The concept of conscious rapping has always come naturally to rising North London rapper Chri$DaPrince. Authenticity, honesty and creativity provide a place for this talented lyricist to thrive, prospering in every corner of the contemporary UK rap scene. His unconventional soundscapes are something to be reckoned with, as he explores the vast terrains of hip-hop, or travels the experimental regions of jazz and every unchartered territory in between. It’s the lyrics, however, that are the beating heart of Chri$DaPrince’s music as he transforms real-life adversities and the hardships of being a young Black creative into conscious and poetic stories for his growing audience to connect with.
The Congolese-born wordsmith has embraced every twist and turn that life has thrown at him, and from the ashes, a phoenix has risen. Brushing off the cinders, Chri$DaPrince has stretched open his wings and the past few years have seen him soar high. Independently building his following through the underground scene in his hometown Edmonton, he has continued to go from strength to strength. An early collaboration with House Of Pharaoh’s affiliate BlazeYL, garnered success with 350k streams on their single ‘Sweepers’, propelling him into the limelight, while an impactful support slot with international superstar Kelvyn Colt firmly cemented his place in the industry.
His latest feat is the eagerly anticipated EP ‘Black Is Black’, a collection of songs that offer up his soul, elevated by atmospheric samples and innovative percussive textures. The EP is Chri$DaPrince’s latest full body of work, since his debut album ‘1994’ which was released during the pandemic of 2020. Chri$DaPrince writes from the heart in ‘Black Is Black’, merging styles and genres as he conveys the struggles of being a Black artist on the rise in London through powerful sonics. Single ‘MINE’S IS OUR’ for instance, blends hip-hop beats with chill-hop atmospherics and ambient horns, while ‘ENVIOUS’ switches energy, relying on fast-paced trap characteristics and melodic flows. Both singles are accompanied by cinematic visuals that give emphasis to the gritty and brooding storytelling of Chri$DaPrince’s music.
The EP is a true testament to Chri$DaPrince’s ability to craft songs that captivate and illustrate his vision so cohesively. Revealing his true self through poignant self-expression, this EP only further secures his position as an artist who demands attention and whose voice should be heard loud and clear.
Listen to Chri$DaPrince EP below.
Congrats on your Ep, 'BLACK IS BLACK’ which came out in February, how’s it all been going?
Honestly I’ve been happy with It. It’s a short project but I put a lot into it simply because It’s something new for my audience. I tried to dip and dabble in a few different things rather than make the same music I’ve been making in the past and It’s been received well. I’m just happy people are embracing the sounds that I’m putting out and I’m just trying to keep it rolling on the same path and grow that way.
How long has this been in the making, can you talk about the creative process
I’m a one-man team really, so from videos to recording, mixing, engineering, directing all the videos, that’s all me. I have a little home studio set up, so I did everything by myself, recording in the house, I’ll go for a soulful vibe just taking it back to 80s samples, 90s samples and just bring out that richness in the music. Sonically that’s what I was going for, then with the visuals I just tried to be as eye-catching as possible just to get people’s attention. All the visuals I’ve been directing is mainly to try to get people’s attention before listening to the song, that way they can be like “oh wow this looks cool” before hearing the song.
What did you learn about yourself and what do you hope your listeners will gain from it.
For me, I wanted it to be a reintroduction to myself. I’m starting a new journey and I wanted people to begin the journey with me from here. I’ve reached a check point in my career and we’re about to go somewhere crazy, this is where you guys need to get on. It’s like a new stop and I’m about to take everyone on a journey, that’s the vibe I was going for, just bringing people along the new journey I’m going on.
The EP opens with “HOW LOVE HURTS”, Why did you want that to be the first single?
The main goal is to get people’s attention, even with the titles I wanted it to be very eye-catching. Every title on the EP says something so when you look at it, it’s like “oh how love hurts, what’s this about”. With the sound itself, the way it progresses, it starts with drums and harmonies and then its heavy at the end, to an extent it’s kind of showing my own progression throughout the song and just my career in general.
Your cover art seems pretty cool, what was the inspiration behind that?
I saw the image and it made sense for me straight away. This is the image that’s going to represent my project and I had the title ‘BLACK IS BLACK’ from a while ago even before I started making the project. To me it’s like, I am who I am, this is me plain and simple. The artwork kind of reminded me of coming together, accepting who you are and closing the deal and I feel like it’s able to represent that more than words could. That’s why I didn’t put any words on it, anybody can look at it and see it in their own way. It’s the same with my music, I want people to listen to it and take what they want from it and interpret it in their own way.
What kind of message were you trying to convey through your EP?
I wanted people to look at the artwork and feel something, then read the titles and feel like something has to stand out. People like “Mine’s Is Ours”, people like “Trauma’s Interlude”, simply because of the names, they’ll look at it and immediately be attracted to at least one of them. Then the music itself, I wanted each song to almost represent a piece of me and my life or a place and time in my life so it’s basically like little stories and segments of myself in music form.
“Dreamer’s Dream” you had a couple features on there, how did that come about?
