Words by M
y & Luchi
different cities trying to get a buzz, putting CDs on cars at the malls and clubs.
You may be familiar with Memphis native Chris J from his HOOK ON Plies’ single “Put It On Ya.” Last year the singer/songwriter appeared on a segment of BET’s 106 & Park, sparking the interest of Big Gates Records who signed him to theIR roster. Things have been moving fast for Chris J ever since. How did you connect with Plies? What’s the story? I hooked up with Plies through his brother Big Gates. He was watching 106 & Park and I was singing on the Wild Out Wednesday competition. That was the same day Plies came out with “Shawty.” Him and T-Pain was performing on there and the label was watching me. It was actually Plies’ first time on BET too. After that, Big Gates asked me to send more material to the label. I sent about 17 songs, from there they said they was interested in signing me as an artist. Did you write the single “Put It On Ya”? How did that come together? That’s something me and Plies did together. Somebody else wrote it, but I’m not sure who it was. You were doing your thing for a while prior to BET and getting with Big Gates. What did you have going on before your current situation? I been grinding for more than 8 years. I’ve opened up for many artists, from Anthony Hamilton to Gerald Levert, Marques Houston to Mike Jones, Genuine. Me and Nick Cannon headlined a show here in Memphis that was big time. I been passing out CDs in different cities. Me and my crew take 300 CDs with me when I go out of town. I wasn’t trying to sell them ‘cause nobody will buy your CD if they don’t really know who you are. I would give ‘em to people, or ask for a $2 donation or something. We would take trips to Atlanta, Nashville,
How did you end up on BET? When they first started Wild Out Wednesdays, I was telling my manager at the time that I wanted to get on that show. I thought it would be a good opportunity. He said he had the contacts and he sent an email to try and get me an audition. He got a date set and we had to pay to fly to New York. When it’s an opportunity I’ll take my last dime, my light bill and house note money, to be seen. I went up there and out of 500 people that auditioned, they were only going to call 3 people back. A week later, Pat Charles, senior writer at 106 & Park, he called and said, “Congratulations, here’s your date for 106 & Park.” What happened from there? I just started promoting for people to vote for me at high schools and colleges and radio. Much love to the radio stations here, 97 and 107.1. They really put it out there. Me singing on BET was a great opportunity, plus meeting the other artists that were there. You mentioned having to spend your bill money to go to New York. What kind of check did you get for singing on a hit record for Plies? Well, let’s say that life is pretty good right now. I am very happy. Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I haven’t even been with Big Gates for a year and everybody is knowing Chris J for the “Put It On Ya” record. Financially I will say that I’m blessed. I’m honored and I do pay my tithes. I read somewhere that you were the first Memphis artist to perform in the Fedex Forum. Explain why that was big for you. That boosted my career. It was a show with Monique and Gerald Levert. They gave me 15 minutes to sing. A lot of people in Memphis knew me and loved be because my “Bubble Bath” song has been circulating here for a minute. It’s the song I won the 106 & Park competition with. But standing on that stage in front of about 12,000 people was really an amazing feeling. To get off stage and people OZONE MAG // 17
Published on Feb 1, 2009