As one of the most well known hip-hop radio hosts in the nation, Kurt “Big Boy” Alexander is now making his voice heard through a different media outlet. Best known for his Power 106 radio show — Big Boy’s Neighborhood — based out of Los Angeles, CA, the Midwest-born, West Coast-raised personality teamed up with Cash Money Records’ publishing arm, Cash Money Content to release a non-fictional tale of his life as a big boy. Titled, An XL Life: Staying Big at Half the Size, the self-written novel breaks down Alexander’s lifetime struggle with obesity.

Weighing in at over 500 pounds, the radio star faced a number of challenges, but daily impediments didn’t mislead his motivation to get healthy. Close friend and actor, Will Smith, agreed to donate $1000 for every pound Big lost. Although physically active, Alexander eventually made the life-changing decision to pursue an extreme weight-loss surgery, and now works hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

With the self-written tale currently in stores, XXL caught up with Big Boy to discuss his story, his introduction to Cash Money Content and the $111,000 Will Smith donated to charity. Welcome to the neighborhood! —Rachelle Jean-Louis, @RJL24

XXL: Tell us where the idea for XL Life came from.

Big Boy: I never set out to write a book. I [was] 33 years of age and over 500 pounds. So I asked myself, Do you see a 500 pound being walking around? Realistically, the answer was no. I had to really do something drastic and take advantage of my life. I got a process called the Duodenum Switch — which is the most extreme gastric bypass that you can get — around eight years ago. I had always been heavy. I knew at some point, approaching [my] mid-thirties that life [was] like a credit card. I was charging a lot of different things to my game, as far as overeating, eating all the wrong stuff, not exercising, not taking care of myself. It got to a point where that statement was going to come in, and that statement could’ve been a heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, death – whatever it may have been, I was going to have to pay for it. So many people asked me about the procedure; I became an ambassador for gastric bypass. Once I got approached to do a book, I just set out to do it. I [thought], Maybe this can be a voice that can touch many people. It’s not just [a] gastric bypass, it’s overcoming the so-called situation that you’re in. I was in a position where we were homeless as a family, my mom with seven kids, going through gangbanging in Los Angeles, unemployment – everybody’s got a predicament that they’re in. If it wasn’t gastric bypass, there’s something in that book that I think everyone can identify with.

Most celebrities team up with an author when writing a fiction or non-fiction book. Was that the case with you?

I have a lady who helped write it by the name of Sarah Tomlinson. What was great about her is that she really captured my voice. She really captured my language, so it was more like sitting down and speaking into a tape recorder, and just peeling off these layers that I didn’t realize I had for so many years. They were layers I had never really spoken about, as far as being able to really talk about sleeping outside or growing up without my father, and so forth. After hours of “almost therapy,” I was able to pull those layers off.

How did you team up with Cash Money Content along the way?
I always knew them. Being in radio, they’d come by to do interviews and everything. When we pitched the book, they just came on board and said hey, “We’ve got Cash Money Content – this is what we’re doing with Simon & Schuster.” To keep it real with you, when I first heard “Cash Money,” I was like Man, I don’t wanna do the hip-hop book thing. So I was cool on it for a hot second, but then after speaking with them and understanding that what they do in music is what they’re also going to do in publishing, I was on board. I can get on the phone with Baby. Slim’s always available. They understand how to market to the people I want to get the book to, and the agency knows how to market to the people they want to get the book to. I thought it was a great marriage. I remember Baby saying, “You know, a lot of our people don’t read.” I was like, “Why?” He said, “You know why? Because we haven’t told them to yet.” I’ve got so many people that are hitting me up that say “Man, I haven’t read a book,” or “I haven’t read a book in x amount of years, but I’m reading your book.” Those are the people I wanted to reach. I can’t reach the outside masses; I’ve got to satisfy my so-called fan base first.


What is the main point that you want people to take from XL Life?

This book is about a person that overcame. Sometimes you gotta think that you’re the person that makes it to where you want to get to. I could’ve easily become the statistic, but I played the hand the best way that I could. I think anyone that’s grabbing this book, whatever position and whatever situation that [they’re] in, if [they] work hard enough and [they]’re smart enough, they can achieve what [they]’re looking for. Turn your ears down on the negativity and all the “you’re not gonna make it” and then know how to control and turn your volume up when you get around the right circle of people that put that positive gas in you.

Now that you've released a health-conscious memoir, what are you thoughts on health in hip-hop? Has it been an important topic to the community, or is it just now catching on because of the number of untimely deaths?

I’m hoping that we do recognize that a lot of our soldiers are passing on. Some that are passing on are getting sick from preventable situations that we put ourselves into. Hopefully we’re understanding that if Rick Ross is having a seizure, he’s not just having a seizure just because. It’s something behind that. If Big Pun had a cardiac arrest, there’s something behind that. I remember [when I was talking to Scarface one day and he was telling me how bad and high his blood pressure was at the time. I’m not on a mountaintop screaming down, and I don’t think cats gotta make raps about eating your veggies, but we kinda rule by example. Not that it’s a bad thing, but we’ve told so many people what to do as far as how to make it rain, but we’re not telling anyone [that] we need to take care of ourselves. It’s mandatory that we go to the doctor. One ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure.

Let's switch it up and talk about the agreement between you and Will Smith.

That was before my surgery. Will came to do an interview for one of his movies in 2002, if I’m not mistaken. We were sitting down talking, and Will asked me, “How old are you?” I think I was like 31 [or] 32 at the time. He said, “Man, what about your weight? What about your heart?” You already know that you’re morbid obese, living unhealthy.” He was like, “Why don’t we do this weight loss challenge, where I’ll pay you $1000 per pound for charity?” I was like, “Alright, cool.” Even then, it wasn’t just about weight loss and my health. It was more like, Man, I can have Will Smith on for six months. I was thinking radio. So I ended up losing 111 pounds with Will; he donated $111,000 to our charity. That’s when I started to put the weight back on. I knew that with putting that weight back on that I was playing with my life. It was roulette. That’s what really made me start researching the procedure. It was Will that kicked that off, and he’s still a good dude to this day.

So do you have any plans for a second book, telling the rest of your story?

As a matter of fact, I do. I’ve got two books in mind. But I’m gonna let this one live first. I didn’t have an idea for the first book, but now I’ve got two concepts in mind that I can take off with. [But] these are more celebrity, more lifestyle kind of stuff.

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