Photograph: IG (@christongray)
Christon Gray is a crazy talented man with a new album coming out titled The Glory Album. He visited DC doing promotions for the project. He had an meet and greet at Howard University before visiting WHUR’s student affiliated radio station WHBC. I had the opportunity to chat with Christon, and reconfirmed why I love his music. Check out our conversation below:
(Beginning of Conversation)
I’m chatting with the talented Christon Gray. First of all man, I love your music. I love how you are able to blend singing and rapping. How do you do that? Because a lot of artists fail when it comes to being able to sing and rap on the same record and even on multiple tracks. How do you do it?
Christon Gray: I use to listen to Lauryn Hill, and she seems to do it pretty effortlessly. And another artist (I don’t necessarily think he was the greatest singer) is Andre 3000 when he had The Love Below. He was bold enough to make that decision. More recently you hear people like Drake. He does both, but he doesn’t really acknowledge himself to be like a singer. And stylistically the approach is really inspired by artists like that. Then there’s a big part of me where I can’t help it, and it just happens. I love both equally.
Cool. So your next project coming out in less than a week is The Glory Album. The titles of your work have poetic meaning. What does this one mean?
Christon Gray: This one is very literal. The last one was very poetic, and the one before that was even more cryptic. For this one, I wanted to go straight literal. The Glory Album has a lot of meaning and a lot of depth to it, but glory in itself can be an ambiguous word. It’s very common, but people get this picture, and they don’t really know how to describe it. Like if I say, “Yo, what’s glory?” Most people are like, “Uh, um. It’s uh, Heaven. It’s a newborn. It’s a look in your eye.” For me, glory is a place. (Myself: Hmm, that’s good!) It’s a place I’m trying to go. From Glory to Glory! It is something I fight for, for my family. It is something that I fight inside of myself. And lastly, it’s something that I only want to see for God. It’s his Glory.
Amen. Now you released a video a few months back and your brother is in it. (Christon Gray: Yeah, “Connor McDees.”) So what’s it like flowing with your brother?
Christon Gray: He’s an animal. It’s easy. It’s not like yo you my bro and we on the come up so let me make sure I give you some shine because you’re family. Na, my favorite rapper happens to be my brother like straight up. I’ve seen him do things that I haven’t seen any current MC do, and he’s always been that way. We come from a strict musical background where you couldn’t let ‘wackness’ fly as a singer or a rapper. You spit a bar that doesn’t make any sense or have any depth to it, nobody’s clapping for you. You singing flat in the shower, you gone hear about it from the kitchen. It’s been a privilege, and obviously since were so close, I feel safe with any record that he’s on.
Speaking of bars in the song you said, let me get this right, “Offer them a parachute and then they take a pair of shoes.”
Christon Gray: *raps* “I offer them a parachute / They trade if for a pair of shoes”
What did that line mean to you?
Christon Gray: I just think that we can do more than what we’ve currently done. And when I say we, I mean those that are Christian rappers or in any Christian based genre. I’m offering people an opportunity and another way to see… another way to free-fall if you will. I use a parachute as an example of personal issues like when we’re falling. The whole line is that we are all falling. There’s no desire to embarrass dudes. I offer them a parachute they trade it for a pair of shoes. They want to hit the ground running. They think they’ll always land on their feet. We always think that we can so quickly come back when we fall down, and it’s pride that causes that. And I think that honesty, vulnerability, and showing people that whole walk through that is what will help regular people, believers and unbelievers, to see that this is not a cake walk. It’s a lot of depth to that line.
Yeah. I can feel it. (Christon Gray: Yeah!) So you had a recent interview with DeRay McKesson, and you talked about your recent to Ferguson. You went on to talk about your song on the album “Blackmail (Black Male).” What does that song represent for you and what was it like writing that?
Christon Gray: Sure. “Blackmail” was… whew… It was tough. I wrote it with a really good friend of mine. We sat down and tried to capture a love story told between a Black man and a White woman trying to love each in the midst of societies ills that we see as racial injustice. It was difficult because I’m writing from the perspective of a Black male who still see’s himself a certain way in society. He’s imaging what it would be like to explain to a child, a son, he will always be viewed as Black male. It’s just a very creative way to push people to an agenda that’s not hostile when dealing with social injustice. It’s a love story.
Definitely! Now before you go, I like to ask everyone that I chat with to give me 5 adjectives that describe them today.
Christon Gray: 5 adjectives, umm. Corny, Awkward, Beautiful, Challenging, and a fifth adjective would be Patient.
(Ending of Conversation)
Thank you again Christon for sippin’ on The Top Tea. Everyone make sure you legally get yourself a copy Christon’s latest project The Glory Album. The Glory Album is slated to be released on March 11, 2016! It’s an amazing body of work. Don’t miss out!
Bryant Smith is the founder and owner of The Top Tea.