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Chase Allen: The Brand Manager.

March 7, 2014

ChaseAllen01onlineText by Aneesah Coley. Images by Jessica Flynn.

It’s around 9 p.m. on a Friday night and sound check commences inside The Fire on Girard Avenue. Allen Hamilton III, better known as Chase Allen, is the headliner for tonight’s show. But sitting by the curb at a table outside, he appears relaxed.

“I’m just a performer tonight, just like anybody else,” explains the 24-year-old hip-hop artist/songwriter.

His demeanor is completely composed.

A native of West Philadelphia, Allen played football during the majority of his youth. Positioned as a linebacker, he was skilled and quick on the field – hence, his stage name.

After Pop Warner practices, he’d spend time watching his two older brothers – one who made beats and another who both rapped and made beats – as they created music in their bedroom closet, which was their makeshift recording studio.

“I just sat there for like three hours and just watched,” Allen remembers.

Football, however, remained his primary passion. He was set to play for West Virginia University after graduating from Overbrook High School in 2007 but a motorcycle accident just two weeks after graduation altered his future. He shattered his ankle. The linebacker in him had to take the bench. The artist stepped on to the field.

“I was in the bed for a month and a half with my leg up just writing raps in my Blackberry,” he recalls. “I wrote so many raps.”

He dropped his first mixtape in 2010.

ChaseAllenSmall02jflynnFrom his very first mixtape, Follow Da Leader, to D.A.R.K. (Define a Real King), his fifth and latest project (which just dropped on iTunes), he presents honesty, a slice of his life.

“I don’t rap about fake things and stuff that I don’t live,” he declares.

Music has afforded Allen great opportunities, such as opening up for J. Cole and Diplo at the University of Pennsylvania’s Irvine Auditorium in 2011 and performing at the 2013 A3C Festival in Atlanta. While his career in music is his main priority, Allen also plans to grow his brand, Bank Account Mafia, otherwise known as BAM, into a full-fledged lifestyle and business enterprise.

Looking down at the black BAM T-shirt that he is wearing, Allen explains the meaning of the  three tuxedo clad men with a mafia-inspired style and moneybags for heads on the front. Getting money is not the sole objective. BAM is also about having a fearless ambition.

“That’s cliché to say that it’s a lifestyle but it really is about self-worth and improving your self-worth no matter what you do,” he says. “Whether you are an individual going to school, getting your master’s degree or whether you’re following your dreams trying to become the next entrepreneur, it’s really just improving yourself.”

For Allen, pursuing music goes beyond the desire of fortune and fame. Hip-hop is more of a pursuit of freedom.

“It’s like a room where you can do whatever you want,” he says. “That’s what I think hip-hop is.”

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