Lee’s Summit, MO – There are stories that move you in life. Stories that are meant to be shared. They may or may not have a bearing on your life, but they have a profound meaning for someone out there. The story of Anerae Veshaughn Brown is one such story. Caught up in the height of the 90’s gang life in Sacramento, California, Anerae was just 17 when things took a turn for the worse. In 1994, four young men were arrested for a gang related death. The state of California put these young men on trial. This trial may have been happening to Anerae Brown, but the state was more interested in putting X-Raided on trial. His music, and the lyrics within his music, were the nails the state used to seal his fate. With a 31-life sentence, nobody ever expected to see this young man again.
26 years, 5 months, and 26 days into his sentence, Anerae walked out of that prison. With the changing of laws, like the changing of the tide, along with hard work and determination on Andrea’s part, he was able to breathe fresh air once again. His time behind those walls wasn’t wasted. He began to change his outlook on life at a young age and started planning for the day he would come home.
Going from an 8×10 cell, to performing all across the country, we wanted to sit down with Anerae and see how he felt now that he had been out for a while. What his life looks like, his hopes and dreams, and his ambitions in this newly formed life.
Digital Beat Magazine: You have a lot of influence. Not just in California and Sacramento music scene, I’m talking nationwide and potentially worldwide. That being said, what are you doing to influence the people that listen to your music now? What kind of a message are you giving?
X-Raided: I’m delivering a message of hope and determination. I want to inspire and motivate others to pursue their own greatness. I want people to realize that the odds aren’t always what they seem. Having a Life sentence and actually getting out of prison wasn’t something I could have done on my own. There was an energy greater than me at work.Too many things happened… from people voting to change laws to Supreme Court rulings and Senate Bill 260 being written. So with a humble perspective about that, instead of saying, “I got through that experience because I’m a gangsta…” I say, “too many things happened for it to just be coincidental.” They say good fortune is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity. That’s how I got through that experience. With that in mind, I want to encourage people. I want others to be aware that whatever they’re going through in life, they can persevere. Be ready for something good to happen and go hard once it does.
DBM: You went to prison at the age of 17. You were just a kid. Up to that point, you were actively gang bangin and not giving a damn. Your mentality has changed a lot from when you were incarcerated to the day you were released. When did you come to the realization that you needed to change your outlook on life? When did something click in your mind that made you come to that realization?
X-Raided: The realization came in stages. The start of my trial was a big turning point for me. It was when I really felt the weight of what was happening; and it wasn’t happening to “X-Raided,” it was happening to me as a human being that my mother named Anerae Brown. I walked into court and it was “Sacramento v. Anerae Brown.” You know what I mean? That woke me up a little bit to where I started looking at things in a different light. That can be heard in the music I made while I was incarcerated. It documents the gradual maturation of my psychology. My lyrics were the first place that I really observed that this realization was happening. There was a period between 22 and 25 years old when I started really challenging my culture and the concept of what I was “supposed” to do. Prior to that, I had been exhausting myself trying to be “X-Raided.” I have a song on my new album,
called “Return of the Living Dead.” The second verse starts off with me saying, “I lost myself / I had to fight so hard to be X-Raided Loc, I began to exhaust myself/ So I went without, then I went within and I sought myself / Then I went and wrote Autodidactic / Because I taught myself.” That’s the kind of thing I want to say to people now. I was so tired of “trying” to be X-Raided. I would have people tell me, “Oh, X-Raided wouldn’t do that” and I’d be like, “But I just did it.” Like, “I’m me and I just did that.” So, who’s right? I started understanding that I had no desire to fight so hard to live up to that image. X-Raided wasn’t being defined by me anymore. I was aware of the need to change my life prior to having the courage to apply it. That took a few years in and of itself. I had to come to the conclusion that it was not a sustainable way for me to live my life. While in prison, I watched people literally go crazy trying to live up to a persona. I wasn’t willing to do that.
DBM: When you found out that you were actually going to get the chance to be paroled, what changed in you?
