Here's what Alexander Charles - fka Azar from Ground Up - has been up to lately - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Alexander Charles | photo via

After spending the better part of a decade building a grassroots following across the country on the strength of free mixtapes produced at their Temple apartment, Philly hip-hop trio Ground Up ended their run as a collective earlier this year in a heartwarming and humble announcement on Facebook. But this set everybody in the crew in a good position for launching solo careers, and first up is Azar – going now by his first and middle names instead of his last.

Alexander Charles began dropping tracks on Soundcloud about a month ago, and it finds him in reflective, introspective mode over backings that range from haunting ambient soundscapes to muted trap tones and atmospheric funk-soul. Lyrically, it almost comes across like a memoir – Alexander Charles telling his story about finding hip-hop (“I started rapping riding shotgun in my homie’s Ford Explorer” on the dub-ish “Silly Me”) and developing his craft; “Move” finds him listening to online beats via a dial-up connection at his mom’s house (“now she needs the phone, so my time’s up”).

He’s got a solid crew of collaborators on board for the project, from his Ground Up bandmate Bij Lincs – who produced three of the tracks we’ve heard so far – to Mic Stew and Young Savage, who spit some guest verses. Listen to the cuts below (three of them are available for free download, if mp3s are still your thing) and keep tabs on Alexander Charles’ budding solo career on Soundcloud and on Facebook.

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