Part 2 (Click here to read part 1)
Throughout all of your trials and tribulations, did you ever think about leaving the game?
Everybody does! (laughs) But it’s like Pookie in New Jack City, it just kept calling me! But I love doing music. I would still be doing music if I wasn’t getting paid to do it. I don’t write in my house like I used to, and it’s not like what Jay-Z means when he says that. I just write. I can go in the studio and record three songs in three hours. Everybody that knows Khryst knows how I work. But it has to be a very organic process and it just has to come to me.
Is your recognition in the game overdue?
Yeah. Yeah. Definitely. That’ll be the shortest answer that I give you. All of my answers have been long. Definitely! (laughs)
Has your approach to the game changed at all over the years?
I think that every great artist should learn or should find a way to reinvent themselves. Nobody should just want to stay out of shape forever if you’re conscious of being healthy. Even my ass is getting in the gym and trying to get it together. That being said, the formula is the formula and there are so many different formulas on what it is to do. You’re only seeing one style right now. I have many different variations. I’m just playing around with it. Expect to hear DV Alias Khryst, but don’t expect to hear DV Alias Khryst when I was 18 years-old because I’m a whole different individual than I was then. You’re going to hear a more mature DV Alias Khryst and a more conscious individual that’s aware of what he’s doing in the studio. I know what I have to get done and what I want to get done. I physically produce a lot of records for myself, so I know what I’m doing. I always loved the fact that Lauryn Hill was able to produce for herself. If I wanted to, I could produce my whole record and it would not sound like it. All of my records sound different. All of my records have their own identity to them. All of them!. Just expect some soul and just expect some great concepts, some good feels, some good grooves and some good lyrics, man, and most of all some great melodies.
How important is your debut album to you today?
Well, I’m working on an album right now. We have a situation with Koch. It’s me and my partner’s company. We did a joint venture with Dangerous, LLC. We’re going to do a situation with Koch. It’s going to be a real great situation. It’s great that they even want to do this. We’re going to put the album out very soon. It’s titled I’m Chosen and it’s subtitled B.K. (Before Khryst). It’s going to be about 15 records. It’s a street album. It’s dope and it’s edgy and it’s definitely a more expressive side of DV Alias Khryst before I would hold back from saying ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ on certain records. But I know there’s an intelligent way to do it and I think I chose an intelligent way to do that on this album.
All of the production is with Govarmynt Officials and Dangerous, LLC. We only had one outside producer, Nick Wiz. He’s on the come up. I have Ras Kass and Alando Outlaw, formerly know as U.G.from the Dwella’s, on the album. I also have a record with Redman and Icadon, produced by Midi Mafia. He’s a classic individual and I’ve always been a fan of him. I don’t have a whole bunch of features on the album. And I have my brother, who’s my artist, on there, Retsam the Prince. He’s the Prince of Brooklyn. We have some strong records.
He’s on my single right now, “Swag Tag.” That’s doing real good. I’m trying to get Chrisette Michelle on a record called “Guys Are Jealous.” Anybody that knows about that record knows that it’s a hit. I put that record out a couple of years ago and it had feet, but then it stopped walking. (laughs) I was working with a company and they put the brakes on it. Now I own the record, thanks to Nick Wiz. Once we get Chrisette Michelle on it, it’s going to be a wrap. I think people are going to enjoy it. I think it's going to set people up to want to hear me even more. It’s me singing on it.
There’s a melodic influence to the whole album. I’m going to spoon-feed people the singing so that they can see the evolutionary process of it because a lot of the kids in the younger generation don’t know where it came from and they’ll say, ‘Oh, it came from this one’ or ‘Oh, it came from that one.’ I just have to get out there in interviews and let people start knowing that I can really give them a full-course meal.
Me and Styles are working on a project after I’m Chosen that will be called Still Chosen. After Still Chosen, we’re going to give them Melody is King. When we give them Melody is King, it’s going to be a problem. I have a lot of great records, man. Me and Lil’ Mo did a record and me and Billy Danze did a record. I did a record with Rakim. I did a record with Kool G. Rap. Me and 50 just did a record not too long ago. I could just keep going, man. I have a lot of good, good records. I got three records with Uncle Murder, two records with Maino and a record with Uncle Murder, Maino and Cassidy called “N.W.A.” People are coming at me for features left and right. I just recorded a record with D.O.E., Timbaland’s artist, produced by Danjahandz. I have a lot of records coming and my phone’s been ringing like crazy and Styles’ phone has been ringing like crazy.
Expect to hear a record from me, Smoothe and Trigger soon. I’m just warming everybody up for that. When you hear a record from me, Smoothe and Trigger, it’s going to shut it down. Like, the lights are going to turn out in the city. Be prepared for that. I’m going to let you salivate at the mouth for awhile before I give the people that record. But I’m working, man. God is good.
