Interview – Trill Talk with Shawn Chrystopher
Shawn Chrystopher is currently on the I Am Finally Famous tour with Big Sean and CyHi The Prynce–read that review–and I was able to chat with him when they were in Seattle. Million dollar question: does Shawn Chrys feel Finally Famous? Well, you’ll just have to keep reading to find out because I’m not going to give that away in the introduction paragraph!
We also talked about the 2012 presidential candidates, the Occupy Wall Street movement, going college, his favorite horror movie, who he would love to collaborate with (that one surprised me!), Law & Order: SVU since Stabler’s departure, and The-Dream’s “Fancy” vs. “Nikki” part 1 and 2, among many subjects.
Shoutout to Shawn, Randy, Ashley and everyone else in Honour Role Music!
Julie: ‘K it’s rolling. So, first of all, do you remember me from iChat?
Shawn: Yeah, I do. [laughs]
J: Let the record show that Shawn Chrystopher is hella cool because he iChats his fans!
S: That was a while ago.
J: I know! A really long time ago. It’s been cool to kind of follow your career. I remember when I heard you the first time, it was “Like A Kid Again,” which is one of my favorite songs by you, and it must have been on Shade 45, and they didn’t say who it was, so I just went home and plugged in all the applicable words until I figured it out! Then I downloaded it. So when I was doing my research, I saw that you went from kindergarten to second grade, and then graduated early. I was kind of wondering, did that contribute at all to “Like A Kid Again?”
S: Yeah, I mean, you know, I had to always act to mature, I had to act older than I was, so people wouldn’t think I’m acting playful because I’m young, you know. I really do have a a really comedic side to me, and me and my friends are really funny like that, but you know, as I got older, I realized, ‘Why am I trying to act so grown?’ Like for what? There will be times that I wish I was a kid again. So, it’s just me, realizing that I don’t have to act like I’m 20 when I’m 16.
J: And then you studied politics in college?
J: How’d that go?
S: Um, it was cool. Political science. I chose it because it was one of the majors where I didn’t have to take math, so I just chose that.
J: Good idea.
S: Like, you know, poli sci, all your tests, finals and midterms are essays, and there’s really no right or wrong answer when there is an essay as long as you word it correctly. You can basically prove your point, so I was really articulate and I loved to write so it was cool.
J: Yeah, same…coming from the English Lit major. I don’t do math… Anyway, what are you thinking about the current political climate, given your college background?
S: I think that, the people are really giving Obama a hard time. I think that he had a lot to fix and we expected him to do it over night, and I have been watching some of the debates on the Republican side, and I just don’t think that there’s anyone else out there capable of bringing us out any better than Obama in these times. I think that we should, you know, definitely give him another shot, another four years for him to make up on some of the promises he made when he made to us when he first started.
J: Mhmm. What do you think about Occupy Wall Street?
S: You know, I actually went by there when I was in New York.
J: Oh really?
S: Yeah, yeah and you know, I’ve been reading a lot about it, and a lot of other cities as well, and it’s really messed up when you really think about the people who control the country, and how the majority basically feels like a minority, and it’s crazy that we, just, if one perfect, if I had billions of dollars, I wouldn’t mind giving up hundreds of millions, or even billions depending one what I have, to make other people’s lives easier, you know what I’m saying? I think what we’re seeing in Occupy Wall Street, and things like the NBA, it’s just sad that money really can change a country like that, and then in like Oakland, that’s more, that’s not just sad, but police corruption and things going on out there, it’s just, I don’t know, man, that’s why I’m a musician, I try to, I really do believe that music can heal all, you know?
S: I just pray for the best for everybody and try to create the best art that I can to help out.
J: Cool… And then…
Someone opens the door, looking for a good view of the stage…
Guy whose name I don’t know: Oh my fault!
S: It’s all good!
Unidentified guy: I was just gonna look out here…
Shawn: You can look out! C’mere!
J: Wanna be part of the interview?
