Crisis Mr. Swagger [hiphopcrisis]
What do you do? What is your musical specialty?
I'm a musician http://www.diamondchainmusic.com and, I think that's better than me telling you that I'm a Hip-Hop artist :-)
Do you work alone or in a group? If in a group, who are the others you work with?
I would like to believe that I work with a group of people. Networking builds the number of helpers and friends that we have around us.
Is there a web address where one can listen, see, or read some of your work?
Sure!! I love to know that people are visiting my website:
Look here now==>>>> http://www.diamondchainmusic.com
Please list any awards, competitions, or other acknowledgments you would like to mention.
I released the first Hip-Hop album in my country by January, 2005. I got an award for best Zambian Hip-Hop artist in 2006. Earlier that year, I was also invited to perform at the Channel-O Music Video Awards. Earlier this year, I got an invitation to the same award show in form of an award nomination for Best Southern African Music Video for my song 'The Fire Inside' available on iTunes here http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-fire-inside/id405199664
In 2010, I won an award for Most Consistent Artist in my country Zambia. We all know the importance of this trait in any business and the award meant a lot to me because, I still feel as though I need to put some work in. Otherwise, I thank the fans for always voting and being there for me.
I won another award called the Peer Award by an African organization based in Washington DC. I was awarded 'Best Zambian Musician.' This great achievement came to me in 2010, about October. The next year, I was nominated for 'Best African Act' in the BEFFTA (Annual: Black Entertainment Film Fashion and Television Awards). I was put up against artists such as Sade (UK), M.I. (Nigeria), 2Face (Nigeria), Ali Kiba (Tanzania), Fally Ipupa (Congo DRC). Thank God I got the award because, I don't remember a day when I didn't try to make this possible.
Please list discography in which you have participated.
Please note, I used to be called 'C.R.I.$.I.$' today, I'm known as Crisis Mr. Swagger:
1. 1996: Red Light Spells Danger ~ (First single released to Cassette and Played on Radio)
1999: The Blood ~ Yesu Culture Featuring C.R.I.$.I.$ before I became Crisis Mr. Swagger
1999: Da City ~ C.R.I.$.I.$ Featuring Bubala (Rhythm Nation -Yo Yamba, Compilation)
1999: Daddy Zemus - Chibaba Album (C.R.I.$.I.$ was a prominomoilent feature through album)
2002: Jane Osbourne ~ Muzamuona Remix Featuring C.R.I.$.I.$.
2004: MKN Featuring C.R.I.$.I.$. - Lelo
2005: C.R.I.$.I.$ - Officer in Charge (First Hip-Hop album in my country, Zambia)
2006: C.R.I.$.I.$ - Presents Diamond Chain - Mixtape Compilation
2007: C.R.I.$.I.$ - Designer (First international release)
2008: C.R.I.$.I.$ - Sorry, I've Been Away (Radio and TV Single)
2008: C.R.I.$.I.$ - Designer (Zambian release including Bonus: 'Sorry I've Been Away')
2009: C.R.I.$.I.$ - Mr. Swagger
2010: Crisis Mr. Swagger - The Fire Inside (Single inspired by 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
2011: Crisis Mr. Swagger - Since You Hate Me Featuring Lil Flip (iTunes single)
2012: Crisis Mr. Swagger - Mustang Music (Single inspired by 2013 Ford Mustang)
2012: Crisis Mr. Swagger - When I Call (iTunes single sampling Australian band)
2012: Crisis Mr. Swagger - Hiroshima Featuring Bryo and D-Roots (iTunes Single)
2012: ColSick Featuring Crisis Mr. Swagger - We Fly (Single)
2012: Crisis Mr. Swagger - Make The People Go (Radio Single)
The above list is only a fraction of the complete catalog.
How did you begin making music? Who introduced you?
