Houston Alexander is a Midwestern urban loyalist who stays true to his hip-hop roots while continually pushing himself. A 38-year old renaissance man of sorts, Alexander is a UFC star, graffiti artist, hip-hop DJ and loving father of seven. We caught up with him at a recent photo shoot in downtown Omaha, where Alexander’s suave and playful personality contrasted sharply with his tattooed, muscular exterior. He sported an Ndamukong Suh Blackshirt jersey that gave him a casually menacing look as I asked him about his childhood and history with fighting.“One of my fondest childhood memories was actually five guys in grade school trying to beat me up,” Alexander says with a faint smile. “I remember it was over a candy bar.”
Alexander kept his 3 Musketeers bar and fought them off in what would begin a lifetime of brawling and vindication. After moving up to Omaha from East St. Louis, a few guys in his new school decided they didn’t like his thick accent and once again, Alexander found himself fighting off adversity. He’s since shared some of that self-preservation with his kids, by donating a kidney when his oldest daughter needed a transplant about ten years ago. When Alexander found out he was a good match, he says it was an easy decision to decide to give her his. “Yeah, no hesitation.”
It can’t be easy being a single parent these days, but Alexander says he gets help with raising his four girls and three boys from other family members. His first hip-hop experience came when Alexander himself was a kid, riding in the backseat listening to “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow on the radio. “That was probably the first rap song I ever heard, ever. And it’s still stuck to me to this day.”
From there Alexander dove headfirst into the hip-hop community as a whole, not just soaking in its tunes, but also delving into the graffiti and breakdancing aspects of the scene as well. A friend of his got him interested in painting and experimenting with all styles of art as part of the Scribble Crew as a teenager. From talking with Alexander, I get the vibe that he has a huge respect for the culture he was raised in. I then asked him if hip-hop saved his life.
“Has hip-hop saved me? Yeah, probably,” he replies thoughtfully. “Hip-hop is just me, period. It’s a part of you that never leaves if you’re true to the culture. If I wasn’t involved in breakdancing, or graffiti art, or rapping or any of that stuff, maybe I would have been involved in something like drugs you know?”
A friend of Alexander’s from the B-boy crew first encouraged him to get into professional MMA-style fighting about ten years ago. It went down at Club Amnesia in Omaha, and pitted Alexander against the reigning bar champion.“The guy was like six-three and two-something, and you know, of course I’m this brawler-type guy, I’ve wrestled and boxed a little bit. So I got in there and actually did pretty good and won the fight,” Alexander recounted. “Then the promoter took notice and I’ve trained ever since.”He laughs, “Plus the money was good.”From there Alexander has sparred in over 200 fights since, some sanctioned, some not. His UFC debut in 2007 featured the light heavyweight in the octagon beating up the favorite Keith Jardine in Las Vegas. His current fighting style is listed as a mix of wrestling and Muay Thai. He’s built up a professional record of 11-6, not bad for a guy pushing forty. I ask him if he’s got any nicknames while he’s in the ring and he stops me there.“Look, let’s clear that up too, if you’re a fighter or any type of pro athlete, you don’t give yourself your name. Usually the name is given.” After quickly slaying his way through his first several fights, announcers began calling him The Assassin. It’s a moniker that’s stuck, an alter ego that Alexander has earned and paid for with his own blood and sweat.
But smashing a guy’s face in isn’t everything to Alexander. After the octagon lights dim and the cuts scab over, ultimately he’s most proud of seeing the accomplishments that his kids have made.
“I’m real simple,” Alexander says, “So when I see my 11-year old son ballroom dancing at a concert for the first time, I love that. When I see my son snatch the winning touchdown in the championship game, you know that means more to me than anything I’ve accomplished.”
Alexander also is the creator of the Culture Shock School Tour, which teaches kids about the history of the hip-hop culture. It features breakdancers, rappers, beat-boxers, DJ’s and graffiti artists talking to kids about the elements of hip-hop and its founding fathers. “A lot of kids have learned from the times we’ve been in schools, and I’ve watched a lot of kids grow up too. Makes me feel old,” Alexander wistfully admits.He keeps up a busy lifestyle when not firing up the ring or hanging with his kids, as Alexander moonlights some as a DJ on Power 106.9. He hosts “Sunday Night Raw” from 7-10pm, and he enjoys playing a good mix of music from around the world. Known to jam anything from hip-hop to Journey, Alexander seems most excited about local artists learning how to network themselves to enhance the community and connect to others.
“It’s cool that everybody’s coming together to have one goal. In order to make anything happen music-wise or art-wise, you have to congregate; you have to talk to bring yourselves together.”I asked him what we could expect next from him.“I’m trying to expand myself a little bit more as a person. You don’t want to keep yourself inside of a box.” It makes Alexander feel good to see people progress into better people, and to graduate up out of bad situations and problems.“I’m just trying to be a better person, it sounds cliché, but you want to be a better person for the next person, then the next person, and the next person.”If being a better role model is his thing, I’d say Houston Alexander already has a good start.
MidStarz Magazine interview with Houston Alexander “The Assassin” (below)
Houston Alexander explains how MidStarz Magazine is gonna be the light for us all to shine! Midwest urban music, entertainment, car culture, modeling, business and lifestyles.
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Power 106.9 crashed by MidStarz Magazine (below)