SKII: I’m interviewing Ashton Burrell who lives in New Jersey, He is only 22 years old and is already doing big things! Such as receiving – singing award, certificates; also, as dealing with the community, as far as working with the table charts.
SKII: So tell me a little bit about yourself?
Ashton: I was born in Philadelphia, soon relocated to New Jersey. Then I went to school at Highland Park, New Jersey. I had actually started doing music to stay out of trouble. So, my friends and I started a group and I started to notice my talents! I sang at different places, including the New York Jets, and I’d commute back and forth to Pennsylvania. I always wanted to give back to the community, so I started my mentorship program for life and business. I began with one young man and now I have thirty plus kids. So, I would take that trip every Thursday to Pennsylvania to teach life lessons and mentor them on whatever where their needs. It’s great because of the positive things I do, such as being a new artist with new music, I help by trying to bring them around that.
SKII: You explained earlier that you started out in a music group. Who was involved with you and are they still involved?
Ashton: The Group is called the, “Mile Long Boyz” they’re my brothers, so that’s for life. Everybody ventured off to do their solo projects, but we remained a group for life. We started doing little stuff then it started to build and we were signed to an Independent label that was before we did a song for the New York Jets. We also had numerous amounts of shows in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. We had a lot of fun and opened up for a lot of different artist: Wale, Meek Mills, Joel Ortiz, and shows with DJ Diamond Cuts! So, it was a great experience and it also gave the empire a better youth constituency, because we used our music to relate messages to the youth.
SKII: How many people were involved; and names?
Ashton: There were three of us; two rappers, and one vocalist. I, Ashton was one of the rappers. My stage name was TC UNO. I actually dropped a mix tape and opened up for MTV, in the UK and it is still number one! That was a success to me. My brother AJ’s an R&B singer with great vocal skills, and my brother Reek is another great artist who has some of the best lyrics, that I ever heard.
SKII: What was the name of the “number one” song you dropped in the UK and how long ago was this?
Ashton: My mix tape is on the Urban MTV UK and it’s called FlyLife – volume one, which is short for Functional Living Your Life. I was young,
I was probably eighteen or nineteen when I dropped that, but my music evolved from that. I continue to push myself to do better in sending messages to the youth by letting them know that they don’t have to be stuck on one thing. We can do so much more by being positive.
SKII: Going back a little… What High School did you graduate from; and, what College, and how many years did you attend?
Ashton: I graduated from Highland Park High School, in 2010 then went to Linkmen University. It’s the first historical Black college. I didn’t have to stay extra years, I graduated in four years! I did my four years and then I got involved with a Chinese Club, because I didn’t want to limit myself to one language. We did a huge concert at the school with DJ Diamond Cuts which was a great experience. I was looked highly at, because of being involved in so much, and not limiting myself. I want to inspire other youth, to follow my example.
SKII: You want to show other youths that it’s not hard to stay in school and still be involved, or accomplishing your dreams while finishing your education. Letting them know that it can be done if they stay focused.
Ashton: Yes, exactly! A lot of people use the excuse that they go to school and can’t do this, or do that because they have exams and they have to study. but I did it. I graduated within my four years and I’d grind every night and day while studying for my exams and everything. I still do this formula, as in working at so many different things.
SKII: How old are the youth in your program?
Ashton: This young man is twenty-one years old, only a year younger than me, but he listens and he really comes to me looking for guidance. And we’re going to be launching it to this Primary School. So, that’s kindergarteners to first graders, which is truly amazing! A lot of the kids in my program are great. To see them evolve is amazing, and all of the seniors that graduated are going to four year programs in college! It’s such a great feeling when I know that I helped them accomplish part of their goals in life. I’ll continue to push them.
SKII: You started with one person and gained…?
Ashton: Twenty-five, plus kids attend my group! It’s really amazing. There’re kids in my group who are in high school, elementary, and primary! It’s really amazing to help anyone, especially the youth. Sometimes when I sit back, I tend not to realize how big that is, because it’s actually a huge deal. I’m still learning every day, but its better when the youth, or actually anybody, can see it from someone that they can relate to – that’s the best part about it.
SKII: So, when did they start recognizing you and the things that you’re accomplishing with the youth?