I was in the kitchen waiting for my mother to make me food. Growing up in Zambia, our parents would usually prepare a meal that everybody used to call 'Seventeen Hours.' This was a small meal given to children much earlier than dinner time. It was always served at 5PM or 17HRS. Hence; the name. Lol
Anyway, I was in the kitchen waiting for my mother to make some food. She had the radio tuned into Radio Mulungushi, which is now known as Radio 4 in my country, Zambia. A song came on and, it had rhyming and a great beat to it. It was a song called 'The Message' by Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five. It was this day I realized that the rhyming I loved so much in nursery school could also be used in another form called 'Music. 'When I discovered this magic, I took my mothers Country Music cassettes and dubbed over them. I couldn't resist the need to collect as much Hip-Hop as possible. I started to write my own raps and studied the carft more and more. Before I knew it, I was listening to NWA and, when my cousin, Walter Zebron introduced me to Big Daddy Kane I was just fascinated by the word play that I played the cassette until it got caught in the deck and snapped. Big Daddy Kane taught me what metaphors were and how to play with words. It was might fun.
What was your musical education?
I have no musical education as such. I'm self taught. Everything I do, I learned from experience and others around me in my growth.
When did you realise that making music could be a way of life for you?
When I released my first album in 2005, titled 'Officer in Charge.' It was the first Hip-Hop album to be recorded and released in my country, Zambia.
What is your creative process?
I have a home studio and, this makes work very easy for me. The fact that I can produce, mix, master and engineer is another plus.
So, usually, what happens is when I hear a beat that I like, I usually come up with a chorus for it. After that, I then structure my lyrics around the chorus content.
I hate writing my songs as I would rather record as I create or simply recite my own lyrics. After this process, a song is born and I re-fine it later if there is a need to do so before release.
When do you have your most lucid moments, in the morning or night?
I would say in "In the morning" because, my dreams often occur right before I wake up in the morning.
Have you ever awoken with a melody created from your dreams?
Yes, I have.
How do you know when a song is finished or needs no more changes?
I listen to the song using different players from my iPhone to the car stereo and my friends Hi Fi Music system in his living room.
Once I'm satisfied with the overall production, I include it in a folder with the rest of the other approved and mastered songs.
How did you discover your creative territory? How would you describe it?
It came from a lot of practice and willing to learn from others before me.
This came about as I spent more time with myself and my music in my home studio. It's a great feeling to know your strengths in all that you do.
What part of your job is your least favourite?
My answer is probably the reason why I need a manager but, I hate to have to prove to people that I can actually pull off an entertaining performance.
It upsets me when I see promoters take money to get an act onto stage, even if they perform below average. Pay for play is very common in Los Angeles, California. This is where I am as I do this interview but I'm actually from Lusaka, Zambia, Africa.
We need to have a level of professionalism and good criteria that determines whether a breaking or new artist can perform on a major stage or not. Quality and ability to entertain should have a lot to do with the selection process. Otherwise, people pay money to see shows and are often only happy with a few acts on the bill. It doen't give the clientele quality for their money.
How often do you practice?
Almost everyday. If I'm not creating, I'm listen to other forms of music or reading and checking out other resources like TV or the Internet to expand my vocabulary and Network.
How do you feel right before going out on stage?
Right before I get onto stage, I'm usually nervous but I get totally comfortable once the performance begins and the crowd roars. Its always an amazing feeling.
Which musicians or groups have been inspiring to your career?
Dr. Dre, Big Daddy Kane, Jay-Z, Grand Master Flash and The Furious Five, Bob Marley, Coldplay, U2, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Outkast and Eminem.
List three songs that are key to your life.
That question is pretty general because, I don't know if you mean my own or other artists? Well, I will just list songs including one of my own.
1. One Day - Crisis Mr. Swagger (This was like a prophesy on my own life)
2. Lose Yourself - Eminem (This song is very well written and its inspiring)
3. Change Gon Come - Otis Redding (I love the soul, the voice & the hope it gives)
What should be done to stop piracy?
This question makes me wonder if anyone has ever given the correct answer, because after so many years, we are still dealing with the same situation.
