Chris, better known as C5 is an Oakland native currently attending Cal State Dominguez Hills. The graduating senior has been garnishing buzz at his university for his Dorm Flow installments. I caught up with him, before heading back to the Bay to discuss the current state of Hip-Hop, his DF brand, the Yay area and more.
Upon meeting, C5 threw on his black Dorm Flow hoodie. We sat outside a Starbucks on a breezy Tuesday afternoon. This interview was a casual conversation, rather than strict question and answer session. By the end, I got a better understanding of Chris as both an artist and college student; which gave a deeper meaning to DF2.
Why do you go by C5?
I used to call myself, Chris Five. The 5 is the block I’m from [59th]. We call it the 5 back in the day. It was like, we were in a group with 3 guys named Chris. To not get mixed up, the homie called me C5. So basically the homie gave me my name.
Who are two dream collaborations and why?
Drake f’sho. He can do anything — a party song, a real song, female song. I feel like he’s a great overall artist. I could learn from him and how he goes about making his songs.
J.Cole, a dope lyricist. I feel like we’re in the same kind of lane. Yeah he dope.
I can definitely see how you resemble him a little bit. I catch myself thinking: “Wait, why does this sound like a Cole song right now? ” Were you really going for that?
Nah, not really. It sound like every song sound like Cole or?
I found hints [of Cole] with the way you spit your verse. I’m not a huge Cole or Kendrick fan.
Wait, who are you big fan of?
Wale because I did academic research on him. I’m more into poetic type artists. But because of radio, I feel they’re overplayed. But I would definitely pay to see them live.
How has leaving The Bay and attending DH impacted your music?
Drastically. Back when I was in the Bay, I was in the streets and stuff. My street album is called 5matic. You could hear me talking about way different stuff — from pushing drugs, guns and all that stuff. Now we got the Dorm Flow. I slowly transitioned; it was street but I was talking about parties, love and girls. Now [DF2], I’ve gotten in all these organizations and mean something on campus. If I say something bad, it could jeopardize my job or something going on in my org. So this one is clean and not so much profanity.
That’s interesting cause when people usually do college albums. They tend to be blunt and straightforward. Like, “college isn’t for me, but I’m in this rap game”. It’s interesting because you were getting shouted out by your radio station and Vice President. I was like what kind of snippets are these? C5 isn’t your typical college dude.
I love college. I really took advantage of everything I did there. You know, doing shows on campus. For DF1, I couldn’t perform songs nothing from that album because of so much cussing. You gotta keep it clean.
I mean you could’ve done a clean version? But you know..
But I mean even the clean version, it wasn’t even like.. every other word was a cuss word. Content too cause I’m a mentor for middle school kids. So if I’m all in the raps, disrespecting the women but telling kids to respect them, I would be a hypocrite. So I made sure I wasn’t disrespecting or degrading them in my raps.
Playing the safe role, I see you.
I didn’t use the word B*tch in the whole album.
That was kind of surprising.
You noticed that?
It made me think Hip-Hop artist, no use of B*tch, not really misogynistic? Okay I see you with the consciousness. You’re really trying to set yourself apart from the rest, which is good.
What would some advice be for the college rapper, who’s trying to get backed by their university?
My advice for the college rapper?
I know a lot of guys pursuing music while getting an education.
It’s definitely tough managing music and school. Putting out a tape during school would be big. My advice would be to take advantage of the platform. I used college as a plan B to get to my plan A. It’s gotten me way further.
How exactly did you use it to get farther? I know there are some rappers handing out tapes, free merch, spreading stuff by word of mouth etc.
You gotta network. I was in the dorms passing out albums. I’m going up to offices trying to get performances. I’m on campus selling my clothing. I’m getting in all these organizations and networking, I’m telling them I’m an artist and they’re going to support because he’s in my org. If they really like it, they’ll really support.
I see you with your connects, with your homie spreading DF at Cal State Fullerton. You opened for Casey Veggies, I would’ve been there but my schedule.
Yeah, most of the crowd were DH people. Just get involved and everyone should know you on campus. As far as managing time, school is first. I never got on academic probation or anything like that.
