KillerHipHop Exclusive: Chris Webby Interview
2012 was undoubtedly the year of the independent artist. One of those indy rappers hitting the scene with his bars was Chris Webby out of the suburbs of CT. Towards the end of 2012, Webby dropped his Bars On Me mixtape hosted by Dj Drama. The tape quickly amassed downloads on DatPiff as it featured the likes of Prodigy, Method Man, Bun B, Kid Ink, and Jon Connor.
During our interview, Webby spoke to us about his Bars On Me mixtape, impressing Dj Drama, working with OG’s like Method Man, his relationship with Jon Connor, looking up to Eminem, Big L’s legacy and more. Hit the break for KillerHipHop’s exclusive interview with Chris Webby.
QuezKHH: Congrats on the success of Bars On Me. It got over 100,000 downloads in a week. What would you say has been the biggest reason for the mixtapes’ success?
Chris Webby: Well I mean it wasn’t out of nowhere. This one definitely did the best out of any of them thus far, but the last two before that, I crashed DatPiff. There Goes The Neighborhood, the EP that was released between my last mixtape and this one, hit number 1 on the iTunes hip-hop charts. So there’s a lot of groundwork that went into it. I was just super pumped to see that this one is doing so well compared to the other ones. This one definitely got the most downloads.
KHH: How did you approach this mixtape attitude-wise. Were you out there trying to prove something?
Webby: Well I’m always trying to prove. Unfortunately I feel like I have to, being a white kid from the suburbs of Connecticut. There’s always an element of show and prove to what I do. But I mean at this point, I think a lot has been proven. But due to the fact that I’m not signed to a major and you know, these facts aren’t getting out there, that I was number 1 on the iTunes hip-hop charts. A lot of people don’t even know I have anything on iTunes at all, as far as the mainstream audience goes aside from my own personal fan base. I think once you lose that attitude of needing to prove something, that’s when artists start falling off. You should always feel like you got to prove something. But it’s less of a concern at this point. I think certain things have already been proven and you just got to make sure you’re still having fun with the music no matter how much you make. You got to re-spark, like it’s your first mixtape. You got to spark that feeling.
KHH: Did Dj Drama drop any mixtape knowledge on you that helped you with this tape?
Webby: First of all he was a huge help as far as having that name on there. It was a great look. He helped get it out there, so that’s great. He was impressed actually. I don’t think he knew all that much about me going into it. Once he saw my work ethic and how much I really care about this shit, he was very impressed with that. He just said keep going. Not that I didn’t already know that but you got to always keep pushing man. You got to stay hungry.
KHH: You had a good mix of features on the tape. You worked with OG’s like Method Man, Prodigy, and Bun B. Then you also worked with new cats like Kid Ink and Jon Connor. What makes you so appealing to both sides of the aisle? You can work with the old guys and the young guys. Why do you think that is?
Webby: The new guys that I chose to work with are dudes that I respect, mostly independent, like Jon Connor, Emilio [Rojas], and Kid Ink. I fuck with that. They’re out there earning their stripes the right way, the way it should be done. The way I’m doing it. So all those guys, there’s a respect we all have for each other. It’s a certain way about being an independent artist. It’s not easy. You got to respect others that are doing that.
As far as the more OG’s, I think what it comes down to is, if you can spit, you can spit. That’s the motto I’ve always lived by. Take it or leave it, love it or hate it, you got to respect it. I could rap at the end of the day. I’m not a cocky arrogant person, but I know what I’m capable of and I know how to rap. And I like to show that, I’d rather not sit back on a track and let the production do most of the work. I want to be out there fuckin’ spittin’ bars.
KHH: Who has been your favorite person to work with?
Webby: Hmm. That’s a good question. Production-wise it’s been awesome working with Ski Beatz, Will Power [a.k.a.] SupaHot Beats, down in Atlanta who makes a lot of Yela’s stuff. That dude Sap, he’s crazy. So I mean production-wise, I worked primarily with them on this project.
