It's a Rap -- Cal Receiver Alex Lagemann Looks to Take His Music Coast to Coast
Alex Lagemann can't quite come up with the right words to describe the difference between running out of the tunnel at Memorial Stadium on game day and standing on the stage with a microphone in his hand, rapping in front of a few hundred party-primed college students
"It's like two circles, you know, two different things and maybe they intersect a little bit, like a Venn Diagram," Lagemann said.
Leave it to a Cal guy to get all geometric.
But it's not quite the same, the Cal wide receiver said. It's tough to compare the adrenaline and urgency of taking the field to the energy and pure "fun" of performing.
"I've got to say, there's nothing, nothing like being out on the field in front of 70,000 people," Lagemann said. "You're not going to get that as a rapper, unless you're Jay-Z."
Lagemann, a senior, started football season this weekend with the Bears opening fall training camp on Saturday, which may mean a little less time for his burgeoning career as a rap artist. Lagemann caught 12 passes for 150 yards last season. They were the first catches of his career.
It might say Lagemann on the back of his jersey, but "Loggy" is the guy whose homemade mix tape turned into a college campus staple, which turned into a tour, which turned into more music, a newly released video and perhaps a future in the music business.
"Loggy" is rapping about college life. Some of it is his life, some of it is taken from his friends' lives or the things he sees at parties and on campus. Very, very little of it has to do with football. He's working hard to keep those two things separate. It's not the experience most of his fans can relate to.
"To me, I'm putting my life into words," Lagemann said. "Football is a part of my life, but only a few of my lyrics have had anything to do with football and I'm going to keep it that way."
Lagemann said his interest in rap started as a creative outlet, a break from homework and football. He'd heard things on the radio and on the internet and he thought he could do them better. He started writing rap lyrics.
His friend, fellow receiver Ian Albrecht, talked him into taking the next step. They were killing time in between Holiday Bowl practices in 2009 when they started recording his songs.
"We borrowed a microphone that my mom used at work," Lagemann said.
And "Loggy" was born.
They uploaded the mix tape on the internet, put up a Facebook page and then started telling friends, who told their friends. Three weeks later, Albrecht heard from a friend at the University of Miami, who said they were playing "Loggy" at a party.
"I thought, if it's already on the east coast that quick, we've got something good on our hands," Albrecht said.
Lagemann went home to Saratoga -- about 15 miles south of San Jose -- to tell his parents about what he was doing, and then he had to go tell coach Jeff Tedford. He was apprehensive about both conversations.
"I didn't want my parents to think that I was a bad kid, or that I do all the things I'm rapping about," Lagemann said.
And he assured his coach that he would take great pains not to do anything that would reflect poorly on the football program.
Tedford said he was on board almost immediately.
"He wanted to make sure that I knew his focus was in the right place," Tedford said. "Anytime someone has that type of talent and can be diverse that way, I think it's great. He's a really smart guy. If it was somebody who had a 2.0 grade-point average, I think I would be concerned. But No. 1 is academics and then athletics and then anything other than that, they are welcome to do."
Tedford's sons have Loggy's music in their iPods.
"I've heard it. I like it," Tedford said. "The songs I've heard, they're clean. I thought it was something he was dabbling in, but a lot of people are really liking it. More power to him."
Lagemann enlisted another teammate, defensive lineman Mike Costanzo, who has done side work as a DJ. Costanzo listened to Lagemann's first mix.
"A lot of people release stuff for fun and I didn't give it a close look," Costanzo said.
When Lagemann talked about doing a live show, Costanzo still wasn't sure. Wasn't sure Lagemann was ready. Wasn't sure he wanted to do it.
"We set up a show at one of the local frats and we packed the house and it went really well," Costanzo said.
Lagemann said he rapped while standing on two benches nailed together in the middle of the room. And the room went crazy.
"He absolutely killed it," Albrecht said. "There were a bunch of our teammates and other athletes there and nobody thought he had it in him."
Frat parties and an enthusiastic internet response turned into Loggy's Spring Break Tour that included stops at UC Santa Barbara, Pomona College, USC, Loyola Marymount and UC Davis.
The coaches have heard Loggy. Sometimes Lagemann's music plays in the locker room and during workouts in the weight room.
His teammates give him credit for putting himself out there.
"I watched one of his first performances, there was no nerves in him at all," said linebacker Mike Mohamed. "He went up there like he's been doing it for years. He just has that flair."
Tailback Shane Vereen said he's heard Lagemann's mix tape so many times, "It's hard to keep bobbing your head."
"But I Iike it," Vereen said. "I just think it's a different perspective for us as teammates, because we know him so well. It's different. But I think it's great. There's no way I could ever get up the stage like that. I respect the courage."
Lagemann, Costanzo and Albrecht are living together now, working on new music. The trio will be "locked down with football for a while," to use Costanzo's words, but there's a music video now and talk of an album and eyes on what happens next.
Lucy Lagemann, Alex's mom, is also keeping her eyes on what happens next. What does she think about her son becoming a rap star on the college scene?
A long pause.
"I think this is good, whether or not it's really turning into something," Lucy Lagemann said. "It's giving Alex a creative outlet he really needs for himself. He's a kid that's always done stuff. He was the kid in high school who, when they did the group projects, would do the whole thing.
"He would just take the bull by the horns and do it."
The first thing Lagemann did was tell his mom that he wasn't doing all the things he was rapping about.
But she's still a mom. She's a little sheepish when her friends say they have heard his music. And when she looked on his Facebook page and saw pictures of her son with his mouth open and his tongue out, she called him.
"I said 'Can't you please take a picture with a smile on your face?'" Lucy Lagemann said. "He's a nice kid. He calls me often, he comes home all the time. I've seen people write things about him on sites, that he's no different from these other guys who rap about drugs and alcohol. But I tell him, 'That's not who you are.'"
Lucy Lagemann said she and her husband have made it clear they expect Alex to keep his priorities straight. School and football come first.
"We've given him a very consistent message about what comes first, but beyond that, we are 100 percent supportive," Lucy Lagemann said.
Lagemann, Albrecht and Costanzo said they see a future for them in the music business. Lagemann will graduate with his degree in media studies.
"There is such a deep pool of people trying to get their name out there, and to be well-known is pretty hard," Costanzo said. "A lot of work has to go into it and we are finding that out. It's not as easy as it might seem, but we love it.
"It's me and Loggy's passion. It's been a good thing to have something to put our creativeness into, to get our minds off football sometimes."
Lagemann said he's ready to follow his passion into his post-college life.
"I love music and if I'm not going to take a chance now, when am I going to do it?" Lagemann said. "In my mind, this is a viable business."