An abrupt turn of events propelled 30-year-old Anthoney “A-Game” Ellis into theright place at the right time — and into the opportunity of a lifetime.
After Too Fresh for Y’all entertainment company expressed interest in meeting him, he hopped a flight to Los Angeles. While there, he met Claire Takamatsu, CEO of 20FT Bear Studios.
At age 20, he had been invited to perform at Dragonfly,a 21-and-up nightclub. As an under-aged performer, he had to wait outside until his performance. Once on, however, he owned the stage, so much so he was invited to hang out backstage. When the kudos subsided, he found himself without a ride.
As if by providence, Takamatsu, then a stranger, offered him a ride. As it happened, she was looking for an emcee to join her brother’s band. Ellis fit the bill.
“At the time my brother was in a band and they were looking for an emcee, someone who had a strong lyrical presence,” Takamatsu said. “It clicked right away, and he was hungry. I hadn’t seen a drive like that in someone that young before.”
Family problems back home cut short Ellis’ time in the City of Angels. But once home, he tapped into the local music scene.
“When I went back to St. Louis, I took all of the things that I learned in LA and applied them,” Ellis said. “I didn’t come back to St. Louis with a defeated attitude.”
Enter Rapper Louis “MC Tres” Erby, whose friendship began a decade ago. Both shared a love of basketball and music.
“He’s always been great, he’s always been somebody that I was inspired by, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having him around,” Erby said.
“We’ve been learning and growing with each other from the get-go and we’ve been sharing opportunities ever since.”
Ellis stayed in St. Louis from 2012 until 2018. When he decided to return to California, he was ready to test the waters of the bigger market.
A year after hitting LA, Ellis auditioned for the REVOLT Summit, AT&T’s “Be Heard” competition — a corporate sponsorship designed to inspire and empower the next generation of musicians. Ellis won the grand prize of $5,000.
“That night we got to perform in front of everybody,” Ellis said. “Andre Harrell; YBN Almighty Jay; Ray J, Sickamore; and Tuo Clark were on stage watching us perform,” Ellis said.
“It was epic, and the energy was amazing!”
While at the Summit, he met Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Guordan Banks, with whom he later forged a friendship that yielded a distribution partnership with indie company, AWAL.
“When I met him at the REVOLT concert, he was up against hundreds of artists and ended up winning the grand prize. You gotta come prepared to do something like that,” Banks said.
“I’m all about grassroots, independence, bootstrapping, just making it happen. The distribution was an organic thing.”
Months later after the Summit, the coronavirus hit the artists community hard. Nevertheless, Ellis was able to continue recording, experimenting with his sound, became a successful day trader and produced his own line of merchandise.
“I want people to understand I’m a dual-threat,” Ellis said. “I’m a jack of all trades. I feel like 2021 has the potential to be my breakout year.”
Takamatsu agreed.“I feel he’s on the brink of explosion,” she said. “You can’t work that hard and nothing comes from it. It's been really cool to see his perseverance. He just doesn’t stop, and I’m not surprised.”
Last month, Ellis released the video for his single “Belize,” off his highly-anticipated album “Global Warming,” projected due to drop next month.
Ellis, a 2008 graduate of Hazelwood West High School, won the 2012, Slum Fest Award as part of the Freshman Class. In 2016, he won the Best Hip-Hop Mixtape for the Slum Awards.
He is well on his way to becoming a household name in hip-hop.He has sinceopened for J. Cole, Ella Mai, Jhene Aiko, and Ty Dolla $ign *cq*. A-Game’s music can be found on all streaming platforms under AGAMESTL.
More about A-Game is available here: https://www.agamestl.com/.