Unidentified guy: Oh you’re doing an interview?
U: Oh my fault, I didn’t mean to interrupt!
S: Nah, just come over here!
Some talking that was drowned out by the sweet sounds of the DJ set.
S: There’s a lot of people down there!
U: There’s a lot of people down there! I’m going to get stuck in that room!
J: You’ll get your ass whooped by all the teenagers. Been there, done that.
S: It’s all ages tonight.
Our guest leaves after apologizing again.
J: Okay. I saw one time, because I used to not have a job so I had a lot of free time to know blog prolifically, etcetera, and I remember you mentioning something about getting your PhD?
S: Yeah, I want to go back to school at some point. I just really want to, you know, to me a degree is basically a piece of paper that says you really know what you know already.
S: At the time, when I was in college, I felt like I couldn’t leave to pursue music because I got out of it what I needed at the time. I was able to converse with different races and ages, and I was able to network and gain connections and relationships and contacts that will help me for life, and I think that’s the most important part of college. And that’s what I got out of it, so I was able to move on from it without thinking that I messed up, but at some point I do want to go back and get as many papers as I can. It’s just, something cool to have, you know, why not.
J: For sure. Did you study music at all in school?
S: No, man, the music kids were weird. They were really weird.
J: [bursts out laughing]
S: The music kids were weird. [laughs]
J: I was in band in high school…I had no interest in college.
S: Yeah me neither. I’m not with the whole auditioning thing. I’m not with that.
J: Are you producing a lot of your music still?
S: Yeah, yeah. I do basically everything, me and my friend Zaire, we pretty much do everything. It’s just a skill that I always want to get better at, and practice on. I really see myself producing way longer than I am rapping, and scoring movies, and shit like that. That’s the kind of shit I really want to do.
J: Dope! What are your favorite instruments to play?
S: The piano, and the drums, because that’s like, if you get those two down, with the right keyboard, you could basically do anything, so those are the ones that I use the most.
J: So I remember a couple months ago I read something about how you signed with a major label?
S: Oh, it was…
J: Did you sign with G.O.O.D. Music?! [I seriously sounded like I said it in italics...so I italicized it]
S: Nooo. G.O.O.D. Music, I have, it’s some really good people on G.O.O.D. Music.
J: It’s a good guess though!
S: Really good friends as well, Sean, CyHi. Such good people. I got to meet Don C, who is really cool, he’s like one of the coolest dudes ever. I think it’s like the NBA, G.O.O.D. Music is like the Lakers, you know what I’m saying?
S: Everyone wants to be a Laker. If you in Major League Baseball, everyone wants to be a Yankee. Every other team hates the Yankees, so I think that’s how G.O.O.D. Music is. To be a part of the Yankees, that would be a dream come true of mine, but no, I’m just, I made a major deal with Kevin Liles. He’s actually executive managing me, and helping me with Honour Role and with my career, and that’s a major move for me, and I’m just excited about that.
J: Well, congratulations!
S: Thank you!
J: Are you planning on basically doing the independent thing?
S: Uh yeah, I mean, we’re in a transitional stage right now, but you know, I am, I am. I love it.
[Extra loud music starts playing]
S: Oh that’s Sean’s DJ, he’s about to start DJing. But you know, it’s just us, man, Honour Role, what we’re doing right now.
J: Your team sounds awesome. Everyone’s hella cool.
S: Yeah man we’re mad cool. All of us. We just, we love, you know, music…
J: I think I need to give this to you. [hands Shawn my voice recorder]
S: Oh I’m sorry.
J: It’s kind of loud now.
J: So how has your time on the road been?
S: Amazing! I meet like some really amazing people, and I get to see my music connect with people, I see people singing my lyrics, it just freaks me out sometimes! But I learn so much every night. I watch Sean’s and CyHi’s show, and I learn so much from them, especially from Sean because you know, me and Sean were doing shows together when there was like 30 people in the crowd, some years ago, and to see how much he’s grown. He’s worked really hard, and I’ve watched his show, and I know that he’s grateful for where he is right now, for every fan that he has. It’s just inspiring to have some people around me like that, so it’s really dope.
