By JR Valrey, The Minister of Information
Local Oakland Street Hip Hop has been known for its lyricism since the 90’s: when Askari X was putting the revolution in his rhymes, since D-Loc of the 415, Agerman of 3X Krazy, V. White of the Delinquents, Rappin Ron and Ant Diddley Dogg of the Bad Influence Clique had the avenues and boulevards in their grips. Since the 2000’s some of my favorite Oakland wordsmiths have been Beeda Weeda, Yukmouth of the Luniz, Mahasen of Hobo Junction, Shady Nate, Young Gully, Keidra On Stage, 4 rAx of the Mekanix, and of course Chris Tha Fifth.
Many who are familiar with the local Bay Area scene have heard of all, or most, of the people on the list, but most have not heard of Chris Tha Fifth because he has been locked away behind enemy lines for the last decade plus, in the California Concentration camp system known commonly as prison. After his forced vacation, he is still in tip-top artistic shape. Lyricism has always been his forte, political and social commentary has always been included in what Chris Tha Fifth had to say, while in addition to everything listed above, his explosive energy while on the mic, makes him a different animal from what is on the scene currently. Check out Oakland’s best hidden lyrical secret in his own words.
JR Valrey: How long were you locked up? What were you convicted of?
Chris Tha Fifth: I was convicted for a shooting, and was sentenced to 14 years and 85%. All together I was down for 12 years and 5 days.
JR Valrey: How did being locked up that long affect how you saw time, and being creative?
Chris Tha Fifth: Absolutely! Whenever you get sentenced to that type of time at such a young age, it has a humbling effect. It caused me to appreciate life, and respect consequences! And to be honest, prison stimulated my creative consciousness to a level that I didn’t even know I could ascend to! That’s the reason why I started writing books (published 4 to date), also penning maybe 20 or 25 albums. I wrote 3 screenplays. I got my GED then attended college, and educated myself to the extremities of my mind’s capacity.
JR Valrey: You are looked up to as one of the dopest lyricists alive today, how do you look at wordplay and who were some of the wordsmiths that you looked up to?
Chris Tha Fifth: First and foremost, I appreciate the acknowledgment. Now to answer your question, when I was coming up my favorite rapper was Tupac Shakur, and what he taught me was that when you tell the truth, and you speak from experiences and not follow fads, you realize that you are closer to people than you thought. And that connection comes from the experience of pain! But after Tupac, growing up, I definitely was a huge fan of Yukmouth, that was my favorite rapper above all, for a very long period of time. But once I got a dose of Jay-Z, the incomparable Shawn Carter, it was a wrap! The way Jay composes an album, is a form of art within itself, and that’s where I really learned how to put my projects together, making sure that the songs had relevance to one another, in some capacity, and to make sure it has relevance to the people I’m working with too!
JR Valrey: How would you compare writing novels, like the ones you have published, to writing an album?
Chris Tha Fifth: It’s crazy you ask that, because the first thing I immediately noticed when I started writing my first novel was that you have to channel a different kind of energy. It’s different trying to write without a beat, whereas with music, all you have to do is get on the right wavelength and the song will pretty much write itself.
JR Valrey: What’s the difference between your music now, and the music you made before you was held captive?
Chris Tha Fifth: To be honest, the music is pretty much on the same vibration because I’ve always remained authentic to my gift, but being that I educated myself while I was behind the wall, the things that a person will immediately notice are the upgrades in my wordplay, my metaphors, how with certain patterns I purposely tweak the cadence, the level of intellect expressed through catharsis, and also being that I came home and really took music seriously, they’ll also see more effects and breakdowns, things of that nature.
JR Valrey: Why do you think it’s important to include a message in your music?
Chris Tha Fifth: I feel like it’s important for every “artist” to have some sort of meaning for their music, because when you don’t have a meaning for your music, you can’t call yourself an artist! And the only way for you to have a meaning for your music, is with a message! See, whenever you’re blessed with something that you can do exceptionally well, you have to use that instrument as a vessel, to not only get your music and your message to the world, but also to say thank you to the muses, from whom the gift was given.
JR Valrey: What are you working on now? What is the title? Why did you name it that?
Chris Tha Fifth: Right now I’m promoting the May 28th, release of my sophomore album: “Masterpiece 2: Music From My Muses”. I’m also still pushing my books: “To Fall From Bliss”, “Heroes: A Solider’s Story With PTSD” , “The Ventriloquist: Puppet Pills Pistol Play”, The Bay Area’s Brooklyn Bridge”, *that are available on Amazon. I’m currently shopping several screenplays that I wrote, while I was incarcerated, and my most important endeavor is securing funding for a fully-functional social-networking website that I began developing, when I came home last year. It took me about a good six months of working on it, and I’m ready for a launch!
JR Valrey: How could people find your music online?
Chris Tha Fifth: They can find my music is on YouTube/ Chris Tha Fifth, Instagram: @Chris_Tha_Fifth, Facebook:ChrisThe5th, and all other streaming platforms. Thank You