I see you with your grind. Now why did you decide to make DF a two project installment, rather than a three or four sequence. What’s the meaning behind number 2?
Three is a next. But in the future, I might go back to three. DF2 was redemption. One was the first half of college, now look who I am. It showed the growth from DF because I’m not in the dorm anymore. It’s more adaptation, perserverance and moving forward from your circumstances. The past does not dictate the future. DF is going to be forever.
I’m someone who listens to a lot of Bay Area sounds. Why did you not decide to embody the Bay’s Hyphy and go to conscious route? In the way of fusing the Bay’s sounds with J.Cole’s lyricism, since a lot of artists stick to their city’s sound.
I came up listening to Jay-Z, Cole, lyricists like Biggie. I took that in and it resonated with me. I’m not a hyphy person. I’m more chill.
Could you ever see yourself doing a Hyphy track?
Yeah. That’s what I’m gonna do in the next one. I’ll incorporate that.
Who would you say are some of your favorite Bay Area artists at the moment? If, you have any. You could opt out if you want.
I came up listening to Too $hort,E-40, Mac Dre.
What would you say about Sage the Gemini and HBK Gang?
I respect them and IamSu! too.
How far do you expanding the Dorm Flow brand (ex. record label)?
I’m thinking of making it a label with different artists to cater to various audiences.
In regards to XXL, who do you think should be in the Freshman Class this year? Top 5.
Bryson Tiller, Boogie, Tory Lanez, Mozzy and RJ.
How do you feel about the current state of Hip-Hop and mainstream music.
I feel like it’s evolving. [The mainstream] is evolving. You gotta keep up with the times. People always appreciate that real music, that’s why Kendrick and Cole are still relevant. If you talking real, it’s timeless. I like the new stuff too: Party. Drake. Tory Lanez. Tiller. I like the new Trap-Soul. Appreciate the times.
This is kind of running from talking about your music, but how do you feel about PND+Kehlani+Kyrie thing. Where do you stand?
My thoughts on it were PND is about to drop PND3. So he uploaded an old picture to get hype. That’s what I thought it was because they used to be together. But then I seen Kehlani posted about how her and Ky broke up.
From what I know, I saw her hospital post. But knowing her, she’s a bit fragile with her past. The memes are going a bit too far.
You signed up for fame. You need tough skin. Prayers for Lani, I really like what she represents. She’s another one I wanna collaborate with. We’re from the same hood too.
What do you think about audio production and how people say there’s a lack of producers but higher influx of more programmers. I read a Hypetrak article where Timbaland claimed producers don’t exist anymore.
There are different types of producers. There are beat composers, song guiders. But then again, there’s producers who compose and guide songs all together.
What are some songs you’ve been bumping lately?
PND & Drake’s “Come and See Me”, some Su “Famous” & “Make a Living”. That’s actually hard. I’m always bumping Bryson’s album here and there. This new dude, Nav . He got a song called “Myself”.
What can listeners expect from you next?
A little bit of everything. I know on the last project, there were a lot of samples. It was real soulful. This time I would like a good balance. Like you said, I’ll incorporate the Bay, Trap-Soul. I’ve been working on those types of beats. You’ll get more good music because that’s how you grow. DF2 is better than one. It’s only up from here.
How would you describe your shows? Are they long, full of energy? Do you preach wisdom to people?
I would say it’s interactive. I don’t just go up and sing songs. I introduce myself and talk to the crowd. There’s some energy, but not on Maco’s status. It’s captivating, fans would be tuned in. I got the go up joints.
Along with performances, what would be hard about being an opener? As a frequent concert attendee, people don’t really receive you, they’re kind of over you.
I would say, you face adversity with sets. They’ll push your set back or make it shorter.You need to make the best of it and let the crowd know you are present. I’ll talk to the crowd to be remembered, while also being me.
Top three dream venues to perform at?
Staples, Oracle and Madison.
Goals for the year?
Graduate from DH, make music and grow with God.
Congratulations on that. It’s been a lit interview, any last words for the squad?
Look out for C5, it’s only up from here. I’m working on my next album.