Savvy Spotlight: Introducing Chris J.

Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 11:00 AM

To kick off the Savvy Spotlight section, I'd like to introduce our first Savvy Spotlight Artist. You've heard him blaze the hook on Plies' hot new banger Put It On Ya which is blowin' up the airwaves. He's currently working on his own debut album, and took the time to speak with Sound-Savvy about his upcoming project and his plans for the future. He even blessed Sound-Savvy with an EXCLUSIVE, his first single: The Balcony (see below to hear the song). Straight outta Memphis Tennessee, here's Big Gates Recording Artist Chris J.

Sound-Savvy Interview With Chris J

Sound-Savvy: How’s it goin' man?
Chris J: I’m pretty good Mack, how you doin man? I’m blessed.

SS: I’m good, I can’t complain. I’m blessed as well. So dude, you gotta tell me how’d you get on the record with Plies?
Chris J: Man it was a great situation that came about. The A&R at the label, Alex Martin… one Saturday afternoon he called me. He was like “Man what are you doing?” I was like “Man, I’m at home chillin”. He was like “Well can you catch a plane in the next 3 hours” So I’m like “Yeah”. So man, I bought a ticket and he had this record he wanted me to get on. And when I got there to the studio, I heard the record and the rest is history. I laid it down and Plies loved it. Upon hearing it he shook my hand and said “Congratulations on a number one hit”, and it is that.

SS: Yeah, it’s definitely hot on the radio! Everywhere you go you hear “Put It On Ya” so it’s a hot joint. But you’re no stranger to the spotlight; you’ve been on shows like “Wild Out Wednesday” right?
Chris J: Yeah I was on Wild Out Wednesday a couple times. First time I won with a song of mine called Bubble Bath. The second time around I performed a song called Lunch Break and I actually didn’t win the second time but ya know good things come to those who wait. Upon the second time, Plies’ brother Ronnell saw me on there and he contacted me through the label and God is so good, I got signed.

SS: So at what point in your life did you realize that music was something you wanted to do? How did you get your start?
Chris J: I got my start years ago in church with my mom. I was 5 years old, my mom was a singer, a recording artist also… a gospel recording artist. I started singin’ back in the day when I was 5. My brothers had a band called U-Turn; when I was 14 years old they put me in the band and took me around the country and the world singing at different fraternity and sorority events, black tie affairs, anything you could name we were singing and performing. So I realized a passion for music upon singing on stage and noticing the crowd’s response – people were really into my singing and my performance because I go all out when I’m on stage. I leave everything on the stage and not let a moment go by without entertaining the people.

SS: Back in the day when you were coming up, who were some of the people that influenced your sound and your style of music?
Chris J: I got an old type of spirit, I listened to some Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, some of the Isley Brothers, Stevie Wonder, just this old type of spirit I had growing up because I really didn’t have a teenage life. I was always in the clubs with the grown folks so I missed out on my teenage years. I was a basketball star in high school and had an opportunity to go to Texas Longhorn and play on a scholarship, but I chose to stay in Memphis and play for a junior college so I could pursue my musical career. It didn’t work out at first and I thought maybe I’d made a bad decision, but man when you keep God first and continue to pray, it will happen eventually, so right now I thank God.

SS: Yeah that’s wassup, well congratulations! There’s a lot of new R&B talent coming up in the industry nowadays. Everyone says that they’re unique and they’re the next big thing, but what is it about you and your style that sets you apart from your R&B counterparts?
Chris J: I think my music as far as… the music that you hear, I write realistic music, comin from a rough neighborhood. Man I came up in North Memphis, my mom was shot and killed when I was 11 years old, and so I just write about real situations that either I’ve had or my mom or my dad went through it, or my cousin and her boyfriend, or my brother and his wife. I write about real situations so I think my music is gonna separate me from the regular crowd because it’s not popcorn-ish, ya know. I’m not selling a hook, like my hook is good and then my verses are not good. From the beginning to the end of my songs and my music you’ll be able to tell like “Hey, it’s a well put together song and it touched me”. It’s real music.

SS: Okay cool. So you’re working on your debut album, right?
Chris J: That’s right it’s called Secrets.

