Young Chris has been at this rap thing for a minute now. He came into the game at 16 as a member of the Philadelphian duo, Young Gunz, slated as Roc-A-Fella Record's next up. He and his partner Neef Buck dropped their debut album Tough Love in 2004, and a follow-up in 2005, Brothers from Another. But by 2006 Dame Dash and Jay Z broke up the Roc-A-Fella Dynasty, leaving Chris and other members of State Property out to dry.
Chris wasn't about to stop rapping, though. He's been hitting rap fans with music now and again over the past few years. Maybe not as consistently as some would like. But he's back today, and promises to keep feeding the streets with new music. Judging by his Cosmic Kev and DJ Enuff freestyles, he hasn't lost a step. We sat down with Chris to talk about his new Vital Signs EP that drops on Dec. 10, the Roc-A-Fella days, and the lesson Dame tried to teach that Beanie Sigel never learned...
So what are you up to?
I signed with E1, formerly Koch. My first single is "I’m Alive" and I have an EP, Vital Signs, dropping Dec. 10.
“I’m Alive” sounds like the old Chris.
That was my goal, to get my core fans and people who been riding with me and anticipating. I got to deliver for y’all. My whole plan was Revival going into my album, Alive. I did a deal with Rico, Division 1/Universal. He left Universal. Once he left, I became a free agent. So, within that time, eight to 10 months, I had deals on the table. That’s how we at where we are now with the E1 project.
Last time we spoke, the ink was still wet with Rico. Anybody who grew up in the Roc era knew that the Chris was Jay’s youngin' on deck. In that interview you said they left you for dead. Fast forward a year from now, are you feeling alive?
Like I told someone earlier, my daughter is my most inspiration and motivation today. Besides the streets of Philly, [I want to] maintain this lifestyle and still be who I am. And I still want to be accepted as Young Chris and walk around with my head high knowing that we are not at the same status as in ‘03. That made me everything I am today. At first, walking through that shit was kind of tough. But, a nigga got through it.
S**t changed right in front of our eyes. We didn’t think back when Kanye was trying to get on the Roc that the s**t was going to go techno.
Do you still fuck with Dame and Hov?
Yes, those my boys. There was no bad blood with me. I’m too loyal for motherfuckers sometimes and they take advantage of it. I feel like I’m never going to change though. I'mma meet that genuine motherfucker that’s going to respect it and be genuine back. Not to say that Dame and Jay are not genuine, it’s just we’re in different spaces in our lives at this time. I got caught up in the sweep. Them guys gave us an opportunity. They tried. You can’t say they didn’t try, bro.
When the breakup of the Roc happened, the music business was shifting. People stopped buying records, they were downloading everything.
Shit changed right in front of our eyes. We didn’t think back when Kanye was trying to get on the Roc that the shit was going to go techno. You know what I mean? Like, 10 years later.
People always bring up that Hov “allegedly” borrowed your flow...
It’s a blessing being mentioned in the same breath as Jay. Let’s start there. I ain’t going to take none of this for granted or be big-headed. Steel sharpens steel. We all in the studio, things rub off on each other, that’s just how it happened. I might have learned things from him, he might have learned things from me. You’re never too young. I got younger guys that I still learn from til this day, you know?
What’s up with Neef?
Neef is great, man. He’s actually recently dropped a project, Forever Do Me 6: Trash Bag King.
He’s solo too?
Yes, but we’re always together. Young Gunz is on my arm. We moved our families five minutes from each other. That’s my brother. Nobody can come in between that.
Meek Mill's brought Philly back on the map a little bit. How’s your relationship with Meek?
It’s cool. I’m happy to send a shout out to Meek for the “House Party” record. It’s a blessing just to hear yourself 24/7 and be embraced. I take nothing for granted.
Beans is locked up for taxes right now. Something Dame used to preach to us 24/7; pay your taxes. We had the best businessmen tell us, the best of the best. So, like I say, experience is the best teacher.
You’ve definitely been in Meek’s shoes. What advice would you give him? How do you veer from the bullshit?
It got a lot to do with you and your surroundings. It took me to get fucked up to really know who was around me. I never knew who until shit wasn’t what it used to be. That’s when I learned. So, when I talk to Meek I be telling him that because I see the same shit [I went through]. I see 20 niggas around, but you never know, they got hidden agendas. The minute you can’t do shit for them, you only as good as your last favor. Then they talk a gang of shit about you.