Your new single is “Swag Tag.” Are you happy with how that’s doing so far?
Yeah. It’s picking up like crazy. It’s doing really well, man. I think it’s going to be one of the quintessential records for the word “swag” because it’s not just speaking in a physical manner and it’s not so much speaking on vanity. It’s going to be a really good record. I’m going to do two remixes, a gutter mix and a presidential mix on it. “Swag Tag” is really picking up and I’m happy with the success of the record. We’re going to get it added to radio and video shows such as MTV, BET, Video Music Box and others. It’s going to be crazy.
What did it mean to you to record with 50 Cent?
Well, it’s kind of funny because we were just going to his crib to actually finish up his “Amusement Park” record. He was already recording a record and he came down like, ‘I need a singer. Can anybody in here sing?’ It’s like the Red Sea parted and everybody looked at me. We did a song called “That’s My Dog” and I think it’s produced by a producer named Jigalo. The record is dope, man. I can’t even say it’s like “21 Questions,” but it’s dope like that record and that was a dope record. That was a really big record. I think that when 50 decides to put out “That’s My Dog,” whenever he decides to put that out, it’s going to be big. I think that’s going to be on his second album. 50’s a genius like that. He comes up with a concept or an idea for a timeframe that he thinks is going to work. We did the record and I feel like we work well together. It makes it easy because he’s good at melody too. He’s real good at it, surprisingly. He’s gotten better. On certain records that he’s done before, he was just playing around, but I think he’s mastering it in his own way now to fit his style of music.
We wound up redoing the record. 50 was skeptical if I was able to redo the record. I told him that I had been doing this for 12 years and he was still skeptical. He didn’t know what I could do it. He didn’t know something though. (laughs) But he will now when he reads this, I got into the booth and was making mistakes on purpose. Then I got down to business and just did it. He was impressed that I was able to do the song in the exact same way that I had done it at the mansion. I think he was impressed and saw that I was on top of my game. I did it so well that he went in and redid his vocals. It was that good. Expect us to do more records together. I have respect for everybody. I have respect for 50 because he didn’t have to work with me. He sings his own records, but he took the initiative because he’s in a good financial space in his career and he chose to put me on his record. The only other person I have to work with is Jay-Z and Jay-Z knows me very well from when we used to do shows together with Smoothe the Hustler and Trigger. I can almost say with assertiveness that me and Jay-Z are going to do a record. Khryst and Jay-Z are going to do a record. You heard it here. You’re going to hear! Once we do that, I’ve arrived. Because I’ve already worked with 50. Once I do a record with Jay-Z, it’s pretty much a wrap. I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve and I’ve become more than just a dude who can spit on choruses. Then I’ll be seen as a dude that can hang with any of these dudes that are rapping.
Are you still in touch with Smoothe and Trigger today?
Yeah, definitely. Smoothe and Trigger are my brothers, period. We’ve known each other for years. We’ve known each other for over 20 years. We know each other’s families and we call each other’s mothers on Mother’s Day. Since we’ve known each other. That’s not going to change. We go through our arguments and we fight, but there’s nothing that I wouldn’t do for Smoothe and Trig.
They accept my individuality now. I don’t think that they accepted it that much in the beginning, more Smoothe than Trig. Me and Trig have been best friends since junior high. When I’m around Smoothe, I humble myself. Smoothe is the general. That’s the dude! We respect that. Like when Wu-Tang comes together, they respect RZA as the master and they humble themselves to that because he was the brains behind putting all of that together. If it wasn’t for Smoothe, then you wouldn’t be hearing about DV Alias Khryst, period. I love Smoothe and Trig. They’re my brothers for life.
We go through what we go through, but I think that they respect what I’m doing and how I’m moving now more than ever. Everything I’ve been talking about has been transpiring. They see me moving and all of the stuff that I’ve been saying that I’ve wanted to do on a business level come to existence. I think he’s more proud of me than anything else. Man, he’s proud of me like if I was his son.
He sees Khryst out there working and he’s keeping the brand alive and that’s just bigger than music. That’s what we represented in the street. A lot of people lost their lives representing SMG and I’ll take that with me to the grave. And I’m always going to be a reflection of Smoothe and Trigger, no matter where I go. I’m always going to be a reflection of Smoothe and Trig and I’m never going to stop being a reflection of Smoothe and Trig. We made history. We were a part of his history. Now we’re going to make our history. We watched a lot of y’all get fat. Now we’re coming to deflate them bellies!
You hinted at a new song with you, Smoothe and Trigger but you didn’t tell us much else. When will we hear a new song with you, Smoothe and Trigger?
