Welcome to my blog! In this post I will be interviewing my friend and very talented MC, Filmmaker and Animator, Chris Ortiz.
Ra: How did you get into Hip Hop?
C-E-O: I was first introduced to Hip-Hop in 1997. I was in the back of my Mother’s car, and my Godmother was in the passenger’s seat. She had put on “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees, and I remember asking her to play it again when it finished. She asked me why, to which I replied “Is it a crime to like good music?” After that, I began to notice Hip-Hop more and more, but I didn’t become fully immersed in it until about 2001.
Ra: What made you want to start rapping?
C-E-O: That’s actually a funny story. When I was young, I had no intention of ever becoming a rapper. As a kid I was into anime, drawing, and collecting figures, and the crew I was rolling with at the time, all had similar interests. But right around the time 50 cent started blowing up with the whole G-Unit movement, my friend Jason wanted to start a rap group with all of us, and call it Supreme Records. He wanted everyone to go to his house the following week with a verse, and he would get an instrumental for us to rap on. I was nervous as shit cause I’d never attempted to rap before, but at the time, I was listening to DMX a lot, specifically his album “The Great Depression.”
There were a few hidden tracks at the end of that album, and I figured I was one of a few people that actually knew about them, so I stole lyrics from one of the hidden tracks. The following week everyone showed up to Jason’s house to share what they’d written. I’d been memorizing the verse that whole week so I could really sell it and impress them, so when it finally came to my turn, I started rapping the verse. I remember their eye’s widening from how impressed they were with the lyrics, and they gave me a lot of props when I was done rapping. After all the praise had settled, it turned out my friend Ozseman knew the record, and called me out on it. After that, I’d gotten a reputation for stealing rhymes, even though that first rhyme was the only one I ever stole. But I’ve been rapping ever since; with the exception of a 5-year break I took while attending college.
Ra: Why do you rap, what’s your reason behind it?
C-E-O: For me it’s therapeutic and allows me to express my thoughts and feelings in a creative way. It’s also another way to tell stories, whether they be fact or fictional, and it allows me to inspire and inform. Rap also allows me to give people something they can enjoy and carry with them for years to come, whether it’s a melody I’ve chosen, an experience from my own life they can relate to, or if my music can bring them back to a certain time in their life. Through rap, I want to connect with people while being honest, and saying something that’s worthwhile and real.
Ra: Who are your influences?
C-E-O: Too many to count, I’m influenced by many things. Movies, TV shows, video games, life experiences, people and other things that I come across in my everyday life. If I had to name some they would be, Queen, Michael Jackson, Nas, Childish Gambino, 50-Cent, Bach, Nitty Scott, Christopher Nolan, Beethoven, Satoshi Kon, Hideo Kojima, Hopsin and Sylvester Stallone.
Ra: How would you describe your style.
C-E-O: Real, next question. I wouldn’t really say I have a style; I feel it does a disservice to my potential and puts me in a box. I like to be versatile; I wear many hats and talk about different things. I like to test myself to see where I can go with it. So instead of saying what style I fit into, I think it easier to say what I represent. I represent the everyman, the blue-collar worker, the man and/or woman with ambition that has to deal with mediocre or bleak circumstances while trying to pursue and find their worth. I’m the Hip-Hop Peter Parker.
Ra: You recently won a contest for Independent Hip Hop. Tell me about it.
C-E-O: Yeah I won this Original Rap contest for Indi.com. I got first place and the Judges Pick. I actually found out about it on accident. I went on a friend’s Facebook page to hit him up about something, and I saw someone posted a link about the contest on his page. I looked into it, and decided to enter last minute with a short music video I’d shot a few months back that I never got to use. I had a lot of support from my friends, family and people who I’ve only connected with through music on the internet, so if it wasn’t for them I don’t think I would’ve gotten first place. Shout out to all of them for the support!
Ra: Where do you see your career going?
C-E-O: With the shift that’s happening in the music industry due to the internet leveling the playing field with websites like youtube, personally, I would like to stay independent and go out on the road to perform. Whether it be opening for someone, or being the main act. This way I could network and collaborate with other artist’s, while expanding my fan base and actually getting to see my fans in person and interact with them.
Ra: Do you have any projects in the works?
C-E-O: I do, I have a couple actually. I’m currently working on my EP, which is going to be titled “Practice Makes Improvement.” I’m also working with a director to shoot a music video for the first single off the album. We just finished writing the outline for the script, so now we’re just fine-tuning it. Then we’re going location scouting, and getting a cast together, so we can start shooting it. I also just finished doing a verse for another artist Lambo Lo, for his album “The Art of Lyricism 2,” as well as a bunch of other things. I wish I could tell you more, but you’ll just have to wait and see.
Ra: If you could change one thing about mainstream Hip Hop what would it be?
C-E-O: The standard that the radio and mainstream have created for it. Hip-Hop is slowly moving further away from its roots. There’s a loss of individuality, authenticity and passion behind the music. Nowadays, it all sounds the same with slight variations. I can’t completely blame the industry though, the masses are also to blame cause if it wasn’t making money, the industry wouldn’t keep churning it out, someone’s buying it. I prefer to listen to more underground artists, with a few mainstream guys thrown in there that I actually like.
Ra: Aside from Rap what else are you into?
C-E-O: I’m a bit of a renaissance man I do a little bit of everything. I’m an animator, editor, visual artist, writer, sound editor and do a little bit of directing as well. The programs I mainly use are Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, Flash, Premiere Pro, Final Cut, Audacity and Pro tools. I have my own film in which I wrote, animated, edited and directed myself titled Redress. I also enjoy video games especially those with a great story, my personal favorite is the Metal Gear franchise. I don’t get to play very often but when I get a chance to I like to be fully invested in it and just enjoy the experience. I’m also a bit of a collector, I go to all the NY Comic Con’s looking for the exclusives, I’m a bit of a ghetto geek. I’m also kind of a film buff, I really enjoy film and TV shows that have an interesting premise and are able to execute it well.
Ra: Where can people find some of your work?
C-E-O: They can follow me on my webpage at Facebook.com/therealceo. There people can message me directly, check out my progress on the album as it develops, get updates on shows and performances I do, announcements as well as get early access to new music that I put out before anyone else.
For some of the music I already have out, it’s all at https://soundcloud.com/ceo1986 andhttps://www.reverbnation.com/ceo259?profile_view_source=header_icon_nav it’s all free to download.