At this point, I would just urge musicians to establish good relationships with their fans to a point where the fans realize how piracy negatively impacts their favorite artists lives. I like to get intimate with my fans and, if we can get a great percentage of these people to want to be a part of an artists growth, then we could possibly get more dedicated buyers.
What type of music do you detest?
I listen to many forms of music but I can't stand some forms of Rhumba. Its a genre from the Democratic Republic of Congo. While some of it can be amazing, I've heard a great number of songs that just sound noisy and long. The songs sometimes go on for thirteen minutes or more. I've also heard some music from a lot of upcoming musicians that seems to only cater to the artist without having the listener in mind. That's not good.
What time did you get up this morning?
I woke up at 6AM and used Skype to call my wife in Australia. If I call her too late, she's in bed so, I have to be early because of the time differences.
How do you sell yourself? What has been your experience with record companies and representatives?
My best selling point is that, I am a reliable artist. I do not have some of the major issues that destroy the artist/label relationship. Things like excessive drug use and this does not exclude alcohol, failure to deliver on a promise, being able to make appearances and be there when needed for promotional purposes etc.
I've never intentionally skipped a show and never showed up, even if I was not getting paid. I made it a point to let the promoter and especially my fans that I put my best foot forward and do my thing.
My experience with record labels is that, they are human. They have made several mistakes by signing artists that do not know what to do with the opportunity given to them. If Interscope signed me, I would basically use this opportunity to give the label and fans what they want. This is a stamp of approval that elevates an artists career but it seems that some of the artists that have had this opportunity don't see it the same and they wonder why they get kicked off the label three years later.
I've had my share of rejection from many record labels like EMI and Sony Music in South Africa. What's disappointing is that, I've seen these labels invest their time and money into artists that clearly don't sell. I'm puzzled as to how this happens to so many times and they reject someone that gives them an opportunity to bring something different to the table. The funny thing is Africa, is home and, you'd think that I would get more love right? Anyway, I get to Los Angeles and suddenly, I'm getting more interest from the labels here. I believe I'm making some progress with one major label here.
However, I also had a great time working with a label called DIY Records in
South Africa. They were small but their intentions were good and, their compilation album helped get my name out there. I'm forever thankful for that.
What other things have you done to make a living?
I lived in the United Kingdom where I used to do Window Cleaning with my Ex-Girlfriends Step-Dad and her brother.
I also used to install Satellite dishes and Antenna's when digital TV was introduced in my country.
I've done Customer Care and Technical support on behalf of Philips through a company called Sitel in the UK.
My Step Dad is an accomplished mechanic and, I've worked with him in his workshop. It was a tough job working there and sometimes making trips with his truck and the driver. I would load over a thousand blocks in the back of the truck without using gloves. My skin would get peeled and my hands would just be shaking worse than arthritis.
Once upon a time, my late friend Levins and I were so broke that we ended up buying a pack of Marijuana to re-sell. We made money but soon stopped because we just needed to survive for about three weeks before we started performing again. We had been spending our time in the studio recording new material. We dedicated all our time to the project and didn't do anything else so, Marijuana retail was the fastest way out. I wouldn't encourage anyone to try it. You'll end up losing everything, including all that you legally worked for.
Have you ever played on the street or in the subway? How much did you collect each day?
The closest I've done to this is, playing in a small store to get people to donate money for the Oxjam which fund raises for less privileged countries. That year, I remember discovering that my country, Zambia was one of the beneficiaries. I didn't pay attention to the money that was raised. I was just glad to get people to donate as I performed in the store. It gave me a great sense of fulfillment and the attendants loved it.
Who would you play with, without a doubt?
Dr. Dre and Jay-Z
I would bring some dramatic stuff to the stage. I like to have props too so, Dr. Dre and I would share a lot of ideas on that. Michael Jackson, may his soul rest in peace, was the master at making the stage come alive. That's my style too.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the business?
You're welcome. This is a journey for those that are determined, faithful and strong. However, it has great rewards too. How bad do you want it?
Crisis Mr. Swagger
North Hollywood, California