Chris Rivers Takes Us Back To The Future
Traveling via 'Delorean'
Hip Hop culture is now old enough that the children of quite a few legends have taken up the family business. Most are content to ride the coattails of their famous parents and they don’t tend to fall far from the tree in terms of sound. Then there’s Chris Rivers, who no longer goes by the name “Baby Pun.”
Chris loves his pop’s music as much as any other hip hop fan, but when you hear his joints, it’s clear he’s found his own lane. He’s got rapping in his DNA but he has also developed a flavor that is distinctive to him. You might think having an acclaimed emcee for a pops means easy street, but really it just means twice as much scrutiny from real heads when you choose to take up the craft and take it seriously.
This Bronx emcee entered the game like a charging bull. His Wonderland of Misery mixtape was a strong entry into the game when it dropped in 2013 and he has released five solid projects since. We expect you are probably already up on his brand spanking new street album Delorean which dropped last Friday, July 14th (in case you aren’t, we got the stream below). It is a testament to this young wordsmith’s considerable growth and even greater potential.
Rivers was not only gracious enough to give MASS APPEAL some time on his ultra busy release day, but answered all of our questions thoroughly and with enthusiasm. Aspiring emcees, take note.
When did you start rapping seriously and what was your first release?
I started right after high school. One of the first songs I came out with was Let One Off. That was featuring Whispers. He’s another dope artist. We just started off for Youtube really, I’m not gonna lie. I was just figuring out I wanted to rap. I saw a lot of my friends doing certain things just because they felt they were supposed to…because of society. I didn’t want to be miserable. So, I thought, what can I do that I love? And music was that thing. So, I just started out, and I linked up with my manager Ray. We was like, yo, let’s just banged out for the internet. I started putting tracks on the internet and between that and social media, I steadily built up a fanbase. The first project that came out was Wonderland of Misery. You can find that on DatPiff.com. I listen back to it now and it’s super raw but it’s super dope still.
You started as Baby Pun but I think Chris Rivers is a dope name because it pays tribute to the family name but doesn’t rely on it. Rivers is the English translation of Rios, right?
You picked that up. That’s great. Baby Pun was kind of given to me when I was a kid… because I was doing this when I was a kid too. When I started [seriously] after high school, I didn’t want to live in my father’s shadow. So, I wanted to create my own name and that’s why I changed it. I was thinking, what should my name be? I never wanted that separation [between] artist and person. I wanted to give the people me. And I was like, what’s more me than my actual name. But there’s a little twist because my last name is Rios and “rios” means “rivers” in Spanish. So, it just went well and I stuck with it.
Would you call Delorean your debut album?
I call it a project. I still want to develop myself more as an artist before I can, in my heart, call something an album. I want it to be a masterpiece. Not saying this one this isn’t that. This is a masterpiece for where I am at right now. The growth is exponential, from the beats selection, the content, the lyrics, the flows, to the blend of lyricism and turnt up, bouncy stuff people can have fun with. This the project I am most proud of and most happy with. So far the reception has been amazing.
You show some serious versatility on this one.
I really do feel like Delorean is more my sound. After coming into the game, I started getting swayed by what I thought people wanted to hear from me. You know, me being my father’s son. I kind of lost myself along the way. This project is me finding myself again and really finding my voice as a person and as an artist. It’s the start of something big. It feels really good, man.
Speak on the Delorean title and theme.
I wanted to call it Delorean because I have an old soul and an old school flow, but a lot of the songs on this project got that new school vibe as well. I am part of the next generation. I’m 23; I’m still young. I’m a millennial and I’m still influenced by the world of today. It’s like I brought the past to the future.
You’ve had an association with The Lox for quite a while, tell us about that.
We moved in similar circles for a while and I got the blessing and the privilege to meet the big bros. Shout out to Styles, Sheek Louch and Jada. They embraced me from the beginning, man. They have a lot of love for my pops and they have a lot of love for me as a person…and they appreciate me as an artist. They put on few of their projects and I got to tour the whole country with them. On this project, we didn’t get Jada but we got Sheek Louch, Styles P and Lil’ Fame all on Fair Ones.
I love learning from them. I’m not saying it’s easy to blow up but it’s easier to blow up than it is to blow up and remain relevant for a long time. To have longevity. These cats, they have that. Twenty years in the game and they are still relevant, they still selling out shows. It’s amazing to see the hustle and grind that they still put in to this day. The advice that they give is always priceless. I’m blessed to have come into contact with them. They put me under their wing and treat me like a little bro.
What label would you be on, if you could be on any of the big hip hop labels of the ’90s?
That’s hard to say. If I was out back then, I would have loved to be on the same label as my pops. Just with the whole Terror Squad movement and everybody on there. Not that I would need to be on the same label to make records with him but just to have the whole legacy there would have been real cool.
I’m sure you heard plenty of your dad’s music but who else did you like growing up?
My father definitely had some influence on me but I didn’t listen to him growing up as much as like Eminem, Lupe Fiasco, Michael Jackson, Mos Def, Black Thought, Dipset, G-Unit, Lauryn Hill, The Fugees, and stuff like that. We played a lot of different types of music in my household because my sisters are older than me and my mom was into a lot of stuff. So, even super old school stuff like, [starts singing] “Is you is, or is you ain’t my baby?”…like ’50s joints. So, I was influenced by all that. And I listened to a ton of rock music. I mean, Linkin Park, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Black Keys… It was important for me to listen to music with a lot of substance and at that time I think Hip-Hop started losing its substance, started getting a little repetitive. So, rock ’n roll definitely gave me that.
There are some other sons of rap legends who have become emcees. Would you collaborate with any of them?
Oh man, yeah, I’ve collab’d with Cory Gunz. I think he’s ridiculous. Eazy-E’s son is pretty dope as well. I’ve also done a collab with Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s son, Young Dirty Bastard.
Chris Rivers’ Top 5 Southern Emcees
1. Andre 3000
3. Big K.R.I.T.
4. Jay Electronica
5. Lil’ Wayne
Honorable mention: Pimp C