J: Do you have any crazy/funny tour stories?
S: Crazy/funny tour stories…
J: Like all the skanks outside here in the 35 degree weather…
S: Ahh, yeah. Man, there’s so many, I know! We had a show in Salt Lake City, and, they had all the cars and buses on the lot, so I was with, I got friends in Salt Lake City, and we were going to go drop one of my friends off at her house. We drive off the lot, go through all the kids, go down the street, and then we pull into my friend’s driveway, and a car pulls in behind us, and this kid hops out, and asks for an autograph. Like, they followed us, like from the venue and stuff. It was kind of scary.
J: Do you feel Finally Famous now?
S: [laughs] Nooo not at all, not at all.
S: Scared. That people can get that close to you.
J: That’s cool, my friend was at the Salt Lake show, he hit me up and was like “I’m seeing CyHi and Big Sean,” and I’m like, “Shawn Chrys is also gonna be there! You’re gonna love him!” and he hit me back later and was like “You’re right! He was great!” And I was like Yesss.
S: [laughs] Yeah Salt Lake was dope.
J: Yeah, do you have like a favorite song to perform?
S: Oooooh, I like “Catch Me If You Can…”
J: That was sick!
S: I like “Hangover.” I just love to perform all of them, really.
[DJ Mo Beatz is playing Kreayshawn’s “Gucci Gucci” for the crowd.]
S: Kreayshawn. I’m in love with Kreayshawn.
S: I’m in love with Kreayshawn.
J: [starts laughing] You are?
S: I am.
J: I really like this song… What about like V-Nasty?
S: I’m in love with all of them.
J: All of em?
S: I like white girls. [laughs]
J: Is there going to be a Shawn Chrys and White Girl Mob collab anytime soon?
S: Yeah that would be awesome, that would be AWESOME. Whatever way we can collab, I would love to. THey’re dope. They’re all dope.
J: That’d be pretty cool.
S: I think so, too.
J: What are you working on right now besides trying to get your Kreayshawn collab?
S: [laughs] Um, we working on like an album to come out in mid February and like a real official one in stores and on iTunes, like that, so we’ve been working on that, really working on this first single because it’s going to come out at the top of the year, and just, you know, really take this momentum from the tour on and to people’s homes, and hopefully if everything goes right, I will be going on another tour, and another tour, around the same time, so just take a few weeks off and I’m back on the road again.
J: Cool, awesome. So I really liked all the strings in “Scary Movie” [off Silent Films for the Blind]. What’s your favorite scary movie?
S: Aww man, you know, it’s funny; I like really cheesy scary movies. I think they’re the best, like those movies that aren’t scary, and they know they’re not scary, and it’s like my favorite. It’s this movie that I saw on Netflix called Frozen, and what happens is this, two guys and a girl, they try to go up on a ski lift, it was like at the end of the whole day, and then the guy says, No, we’re closing,’ and they say, ‘Please let us come down one more time!’ He says, ‘Ok,’ and he let’s them go up on the ski lift, and he’s sitting there, and he has to go pee, so he asks one of the other employees, ‘Yo can you watch the ski lift? It’s three kids whose up there, when they come down, shut it down.’ And he said, ‘Ok.’ So three kids come down, but it’s not the same three kids.
J: Uh oh…
S: So when they get off, he shuts it down, so now the three kids are just hanging at the top of the ski lift, and it was like a Sunday, and it’s only open on weekends, so they had to sit up there until Friday, in freezing weather. It was crazy, man! They had to, they hopped down, and the wolves ate them! It was, yeah!
S: It was amazing, man! It’s called Frozen.
J: [still laughing] That sounds…
J: …like it could be a Law & Order: SVU episode or something.
S: That’s my favorite TV show.
J: Word. I’m…upset that Stabler is gone.
