On Guard: A Meazy Just Released His Best Album Yet, Protect Your Energy

A Meazy, aka Alex Jiles, wants to show you how to Protect Your Energy.
A Meazy, aka Alex Jiles, wants to show you how to Protect Your Energy. John LJ Fresh
Fans of Denver rapper A Meazy assume the "A" in his moniker comes from his real name, Alex Jiles. But the truth is far more humorous and dates back to the east Denver native's middle school years, before he adopted his slick-shaved head.

"It's a stupid-ass story. It's dumb as hell," Jiles says, chuckling. "When I was a kid in middle school, I had made a rap group called Xclusive. At the time, I had an Afro, so I wanted to name myself Afro Man, but there was already an Afroman, so I changed it to Afro Meazy. Once my hair got long enough, I put it in braids, and then it didn't make any sense, so I dropped the 'fro' and became A Meazy, and it just stuck with me for the rest of my life."

By the time Jiles became A Meazy, he'd already been rapping as a hobby for several years.

"Growing up, there's a couple of different influences I had. One was Darius Campbell, rest in peace. They called him Gimp," Jiles says. "He was a person I met when I first moved to my neighborhood, and he was rapping. I was a kid. He was a kid, too, but I was way younger than him. Before he passed away, he told me to take my music seriously. He told me, 'I see you got something good going. Don't get into the gangbanging; just stay on your course, because you don't want to be like me.'"

That same year, Campbell was killed.

"It was an eye-opening experience, to say the least," says Jiles. "He's tatted on my body. It's one of those things that was kind of the first inspiration of why I wanted to do it."

But Jiles also has big-name influences.

"I would say Tupac was my first influence, because my mama played him all the time. I think that's where I got my West Coast flavor from — and Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube," he recalls. "Dom Kennedy was a big, big, big influence on how I started rapping. You can kind of tell like how I flow. I have a slower flow, in a sense, and Dom Kennedy was like that. He has very clever bars. I drew inspiration from him. In high school, Lil Wayne was my favorite rapper, for sure. And Papoose. Those are the three main people I can say for sure changed how I was rapping at the time, and ever since then, I just developed my own sound."

Around three years ago, Jiles hit a wall and took a break from performing and making music. "I had dropped my last album, Meazy Shuttlesworth, in 2018, and even though I had a bunch of shit going on — like, my biggest shows were in 2018; I sold out the Bluebird in 2018 — I wasn't really creating music at that point, because I was going through my own self-inflicted problems," he explains. "Going through legal issues, being on probation, and just not taking my career serious. I was fucking up a lot, and so because of that, I was in a bad place mentally, so I wasn't really in the mood to make anything. I couldn't think the same when it came to music and being creative. Something was off, and I didn't know what. I had to lock myself into a studio every day and figure it out."

Luckily, he got a job at Get Busy Living Studios, which offers Denver artists the space and equipment to create music and shoot photos and videos. In exchange for bringing in new artists, Jiles was given unlimited studio time, which he used to work through his artistic funk. He soon realized he couldn't improve himself as an artist without first improving himself as a person.

"Basically, I was going through a phase in my life where I started to realize either the people around me or the things I allow to be in my life — whether it was a job I was working or relationships — it was just fucking with my energy. I didn't really know what 'energy' was for a while," he says. "And then it was just almost like a switch flipped, and I started to realize that I was allowing these things to bring me down.

"At some point, I think it was 2019, I decided to create a project called Protect Your Energy, because it was just kind of the phase of my life that I was going through," he continues. "I had to figure something out, because it was like I was stuck on this hamster wheel, like most people are. These are things that I started to realize over time, and it's really been in the last two or three years — which is why I feel like it's important for me to create an album called Protect Your Energy, because I really live it every day."

Two years after he first conceptualized the album, Protect Your Energy is finally here. Jiles may have battled with insecurity and doubt, but there's no question that he's come back better for it.

On Protect Your Energy, he wields a newly solidified sense of self and candidly shares the wisdom that led him to this point. The narrative arc of the album models his journey of the past few years. His smooth, measured flow and the clarity of his voice allow the listener to savor each thoughtful and clever lyric. From the laid-back, dreamy "Ziplock Bag" to the saucy and fun "Zodiac" with Rachel Bailey and Sydnie Battie, Jiles has crafted the perfect album to take you from sunny summer days to breezy fall evenings.

"I want people to hear how much better I've gotten, because I think it shows so much," he says. "There's people that I grew up with that have heard my music since the day I started making music, and when they hear my music now, they tell me I just sound different. I sound like I'm ready," he says. "I'm not the same Meazy that you heard on The Real Ned Flanders and The Real Ned Flanders 2, even though those are great albums — but I'm just different now. I'm a lot more seasoned, I can control my voice better, I can control my breath better, I know how to make my voice sound on beat better. There's a science to this shit, and you'll never understand it until you go through it. And I've been doing it for so long that I get it now."

After a long hiatus from performing live, Jiles is happy to be back on stage. "I just had a show with Old Man Saxon at the Marquis Theater, and it was dope because it was all his fans. I had a couple people in there that came through to support me like they always do, but I wanted to perform in front of his fans because I missed that feeling, and now they're my fans. They followed me, some of them hit me up, some of them told me the song I performed did this or that to them, and that's what makes me feel good. That's what I missed about performing."

But now that he's come into his own, he's more intentional about what kind of shows he'll book.

"I took a break from performing because I was tired of being booked to multiple shows that just didn't matter. I feel like, honestly, I've hit the ceiling in Denver, Colorado. I've done everything that you can do as an artist in Denver besides like, performing at Summer Jam or something like that. I've sold out my own shows. I have the people behind me. I've been on the radio. I've had dozens of fucking singles that have done numbers. There's nothing I necessarily need to do in Denver anymore, so I don't like being booked for every show that happens. I say no a lot."

And what will Jiles manifest next? For one thing, he wants to be to other artists what Darius Campbell was to him.

"I'm constantly giving back, and I want to continue to do that to the younger artists and keep trying to give them as much game and opportunity as I possibly can — the shit that I never got, the things that nobody ever tried to give me, or help me with, that I had to just figure out. I want to be that person."

Protect Your Energy is available for streaming and download on all music platforms now.
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Cleo Mirza recently graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in English and anthropology. She enjoys good food, cheap wine and the company of her dog, Rudy.
Contact: Cleo Mirza