Mad About… Chri$DaPrince

Tom Atkinson

By Tom Atkinson

Tom Atkinson

12 Apr 2023

Chri$DaPrince is one of the latest wave of lyricists in conscious rap, following in the footsteps of contemporaries like Knucks and Kojey Radical. After being inspired by artists from across the Atlantic, he is now molding his own path. This is highlighted by his recent ‘BLACK IS BLACK‘ EP which sees him continuing to shape his sound.

We sat down with the guy from Edmonton on a Tuesday afternoon, following a recent trip to L.A. While the weather may have cooled down a bit after coming back home, the conversation was certainly as thrilling as the West Coast weather…

What makes Edmonton unique from the rest of London?

It’s like a melting pot, it has got a bit of everything. It has a bit of South in there, East, and West. I don’t know, you just have to be there to really embrace it. The one thing I can say is a bit of everything is in North, in Edmonton. That is the best way I can put it.

If it’s a bit of everything that is what you want really.

That’s why I like it. I’m still here, but eventually, I do want to get out; be somewhere else a bit more brighter, more sunny. I’m a summer baby, I love the sunshine.

What was moving over to London like and how has living in two countries changed your perspective on life and music?

To be fair, I came over at a pretty young age. The earliest memories that I remember are just learning the language and not being able to understand. My first language was Lingala and French, so it was a mix of both. They could understand me in that way, but then me being able to actually translate everything to English took me a little while. I was too young to understand, I was 7, 8 maybe. There are not too many memories there, I just couldn’t understand anything anyone was saying.

What experiences in your early life cemented your musical inspirations and goals?

When I was younger, I had three older siblings: one sister and two brothers. The boys stayed in one room and they’re older than me so they played a lot of loud hip-hop music: 2Pac, Nas, Lil Wayne; 50 Cent. So I grew up listening to that a lot. I remember going to school singing all those lyrics, (even the) explicit ones, and getting in trouble for it, not even knowing what I was saying. That shaped a lot of the music that I started listening to at a young age. Then when I grew up, I backtracked and took in some of the substance, and that helped refine the way I make my art.

Some very talented artists in there and hey you may have gotten in trouble then, but you’re making a career of it now, so who’s laughing now?

It was worth the beats.

Also, I feel like it is good to have older siblings because they are near your age, but a bit away from it so they can give you a bit of their music.

It definitely helped as they were musically inclined, but just not hip-hop. They would be singing in church and things like that. I was the one who chose to pursue music in a whole different aspect.

If you could go back in time to one concert, who would you go to see and where?

I’ve got to see a prime-2009, Lil Wayne. (Around then and) 2010, that was when he was on stuff. I was a big Lil Wayne fan. Either that or even to be alive and see a 2Pac concert, just some of the old guys who aren’t really around anymore. It would be cool to just see how they perform on stage and how the audience would react to them because you know how big their names are right now.

What would you say was the moment when you realised music was the path you wanted to go down?

It was probably the first time I performed. Music was never really my first passion, I just did it for fun. In school, we used to do little freestyle sessions, and every time I would rap, everyone would be like ‘oh, that was crazy.’ But, not until I did my first performance and I engaged with a crowd, and they responded positively and I was like oh, I like the way this feels, I want to do it again. That was probably the first moment I realised that this was something I actually want to pursue.

Obviously, when you’re initially making music you don’t know how people are going to anticipate it. But then you perform it to someone and see the reaction and you are like ‘oh, ok, people seem to like this, I can probably make something off this.’

That was the first sense of motivation. First of all, it was my friends just saying ‘yeah, sick, you should just do it.’ (And I was like) ok sure, I’ll try. Then, when I was in front of strangers it was a whole different aspect of things. That was definitely the very first moment.

What would you say has changed the most about you as an artist from your first release in 2017 to now?

