling and one that provided the 20-year-old musician perspective.
“It was a great opportunity,” Dreamer said. “I got time to speak with people who are actually working in the industry. Aside from motivation, it gave me a little realization that this industry, this thing is actually obtainable so it was a big confidence booster.“If I work hard and take the necessary steps, this is something I can actually do, and I realized that it’s something all on me.”