Chris Young is a revolutionary artist on the rise. Not because he changed the world over night, but because he is consistently working on making himself the best version he can possibly be while positively influencing the people around him. C. Young has just dropped his last project called Blue Enigma, which showcases his signature sound of blending old school nuances with modern-day tendencies. The San Diego native is an outspoken, intelligent, individual with a rebellious soul to take action for the greater good. He isn’t just doing this for himself, he’s doing this for you. For the culture. For the world. C. Young is bringing back substance to hip hop.
The coolest part? I met Chris by total accident. I had been eating with a few friends at Rocco’s Tacos in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and we walked outside to leave. We got into talking to a group of people outside who were visiting from California and C. Young just happened to be one of them. After talking for a few minutes, he told me that he was a rapper. Asking to hear some of his stuff, Chris completely ditched the usual ‘Lemme send you my soundcloud link’ (huge brownie points) and just started freestyling on the spot. To say I was blown away would be a total understatement. To say he is a lyrical genius would also be a total understatement. After freestyling for a solid three minutes, C. Young made it evident to anyone within 100 feet that he was made for this. Forget your preconceived notions on rappers from SoCal, because C. Young is about to shift your perspective a whole 180 degrees.
The Blair List caught up with rapper C. Young for an exclusive interview where he delivered fresh insight on musical inspirations, REAL political change, and the music industry’s effect on music. Check it out below.
San Diego is an epicenter of music. How has growing up there influenced your sound and inspire you musically?
My family is actually from the East Coast in New Jersey. My mom was in the Navy and was then stationed in San Diego. San Diego really became a huge refuge from everything that my family was going through because in Camden, New Jersey, where they were from, it has been the murder capital of the United States five years in a row. My family is a group of happy, loving, good people in a place that was the opposite. My nana is the one who introduced me to music. She had mad records! So when I came to California, we bounced around a lot because my mom was in Navy housing. I just have so many different experiences that gave me a lot of insight into where my family was from, which has definitely influenced me musically.
What do you think about the current state of music in San Diego?
San Diego has more talent than any city on the West Coast at this point. So much talent, but no one knows what is about to happen. No one sees us coming into the music conversation even though we create most of the conversation. That’s what my vision is right now. VIBE, my collaborative group with Rossy, captures both the gritty part of San Diego and the carefree part of it. We capture sounds more than money and focus on soul. Out here we got beautiful beaches but they are right next to the border, so we see all the people coming to America from nothing and we also see the people who have everything. It’s a crazy juxtoposition.
How did you get into hip hop and rapping?
Just looking at my family really influenced me. My mom used to rap before she had kids and my uncle was a DJ and toured around the East Coast. I didn’t even like hip hop when I was younger because it came from my mom, you know what I mean? I discovered freestyling when I went on a trip to the East Coast and that’s when I was like ‘oh shit! Hip hop is dope!’ At first, I thought people were only rhyming previously written down raps and I knew about the elements of graffiti and whatnot, but I didn’t know that people could actually make up raps without writing them. That’s when everything changed for me.
A lot of families don’t understand the hip hop movement, so it’s really cool your family not only understands it, but they were involved in it. Were there any other people that influenced your decision to stick with following your dream?
Guru from Gangstarr has this interview where he talked about what you have to do to be an MC. He said “study your favorite MC and see what you like about them and figure out how you can make it your own.” He also said from there, you have to go and work on your own demo project to make your sound your own. What I took from that was that there is nothing new that people can bring to music. They all come from the same core elements. Like there will never be another Grand Master Flash, another Tupac, another BIG, another Pun. You’re going to hear a little bit of everything I like in everything I do musically.
How would you personally describe your sound?
I would have to say it’s punk rock therapy. It’s like I’m aggressive but I’m very intentional. Even when I’m freestyling, I practice a lot. I like flipping words and using wordplay. Believe it or not, it’s actually harder for me to carry a conversation with someone than it is to freestyle. At this point it’s just a language I speak. It comes off kind of weird, but I be on my magician shit! [laughs]
Blue Enigma is a really solid project and it shows how much you have developed as an artist and the message you bring. It also shows how spiritual you are. Where does that come from?