Maturity for sure; that is one. I guess it is more personal, more me. When I first started, I wasn’t making music like myself, it was not really me. I was making things that I like to hear, so it would sound like Nas, or (I) was trying to write something like Lil Wayne. I was picking a lot of things from different people, which I still do but at this stage, I know how to make it (feel like) me. Everything I put out is more me, rather than something I heard. I’m a lot more unique now and more mature when it comes to the way I push my music.

You were in L.A. recently and you’re building a name for yourself, but what would you say keeps you ingrained in where you came from and who you are as a person?

Just my upbringing. I feel like I have a unique upbringing, but at the same time, I feel like a lot of people from the places I’m from can relate to it. That’s what keeps me present to where I am. That is what makes me want to tell stories about where I am because I know there are people who have gone through it and people that are most likely still going to go through it again. I want to reach out to the people who are in the environment I know really well to help them go through, go past it, and go beyond it as well. That’s my goal, just to guide people through situations and things that happen.

It’s good that you have a positive goal with your music. Not just to make your life a success. but to give others an aspect of yourself. Relatability in music is very important and it allows people not only to gravitate towards your music but, like you said, to help people and help them on their life path.

That is something I realised pretty late. Most of the music I was listening to at a young age I only liked because I could relate to some of the sounds and the things they were doing and saying. It took me a while to realise I relate to these artists; that is why the music means more to me than anyone else. I thought let me do that for myself, let me put myself into the music so that everyone can take a piece of that and me wherever they go.

What was the reaction like to the release of your ‘BLACK IS BLACK‘ EP and was the reaction what you expected?

Yes and no. This is a really introspective body of work compared to everything else I have released before. For the first time, I was super nervous to release a project simply because I knew it didn’t sound a lot like things being played now, let alone things that I have made myself. I was feeling nervous about putting that out. But then, people received it well and it resonated with a lot of people; people (were) getting back to me and saying ‘oh wow, I really like this.’ Everyone likes something different in there and that was my goal, that was what I really wanted. I wanted at least one person to say ‘I like one piece from this song or from this project,’ and they can take that with them. Some things were expected and some things were not. But, overall, it’s been a great reception.

That is good to hear and it’s good to see people are reacting well to the change in sound. There is going to be that question of ‘are people going to take to this?’, because it is different to the norm. But, at the end of the day, 1: you have got to do what is true to you, and number 2: the in-thing is not always going to be the in-thing.
At the moment, drill is the in-thing. But, a few years ago it was Grime and road rap, before that it was more poppy stuff, before that it was Grime again, and before that it was garage. Things change, sounds change, and (what you’re doing) might become the in-thing over the next few years and you might be one of the pioneers of that.

I feel like it definitely is a thing. There are a lot of people that are looking into it from the industry like the Knucks’, the Saintés’; the Loyle Carner’s’. Those are the guys that I look at and see that these guys are making something authentic and true to them. They are carrying the torch for a lot of artists like myself. Salute to them, man.

Who is one artist you would like to collaborate with who you think would take your sound in a new direction?

I think about this all the time. One of my favourite artists at the moment from the U.K. would be Kojey Radical; been following his stuff for a while, been in touch a couple of times. He is one of the artists who I know has been pushing the boundaries for a long time within his own music and the culture. He is someone who could take me to a place where I didn’t even know I could go myself, musically.

I am very glad he is starting to get his flowers now. He has been making very good music for a while, but now he’s getting the Brit Award nominations and the Mercury Prize nominations. I think you two could make something interesting. I read that he has given you a co-sign, so that is a possibility in the future.

Who knows. It’s early days for me; I have a lot more work to do.

I’m sure you do, but it could happen. You have got to believe.

I do, I just don’t want to put anything out there. (laughs)

What is the biggest lesson you have learned in your musical career that you would pass down to other artists?

Make music for yourself primarily or even if it’s not music, make art for yourself primarily. Don’t follow what’s hot or what is popping, just make music that you will enjoy; that you want to hear. Make art that you want to see and feel, want to listen to before anyone else.

Chri$DaPrince is on Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok.