I’m doing great, man.
You have a new situation with Chris Styles and Dangerous, LLC. How did that come about?
With Styles, it’s rather unique because I’ve known Styles since he was about 15 years-old. He was in a group called Us with Bruce Waynne, who’s a part of Midi Mafia’s production team. They were doing their thing and Smoothe and us, we were on the rise at that particular point in time. Styles was very genuine as a fan, not knowing that he would get to this point where he would step to me to do business. We were fans of each other and Styles was always my dude along with Bruce from Midi Mafia. It’s cool. To be at this point now, me and Styles have a joint venture situation. He stepped to me knowing that I was a businessman in my own right. He didn’t step to me like I was an artist. He said, “Let’s come together. You got your chess pieces and I got mine. Let’s come together and make this happen.” I said, “Let’s do it.”
Chris Styles spoke a lot about how important spirituality is to him and I know it is to you as well. How much did that influence your decision to sign with Dangerous, LLC?
God doesn’t make mistakes and when it’s time, it’s time. When He puts his hand over your situation, it’s either going to go well or it’s going to go bad, depending on the karma of your soul and what you put into the universe. Spirituality is the quintessential element to my existence. I don’t even think that I could breathe without spirituality. I’m probably 5% physical and 95% spiritual. Everything that I’ve spoken about that I’ve wanted to do with my life, outside of music as well, has become a reality and I know that’s because of my faith in God. Spirituality is definitely a big, big factor in what we do musically. I don’t want anybody to ever get it messed up that we’re some generic suits. That's not what it is. It’s a very organic and a very spiritual process when we do the music.
Jay said, “Sometimes you have to crack the door and let God walk in.” I thought that was incredible. That stuck out to me the most from the Fade to Black DVD. I think that went over some people’s heads. I think that’s 100,000% true. You just have to crack the door and let God walk in. Look at where his career is.
How have things been going for you so far at Dangerous, LLC?
I’m happy with the way things are moving because I’m a part of how it’s moving. I’m not just the average artist. I’ve been in the cut for awhile, helping a lot of artists sell a lot of records, whether it was just me being the spiritual influence in their situation or being hands-on with their situation. When Styles and I chose to do business with each other, he and Urkill and their whole team already knew what I was coming to the table with. The situation is great. It is so good to work with people that you know. I’ve known all of these dudes for years. Wild Urk’s cousin is Trigger’s baby’s mother. All of our people know each other. It’s not like this is some generic “suit” situation that just happened because Styles has done records for 50 Cent and so forth. I could care less about any of that. I’m totally proud and happy that he has passed that threshold and 50, being as business-minded as he is, put Styles in the position he’s in.
To know a person is to know a person. From my encounters with 50, he’s a good dude. For all of the things that people have heard about him, I don’t see that. And even when he made the comment about Styles on BET, saying “he’s not messing with that dude right now,” it was all brotherly. He wasn’t trying to play Styles. They really have a good relationship. He’s one of the only producers that’s allowed in his mansion to work. Overall, not just to stay on the topic of it, it’s a beautiful situation, man. Real talk.
Singing and rapping is nothing new to you. Do you consider yourself one of the originators of that style?
Well, the style’s origin initially came from groups like the Force MD’s and even Queen Latifah was singing and rapping back in the day. You had artists doing it. Even Kurtis Blow had singing on his records. But everything has an origin to it and that first golden era was the origin of that. That’s where it came from. The music was very melodic then too. I think what happened is that, in a humble way of saying, I was genius enough to take from that and make into what it is today, to now see a whole new genre of it from the first great era in hip-hop to the second great era.
I was singing before I was rapping. I was dancing and singing first. I wasn’t rapping at all. My mother is a professional singer. She sang for Chaka Khan and sang with Luther Vandross. My family is all in the musical industry. Both of my uncles played for James Brown. I could just keep going on and on.
The musical part is deeply rooted in my family, so the singing has always been there. But I think what I did is, I dumbed my singing down. Instead of doing a bunch of riffs and techniques, I chose to harmonize and I chose to harmonize over rap. I think what initially gave me the leverage to do that was when I started running around with Smoothe and them 20-something years ago. I was always a fan of hip-hop, but I became more of a fan of hip-hop when I met Smoothe. Me and Trig are around the same age and I think Smoothe was about 14 or 15 when I initially met him. And the rhymes that he was kicking then were incredible! He has to be, hands down, one of the greatest rappers of all time! There’s stuff that I’ve heard that people will probably never hear. When I heard him, I said, “That’s the example,” and it pushed me to want to rap, even though he was a dancer too. We were all in the group called the Guess Ryders and before that group me, Smoothe and Trigger were in a crew called 3deep. One day he picked up the mic to rap at the “All-star Talent Show” and we won both competitions, the dance and rap category. He stopped dancing and that crushed us.
Then we came up with the Rukus Clique. That consisted of me, Quick, Retsam, Trigger and Mad Pain. Me and Trig just stayed close to Smoothe and I was just writing and writing and I saw that he was excited over my little raps I was kicking. I was like, ‘Okay, cool. I could be a rapper.’ And then one day I just chose to sing my raps.
We went to DR Period and we performed in front of him because he was like the Quincy Jones of the ‘hood. We wanted to get up and showcase our ability to rap. When he heard me, he told me that should be my style. I said, “All right, cool. I’m going to run with it.” He helped produce it and helped me make it better. He honed in on my ability. He was like my Xavier. The birth of DV Alias Khryst came from out of DR Period’s studio. I owe a lot to him.
I don’t think people give DR Period as much credit as he deserves. He really helped shape the sound of DV Alias Khryst. He didn’t give me the style, but he helped me nurture it like a producer should. He got me to stop selling drugs and let me stay at his crib sometimes. He told me to stop doing that and just focus on the music because I was going to be big one day. He didn’t have to tell me twice. The next day, the spot got raided. Go figure!
Where would you be now if you had never met Smoothe, Trigger and DR?
I probably would have been an artist. I wouldn’t have been a rapper or a singing artist. I draw too. That was my first love. I used to draw my ass off. You’re not going to get one of those stories from me where I say, “If I wasn’t doing music I would be selling drugs or shot dead.” I have a mother and father that took care of me and I had a really good upbringing. They used to call me “the rich kid” because I always had fly stuff. All the stuff I did in the street was because I was around it and you get peer pressured into doing things. I was a sucker growing up as a kid. Growing up in Brownsville, you can’t be a sucker for long. Nobody can say that they were a lion fresh out of the jungle. Everybody’s roars are not that of a lion when they come out of the womb. As time progressed, I just became what Brownsville was and it’s just in me to be that way. But initially, if I didn’t meet Smoothe or DR, I would just be doing something else. I’m very educated. I would have found a way. That’s the way I was raised. If something doesn’t work out the way you want it, you have to find another way. But this was ordained. This was meant for me to do. It was meant for me to meet these individuals or else I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. If I wasn’t doing music, I would still be great at something else.
How do you see your influence on the game today?
I think it’s beautiful, seriously. When I was younger, I can’t front, I was bitter and I was mad because I didn’t understand the business. I didn’t understand what I did. It was just shocking. I’m a dude from the streets and I thought they were trying to take my style, but they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery. The highest form! I have family around me that keeps me grounded. They weren’t ready for what I was doing when I first came into the game. The Lyor Cohen’s were ready for it, but certain situations held me back from doing it.
If Lyor Cohen wasn’t ready for it, why would Ja Rule and DMX have sold the records that they sold? Why are DMX’s biggest records with singing or melody with the exception of “Get At Me Dog” and maybe two other ones? A lot of his records have singing in it. If Lyor didn’t know what it was, then he wouldn’t have been capitalizing on it and a lot of labels wouldn’t have been capitalizing on it. Whether or not they know that it came from me, I took the risk. This isn't going down like an R.Kelly/Aaron Hall situation because I’m not going to let evil take over my brain and get me stupid and let it wash me up. I’m going to boss up and appreciate that God is allowing me to see what is going on and know that now there is a clean, free lane for me to come and be crowned with success. It’s evident. When you sew the jeans to the seam, no matter how many times they may be duplicated, you know they’re your jeans.
Real dudes in the industry know that Khryst started the rap/singing craze. Even the world knows. I’ve been going overseas off choruses before most dudes were going overseas because they were too scared to get on planes. I think I’m more well-rounded and wittier than most artists. I’m a businessman, but I think that will show in time. But I’m so happy that artists are doing the style. I heard a record with Chamillionaire and R.Kelly and it sounded like what I do. I was bugging! Even to hear Nelly and certain records that Nate Dogg may do and some of the records that 50 does, I think it’s incredible! It bugged me out to hear LL cool j singing when he did a record with Dr. Dre called “Zoom”
If I was angry and that was the case, I would have done a record going at everybody and there would be nothing that anybody could do about it. The 48 Laws of Power say to never outshine the master. I understand the game. I understand strategy and I understand patience. Patience is one of the sickest laws of the Art of War. I’m patient and I’m happy and I’m thankful for the promotion. I’m ready. Let the games begin. I’m touched by God. I’m definitely one of God’s favorites. I have this name “Khryst” for a reason. It’s not blasphemous. I wake up good. My soul is good when I wake up. I’m happy that they’re doing the style. I’m very happy. Thank you, God, so much. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart without even being a pessimist. I really like that dudes are out there promoting the style.
You were signed to Def Jam at 16. What was that experience like for you?
I was over there at 16, but I couldn’t actually sign the contract until I turned 18. When I was 18, I ended up handing over the power of attorney to my mother. I was dumb and I wasn’t reading shit before signing. My mother was managing me at the time and she knows this business like the back of her hand, contrary to what anybody tries to say and no matter how they try to throw her under the bus. If anything, she saved my career because now I own all of my masters. I initially signed to Def Jam at 18. I was looked at by Faith Newman and Tommy Mottola. My first deal was with them. I was offered $300,000 at the time but some individuals who said they were managing me at the time and it wasn’t true and Sony didn’t want to get in the middle of it and they said they couldn’t do the deal.
But it was Lyor Cohen, Dante Ross and Chris Lighty, that I met for the first time at Def Jam. I’ll never forget it because they had just showed us the “Last Days” video by Onyx. I didn’t even know I was going to get signed. They were talking about Trigger the whole time. Dante said I was incredible and wanted to sign me as well, but we didn’t know if we were going to sign to either Dante Ross or Chris Lighty. I should have gone with Chris Lighty. I think Dante Ross would own up to the fact that he damaged our careers. He damn-sure damaged mine. Because of Dante Ross, nobody ever heard my album, which was titled “A New Testament of Soul.” It was probably the most influential album of its time. But God don’t make mistakes. I was 18 and I always carried myself more mature than I was. To this day, people think that I’m like 40 years-old. (laughs) I’m a young O.G. I know all of the players in the game and I just have a mature swag. I know what I’m speaking about when I talk.
Do you have any sort of relationship with Dante Ross or Lyor Cohen today?
I’ve spoken to Lyor a couple of times. He’s heard some of my new stuff because a business partner played it for him and he liked it. But it’s not time for that right now. How could Lyor be helped by signing Khryst at this time? It’s greater later. Feel me? I haven’t spoken to Dante and I’m just going to let bygones be bygones. God said He’s going to make your enemies your stepping stools and Dante Ross was a stepping stool for me. We tried to make things work. We argued a lot and we tried to make things work. If it wasn’t for me, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues by Everlast probably wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. I helped that record. I influenced that project big-time. Any other project that he’s done with singing has come from his love for me. If you ask him about Khryst today, he’ll tell you, “Oh, Khryst is a superstar.” And if you asked him if he messed up Khryst’s career, he would say, “Yes, I did.” I was young and I forgive him and I should have been more up on my business at the time. But I was young and definitely having fun.
But I’ve definitely been in contact with Lyor. I definitely have a lot of respect for him. He’s taken me into his office and taught me so much about the record industry. I don’t even think he knows he’s taught me as much as he did but a lot of the stuff that he talked to me about, I listened. I felt that him, Julie Greenwald and Kevin Liles always showed me so much love and I always felt that it was genuine. Deegan Ryan was Dante Ross’ assistant and A&R for me and believed in my project a lot. All of those people at Def Jam, in that early stage, like Eric Nicks, showed me so much love, man. It was just incredible. I can’t even lie and say that there was bad blood. I used to go up to Def Jam a lot! And that was a big mistake. I was so happy to be signed to Def Jam at that time. I ate dinner with Russell Simmons and was told that me and Trig were incredible. To hear that come out of his mouth…I don’t regret none of that. You won’t get any of that coming out of Khryst’s mouth. If they did me dirty, I would say it. And they didn’t. I’m not trying to be diplomatic. But the business could have been a lot better. There were a lot of egos clashing at the time, but you won’t hear that story again with the present state of DV Alias Khryst now.
You’ve been in the game for a long time. Do you really have no regrets as far as never having dropped an album?
I mean, it’s cool, man. It’s like wine. You can drink some wine that’s been made in 2007, but it won’t taste the same as some wine that’s been aged since 1965 and beyond that. God don’t make mistakes. And I am a businessman, contrary to whoever wants to believe anything else. I’m not just going to put my album out. I’m a special person. You can’t just throw my album out like that. I’m very picky. For the 12 years of my career, I’ve had a lot of offers to sign record deals and I’ve dealt with a lot of different people over the course of my 12 years who probably thought that they could take me to where they felt I needed to go, but it didn’t happen. It was like boot camp – it was trial and error. But I own my entire catalog and all of my music. It’s greater later.
I can always put out a Nas-style type of album like The Lost Tapes and make millions off my catalog. I’m sitting on millions beyond millions of dollars worth of music that I’m going to be able to sell later. I’m like Ray Charles – I own all of my music. I have to own all of my music. And in my situation with Styles, he understands that. I have to own my catalog. Because when they drop your ass, believe me, they keep your catalog. That’s why it’s easier for a label to just drop you. But you won’t see them do that to me. When you drop me, I take the entity. You’re not ever going to hear about Khryst getting dropped. I got an actual release from Def Jam. I sat down with Lyor like a man and I asked for a release. He didn’t want to give me my release, but I wasn’t making them money anyway. I was a tax write-off for them. I don’t think that they expected me to rise from the ashes like I did because some people don’t have that in them to do it like that, but I did.
(Click here to read part 2)