[Interview] Shawn Chrystopher - Finding Chrystopher
As I walked through the doors and up the stairs of Truth Studios – a secluded yet comfortable musician’s lair tucked away just a short walk from The Grove – I wondered what Timbaland’s newest signee would be like in person. Of course, I didn’t know that he’d been signed at the time (and perhaps neither did he) since we met up two days before the release of his self-directed music video, “One Of My Homies”, and a week before Timbaland’s video announcement, but I’d heard through the grapevine that he had “very close ties” with the production heavy-weight. However, his musical connections amounted to less than half of my initial intrigue; especially given the fact that the emcee in question was also a college graduate, and a political science major. Apparently, not only is he well-versed in politics and the social sciences (assumingly), but smart as well – smart enough to graduate from high school at age 16 and master the art of playing five different instruments. So who is this college graduate turned rapper anyway?
The Well Versed is excited to bring you an exclusive and in-depth interview with Shawn Chrystopher, Timbaland’s newest artist and one of L.A.’s fastest rising emcees. Read below to find out what its like to work with Timbaland, his connection with the movie, Finding Forrester; and his talk with Big Sean about developing hometown support:
TWV: So I hear you majored in political science at USC?
Shawn Chrystopher: Yea, I haven’t thought of that in awhile…
TWV: How did a political science major get involved in rapping?
Shawn Chrystopher: I majored in political science because it was the only major where I didn’t have to take math. I just did it, I didn’t really want to do anything with my degree honestly. I didn’t do want to do school. I just did school so my mom wouldn’t be on my back, but then I got old enough and I didn’t care anymore. But political science… I didn’t, I don’t know. I like Law & Order so I was like fuck it [laughs].
TWV: So it was more of a “let me just satisfy the parents until I can do what I want to do” type of thing?
Shawn Chrystopher: Yea, pretty much.
TWV: So you have a new mixtape dropping, LoveStory… Elaborate on the concept of the name and what kind of vibe we can expect on it?
Shawn Chrystopher: The idea kinda came from… I was having a conversation with Kevin Liles and he was telling me that every artist has to have a point of view. Like just because you’re a good artist, you’ll make good music, no matter what kind of music it is that you can make. You know – gangsta music – you can make any kind of music if you’re a good artist, but at the end of the day, its like what is your voice for? And so a lot of the records that I’ve written that a lot that people have connected with have been about like, relationships in my life. So I was like, fuck it, I believe that’s my point of view, that’s my voice, that’s what I’m here. To kind of just tell stories in the form of music about things that I’ve gone through and not be the same rapper that just embellishes certain things or talks about things that he doesn’t have or doesn’t own. So with this mixtape, LoveStory, its real. Its about a lot of the things that I’ve gone through in my life and that I know people can relate to. Its kind of like the most honest that I’ve been so far.
TWV: Did you know that Yelawolf is coming out with a project called Love Story?
Shawn Chrystopher: Yelawolf? Really? I didn’t know that… I don’t even listen to Yelawolf like that.
TWV: Yeah, I just found out about it myself…
Shawn Chrystopher: When is it coming out?
TWV: I’m not sure. I just saw that he had the same title…
Shawn Chrystopher: That’s tight.
TWV: Really? I thought you might be a little vexed about it…
Shawn Chrystopher: Nah. We’re not having conferences or conference calls about what we’re doing first so you know, shit happens.
TWV: True… So I went on your Twitter page – Twitter stalked you for a little bit – and I noticed that you’ve been making a lot of noise about your “One Of My Homies” music video. You said its “your best video yet, period.” What makes it so special?
Shawn Chrystopher: I’ve just gotten better at directing the editing. All of the videos that I’ve done, I’ve pretty much edited and directed myself, but this time I don’t know, I kinda took my time with it. I shot the video in like February and I just finished it like last week so I really took my time. It just, you know, goes along the same lines as what I was saying with the music; its just real. Like there’s no cars in there that we don’t own, no jewelry or no girls in there that we don’t really know. Everybody in there is my homeboy or my homegirl. It was shot at my homeboy’s crib – nothing too fancy or anything like that – just being real. So I think that people really can relate to it more. Like honestly, if you were watching the video on mute, you would just think it was like a reality show. Its just stuff that we were doing that day, and I think that its like the realest video that I’ve done and I worked harder on it than any other video so I’m just really excited to show people.