J: Have you been watching it this season?
S: Yeah man, it’s not, it’s not… They killed him!
J: They actually killed him?
J: He had like a whole family, though!
S: Yeah. He just had a baby not too long ago when his wife got into an accident with Olivia. And they had to get her out because she was pregnant. It was crazy. Yeah it’s not the same, but he’s been doing it for like twelve, thirteen years, kinda wanted something else.
J: I’m trying to think of my favorite episode, but they’re all good.
S: They’re all good, yeah.
J: Stabler. Sad about that. [Ed. note: I think I was rambling some more about Stabler but I couldn’t understand what I was saying because DJ Mo Beatz was too busy killing it] I was wondering, if you could, explain the concept behind “Neiman Marcus Garvey.”
S: “Neiman Marcus Garvey” is, just came to me one day, I was like online shopping, just like that name came to me. And Marcus Garvey is like, you know, a black activist, he wanted everybody to go back to Africa and basically he was a really great orator, he was a leader, so, you know, to kind of be that, be Marcus Garvey, is something that was dope, and then Neiman Marcus, because you know, you fresh at the same time, so who has to say that you either focus on fashion or politics? Why can’t you do both? So “Neiman Marcus Garvey” is someone who just, you know, I focus on the world, I want to change the world, but I want to look good doing it.
J: Love it. Great. So what other artists are you listening to right now?
S: [singing along to the instrumentals of Travis Porter’s “Make It Rain” that DJ Mo Beatz is playing]
J: Besides Kreayshawn.
S: I listen to Big Sean. I really like his album a lot…
J: What’s your favorite song?
S: I’m a big Kid Cudi fan. My favorite Sean record?
J: Ass ass ass ass [Ed. Note: I don’t claim to not be obnoxious].
S: Yeah that’s a dope record, man, I love “High,” “High” off that, that’s like the first song that stood out to me on the album, you know, I’m a big Big Sean fan, just not ‘cause he’s my friend, but because I really do love his music, and you know, all the way back to his old stuff, like “Gon Getcha Some,” and like “A Million Dollars,” and “Desire Want and Need.” I love those records, too, but I’ve seen him mature, you know what I’m saying? So I listen to Sean, I listen to Cudi…I listen to everybody. Kendrick Lamar. Everyone.
J: Big Dream fan?
S: Biiiig, big Dream fan. He’s amazing. I listen to The-Dream.
J: Agreed! Do you like “Fancy” better, or “Nikki” one and two?
S: [without hesitation] “Fancy.” They’re both really, really good songs, but “Fancy!” I find myself listening to “Fancy” more…by a slim margin.
J: And my favorite question to ask everyone is, what’s your favorite book?
S: Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison.
J: I read that in college! It’s a good one.
S: So did I, yeah. It’s a really good book.
J: So I guess that’s about it. I was going to ask you…I read this really interesting editorial, I think it was by Jake Paine from HipHopDX, he talked about how major, huge artists, like Kanye, don’t talk to any hiphop outlets anymore that supported them, that the hiphop interview in endangered. Do you have thoughts?
S: You know, I don’t think that it’s endangered. I just think that people grow, and everyone goes to that next level. Like you know, you start off saying, I want to be interviewed by every blog, then after that you want to be interviewed by every hiphop magazine, after that you want to be interviewed by Billboard, after that you want to be interviewed by New York Times and by Forbes, and then Time Magazine. It’s like, you want to hit all your spots, and sometimes you have certain stories that you want to hold off until you get there. You don’t want to oversaturate the market with your interviews and you have points you want to hit, and that’s all it is. I just think that’s why the hiphop magazines are big on breaking new artists, like myself, because you know, we’re open, and we’re there to speak to them, and we have great views on music and we have hardcore fans just as well, and that’s why the hiphop magazine really give us young guys a great outlet, so I think it really comes full circle.
J: Yeah, cool!
J: Well I don’t really have anything else.
J: But thank you!
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