I don’t know. I’m not going to give up that one. That’s going to be another short answer. (laughs) I don’t know. Just expect the unexpected. Mystique is important, so expect the unexpected. It’s going to happen, but I don’t know when it’s going to happen. You’re going to hear a couple of records, but I don’t know when it’s going to happen. There are a couple of records, but they aren’t on the I’m Chosen album because I wanted people to see that I could hold my own without Smoothe and Trig. That’s cheating with them on it, because we immediately smash the building. The fans expect that. I have to show people that I can hold my own without Smoothe and Trig. You may hear one on Still Chosen, you may not. But when you hear us together, it’s going to be a big look, man, and it’s going to have to be the right track and it’s going to be supported by the right situation and it’s going to be gorgeous, man. It’s going to be a gorgeous situation.
How do you feel hearing Smoothe Da Hustler’s Once Upon A Time In America today?
It was ahead of its time. It still sounds relevant. What he was doing then, it could still work now. My thing is this, what I think, and you may disagree, I don’t know, I think him and DR Period need to go into a log cabin somewhere with a big-ass studio, an Mbox, Pro Tools and a beat machine and just work. They need to go somewhere desolate and just work. Him and DR just need to get back in the studio and just create that perfect fusion. It’s like Smoothe doesn’t need DR, but it’s like Dr. Dre and Snoop. It’s that chemistry. DR knows Smoothe’s sound and Smoothe is comfortable with DR. The day that Smoothe and DR get back together and work on a new Smoothe Da Hustler album, it’s going to be a wrap.
I had a brother step to me. He’s a very influential component in the industry. He literally told me that me, Smoothe and Trigger could save the music industry. That’s a big statement! We were probably one of the most feared in the game when we came. We were doing shows and we were tearing it down. We were literally starting ciphers with dudes to show them that we would eat their food and their plate if it came down to it. Smoothe and DR need to get down and work on a new record. If they do, it will be over.
And Trigger goes without saying. Trig, to me, has this Notorious B.I.G. about himself and I don’t think people ever got a chance to really see that. And there will probably be people who read this and will be like, ‘What?’ but he does. Trig has a lot of swag. Trig could work with Puff. I think if Puffy and Trig worked together and if they got in the same studio, it would be crazy. I know people could be like, ‘What?’ That’s just my opinion. I think Puff would work with Trig and be like, ‘Damn, this reminds me of working with Biggie.’ All you have to do is tell Trig what to do and how to do it and he follows directions down to a T. All you need is for Smoothe and me to be in the room for that extra element.
B.I.G. loved Trig to death. I learned that when I had a conversation with Lil’ Cease. I was shocked. I was supposed to be on Life After Death and I don’t know what happened. You would have heard Khryst on a record with Biggie if he was alive. I don’t think they could pay me money to do a record now that he’s dead. It would just feel crazy. But I think it would be really, really, really, really exciting to hear Trig and Biggie do a record. Maybe I’ll be able to get Trig and Diddy to work one day. Maybe I’ll have some leverage on that situation and make that happen. I think DR and Smoothe are going to wind up happening. It has to be an organic process. I’m just trying to put myself into a position to where my influence counts. If Dr. Dre wanted to put some artists together, it would work because he’s Dr. Dre and he’s arrived and he has validity to his name, so he can pretty much do what he wants. I too want to be in that space.
Will you work with Ice T again?
It was a pleasure working with Ice T, man. I’m on four records on the Gangsta Rap album, surprisingly. He could have went and got Nate Dogg. He’s from the West Coast. But he really respects DV Alias Khryst and what I do. Ice T is like a big brother. He loves Smoothe and Trigger. He’s been rocking with Smoothe and Trig for years. They have a relationship with Ice T and I don’t have the relationship with Ice T that they do, but I would work with Ice T anytime. Ice T is down with the S.M.G family. It’s not just some Hollywood shit. Ice T is down with the team, period. Ask him. Ask him if he’s down and ask him if he rocks with DV Alias Khryst and see what he says. He runs with the team. Ice T is down with us like the rest of the people in the circle. We have a strong team, man, of star power. If we chose to do a movie it would be crazy…If anybody reading this interview wants to come up and do a movie, it would be incredible. We would be like the new Entourage. Maybe HBO needs to give us our own miniseries.
The game has definitely changed over the past few years. What do you have to do to succeed as an artist today?
You know what? You have to work very, very hard. And you have to leave it in God’s hands. What is going to be is going to be. And to be more politically correct and answer the question from an industry perspective, you have to get out there and have features that are relevant. You have to get on features that are relevant. You have to keep that independent mindstate and just be visual. Everything else is in God’s hands. I’m very charismatic and I can sell myself, but if the people don’t like what I’m selling, then I can’t do anything. You just have do the best that you can and not sit on your ass, waiting for it to come to you. A lot of it just comes down to your faith in God and I think that my faith in God is going to take me to the top, period. I know the game has changed and the players have changed. I don’t think you hear anybody having any fun. Even on the serious records, you don’t hear anybody having any fun. If your mother and father are alive, you can’t tell me that you’re the same person when you’re around them. NWA sounded like they were having a lot of fun when they created those records and they were kicking some gangster shit. What I’m going to bring back to the game is having fun and I’m going to let the people know that I’m having fun. I think that when people hear that, it’s going to bring some validity to DV Alias Khryst.
