Reintroducing Young Chris: From Roc-A-Fella To Division 1, Philly’s Back

During Roc-A-Fella Records’ rise in the early 2000s, its members were at an all-time high. Between the mixtapes, albums, movies and clothing lines, the groups within the label were on the brink of becoming some of the greatest of their time. But after the sticky fall-out between owners Jay-Z and Dame Dash, most of the groups signed like the Young Gunz and State Property—two cliques in which Philly rapper Young Chris was a member of—came to a halt.

Luckily, Chris didnt let the upset determine his future in hip-hop. The Philly native applied the lessons he learned from the school of Roc and landed a new record deal. After a lot of hard-work and dedication, six-consecutive mixtapes and multiple short videos documenting his journey, the Gunna is looking to drop his first solo album next season.

Motivated by his family and fans, Chris talked to VIBE on his new adventures and life after Roc-A-Fella. He explains his relationship with Jay-Z and State Prop, talks about joining Division 1 with Rico Love, his new projects , and even the type of woman he likes. We RE-introduce to you, Christopher “Young Chris” Ries. –Aliya Faust

VIBE: I heard your freestyle on Cosmic Kev’s Come Up Show. People used to have to freestyle to prove themselves to get in the rap game but it’s not really like that now. How do you feel about that change?
Young Chris: That’s what keeps me sharp. A lot of people tell me I might have to dumb down my style so people can catch up. This is a different day and age. I feel like people are going to catch up one day or another.

So what’s up with your new recording home Division 1? How’d you get up with Rico Love?

Division 1 is a whole family. Rico Love is the CEO. Basically, I seen Rico in ’08. I was working out of Dre and Vidal’s studio. He was in there writing records for Usher and I was literally just sleeping at his studio, getting it in, heavy. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past five years before I got the deal. And Rico saw that. We would run into each other. One thing led to another…we started shooting hoops, playing basketball together. He’d tell me to come down Miami. Fast forward to years down the line, I dropped Network 2 with [DJ Don] Cannon. I dropped two mixtapes with Cannon. [There] was Network 1. I was ready to do a deal with Allido/Interscope. I had went on the Attention Deficit Tour with Wale. Did the whole tour, was about to do a deal with the production company called Allido…but we agreed to disagree. Back to the drawing board, ‘Cannon, let’s do part 2.’ So we did Network 2. I did a photo-shoot in my house. Off the tape, I shot a few vids and I cut them to 30 seconds. All white net drops. No Bentleys, no jewelry, no girls, just me getting busy so they could just focus on what I’m saying. And it worked. Rico reached out. It was actually a record called “The Moon and Stars.” He was like ‘yo, I almost forgot how nice you were.’

This was the situation: at the time I had a few [deals] on the table but never was filled. He was like ‘yo, tell them to beat whatever I put.’ He felt confident of what he had. He flew out to Philly, next day after that we drove up to Universal…they just wanted to check me out, look at my appearance. You know in the movie, Notorious, where Puff was like, ‘bring your man, let me see him?’ They want to check you out to make sure you’re marketable. That happened, and a few days after that I’m in Miami recording “Break Em Down” and “Philly Sh*t.” The rest is history. I’m excited about the whole Division 1 movement because I feel like I’m a priority over there. It’s a new label, a new movement. We got a lot of work to do. But I’m excited about it. I love my position over there. Rico is great. His energy is great. His vibe is great. He’s motivation. I just try to out-work him.

In your songs you address people asking you about the Roc all the time. Are you tired of it?

It’s crazy, I always tell people when you chop the head, the body falls. It’s just what it is. And that’s what happened with it. Jay and Dame, when they split ways, the family just crumbled. It’s like when grandma passes, the backbone passes and the family just crumbles. Y’all don’t come together no more. Y’all don’t do the same holidays together no more. It’s just everybody all over the place. But that’s basically how it happened. Honestly, I was blessed to still be relevant and to have those relationships with Dame, with Jay.

Are yall still real tight?

It’s funny you ask that because Jays nephew was in the studio with me last night. He came down to Philly. I did a verse with one of his homies. That ain’t going to never change. I can’t change that. That’s something that [ponders thoughts], they raised me when I was 14-years-old. It wouldn’t be me if I pointed the finger. My biggest record says, “Roc-a-Fella records ’cause we, we get down”—nominated for a Grammy. That’s my family. That’s my extended family. Will always be. It’s always good vibes.

I was at Philly’s 100.3 The Beat Super Jam 2 a few weeks ago, and I didn’t see you when all the Philly rappers came out with Meek.

I wasn’t performing. If I can’t get it all the way I want to get it off, the way I belong, and I know what I’m worth and what I’m supposed to do, then I wasn’t going to show up. And I had to give you that honest answer because I’m not with the political bullsh*t.

I feel you. I know Beans is making music again.

Actually, me and [Beanie Sigel] got a new record together, off of Cardiak Beats. Shoutouts to Cardiak. I’m about to put out a tape with Cardiak called The Revival and Beans is actually featured on one of the records.

So you’re working on another new mixtape?

Yeah, I’m working on The Revival right now and on my album Alive. You know L.I.F.E (Ladies In Free Everywhere) just dropped. And you see all the names I just threw out?

Yeah.

That was the whole concept. L.I.F.E. was for the ladies, The Revival was the thing that’ll bring you back to life. Me and Cardiak did that together because he got the cardiac flatline in his beats so it made sense because the album is titled Alive.