BlazeYL is bro, we’ve been cool since 2016 or something and musically we connected in 2018 from a show we were both performing at. Then Gio Dee, I met him through a show I had opened up for and we just connected that way. A day after the show we were in the studio sharing music and I played the song. Gio Dee wanted to jump on it and BlazeYL said he weren’t letting us do it without him so that’s just what happed. I didn’t actually finish it, I had about 30 seconds of the song already recorded by myself, so they just did there thing and I wrapped it up.
Do you have a favourite track on the EP?
“Mine’s Is Ours”, that would probably be my favourite track, simply because that was the first song I wanted to put out from the project. It was the first song I made and was kind of like the first pivot in that direction to make music. I wanted to share more and be more open with my music, I wasn’t too sure how people were going to feel about it so that one probably means the most. It was the first chapter of me showing that side of myself. “Mine’s Is Ours” for sure.
You first debut in 2017 with your single 'Ambition', your sound has defiantly evolved since then, how do you feel 6 years on?
“Ambition” was the first single I made when I wanted to start music. At that point I was still making music and listen to a lot of old Hip Hop, old rappers like Nas, Tupac, Biggie all of the heavy New York influences, that was my thing. I would make a lot of music to that direction but as I’ve developed, I’ve found my own sound, my own little pocket and right now I feel like I’m making the best music I’ve ever made, the EP is a testament to that. I feel like I’ve become a lot more mature in my sound, in myself and just the quality of music that I’m putting out. It’s at a different level.
You've just come back from LA, what we're you doing out there?
I didn’t want to come back, it felt like this is where I needed to be at that time for sure, just that experience to take myself out of London. London is my city, I’ve been here majority of my life, but I’ve been to New York a few times, I’ve been to LA a few times as well, but I feel like going there at this stage in my career just opened my eyes a lot more. I was exposed to a lot more in terms of the music and the industry itself. I made a lot of connections, reconnected with a lot of artists and made a lot of music. The whole experience was just different level and it kind of gave that extra battery in my back to just be like ok this is the level I need to be working at. Its either you go hard or there’s nothing else to do.
Is getting your music out there something you’re trying to do, would you say the connection is better?
Personally, I don’t really see myself as a UK artist, I’m an artist in the UK and that’s a statement that I hold with pride. I don’t limit myself to where I’m from and even my music is received very well in Europe and the US without me having any of the infostructure to put my music out there, so I feel like even if I spend like a month or two out there, I can do just as well there than I can in the UK. I feel like the European boarders will be a lot tougher because of the language barriers but I see myself as an international creative and I’m not bounded by the boarders, I’m for the world.
What drives you to keep creating and making music? What would you say your inspiration is?
It varies from anything really. Just me being able to have a way to express myself musically and visually. I’m a creative to the core, I started out from visual art, drawing, illustration, graphics, I’ve tried to play instruments, I love film and breaking down movies so visual art and musical art is just second nature to me. I don’t even need to be inspired to make something I just feel like I should do this, I should shoot my own video, I should direct an artist’s video, I should write an artist’s songs. These are things that come second nature to me, it’s something I feel like I have to do, it’s not something I want to do anymore.
How do you get through hard times in music?
This is what I want to do! If you need to be motivated to do something, then that something is not for you. I think to myself, what do I need, to be able to do this at the level required? How am I going to figure out how to do it? I just put steppingstones for myself. Obviously, there are time when I feel like this is tough, but you chose this, you made your bed, you have to sleep in it. That’s the only way I see it, you can’t make excuses, you’ve got to just execute.
What has been the hardest part in your music journey so far?
The hardest part is feeling like one of the top 10 artist’s in the country and not being in that position or one of the top 30 artist’s in the world and not being in that position. That’s how I think of myself, it might be arrogant, but it is what it is. I’m there already and I maneuver as if I’m already there. If I release music like I’m a top 10 artist in the world, why should it not be received like I’m the top 10 artist in the world. That how I keep my chin up
Going back to when you were growing up, who were you listening to?
I’m from Congo so when we came to the UK I was living in a 2 bedroom flat, I have 3 siblings, 2 brothers and one sister, so the boys were in one room, they were older than me. They were playing all of the Nas, Eminem Biggie, Pac all of this when I was like 7, 8, 9. That’s the level of music I was listening to at the time so when I got older to about 14, I would be singing these lyrics thinking “what song is this, let me listen to this guy”. So my taste in music has been of a certain calibre and just always back dated to the best. I love listening to the best artist, the best rappers and the best musicians.
Is music something you’ve always wanted to do?
I wanted to play for arsenal just like everyone else. Everything I did I’m listening to music, homework, I’m listening to music, when I’m drawing, I’m listening to music, on my way to school I’m listing to music. It wasn’t until I was like 19, 20 I was like “oh wait I can actually rap” and my friends were like “oh wait you’re kinda sick, you should rap”. So during the whole school era I wasn’t rapping, it wasn’t really for me at the time. I didn’t know it was for me until when I actually started doing it.
What else do you have planned for the year?
I feel like it has to be tunnel vison from here, it’s my opportunity to really show the UK that this guy here is serious. I’m still promoting the EP and I’ve got a few new bits coming out soon, around mid-May. I’ve got a lot of features on the way so there’s defiantly a lot more to come, it’s the first quarter of the year and I’m only getting started.