During Roc-A-Fella Records’ rise in the early 2000’s, its members were at an all-time high. Between the mixtapes, albums, movies and clothing lines, the groups within the label were on the brink of becoming some of the greatest of their time. But after the sticky fall-out between owners Jay-Z and Dame Dash, most of the groups signed like the Young Gunz and State Property—two cliques in which Philly rapper Young Chris was a member of—came to a halt.
Luckily, Chris didn’t let the upset determine his future in hip-hop. The Philly native applied the lessons he learned from the school of Roc and landed a new record deal. After a lot of hard-work and dedication, six-consecutive mixtapes and multiple short videos documenting his journey, the Gunna is looking to drop his first solo album next season.
Motivated by his family and fans, Chris talked to VIBE on his new adventures and life after Roc-A-Fella. He explains his relationship with Jay-Z and State Prop, talks about joining Division 1 with Rico Love, his new projects , and even the type of woman he likes. We RE-introduce to you, Christopher “Young Chris” Ries. –Aliya Faust
VIBE: I heard your freestyle on Cosmic Kev’s Come Up Show. People used to have to freestyle to prove themselves to get in the rap game but it’s not really like that now. How do you feel about that change?
Young Chris: That’s what keeps me sharp. A lot of people tell me I might have to dumb down my style so people can catch up. This is a different day and age. I feel like people are going to catch up one day or another.
So what’s up with your new recording home Division 1? How’d you get up with Rico Love?
Division 1 is a whole family. Rico Love is the CEO. Basically, I seen Rico in ’08. I was working out of Dre and Vidal’s studio. He was in there writing records for Usher and I was literally just sleeping at his studio, getting it in, heavy. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past five years before I got the deal. And Rico saw that. We would run into each other. One thing led to another…we started shooting hoops, playing basketball together. He’d tell me to come down Miami. Fast forward to years down the line, I dropped Network 2 with [DJ Don] Cannon. I dropped two mixtapes with Cannon. [There] was Network 1. I was ready to do a deal with Allido/Interscope. I had went on the Attention Deficit Tour with Wale. Did the whole tour, was about to do a deal with the production company called Allido…but we agreed to disagree. Back to the drawing board, ‘Cannon, let’s do part 2.’ So we did Network 2. I did a photo-shoot in my house. Off the tape, I shot a few vids and I cut them to 30 seconds. All white net drops. No Bentleys, no jewelry, no girls, just me getting busy so they could just focus on what I’m saying. And it worked. Rico reached out. It was actually a record called “The Moon and Stars.” He was like ‘yo, I almost forgot how nice you were.’
This was the situation: at the time I had a few [deals] on the table but never was filled. He was like ‘yo, tell them to beat whatever I put.’ He felt confident of what he had. He flew out to Philly, next day after that we drove up to Universal…they just wanted to check me out, look at my appearance. You know in the movie, Notorious, where Puff was like, ‘bring your man, let me see him?’ They want to check you out to make sure you’re marketable. That happened, and a few days after that I’m in Miami recording “Break Em Down” and “Philly Sh*t.” The rest is history. I’m excited about the whole Division 1 movement because I feel like I’m a priority over there. It’s a new label, a new movement. We got a lot of work to do. But I’m excited about it. I love my position over there. Rico is great. His energy is great. His vibe is great. He’s motivation. I just try to out-work him.
In your songs you address people asking you about the Roc all the time. Are you tired of it?
It’s crazy, I always tell people when you chop the head, the body falls. It’s just what it is. And that’s what happened with it. Jay and Dame, when they split ways, the family just crumbled. It’s like when grandma passes, the backbone passes and the family just crumbles. Y’all don’t come together no more. Y’all don’t do the same holidays together no more. It’s just everybody all over the place. But that’s basically how it happened. Honestly, I was blessed to still be relevant and to have those relationships with Dame, with Jay.
Are yall still real tight?