X-Raided: Purpose. I had an examination with a forensic psychologist in 2012 who told me that – in his opinion – I had completely changed my life but hadn’t cared who knew about it. I did it for myself and my family. We already owned property and a business. I hadn’t had any of that information placed in my file through my counselor. They knew about it because of what was coming through the mail and through investigations. The psychologist explained that they were trying to let me go home if I was willing to do the work – and he defined what that work consisted of. Things like attendance and participation in self-help groups, 12 Step programs, in addition to strengthening my education. That knowledge gave me a sense of purpose. I felt like, okay, there’s a way that you must go about preparing for a parole hearing. I reached out to Charles Carbone, who is not only a prisoners rights attorney, he’s an educator. He started teaching me what to do to prepare for my hearing. I got certifications and everything you could think of, almost all of which came because of my relationship with Carbone. I had a purpose and it was largely based on education and psychology. I had to accumulate the information, then I had to learn how to apply it. When I went to my first hearing in 2016, the Commissioner essentially said that everyone should prepare themselves for the inevitable fact that if I continued on the path I was on, I was going to get out of prison. Although I was denied parole for 18 months, I walked out of that room knowing I was going home. At that point, I became aware of the process of progressing from hopeless to hopeful; then to having faith; then to thinking I would go home; then going from believing it to knowing it… this process exists in everyday life too but no one’s telling us.
DBM: When Tech N9ne announced early in the year that you were going to be on the ASIN9NE tour with him, your fans went into a frenzy. They were so excited to have a chance to see the one and only, X-Raided. You just wrapped up a 55 show tour, what’s on everyones mind is, how did your relationship with Tech N9ne start?
X-Raided: King Iso and I have been close for years and he had been advocating to bring us together for a while. I originally came to Kansas City to do a show with Lynch on Friday, June 11, 2021. My phone started blowing up. People kept telling me, “Tech wants to talk to you.” I’m like, “Alright. Tell him to call me,” you know what I mean? Then the calls came from, like, Trizz. We’ve always been solid. I trust him. He’s like, “Yo, where are you going to eat?” I told him the spot I was going around the corner from my hotel downtown. He’s like, “I’ll be there in 15 minutes. Tech will be there in 30.” I was like, bet. So we went and we were all sitting there with Trizz. Not long after, Tech walks in with his cousin, Lawson. Just the two of them. Tech’s got a mask on but he’s got a bright light in him. Everybody turned around and I was like holy shit. He walked up and gave me a hug and was like, “Man, I’ve been waiting. It’s been a long time coming.” I remember when “Outdone” came out there was speculation that the song was about Lynch. I expressed my position on it, like, “Let the two of them handle their own issue.” Tech appreciated that. He told me, you know, “We’ll see each other. It’s a matter of time.” So, that day when he walked in, he was like, “I told you I would see you. How you doing?” We chopped it up and broke bread. I Facetimed Lynch and let them talk. I let Tech hear a few unreleased songs I did with Lynch. Tech went to the bathroom. When he came back, he handed me his phone and said, “My partner wants to talk to you.” He walked off. Travis was on the phone. He’s like, “Man, I’m looking forward to seeing you. Are you available Monday?” Boom: I had a meeting scheduled with Travis. All within hours of arriving in KC. The next day – Saturday – Tech took us to Jack Stacks and I got Lynch to pull up. There were maybe 14 of us there that day. Lynch and Tech had a chance to talk and show some love. I was hella proud of that. It was an honor to spend time with Tech and his family. What’s crazy is that the day we did our show in Kansas City for the ASIN9NE Tour on the 11th is literally a year to the day that I met Tech N9ne in person. And today is a year to the day (June 15th) that I ended up sitting in Travis’s office for the first time. He spent hours and hours with me that day and he’s a busy dude. I really appreciated that. A lot has happened since then. Tech and Travis did 100% of everything they told me they were going to do. It all started with conversations with Iso, then being with Lynch in KC, then a phone call from Trizz, a meal with Tech N9ne, and a conversation with Travis that led to a meeting. Next thing you know, throughout the year where I wasn’t saying anything, I’ve been with Strange Music most of that time but no one officially knew.
DBM: You were called back out on stage at Red Rocks, one of the most iconic venues in the world, to receive your medallion and to be formally acknowledged as the newest member of Strange Music. How did you feel in that moment?
