Interview: Chris Rockwell

Written by Angelo Gingerelli

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Poet. Musician. Stand-Up Comic. Music Video Producer. Host of the long running Revolutionary Lounge Open Mic. Chris Rockwell wears a lot of hats and sometimes those hats are even made by his Karma Cartel clothing company.

Rockwell has been performing and recording music for well over a decade and last month released his first solo album Rockwell Rebel Radio. Pop-Break’s Angelo Gingerelli sat down with one of the hardest working men in New Jersey’s entertainment scene to talk about the new record, NJ’s influence on his creative process and what he would do with a million dollar video budget. Don’t forget to check out Chris perform and host the No Egos Hip-Hop Showcase at The Asbury Yacht Club on the boardwalk in Asbury on April 23.

When does music/poetry enter you life and when/how did you decide you wanted to be an artist?

My father tells me I was born an artist, always drawing when I was a kid. That eventually evolved into graffiti art when I was a teen. And that’s how I got involved with hip-hop and then slam poetry. Everything always led to the next thing.

You are from The Jersey Shore, which is a pretty unique place. How does that influence your creative output?

The landscape makes an appearance in my writing often. I like that is not the common scenery associated with such urban art forms. It’s also very busy in the summer and dead in the winter, which creates this cool contrast in the people and the towns.

You’ve released several group projects in the past, but Rockwell Rebel Radio is a solo album. How does the process change when working alone compared to being part of a group?

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Well truth be told, this is actually the biggest group I’ve ever worked with on a record. This is more like “Chris Rockwell Presents” more than a true solo record. But I was executive producer, so I had ultimate control. I hand picked a team that would help bring my vision to life, and they did an incredible job.

Even though this is a “solo” album, who did you collaborate with?

New Star, 1L, Andre Velazquez from Deff Ray, Lex Rex and Brooke Scheller all contributed writing and vocals to the album. Most of them have solo projects and they’re all amazing.

What can people expect off the new album?

Lots of throwback samples, and more personal and honest lyrics. This album is definitely the most socially and politically charged album I’ve made yet. It’s also the first time I’ve featured other rappers on songs with me, which I’m really psyched about.

 

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Let’s get to know Chris Rockwell a little better with five random questions…

1. You can be on a posse cut with any 3 rappers (living or dead), who are they? Who produces the beat?
P.O.S, Sage Francis, and Mos Def. Production by DJ Hi Tek
2. You’ve made several self-produced music videos. If a record label gave you a million dollars to make a video what would you do?
The same thing I always do. Make it with like, zero dollars. Then have a million dollars. I mean, I guess I’d buy a better camera…
3. Celebrity Couples are big now (Kim & Kanye, Jay & Beyoncé, etc.) Who’s the other half of your dream power couple?
Today, Leona Lewis. Ask me again tomorrow.
4. What are your favorite venues to perform?
The Saint in Asbury Park and The Human Experience in Las Vegas
5. You are going to a deserted island and can only bring five albums, what are they?
1. Sevens Travels by Atmosphere
2. Born to Die by Lana del Rey
3. Aquemini by Outkast
4. The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me by Brand New
The Photo Album by Death Can for Cutie

Check out Chris Rockwell at the No Egos Hip Hop Showcase at the Asbury Yacht Club on the Asbury Park Boardwalk on Saturday April 23.