#SoundOfTheWeek Artist Of The Month

Featured Artist of The Month: @JDConqueror | MAY 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013Ava Bella

“James Christos is the enigmatic demagogue of this generation. The driving rhythms of his music, fierce cadence of his delivery, and electrifying stage show are reminiscent of a pastor preaching a fiery sermon. With the conviction of Tupac and lyricism of the likes of Nas; James Christos has carved his own niche in the ever evolving genre of Hip Hop. Ensuring his place among legends.”

Follow him on Twitter: @JamesChristos

So about a week ago I got to talk to James Christos, the MCEO of Indie Hip Hop! I felt like it was only fitting to have my first interview with him, after all he has been one of my personal mentors in the entertainment industry for a while now.

Over the last 3 years, I have soaked up much game! Not only from what he says, but from what he does. He’s one of the few MC’s in Kansas City, Missouri that's been in the game for about 20 years, but also runs an all inclusive entertainment company that encompasses all that is the business of music. Hold up. Now let me backtrack for a second and tell you about how I came to meet him. I was about 17, I was over excited and naive, but I too was wanting to be involved in the entertainment industry. I wanted to start locally and even back then, he was the guy you partner up with because he actually understood there was an art to the business, not just to the music. Back then, I just kind of hung around, desperately trying to get on a hook or sing one of my bubblegum songs that nobody seemed to have any interest in whatsoever. Then, Christos was kind of an asshole(still is), and he was not havin' it! He said I could "maybe" style him. That didn't last long, because after he saw the ‘fit I put together, he said I was about to have him "looking crazy wack"! Even though our initial interaction was not that great, I always knew I would find my way back to Equator when I was ready, and I along with my music, would be embraced.

After that, from a distance, I still got to see Equator Records blossom into Equator Industries, with subsidiaries, one of which we all now know as The Anarchy Movement. I wanted to be a part of that because I knew it would be around! "It" was many things, but mostly “it” was a business, and even though he was an MC, he was also a CEO; so James Christos was gonna be around, too! See heres the thing, back then a lot of folks in the indie rap game didn't know what soundscan, BDS, copyrights, or BMI, even was; or any indie genre for that matter. People used to just perform, spend racks on studio time, and put CDs in 7th Heaven, but not even keep a record of anything; no promotion, no follow through,  or anything. Not him, though. He made a conscious decision while working at 7th Heaven to sell the music by the guys on MTV & BET, but you were going to buy his music, too. That's honestly what changed the game and catapulted the transition for James Christos.

He's known for some time that the music industry in Kansas City is slightly different than ANYwhere else. You name a city, KC is the polar opposite. There is private urban radio there, but for the greater part of the last 30 years that station hasn’t included most of the locals music in its regular rotation. Now even though there has been win’s that have come out of this midwestern city, even those artists rarely, if ever, get spins locally. Even with all that has been done by James Christos and The Anarchy Movement(formerly Guerilla Movement) for the Hip Hop scene in KC, it amazes me that this station has yet to catch on, give him his props, and play his or his artists music. To date, Christos has managed to not only land a deal with EMI, but to get radio play elsewhere, and press; which is to be applauded. A lot of labels often want you to have those hometown spins first before you get any type of deal. However, when talent is undeniable and persistence is ever present alongside vision, the labels come calling!

This is one of the many reasons why I felt I really needed to share with my readers who he is and how he’s done all this. Its no coincidence that he's managed artists in multiple genres, been a successful talent buyer for the two main rooms artists love to play, indie and national acts for that matter.

Check out his website: iamJamesChristos.com

We’ve definitely had this conversation at least a hundred times, but this time I had to document it for you. Does it bother Christos how KC music works, does he even concern himself with it? Does he see a future for urban music in KC? Does he view the city’s industry any differently since he’s been on both sides; artist & CEO? As I get to do so often, and will so many more times, I had to pick his brain. So this is a two part interview and...

...here’s how Part 1 went:

Location: La Brea and Venice,Mid City, Los Angeles, CA

Time: 10:08PM

When I arrived an open bible was on the bedside table, minimal luggage(extremely neat, I might add) to the right of door, and the bed was made as though it was turned minutes before I got there for the interview. I turned on my iPhone voice memos recorder and made myself comfortable on the stool. Christos sat at the marble desk multi-tasking between his Mac, iPhone, CNN on the television, and soon, my questions. I didn't quite know how to start this particular interview being that I've know this guy for nearly 16 years, we’ve done more than approximately 15 studio sessions together, and he co-executive produced my first project. Now mind you, this is my second attempt at this interview. The first time I tried to get the “sit down”, he told me my first question was “wack” and I “needed to come back after I get some better questions”. So this time, I started awkwardly with...

Ava: How are you?
James Christos: Not bad, I could be better...
Ava: Okay, well, what’s gonna make you better
James Christos: Putting something out that connects with people
Ava: What do you think it is that the people need right now?
James Christos: I don’t know what they need, I’m just trying to make what I make
Ava: With that being said, What do you make and what makes you so different than all of the other rappers, or entertainers, and all of the people who are wanting to be apart of this business?
James Christos: I’m just me you know, the same thing that makes me different from any other rapper or entertainer is the same thing that makes me different from any other person period; I’m myself.
Ava: But you have to be able to call that something; so what do you call that?
James Christos: I don't have to be able to do anything about it, the people call it what they want to, there is nothing I call it, I mean, its me, myself and expressin’ my thoughts and ideals the way they come across to me, how they come out.
Ava: Hmm, well, lets back up a little bit because I want to make sure that the people get a good understanding of who you are? Who are you?
James Christos: I’m James Dion Dante’ McGee, son of James McGee and Constance McGee, McCloskey, Bell, Terry, the many names my mother’s had, that’s who I am.
Ava: And where were you born?
James Christos: Redwood City, California
Ava: Ok, and how long did you live there?
James Christos: Uh..I was born in Redwood City but I lived in East Palo Alto all my life until I was about 10 years old, then I moved to Milpitas, California which is like San Jose in South Bay until I was about 12, then I moved to Kansas City until I was about 14, then I moved back to California, then I moved back to Kansas City when I was 17.
Ava: Okay, so where do you call home right now?
James Christos: Room 108 at the Royal Hawaiian on La Brea(Los Angeles, CA)
Ava: (I started cracking up) Word up! So, I know that you call yourself an MCEO, how long have you been an MCEO
James Christos: Probably since about ‘98
Ava: And what was the transition, what made you go from just being an artist, to an MCEO?
James Christos: 'Cuz I couldn't get anybody to put my music out
Ava: So what was the first thing you did?
James Christos: An EP called, “Hi Power”, a decade I guess before Kendrick Lamar, I was going by Te-Don (then)
Ava: Was that the same one with “Streets Don't Love Me No More”
James Christos: Nope.
Ava: Which one (right here he cuts me off-here it comes...)
James Christos: You should really do your research, you should know these things before you’re asking somebody, you should know the projects. You need to do this interview just like you're doing it right now and put it out just like that so people know you aint what you was talking about.
Ava: I am, and I do know, but they might not know, I gotta make sure that they know
James Christos: No, that was from the first James Christos project called, “Uprising”
Ava: (And I did know that) To all my readers, because I had this in my Blackberry 8320 Blackberry Music app because I am a die-hard James Christos fan.

Pause, let’s go over the James Christos catalog right quick:

Released: January 2006

Released: November 2006

Released: 2005

Released: January 2003

Now, make no mistake, this is not all that he has done. Not to mention that from time to time, James Christos seems to just put out hits, be it single or EP, with no warning, and just like that the "buzz" never left. 

James Christos recently released "No One Here Gets Out Alive:

Release Date: May 2013

Now, this would definitely be a much longer interview so we will further explore the James Christos discography(in whole) in Part 2.

Now back to the interview...

Ava: Tell me what was your last tweet?

