CHRSTOPHR is a Chicago rapper who has been wrongfully convicted and incarcerated. He’s in the process of being exonerated and we’re anticipating his release as local courts reopen. His family and friends have started the #FreeCHRSTOPHR campaign to not only draw attention to his individual case, but to add his name and our voices to the growing call for sentencing integrity and prison reform.
When the Exoneration Project agreed to take his case, the stress lifted enough for him to feel inspired to write new music. He says he’s finally ready to talk about the situation, new music, future plans, etc. His return to the music scene is supported by fellow rappers Damu and Maino.
“Its bigger than me. I know someone is reading this that has a friend, family member that been thru or heard of how this system is. Its real. I missed out on my daughters lives, signing to a label, my family and life because i was wrongfully convicted. I would appreciate everyones support and understanding. It would mean a lot. Not only to me, but my daughters and family as well. Be heard.”
Lisa: Let’s start with #FreeCHRSTOPHR story. You’ve been wrongfully convicted and served 15 years to date. How did it all happen, and where are you now in the process?
CHRSTOPHR: Im in court right now, and being advised by my attorneys, i cant really get into it like that. But, i was wrongfully convicted of a crime that i did not commit. IM INNOCENT! The facts and proof is there. Im just waiting to get back in the court room. The pandemic has slowed down the whole court process. But, it has recently picked back up and im anticipating to get my freedom back. Its been a long time in the process, but its coming. Im being patient.
Lisa: You’ve got motivated to write again after Exoneration Project agreed to take your case. What can we expect, what subjects are going the theme of your music?
CHRSTOPHR: Yeah, i stopped writing music for a minute. I was more focused on my legal work and getting my freedom back. I must of wrote about 50 lawyers, then finally got a response back. Then tara thompson came to see me and a little after the exoneration project took my case. I remember my aunt mari came to see me and asked me if i was still writing, because when i come home people still want to hear what i have to say. I said, yeah. Which was a lie. I wasnt writing. But, when i got back to my cell, i sat and thought about it, wrote a few bars, then put the pen down. I thought to myself, if im gonna do this, im gonna put my all into it. And, thats what i did. My music has seriously grown. Theres subjects that i talk about that i didnt talk about before. When i was a kid and being raised off welfare, real situations that i been thru, the loss of friends and family members and now the situation of being wrongfully convicted. I shyed away from certain topics because i didnt want to relive it. But, im giving all of me with my music and things have to be told, so i had to open the box. Ive been perfecting this album and my music. Its too dope. And, im not just saying that because its me and i wrote it. I be amazed at myself when i be reading it back. Like, i just wrote that. This is gonna be an album that can be played all the way thru. No skipping songs. I hit every subject. Relationship songs, street songs, empowerment songs and if you want to dance, i got that too. Im just being me tho. All the songs are relatable to everyone. Im painting pictures and the beat is my canvas.
Lisa: Let’s get back a bit, and tell me more about how you started doing music, and who were your biggest influences?
CHRSTOPHR: I remember basically being a baby and watching the: we want eazy video, by: eazy-e on bet. I turned the t.v up so loud that it woke my mom up and she just snapped. Seeing that video, i just felt it in my body and in my heart that its what im suppose to do. I just knew it. The crazy thing with that video now that i look back, eazy e gets locked up, then at the end he gets out and is doing his thing again. Thats crazy! Who knew as a kid that that would actually be my situation. I would write in school during class in my notebook in grammer school. My mom found that notebook one day and was like, whats this?! I told her, im gonna be a rapper. She said, a rapper my ass! I would spit for my friends, but never really took it serious. I was running the streets. The first time i went to the studio was just meant to happen. I was trying to put big screen t.v’s in everyroom in the house. So, i met some dude who said he got hot boxes. Thats cable boxes thats hooked up with all the channels, before the internet had everything. One day i find his number like, who’s number is this? I call it and he says, rick. Im like, rick who? He said, rick from the studio. I aint hear anything else after. Im just like, when can i come thru? How much you charge? I know it was just meant to be. I was ready! The artist that im inspired by are: 2pac. He was like the biggest. He takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions with his music. Biggie, wu- tang, master p and the whole no limit, big l, big pun, nas, jay-z, dip-set, fabolous, psychodrama, do or die, crucial conflict, twista, n.w.a. My uncle rey use to have me dress up and perform cypress hill songs for his friends when i was little. He was in a rap group too. He use to play me all these artist i aint heard of and i just soaked it all up.