X-Raided: Gratitude and vindication. And I say vindication, not to be confused with vengeance. You can feel vindicated without feeling hatred toward anybody, you know? The Beatles performed there. Are you serious? That by itself, if we just stopped at, “I did Red Rocks.” For a guy that had 31 to life who was never getting out of prison to have performed at Red Rocks, that’s insane! 30 years later and you perform at Red Rocks? What?! I tell people that I’ve already seen a Red Sea part. Like, I’ve seen a miracle already. I had a life sentence. I was never coming home. I went from hopeless to knowing. I walked out of that place and I’ve been living in a state of surreality ever since. Everything has been like an out of body experience for me. I have a sense of time dysmorphia too. I went to prison and it’s like I went to sleep and had a dream. I woke up and I’m going home, but It’s 26 years later. That 26 years, 5 months, and 26 days felt like 5 minutes yet I can see how much time has really passed when I look at other people. So, it is crazy when Tech walks in the restaurant. Like, of course Tech N9ne just walked in the restaurant. Have you seen all this crazy shit that keeps happening to me? Like, of course I’m riding around with Travis like that’s just a normal thing to do. Of course I’m standing there at Red Rocks getting a chain. It’s been nuts. I’ve had a great experience with Strange Music thus far. It’s been amazing. I felt so much love at Red Rocks.
DBM: Everyone knows you are working on new music. You’ve said as much. What does the next year look like for you?
X-Raided: A Year?! I’ve got a lot. My album is technically done. I call it “A Prayer in Hell.” You know when they say you don’t have a chance in hell? Like, “This will never happen. X-Raided gets out of prison? X-Raided signs to Strange Music? X-Raided rockin Red Rocks? He doesn’t have a prayer in hell.” It also has a double meaning: I said a prayer in hell. I think of it like, what if it were already so bad, but you have so much faith that you were in hell and prayed anyway? You know what I mean? That’s kind of what it felt like when I was in prison. To have Life and that’s the end of it yet to have fasted and prayed anyway. In my opinion, one of the ultimate exhibitions of my personal faith. To have the outcomes I’ve had on top of that is spooky. So, I said a prayer in hell while people were saying I didn’t have a
prayer in hell. I have a few songs left to finish on my album and it will be done. But I learned things on the tour that I wanted to put in the music. I turned the album in, but I said, “I’m not done.” I’ve been talking to Tech and sitting in there with Ben just going over the point I’m trying to make and the things I feel like I want to add to what I have to solidify my desired concept. I don’t want my album to just be a bunch of raps. I want it to be a cohesive work that tells a story while also having stand-alone singles that will work at shows without taking away from my overall subject. It’s good to be able to discuss that with Tech. He said, “Anything you can think of, we can do it. Be as creative as you want.” I took that to heart. I want people to see my videos and say, “What the fuck was that?” And I want my album to sound like a Strange album so this one is a bit of a throwback. Travis wants to reintroduce me to people, both old and new. To introduce and reintroduce me simultaneously. I am both a veteran artist and a new artist at the same time. We will start unleashing the content soon. I’m definitely excited about it.
DBM: What is your message to those sitting behind bars, people out here struggling, about what you went through and how they can succeed if they put their mind to it?
X-Raided: My hope is that I can make people aware, no matter where they are, that they are powerful. I don’t care where they are. Prison is important to me as a formerly incarcerated person but it is not the end all and be all of my existence. Someone asked me if I thought I would be the way I am if I hadn’t gone to prison. Yes! It wasn’t prison, it was adversity and perseverance that gave me the opportunity to contemplate and conclude the things that I determined. I would like for people to be aware that they are the single most special discovery in the universe. That each individual one of them has the capacity to succeed. Every individual is capable of anything they put their mind to that’s meant for them. It must be meant for them. So, discover your purpose. When you find your purpose, you are more than likely going to be able to magnify your skills and outcomes to the max with effort, repetition and experience. I didn’t know what I was really capable of for most of my life and it cost me a significant amount of time and energy. I don’t want anyone else to experience that just because they’re unaware of their capabilities as a human being. I would really like for people to be aware of their own power.Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter