C. Young recorded his first song at the age of 12. It was actually meant as a birthday gift to his mother but at age 12, he had already been bit by the music bug. Raised in San Diego, California, Chris Young has kept it real with his fans, sharing personal stories through his lyrics. At the same time, he isn't afraid to switch up his style and just have fun. After all the rooftop ruckus, C. Young fills us in with a few tidbits about his musical beginnings, inspirations and more.
Tell us how you got started.
I started doing Hip Hop when I visited my uncle. My family is from Camden, New Jersey. I was 12 years old and we were on a trip and he was a DJ. They called him DJ Canine. He showed me what freestyling was and put on his LL Cool J instrumentals and some T,I. We were in a basement and me and my older cousin were freestyling. My older cousin was coming up with these raps off his head and I was thinking, yo that’s crazy. I tried to do it. It wasn’t like I was good at it but we happen to have it on home video.
I actually remember the rap, it was – my name is Chris/ I like to kiss/ and when I can’t kiss/I like to piss. 12 years old. Raw bars. I came back home and he had a home video of it and my uncle got locked up so the way I remember him was always that home video. I used to watch it. And then, it was my mom’s birthday and I didn’t have money but we had a computer with a sound recorder program so I recorded over that same LL Cool J beat. Did a song for her and she sent it to my grandma and everybody was like, oooh Chris rapping.
So that was your first recorded song ever. Did you know at that point that this is what you wanted to do?
I just liked it. I wrote poetry and stuff. Honestly, I always used to get called “white” because I talked articulate so when I started rapping, that was me on my nigga shit. I just kept doing that and yeah, the same stuff I was writing in the poem book, I was putting into raps.
When it comes to lyrics, is there a usual theme you stick to?
Every season is like a different theme so the same way life changes every couple seasons, the music changes. I think the biggest issue with my career actually has been the fact that I haven’t stuck to one sound as a solo artist. I’m also in a band too and we have a sound but I’m saying like most of my career, I’ve been kinda like whatever I feel in that particular season.
How does it feel when a fan tells you they can relate to your music?
It’s cool. That’s the best part about music. It’s just relating and trying to bring back a meaning to why we do music. All the new school artists that are out right now, everyone seems to care. The artists care about their projects. Our generation is trying to erase that whole mentality that Hip Hop is dead. I think the people who relate to my music can relate it to a part of themselves. They don’t even relate to me. They just had their own experience with themselves and saw themselves through my music and anyone’s music. If you like it, then you probably see something about yourself.
Fill us in on your musical inspirations.
I’m inspired by Nas and Bob Dylan. People who tell stories and they say the truth. They influence me but sometimes I just have fun. There’s not really one thing I do but those specific artists, I saw them go through a lot of different changes so I know how to do it when I go through it because I watched them. Nas is the first artist that I downloaded his whole catalog. I bought Street’s Disciple double disc and was listening to these really deep profound lyrics at a young age and then, you want to look up the words he’s saying, you want to see what happens to his life, you want to hear about his daughter and now, as I grow up into a man, I watched him go through a divorce and make a song about the same daughter who he was talking about when he had her on Illmatic. You realize that music is just a time capsule and your fans, the ones that connect to you the most, get to read your diary and they get to see what’s going on. Some people take advantage of that. Some people don’t give a fuck about your diary. If you’re telling a story in your career, you have to take it with a grain of salt. I take it seriously but at the same time, I don’t take people seriously. If people don’t like it, it’s no diss to me because I’ve kept it real myself.