James Christos: I don't know, I think it had something to do with niggas being scared or something like that...
Ava: (laughter) And why is niggas scared?
James Christos: I have no ideal, I guess they don't want to be uncomfortable
Ava: Are you scared of being uncomfortable?
James Christos: Well if that was the case, I wouldn't be where I'm at right now
Ava: And where is that?
James Christos: Uncomfortable
Ava: (laughter) What about where you are makes you uncomfortable? Ok well whats the top 3 things that makes you uncomfortable?
James Christos: (He shakes his head) Im  not listing anything. Im not comfortable. I'll probably never be comfortable because Im always trying to accomplish something so when you're trying to accomplish something you’re not comfortable. Being content is one thing, I could be content but not comfortable.
Ava: So what do you do? How do you maintain when you’re uncomfortable and what keeps you from checking out, or lashing out on people when you have those moments(of discomfort), what is it that you do?
James Christos: I do check out and I do lash out at people
Ava: Oh(sarcasm)?!
James Christos: So its probably best not be around me when Im not comfortable
Ava: Wow
James Christos: I make sure other people around me are uncomfortable, too. So I can make sure we’re on the same page.
Ava: So, you’re married?
James Christos: Yea
Ava: How does that work for her?
James Christos: I’ve been seperated for over a year, and uh, that’s how it works...It ruined my marriage, how ‘bout that, it contributed to it.
Ava: So being uncomfortable ruined your marriage or the music ruined your marriage, which one?
James Christos: Being someone who is trying to accomplish something, (being)someone with tunnel vision trying to accomplish something...
Ava: So your drive and your vision?
James Christos: The things you have to do, that you’re influenced to do because of the drive and the vision.
Ava: Wow. (it was awkwardly silent for at least 2 minutes) Do you read a lot?
James Christos: Hmm, at times, I go through spurts of reading.
Ava: What do you read?
James Christos: Historical things, spiritual things that help me to be comfortable and content...centered...grounded.
Ava: Now, I am an artist myself, I’m sure you are well aware of that, but I’m one of those artist that reads industry books, industry blogs, I google how-to’s, I just do all that I can really think of to make it happen; are you one of those people?
James Christos: Well, I stay current on what’s new as far as media or different outlets for music and what’s new musically and what’s new trend-wise as far as media and ways to distribute market and promote, I stay abreast of those things, but I don't spend a lot of time reading books upon books about it because those books probably need to be written every other month to stay up to date with everything.
Ava: Well, since you have read those books, what was the last industry book that you did read?
James Christos: “How To Get a Record Deal” by Wendy Day
Ava: OK, what did you take away from it?
James Christos: That I’m already doin’ what she wrote about, that’s (just) somebody that put it in very plain English and helped me put certain things in perspective.
Ava: What stuck out the most from the book?
James Christos: Just her reiterating the fact that it's a business and people don't really dont give a damn about financing your dream, it’s about how they can turn a profit. So the more profitable you can make yourself seem, the easier time you’ll probably have in this business and that’s what its about when it comes to the business side of things. Companies wanna make a profit, they don't wanna take a risk, they don't want to take a chance, they want to put their money, time, and energy, and effort into a sure thing or what they think to be a sure thing.
Ava: Are you a sure thing?
James Christos: Yeah I’m a sure thing. I sure am. Whether I’m a sure thing for a million records sold, or 10 thousand, or 10 is another thing, but yeah, I’m a sure thing. I’m a certified artist and I create music, but whether that’s gonna translate into large amounts of money is a whole other thing.
Ava: So James Christos. You are a driven MCEO with a vision and a passion for what you're doing. Who are you sharing that with?
James Christos: Well, I’m trying to share it with the world.

That’s just what I believe is going to happen!

Follow James Christos on:

Twitter: @JamesChristosJames Christos FaceBook: The Anarchy MovementSoundCloud: JamesChristosBandCamp: jameschristos.bandcamp.com & theanarchymovement.bandcamp.comYouTube: AnarchyTV1Booking: info@theanarchymovement.com

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About Ava...

Ava Bella is a singer, songwriter, and author who has spent the last 3 years playing dates around the US alongside international acts like Morris Day & The Time, Estelle, and Luke James, Hip Hop artists like icon Masta Ace, DJ Marco Polo, The Knux, and GLC, as well as mentors @KCPL and James Christos(both of The Anarchy Movement). She's also acted as a consultant to indie and unsigned artists and labels as CEO and founder of Assilem Music & Media Group, an advocate for minority female business owners as CEO and founder of Majestic Refuge Nonprofit, and self-proclaimed fashionista as owner of The K&A Boutique.
Facebook Page: AvaBellaMusic 
AvaTheAnarchist Blog on Facebook: Ava The Anarchist.com

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