Ashton: It’s funny, because at first nobody was really paying or taking notice to it, but then as it started growing more, it became Wi-Fi and everybody wanted to get involved from the Council and Mayor Gale – she’s been a great help to me; always giving advice when needed – and, the town of Highland Park has also been a great help and support system.
SKII: So, you received awards as well. Who did you receive them from?
Ashton: Actually one of the biggest awards that I received was the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award which was given by the Human Relations Commissioner of the Highland Park Community! It was crazy, because I used to go to the award ceremony when I was younger, and now I’m the one being given the award. It’s so amazing! Now, I’m the Chair of the Human Relations Commission of which is a great success for me, as well. If someone would’ve told me about my accomplishments while I was still in high school, I probably wouldn’t have believed them.
SKII: What about your mom and dad; do you live with them?
Ashton: My parents have been a huge inspiration and I do what I do so that my siblings can possibly emulate a positive behavior. Hopefully, that’ll inspire them to do what they can do. I love my family, each and every one of them. My whole family, especially my grandmother, inspire me to do better. My grandmother taught me about hard work. My parents did also, but there’s a different bond. My grandmother and I have this bond from my youth, to now. We talk everyday at ten o’clock every night, that’s guaranteed.
SKII: Who’s your biggest inspiration?
Ashton: My mother is my biggest inspiration. She’s always there, and always made a way for us, even when there was a no way she made sure she made that way possible, too. Always being my biggest fan, always supportive, but also kept me in-check, and has always given great advice. Such as: staying real, focused, and not let no anyone tell me, or persuade me to do differently. No matter how big I get or how successful, she has instilled that I remain myself and never to forget where I came from. Everything I do came from my mother, so she’s my biggest inspiration.
SKII: You said you’ve thrown different events can you name a couple?
Ashton: We do a lot of events. A few weeks ago we did the Black History Celebration, because Black history is more than just a month. My partner and I, the manager of my group, The Mile Long Boyz came together to do a fly event for cancer which was cool. We donated money to the Lustgarten Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer. The Susan G. Komen Foundation for Breast Cancer and everyone came out. We had survivors for pancreatic cancer that gave speeches. Fly for Cancer Flag Football, Kickball Charity Games, and a lot of different events. At every event I bring can goods to people and homes in need. Blanket Drives with the Prime Minister of Melanie in Africa. That was an amazing experience and having them reach-out to me expressing how grateful they were, or was, at the event.
SKII: What are your aspirations of life?
Ashton: My aspirations of life is to leave empty when the Good Lord calls me home. I want to leave empty everything that I’m doing with the youths, and my events. I want to leave empty. I wouldn’t want to wish that I could’ve more. I want to accomplish everything, and leave empty.
SKII: Can you elaborate more when you say “EMPTY”?
Ashton: When I want to write a book, I want to finish that book. If I want to do a CD I’m going to finish that CD. Anything I have my mind set to do, I want to do it in a respectful manner, and a respectful, fashionable state of mind.
SKII: What would you say to a younger you?
Ashton: You can do it, there’s no excuse in your way. Especially, when you feel like you can’t do it, remember that anything can be done. I’ve been through it. Nothing is easy, but as long as you fight to do your task, just utilize your best fight and never give up, no matter what.
SKII: Are there any more awards to receive?
Ashton: Actually, I heard about my getting the Spread the Word Community Award for hard working achievements in the community coming up this December 5th! An early Christmas gift, which is a beautiful thing. It’s also great to be recognized and reminded of the great work I’ve done, and how much everyone appreciates what’s being done. You know, speaking at schools, and expanding my youth programs are a beautiful thing to do. Without God, there’s nothing possible; so, I’m grateful and excited for what’s to come.
SKII: This concludes my interview with Mr. Ashton Burrell – a twenty-two years old who’s out there inspiring a lot of youth. He started with one youth in his program, but now, he has more than thirty youths and he’s still building and receiving awards for what he does, and is doing. It’s truly amazing. I’m honored to be one of the people who has recognized his accomplishments by interviewing him for my magazine, SKII MAGAZINE. This is my presentation of that acknowledgement, to thank you.