When’s your new album I’m Chosen dropping?
We’re looking to drop the album this year, but sometimes when you’re dealing with timeframes and you’re trying to create a demand, you want to be very careful. If we sell 50,000 records, it’s still a good look, but we’re not trying to shortchange ourselves. At the end of the day, just know that it’s coming. It’s definitely coming. We want to drop I’m Chosen this year, but it depends on the climate and how things start picking up and how the people start perceiving Khryst and how the demand starts building. But the album is done.
You have your own production team yet you’re working with Dangerous, LLC and Midi Mafia. Why work with other producers when you can do it yourself?
Because, you know, you learn. You learn from having great producers like Chris Styles and his camp. I’m humble, man. One man is not an island. Eventually I’ll produce my own album, but I have some great producers around me, like Govarmynt Officials, Dangerous, LLC and Midi Mafia. They’re incredible! They’re probably a group of the best producers in the business, hands down! We are an elite group of some of the best producers in the business. You can quote me on that. You can put anybody you want in the studio with Govamynt Officials, Dangerous, LLC and Midi Mafia and they’re going to leave with a hit. The egos clashing is fusion! That’s like the meteor coming together. (laughs) So yeah, I could produce myself, but I have great producers around me and I’m a smart businessman. Having that around me makes me better and it makes my sound better and we get a chance to share the wealth.
What advice would you offer to up-and-coming artists?
Be yourself! Don’t be afraid to be yourself. You have to understand that we are components of each other. There are a million individuals who think closely to how you think. You have to target that audience. The only way to target that audience is to be yourself. It sounds like a public service announcement, but it’s true. And if people don’t like who you are, then you know what? You need to do some soul-searching. Maybe you need to do something else. This isn’t for anybody. It’s like Makin’ Da Band. Some people get kicked off and they get better and some people get kicked off and they’re crushed.
When I left Def Jam, I was crushed and I didn’t want to do music anymore. I was crushed!! It just hurt me and I felt embarrassed because I knew that everybody was going to think that I got dropped. I knew that people were going to think negatively instead of positively and I was scared about what people would say. I didn’t want to look like a loser and feel like a failure and I felt like a failure for a certain part of my career.
I felt like others were making millions off of what I started and I was sitting there broke with no pot to piss in and no window to throw it out of until I understood that a poor man is one who doesn’t believe in God and a rich man is one that has God in his heart. Once I learned that, I became richer, spiritually and physically. I was a smart kid. I got my money and I bought my mother a house. I didn’t take my money and go buy cars and stupid shit. I was a support system to my family and I took care of my family for eight, nine years straight.
And now my son is 12 years-old. And if it wasn’t for me having a son, I would probably go crazy. I’m like his Superman. I can’t leave the game. He wants to be a rapper and a ballplayer. You can’t tell him that he’s not a rapper. He was into Bow Wow when he was younger and now he’s a young DV Alias Khryst. He’s my guiding light. He keeps me motivated and he keeps me wanting to keep doing what I’m doing.
I feel like I’ve accomplished everything I wanted to in this business and now my new goals are to reap the benefits in ways that nobody else has. There are so many different ways to make money in this business. I’m starting a credit cleaning service as well. If you need your credit cleaned, come holler at your boy. These are the things that we need to start thinking about. We have to empower ourselves, not just black people but people. We have to be more educated about certain things and I want to open up new ways to educate people on financial status. My financial status will get better because I’m more educated now. I want to put out great music and obtain great financial status without losing consciousness of myself.
What do you want to say to everybody?
Yo, man, believe in God, man. And if you believe in God, continue to keep believing because with God, all things are possible. Be on the lookout for the album I’m Chosen: B.K. (Before Khryst). Also be on the lookout for R.T.P. Enterprises, Dynaztie Entertainment, Govarmynt Officials, Dangerous, LLC, Midi Mafia, Team Afficial, YNVS Ent., VMG Ent. and Risen Clothing because we’re coming like a tsunami. Be on the lookout for everything we have coming and just be on the lookout for great things. When you hear the name “DV Alias Khryst,” just know that there’s going to be something positive attached to it in a very spiritual way. We try to separate ourselves from the ignorance. I just want people to believe, man. If you don’t believe in God, then find a way. God has changed my life. If I didn’t believe in God, I don’t think I would be here right now. I don’t want to preach to people. If you don’t like what I’m saying, then don’t listen, but God is good all of the time.