I always say that I’m a street minister. I thought about how every time my homies were to get in trouble when we were growing up, everyone would come to me because I was that “spiritual kid in school.” My mom raised me in church and they wanted me to be this young prophet because they said I had this gift. But I realized I couldn’t tell people their fate, I could only direct my own. The last thing my grandpa said to me before he passed away was about how he met Jackie Robinson and how he always did so much for his community. With Blue Enigma, which is dedicated to my grandpa who passed from cancer, it was sort of a way I was helping my community by creating this therapy for people who go through the aggression and pain of losing someone. They have to keep riding it out.
I heard you created your own weed strain called Blue Enigma after your project. Can you tell me more about that?
With Blue Enigma the project, I created Blue Enigma, the strain of weed, for an important reason. My Pop Pop who passed from cancer told me he wanted to smoke marijuana with me one time in Cali, but he ended up passing before it actually happened. I decided to create this strain with a company out here in San Diego and give back to cancer research. The company I worked with on it is called Chronic Catering and they specialize in herbal remedies. They cater edibles to cancer patients. Marijuana can actually help with the pain of the cancer, making you less stressed. When the body is less stressed, it can actually help speed up the recovery process. I wanted to help these people. It all has purpose, it’s not just like ‘oh I want to smoke weed.’
You have a rather large amount of political conversation in your raps.
The amount of political perspective that I have is a little different than other rappers. I pride myself on being an intelligent human being. I pride myself on knowing what the fuck to do when it comes to the intelligence of knowing the law. It’s important to understand why it’s so hard to deal with what’s going on right now the right way and the laws we currently have that we can change.
What do you think about all the controversy that is going on right now?
People would rather talk about the issues than realize that the solution is as simple as the law. If all these people on Instagram and Twitter knew the law, then we would have more people free. There would be less death, less crime. It just sounds so weird to people because they have been complaining about the system for so long without doing anything.
What are you personally doing to help this?
I have a lot of friends that are in law school, so I am working with them to create an outreach for the youth that don’t really know the law. Creating pamphlets on information on the law to give people one by one to show them what we are capable of doing. I’m working on something with an artist named Real J. Wallace from San Diego. To me, he’s the Tupac of now. He’s a huge advocate for change.
What do you encourage others to do in regards to this?
What we can all do is start locally. Talk to your local congress people and implicit a law that states when an officer unlawfully shoots someone, they are immediately suspended and have to go to court immediately after the incident. The thing with police is that when this law is in place, they don’t have time to figure out how they can cheat the system because they immediately have to go to court. Without that fear, it shows people protecting their community instead of not taking responsibility by effectively understanding what is going on in the world. The federal law can do what it do, but if you help your block, it’s different.
Wow! That really shows a lot about your character. More people need to be outspoken like that.
That’s the thing with me, I talk a lot. If you ask me something, I will give you a thorough answer. I’m never too cool to talk someone. People who don’t know solutions, it’s not their fault. A lot of people don’t get education and information. I was just blessed because I grew up in a beautiful city with a great education. There’s a huge economic divide in San Diego that has effected how I view things. One part of the city is a beautiful beach and looks like paradise. You then go on one freeway and it turns into complete darkness. Everyone is homeless, there are no good jobs, the people with better family connections are always going to have that job. That divide needs to be bridged.
What do you think about the industry’s perspective on music today?
Ebro on the radio just did this interview with Azealia Banks. Ebro then says ‘people don’t feel,’ and that pissed me off because if you saw J. Cole’s first numbers compared to a more mainstream artist like Nicki Minaj’s first numbers, you would ask yourself ‘how the hell do people not feel?’ And why is Ebro telling Banks that in such a condescending way? Because that’s what the industry tells everyone. J. Cole says his fan base is off of his mixtapes, but the industry doesn’t think that works and he’s proving them wrong. If the industry thinks that way, then what does Hollywood think? What does the government think? What does the school system think? It’s resonating because people need this. It’s a shame that people nowadays have to confirm that things are real. Being real is what we have always been.
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