It’s funny, if you listen to Meek’s music, you can hear him going through it.
Before he dropped the album, he played it for me. He was telling me, “Yo, you know how you and Neef was going through y’all shit with your homies? That’s how I am with my niggas right now.” I understood where he was coming from so I gave him the game that I can give him. He’s going to take what he takes.
No matter what I tell Meek or what anybody else tells Meek, it ain’t going to stick like him going through the shit. Experience is the best teacher. Dame used to tell us back in the day about everything. Beans is locked up for taxes right now. Something Dame used to preach to us 24/7; pay your taxes. We had the best businessmen tell us, the best of the best. So, like I say, experience is the best teacher.
Have you talked to Freeway? You and Free have been the only guys from the Roc that went independent and stayed somewhat relevant.
I talk to Freeway about that all the time. I feel like I took the same route as Free. I never stopped working. Y’all may not have seen me in the mainstream, but I just tried to keep it consistent whether it was mixtapes with Mick Boogie or with Cannon, I was dropping shit. I understand being self made, ain’t nobody going to do it for you like you do. Today is easier, because we are our own machines with the Internet and social networks.
Freeway was one of the first people to be like, "I’ma do my independent thing."
And, you know what? Niggas like Jay respect it. Jay will hit me out the blue when he see me doing something. For instance, when I was on tour with Wale, [he was like,] "Stay out there." "Do more dates." Hey, he might see a video, "Yo, I see you. I like that 'Alive' joint." "Yo, that shit hit close to home. That shit remind me of State Property days." You know stuff like that from fans keep me going. So, to hearing that from Hov is….keep pushing.
I just went off and LeBron retweeted and said, 'Yo, Young Chris go in on this.' I was getting random calls then. 'Yo, you see LeBron’s tweet?'
You touched on relationships before. But, we just want to get this in. We don’t think anyone knew until after we did the interview that you knew LeBron. I remember the last time you told me, "I ain’t tryin to throw names, but that’s my homie. If I needed something I could go to him, but I don’t." And, the same situation with Hov.
Brand is everything. And, them dudes look at me in a certain space right now. So, when they’re looking at you in a certain space, it’s like, "He on his way." The respect is there. But, when they’re looking at you like, "Oh, he coming around to ask for this," they’re going to hit the back door on you.
I never came with my hand out, I always came working. That’s what they respect. Maybe a week ago, I did Cosmic Kev Come Up radio. Everytime I go up there he puts on 10 minutes. Cause Kev knows I can go for eight to 10, whatever. I just went off and LeBron retweeted and said, "Yo, Young Chris go in on this." I was getting random calls then. “Yo, you see LeBron’s tweet?”
Do you still talk to Beans?
Yes, Beans is booked right now. I just got his information from Freeway the other day. I’m going to write him. His son called me, maybe, a month ago. "Yo, my dad want me to come to the studio with you. He said, ‘Can you take me to the studio sometimes?'"
We remember that you had a solo album in the mix with Mark Ronson and Jay Z back in 2008-2009.
Beautiful records, man. That was when Mark had the label Allido. That almost came through with me and Wale just kicking it, doing songs here and there. I jumped out went on the Attention Deficit Tour.
What happened to those records?
I still got them.
You can’t release them?
I don’t know if I can. Who is to say we can’t just leak it? When records can’t make the album, I feel like you might as well get rid of it instead of just tucking it.
Beanie Sigel's son called me, maybe, a month ago. 'Yo, my dad want me to come to the studio with you. He said, ‘Can you take me to the studio sometimes?'
Are there any young artist you fucking with?
It’s this new kid from Philly, Chill Moody. He and Freeway just dropped a video recently. Pusha Feek from North Philly. Young Bob, Headshots that’s his movement. I can’t really give [co-signs] up to these guys, we put in too much work before I got my shot. I’ll just be doing it because we homies or because he from Philly. But this will be the same guys you have to go at a year or two later when they get too big for they britches.
What’s in the future for you?
I take it one day at a time. I’m going into Alive. First debut. My first baby. I’m thankful for the future. I’m always strategic. Once I’m done with that, I will have a better idea of where I want to go. As of right now, me and Neef talking about doing Tough Love 2 after we do our solo projects.