SS: Okay, how’s that going and what’s the concept behind it?
Chris J: The concept of the album is that I’m the future of the new R&B Soul. So I believe we’re gonna have a hot project. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re gonna do very well on the project because I don’t have just 2 or 3 good songs on my album, it’s a whole good album. I’m thinkin’ it’s gonna be a classic. I’m workin with some top heavyweight hitters in the industry. Actually in a couple weeks I’m gonna be working with Bryan Michael Cox man, and you know that’s big

SS: Yeah, B. Cox is huge in R&B!
Chris J: Yeah that’s huge, he is the man! Adonis is actually my executive producer on the album, we still workin out some kinks as far as that’s concerned. I’m workin with Adonis, CK out of ATL, Bryan Michael Cox comin up in the near future. And in Memphis I’ve been workin with some cats here that’s very talented and about to get signed to some deals so I’m very blessed to be in the situation I’m in and I thank God each and every day.

SS: I hear ya. So are you writing any of your content on the album or are you just kinda working with a team?
Chris J: Yeah I’m writing a lot of it that’s gonna come out. At one time I had writers block about 6 months ago, and my situation got better because I prayed about it. I actually wrote a song called It’s You that’s gonna possibly be on the album that’s saying:
Every day is a valentine with you. All this love-y dove-y stuff don’t mean nothin’ without you. Nice car, big house don’t mean a damn thing if I don’t have you, It’s you…
So basically all the material things that people talk about, it’s like, I don’t care about that, I care about you as a person, ya know.

SS: Yeah, that’s wassup. Any collaborations on the album? Any other R&B stars or rappers that you’re working with?
Chris J: Yeah it is, but I’m not giving it away though. I can’t do that…

SS: Awwww okay.
Chris J: That’s why I titled my album Secrets!

SS: True dat!! Ha haaaa!
Chris J: Man, when you pick up the album you gon’ be like “Wow”. I’ve actually already done some work with somebody else, I’m not gonna call any names, but the song that’s about to come out and hit the airwaves probably within the next month or two… “Put It On Ya” and this song right here is probably gonna be in that area of… Aaah man I can’t give away the goodies, but this song… it’s a joint that the LADIES ARE GOING TO LOVE!

SS: Okay, aight. So is that gonna be your second single, because the first single is The Balcony right?
Chris J: Yeah, first single is The Balcony. I think it’s just gonna be an appetizer, I don’t even think it’s gonna be the second single. It’s gonna be just something we put out for the ladies. I love the direction that Plies is taking his career – he does songs for the ladies as well as the streets, the hood and the radio. So he has that different music that reminds me so much of 2Pac, and I’m glad to be apart of that. My music of course is gonna be real. And I wanna drop every six months, man. I’ve been pressin’ the issue like “Hey, P (Plies) is dropping every six months, can I drop every 6 months?” ‘Cause I got that much material that I can do that.
SS: Wow… So The Balcony… tell me about that song.
Chris J: The Balcony is basically a concept of you wanting to get with a special individual, whether it’s your wife or a girlfriend, and you basically wanna make love to her on the balcony. You don’t wanna do it regular – like you normally do – in the bedroom or something like that. You wanna go on the balcony. And you really don’t care if the neighbors are lookin’ at you ‘cause you wanna make them go in the house and do the same thing you doin’ so…

SS: Right!
Chris J: It’s a hot steamy song man, and I just know the video is gonna be smokin’ hot so everybody be on the lookout for that – The Balcony.

SS: Yeah, that’s definitely a sexy joint, so you are planning to shoot a video. Where are you planning to shoot it and who are you working with?
Chris J: We’re writin’ up the treatment for it now so it’s in the works and it’s comin pretty soon. So hopefully I’ll be debut-ing it on 106th and Park man, sittin on the couch talking about it and lettin’ everybody know that this is my new joint of the day – The Balcony. Got some major situations happening also with some major labels. I’m not gonna call out any names or anything like that, but there is some interest in about 3-5 companies…

SS: Oh okay!
Chris J: …And that is truly a blessing. And it was all setup by Big Gates Records. Big shout out to them. They will always be first in my heart, first and foremost because they took a chance on me and signing me when nobody else thought I had talent or weren’t even thinking about Chris J. So big shout out to Ronnell and Plies, I really love them for it.

