Bloc Star Evolution, LLC's Founder and CEO, Anerae "X-Raided" Brown, was born in South Sacramento, California, at Methodist Hospital, on July 30, 1974. The son of Shirley Anne Brown and Charles Austin Martin, Anerae's early childhood was stable primarily due to the presence of his maternal grandmother, Maxine Lavern Love.
Largely due to the influence of his mother's love of books, puzzles and calligraphy, Anerae would come to possess a preternatural ability to read, comprehend, write and speak in such a way that he was able to skip several grades in school. He was regularly complimented for these abilities as well as his athleticism. Anerae's love of music was fostered by his mother's deep and diverse record collection, which he regularly spent hours devouring.
Tragedy struck when Maxine suffered and succumbed to a massive heart attack on December 17, 1986, leaving a significant void in the family dynamic that would create fractures in what had previously been a solid family core. While the adults grieved the loss of the family matriarch, a 12 year old Anerae became immersed in gang culture, linking with older cousins who were members of the notorious Garden Blocc Crips.
Between the ages of 13 - 15 years old, he moved from Sacramento, California, to Waco, Texas, to Huntsville, Alabama, to Prichard, Alabama, back to Waco, to Ft. Worth, Texas, back to Waco again. Having returned to South Sacramento in a state of anger and confusion, a fatherless Anerae leapt directly into the fire, becoming an active member of the 24th Street Garden Blocc Crips by the age of 16, assuming the moniker X-Raided.
X's way with words led to a chance encounter with a local music producer who invited him to his studio where the two would record songs that became hits in the streets of Northern California. Those songs would garner the attention of iconic horrorcore rapper and producer Brotha Lynch Hung. The two worked closely together, ultimately linking with Cedric Singleton, CEO of Black Market Records, who went on to sign X-Raided to a multi-album deal. The union of Cedric Singleton, Brotha Lynch Hung and X-Raided resulted in the production and release of the classic X-Raided album Psycho Active [Black Market Records 1992], which is cited as a main influence on works that followed from the likes of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and the late Tupac Shakur.
Having one foot in the music industry and the other firmly planted in the streets, a 17 year old X-Raided was the last of four Garden Blocc Crips who were arrested and charged with gang-related homicide in 1992 as a result of an ongoing, deadly dispute with rivals.
During a lengthy, controversial trial, X-Raided made Hip-hop history as the first rapper to have his lyrics used against him in court. Despite not having fired the shot that resulted in the death of the victim, X-Raided was convicted in 1996 after refusing to testify against his co-defendants. He was sentenced to 31 years to Life in California state prison.
X-Raided continually released popular records from behind bars. A random encounter with Mac Dre in a holding tank at the Sacramento County Jail left X with an education regarding the intricacies of recording quality vocals over the phone. X-Raided would eventually have to fight a Son of Sam lawsuit brought against him by the state of California in an effort to prevent him from profiting off of his music. The law would ultimately be struck down by the Supreme Court.
X-Raided became a central West Coast figure throughout the Nineties, making some of the most urgent and alarming underground gangsta rap the genre had ever produced (X-orcist [Black Market Records 1996]). His albums routinely landed on Billboard charts and he has been written about in publications such as Rolling Stone, The Source, HipHopDX, TMZ, XXL, The Sacramento Bee, The LA Times, Playboy and more. He had placements on C-Bo's Til My Casket Drops [AWOL Records 1998], fresh off of his star turning feature on 2Pac's 10 million copies selling album All Eyez On Me, including the incendiary Deadly Game, which was written entirely by X-Raided (resulting in C-Bo being arrested for its violent lyrics, igniting a battle over rap artists' First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech). X-Raided gained the support of Rap Coalition founder Wendy Day, who began educating him on the inner-workings of the music business in 1998, just prior to the release of his classic album The Unforgiven Vol 1. [Black Market Records 1999].
As a result of his infamy and considerable influence, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation validated and classified X-Raided as a High Notoriety/Public Interest Case in the early 2000s. The only other African-American prisoners known to have had such a classification were fellow Crip gang members Stanley "Tookie" Williams and Sanyika "Monster Kody" Shakur, the latter of whom became a crucial mentor to Brown, encouraging him to use his voice "to say something worthy of being heard."
As his style of rap evolved, X-Raided came to be revered for his deeply personal, advanced lyricism. Near the middle of his prison term, X embarked on a spiritual and educational journey. He used his influence to champion for inmate rights and established self-help groups that provided education for others who were preparing themselves for parole hearings and successful reentry into society. He would become a lead trainer in Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs' POOCH Program, training service animals for Wounded Warriors and children on the Autism spectrum.
In a turn of events that elucidates the truth of the saying, "good fortune is what happens when preparation meets opportunity," X benefited from the implementation of California Senate Bill 260, which was signed into law by former California Governor Jerry Brown on September 16, 2013. SB 260 established a “youth offender parole hearing” mechanism for young people serving time for crimes committed as a juvenile.
X went before the Board of Parole Hearings in May of 2018, at which time he was found suitable for parole. He was freed on September 14, 2018, after serving a total of 26 years, 5 months and 26 days of a Life sentence.
X recorded new music, filmed new videos (garnering over a million views for California Dreamin' [Bloc Star 2018]), went on tour and gave interviews that generated significant buzz on social media.
Between 2018 and 2019, X graduated from several reentry programs. Once out of transitional housing and off of house arrest, he seamlessly transitioned into an executive role. He founded and is CEO of Bloc Star Evolution, LLC, a record label with a roster full of talented rappers and singers.
"My belief is that it's a blessing just to be free," said Anerae. "Gratitude has allowed me to continue to be productive and keep whatever societal difficulties I may encounter in perspective. At the end of the day, my goal is to help people achieve their dreams by providing them with avenues and resources that weren't available to a younger me."
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I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Perception is reality.”
If you want to break it down, perception is defined as “a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.” Reality is defined as “the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.”
This is saying that you have a mental impression of something, and it defines how you see that something, regardless of the truth. It reminds me of another saying, “There are two sides to every story.” While this may be true, the perceived reality of each side of the story is believed to be the truth to the people telling it.
- Becca Searns