Surely you’ve seen the flyers—as far south as Renton and as far north as Shoreline. Eight and a half by 11 inches. Plain white paper. Sometimes a serif font, sometimes Arial Rounded. Up top, a small picture of a young, smiling man. He says his name is Alexander Hubbard, but his stage name is Fantasy A.
I know I’m not the only one who saw these flyers and wondered: Who is this Fantasy A?
According to the (many) words below his picture, he’s a “22-year-old hip-hop artist, self-published author, songwriter, and beat maker.” An advertisement promoting his second full-length release (of three) explains, “It’s about the things I do for fun and other things I was dealing with in life. It’s available on iTunes.” He also records holiday songs. Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day. March’s handbill bragged that “Fantasy Has Gone Irish-Green,” for Saint Patrick’s Day. “It’s about how I really love to wear green and think about gold.”
Each poster concludes with his motto: “Be inspired, be yourself, and be respectful!” The questions multiplied. I asked some friends whether they thought he was for real. Chuckling, they praised his determination, his energy, and his heart. “He really wants people to treat each other nicely,” one said.
Following the links on his flyers leads to the obvious conclusion that Fantasy A is not your average hustler—nor does he appear to be a secret genius outsider artist. His (many, many) YouTube clips spill over with hype, but it’s often hard to understand what Hubbard is saying in them. They feature him outdoors at recognizable locations, like Kerry Park or the Fremont Troll, where his fast, passionate patter is drowned out by street noise or a harsh wind blowing across the camera’s microphone. In other clips, an overdubbed backing track is mixed so high as to overwhelm his narration.
And then there’s the music, where my friends’ praise for Hubbard’s promotional efforts rightfully hit the wall. In terms of both production and artistry, the songs sound exactly like the flyers would lead you to expect them to. Hubbard is very up-front about his “autism which [is] called Asperger's syndrome,” and there’s no denying that the knowledge of the condition both clarifies and complicates the experience of hearing his music.
Through all this, I remained fascinated by the man on the flyers. So I invited him to coffee. He accepted, with the caveat that he could only meet midafternoon. (“I have to be home early before dark,” he explained via e-mail, “because my mom will be worried the bus will stop running after 9 pm.”) We met at Caffe Vita for what wound up being a short conversation, about 20 minutes. Hubbard’s physical presence is big and extremely bright, with high-beam eye contact. Words spilled out of his mouth quickly, often too quickly for me to keep up with what he was saying—sentences would blast off, then meander. We didn’t communicate terribly well with each other, but he seemed eager to be listened to. Like everyone.
He told me about his first taste of creating hiphop in 2010, rapping as part of a student project at the Center School at Seattle Center, where he and some other students made a CD. That was where he came up with the Fantasy A moniker. “I just made it up myself,” he explained. “It reminds me of magic.”
In October of 2013, he started making his own recordings as both expression and therapy. “When I had a bad day, I would write some things down in my journal. And based on that, I’d make it into a song, you know?”
Hubbard has written three books: an autobiography and two sci-fi/fantasy novels. His latest novel is set in a postapocalyptic Seattle where the male population has been wiped out except for his three friends. That one is called Life in the World of Gabe Fabens and Sage the Scholar. He works as a concession-stand cashier at CenturyLink and Safeco Fields during games, and as an AV assistant at Microsoft.
As for criticism, he is unfazed. “If they think my music is terrible,” he said of potential listeners who don’t find his work sophisticated enough, “it’s best that I’ll ignore them, as they’re not into my stuff. What keeps me going is supporting my family and friends—writing more novels and music.”