You came back with a bigger buzz after each mixtape hit. When can we expect the album?
Look forward to September. September is back to school time, third quarter. I just want to drop it when it feels right. We’re not in a rush. We’re not out here hungry for paper, so I’m comfortable. I just want to drop it whenever I feel as though it’s right. I got some bullets right now. I got a record with Kelly Rowland titled “Mile High Club.” I got a record with Mario titled “Stars.” I got a record with Rico Love titled “You Are” off the new mixtape [L.I.F.E.]. We just did a video for it. We’re about to go hard for that

“Philly Sh*t” was like the new Philly anthem, but what’s next?

The next move is the “U R” record. We just shot the video like two days ago. I was out in Miami. I just bought a condo out there so I’m going to be out there spending a lot of time creating. The tighter me and Rico get, the tighter the records are. That’s my brother. Like I said, family first. We’re going to spend a lot of time together and make the best records, make some classics. You know, he just won songwriter of the year. I’m trying to get my boys to do this “State Prop Back” track off the “Tupac Back.” Hopefully the record gets done before you put the interview out [laughs].

So what’s up with State Prop. Are y’all trying to make more music together?

Definitely. Sparks spent the whole weekend out in Miami with me this past weekend. Me and Beans got something together. Me and Neef were just at the—I actually went to the concert the other day. We went with Wiz. We met up with Wiz Khalifa and we chilled for a minute. Then I left though. I rolled out. That’s why you didn’t see me when you saw Freeway and Neef and everybody. I left. I was with them that day though. You know, me and Freeway, we speak everyday. We speak on a daily basis. Me and Peedi are tight as well. Everybody’s got their mojo. They’re ready. It’s just a matter of getting in the studio and getting it done.

How’s Peedi doing?

Peedi’s great. That’s one of my favorites. I tell everybody, I tell them how much I talk to him. I tell him, ‘yo come on Crakk, you can’t let that go to waste.’ That boy’s too talented. I feel like he has a lot to offer.

You usually have 2-3 songs for ladies on your mixtapes, but you dedicated the whole tape to the ladies this time. What made you spin that way?

I had to figure out a way to reveal that side of me, to be with my females. I figured that was one of the best ways to do it. It ain’t the typical. Everybody ain’t doing sh*t like that. You probably hear one or two songs or whatever, but I was like, ‘I’m going to dedicate this to y’all.’ It was around the time of Mother’s Day. My daughter’s birthday had just passed. Everything was perfect timing for me with that. And on the flip side of that, you said you just saw it—the Cosmic Kev freestyle showed the guys and the streets, ‘he’s not slipping, he ain’t fall off, he just took the time to dedicate this one to [the ladies]. But here you go for y’all too.’ 11 minutes straight. I like to show off and give a little bit of everything I got to offer and to show my versatility, to show how unique I am.

From the songs you sampled?

Yeah, I think they were special to everybody honestly. Especially, the “Hey Lover.” That’s Uncle LL. LL was one of the smoothest. You’d think he was R&B. But he was one of the smoothest rap cats in the game, so I felt like if I was going to do the player thing and remake everybody, why wouldn’t it be my man. And we all knew the impact Big Pun had on us. He was one of a kind. Me and Rico broke that record down, and it’s crazy because Joe was already on it. So shoutout to Rico for that. Him and Joe got a tight relationship so I was like, ‘wow this is amazing.’ I know everybody else felt the way I felt when they heard him on it. Keith Sweat, baby-making records of course. Like I told you, I came up to him. If I didn’t, my niece, my nephew, then somebody was born off them [laughs]. I was just around for the moment though.

So what is exactly your type of lady?

I hate stuck-up. [I like them] sophisticated, plain, classy, sassy. The one little thing…I hate that “got damn she fine but she party all the time” [laughs][quoting Jay-Z’s “Girls, Girls, Girls”]. I don’t really ask for much.

What are you looking forward to the ladies wearing this summer?

I like to see a lot of skin. It’s crazy what the water and the sun will do to these ladies that’ll help a man see. I say the bikinis. I ain’t too worried about their brands. I’m more so worried about what’s under it [laughs].

Well, what’s your favorite part on a woman then?

Face first. I’m a feign for pretty stuff. That’s the first thing that gets me—her face. Then I look right down. Hopefully she got on flip-flops. I’d like to see her feet—I don’t want to have no Martin situations [refers to the episode of Martin where he pulled the covers back and sees a crusty pair of feet][laughs]. But yeah, face first. And I like natural. I always ask girls with pretty long hair, ‘why y’all wear weave though.’ I’ll never get it. I guess it’s easier to deal with?

I mean, yeah. But I don’t know, I don’t wear weave.

That’s what’s up then. You understand me.

The relaxers and all that?

Yeah, I don’t get it. It throws me off.

You prefer long hair over short hair?

Oh no, it don’t matter. Some women look just as sexy as they are with long hair, with it short. I love them both. I do not discriminate. Trust me.

I know you have a daughter but do you want more kids?

Just one. No more kids. Not right now, anyway. I feel like it’d be selfish if I had another kid right now while I’m doing this music. I have to focus on my music. Luckily, she knows her daddy. She knows who I am. She knows me real well. Family, her mom, everybody is

What’s something you want to let everybody know?

Get that L.I.F.E. Make sure everybody downloads is for free off of youngchris.com, off division1.com. Just look forward to the album and this new record I just did called “U R” [featuring Rico Love]. I hope everybody loves it like I love it. We just shot the video so look forward to that. And follow me [on Twitter]: @YoungChris. They show me love, I show it back.

Props to Vibe