SS: That’s wassup… So let’s switch gears a little bit. You talked earlier about your live show and how you’re a performer that likes to leave everything out on the floor. What can fans expect in a live show from Chris J.?
Chris J: It’s really a mouth-dropping show as you will see and you’ll leave there sayin “I can’t believe he did that!” I always leave a lasting impression on people to where they remember something about the show that they will always remember like “Man Chris J. is real, he’s himself!” You’ll get a little comedy because I love just being me on stage. I may just start talkin’ about somethin and have everybody laughing and then I’m like “Aww man, I’m supposed to be up here singin!” I just like to be myself up onstage. I don’t try to mimic anybody or anything but at a lot of my shows I sing and I’ll go out in the audience and if your girlfriend is there and you wit your girlfriend….

SS: Hahahaaaaa
Chris J: …then know that I’m comin in the audience with a cordless mic and I’m gonna be singin to your girlfriend. So don’t get jealous, I’m doin me!

SS: (laughs) I hear that, man!! I hear that! So 5 or 10 years from now, once you’ve made it to the number one spot a few times, what do you want to be known for in your career?
Chris J: I really wanna be known for my passion as far as music is concerned. I don’t care about the money and the diamonds and glitz, diamond rings and the big houses and fancy cars. I’m living well right now, thank God. Before I even had a deal I was living well. I just want people to know that my passion for music has been real. I love music to where I want to send a message. I want everybody to know that Chris J. is an artist that they would go buy his CD just because he keeps it real. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything, he talks about things that other artists are shy to talk about. And I think we’ve gotten away from that bedroom music, behind-closed-doors type music. I mean, everybody gets down: preachers, doctors, lawyers, everybody. That’s how we all came into this world so I don’t think it’s nothing wrong with that type of music, so that’s what I want people to remember me for.

SS: Cool, cool. So do you have any advice you’d like to give to any aspiring R&B artists?
Chris J: Most definitely Mack, man. I just want to let everybody know if you want to be this big time star, the first thing you have to do is just keep God first and be persistent. When people tell you ya can’t do anything, continue to strive… go forward until you knock down some doors. You may knock on them and they may get closed in your face, don’t get disappointed. Continue to push yourself and get a team of people that believe in you. Put CD’s on people’s cars, go to malls, give people CD’s in grocery stores. And don’t always try to make money. When I was putting my music out back in the day before I got signed, I wasn’t tryin to make $5 for a CD. I had 14 songs and I was givin it away! If you got a dollar, give me a dollar, 50 cent, 2 dollars, I was just tryin to turn my money back over. I paid $80 for 100 CD’s so if you can, get your music out here where people can hear you – if nobody knows you they’re not gonna buy you! So give away some CD’s if you can afford to, just continue to pray and keep God first and everything else will come.

SS: Most def. Dude, that’s very inspirational, I appreciate it especially for people like me who have dreams and goals and I’m sure some of our aspiring talent can appreciate it as well. I wanna thank you for taking the time to talk to Sound-Savvy, We wish you the best on your debut album. Is there a release date slated?
Chris J: It’s gonna be either late spring or early summer. I want it to be done by the end of March. I’m pretty much done with my album, it’s just choosing the right songs to go on the album. And at the same time, working with Bryan Michael Cox, I may come up with 2 or 3 more hits. So I gotta wait till I get done with that. But thank you for allowing me the opportunity let me first tell you that. From my heart, I really appreciate you because you and DJ’s wanting to interview an artist like me – we would be still unheard of. So this is actually building an extra fanbase for me so I’m grateful and humble for that.

SS: Oh yeah, most def. That’s what Sound-Savvy is all about, we’re the community for true fans of real music and we like to spotlight people who put out real music and put out real content that people can relate to. Like you said, we all have our different experiences, we all do certain things and there’s no need to dance around the issue. If you’re making real music and talking about real things then it sounds real good. So it’s our pleasure to interview you as well.


1 Comment

  1. Martini Said,

    great interview. sounds like he's going to be doing the damn thing!

    Posted on January 12, 2009 at 10:31 PM


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