Lisa: What collaborations can we expect in the future?
CHRSTOPHR: I wrote a lot of songs with artist in mind. I dont pick and choose what artist im gonna work with when im writing. When im writing to a beat, i hear the artist’s voice in my head when im writing the hook or getting that certain someone to put a verse on it. Thats how a feature comes to mind for me. Im gonna work with nas. The song that i have for him is crazy! I know he’s gonna love it. Its dope and cant be denied. It’s nas, so i went super hard too. Made sure my bars are up to par. Im gonna work with h.e.r, mary j blige, drake, ty dolla sign, trey songz, chris brown, future, cardi b, lil durk, dave east, rick ross, keyshia cole, jadakiss, jeremih, chance the rapper, kendrick lamar, common, my amazing, beautiful and talented daughter ebony v. and a few more artist. Most of those features are hooks. It’s just a few verses i need. I promise, my music is too dope. When these artist that i mentioned hear it, they wont deny the fact. I cant wait to work with my daughter tho. She’s just so dope, talented and awesome. Im so proud of her. She’s got that hunger like me. Thats my twin. So, both of us together, its gonna be some massive records being made. She’s just so anxious and ready for me to come home. When she was little, i use to have her sing hooks. She use to hear the song twice and was ready. And, she was only 5 at the time. So, its embeded in her. Check out her music as well.
Lisa: I loved your song “Riding With a Thug.” What was the inspiration behind it?
CHRSTOPHR: I really appreciate you loving the riding with a thug song. Thats love. With that song, i just heard the beat and let the pen flow. Theres no real motive behind it. I just heard the beat, smoked and just started writing. I just had bonded out of jail after being charged with this case at the time. But, when i got locked up, they broke into my house and stole all my equipment. It wasnt much at the time, but it got the job done. So, after i bonded out, i went to guitar center and told them give me all i need to have my studio right. Of course, they picked all the expensive shit. I had the studio in the room next to my bedroom. Whenever i felt like making music, i just go and do it. I was making 3-4 songs a day. Theres songs to this day that hasnt been released. I did songs with maino, outlawz, spice 1 and others. Their just sitting on a computer. But, when i write, i let the beat talk to me most of the time. Sometimes hooks and bars come to my head now, so i just keep a pen with me.
Lisa: What do you hope for in the near future, regarding your music and life?
CHRSTOPHR: Right now, im hoping to get this court date soon, so i can get out of prison already! With my music, im just gonna put out dope ass music. Real music. I love hip hop, for real. I breathe it, i live it, its my passion. Im not no made up rapper. Im an artist who speaks what i know, what i been thru and seen first hand. I want people to be able to close their eyes and picture what i say. Feel it like they are there at that exact moment. Grab a hold of you and then you say, wow! For my music to be appreciated and possibly change lives as well. And, i want a grammy too. Im coming for it.smile. I want to write a book about my life, get into movies, directing, fashion, brand expanssion. Im gonna start with a label. Its a movement. Build an empire. And, it starts with me, ebony v., and toussaint the general. I want to help hungry and dope artist get their music out there. My youngest daughter alisha is a fashion designer. She makes her own clothes. Im gonna incorporate that as well. My daughter aliah sings too. My nephew is working on making beats. Im molding the future right now. Being blessed with these talents, wont be waisted. Dreams and goals are being chased and we on they heels. So, im letting people know ahead of time now, so whoevers reading this cant say i didnt tell you. Be ready for greatness, get ready for dope music, get ready to see my face and hear my music everywhere. Because im coming! You heard it here first. So, when im out and do the next interview i can say, i told ya’ll! Now, I want people to follow and re-tweet the hashtag freechrstophr. Its a movement. Its a real situation that im going thru with this whole justice system. Things need to be seen and heard. You see the news and know these type of things happen. Let your voice be heard. This is a consistent thing that occurs. It aint start with me and im sure it wont end with me. But, if we stay silent on one person, then the next man or woman wont be heard. Its time for a change. Stand up. Thank you.
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