With help from Ellen DeGeneres, Baltimore drumming duo A1 Chops uses newfound fame to give back

A new digital series created by a partnership between Ellen Degeneres' Ellen Digital Network and Chevy highlights the service work of Baltimore drummers Timothy Fletcher and Malik Perry, also known as A1 Chops. The two drummers appeared on DeGeneres' show in September. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun video)

Baltimore drumming duo Malik Perry and Timothy Fletcher — also known as A1 Chops — had been street performing together for about five years when the call from “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” came.

At first, it was too good to be true, they said. Plus, they’d been scammed online before.


But when the plane tickets for Los Angeles arrived, Perry and Fletcher realized that years of hard work, sacrifices and perseverance in the face of many ‘no’s’ finally paid off with the ultimate 'yes' from a Hollywood giant capable of changing their lives.

They welcomed the exposure.

Armed with fresh dance moves, slick handiwork and huge smiles, they delighted DeGeneres’ audience and got asked back to the show in November.

That’s when DeGeneres presented A1 Chops with another opportunity: Together with John Colaneri and Anthony Carrino of HGTV’s “The Cousins,” Perry and Fletcher would appear in a six-part original digital series about giving back to Baltimore called “The Build Up.”

The show runs on DeGeneres’ digital platforms — which, combined, possess over 100 million followers and subscribers. Soon, they’ll embark on their first trip outside of the U.S. to Australia for their first tour.

“It was just, like, the greatest adventure ever.” Fletcher, 22, said. “I can’t wait for everybody to see it.”

The drummers said their fan base only continues to grow.

“The funny part was it was all a joke — dancing and drumming was just a joke,” Perry, 19, said. “But then it turned into, ‘Oh, wow, this is amazing, how do you guys do that?’ We just turned it into a thing.”