As far as artists go, some of the tracks, as I’m sure you know, some tracks you do via email. It’s kind of just chatting back and forth. Motherfuckers are busy so a lot of times you just got to do it through email. But actually getting in with people, it’s hard to say man. I really fuck with Jon Connor man. He’s a cool ass dude. Every time I’m out and about and I happen to run into him, he’s all good vibes. I fuck with that dude. I fuck with his music and I fuck with the way he views and approaches the hip-hop game.
KHH: Like I said, you had a lot of balance on the tape. You had a lot of cool party songs and then you had deeper tracks. One of those tracks was “Whatever I Like” featuring Jon Connor. What was the message you were trying to deliver with that song?
Webby: The hook is kind of just off ‘fuck you I’m going to say whatever I want’ type shit. We’re talking about real life shit. Like some shit that’s going on in the world and a lot of people don’t even want to think about. It’s funny ’cause I actually had a verse and then I heard Jon Connor’s verse, and he was talking like, “I feel my iPhone is watching me.” I was like okay, that’s where I’m going to go with this. So I actually scrapped my verse and went back and approached it from that kind of perspective. It [makes] the track more oriented towards, yo fuck it, shit is fucked up out there, but I’m going to be rapping anyways.
KHH: That’s probably one of my favorite tracks from the tape.
Webby: Yeah mines too actually.
KHH: Being white, people automatically compare you to Eminem. And Eminem possibly being the best lyricist of our time, does that motivate you to get better and strive for more or do you ignore the comparisons?
Webby: Eminem is my favorite rapper of all time, first of all, and it’s not a white/black thing. I think as far as artists go, there’s been no one who has been able to present their own personal life better than him. He really lets you into his life and it’s like you know him. You know Kim. You know Haley. You know his mom. The way he did that, I don’t think it’s ever been done by anyone else. That’s one of the reasons some of his music you could put on and it’ll make you want to go punch somebody in the face. He has some very powerful emotions in his music. So that’s why he’s my number one.
Now being compared to him, I think at this point, Eminem has achieved so much, too much, to still be considered a white rapper. He’s a legend. End of story. I think he should be taken out of that category. Obviously he’s white and when he came out, that was like a big thing. But with all of his accomplishments and accolades that he’s gained throughout his career, I think it’s past calling him a white rapper. I understand the comparisons to the other new white rappers coming up, but I mean, you can’t compare someone. I’ve been now on the mixtape scene since ’09, a good 3-4 years now. He’s been in the game since I was in 5th grade. You can’t compare someone who’s relatively new to the game to someone who’s been around that long. But of course the comparison is great. That’s amazing to be compared to the greatest rapper of all time, in my opinion. But I think it’s almost unfair because the dude’s accomplished so much. You wouldn’t be able to compare me to Eminem for another ten years. In ten years if I get a movie, I got all these albums, yeah all right compare me to Eminem in ten years. But for right now, those are some big shoes to fill.
KHH: How did you fist handle criticism or haters, and how do you handle them now?
Webby: At first, like anything when it’s new, you don’t really know how to handle it. You kind of let your emotions get the better of you. Nobody likes to be hated on. People don’t really understand who I am in hip-hop. What it’s like to go on and see these comments, ignorant ass comments saying this and that about me and my life and whatever. But it is what it is. At this point, I don’t give a fuck. When I was first seeing that, just like anybody, you get fucking pissed off. You’re like, yo man, that’s not even an accurate statement. Like what the fuck are you talking about? You just got to realize that he’s sitting there commenting on the internet. I’m out here in the fucking studio, on tour, or whatever. It is what it is man. And to have haters is actually a good thing, I’ve come to realize ’cause that means people are listening.
KHH: Last year you didn’t end up on the XXL Freshmen list. What would it mean to make it on the list this year?
Webby: Last year at first, it is what it is again. I kind of just acquired an attitude where it’s just like whatever man. Live and let live. I don’t want to really beef with anybody. I don’t want problems with anybody. I’m just trying to be here and do what I do. If you like it, you like it. If you don’t you don’t.
But as far [as the list], I was maybe taken a little back by that. But not necessarily surprised ’cause I haven’t really been like hooked up with hip-hop. No one’s ever really thrown be a bone. I’ve had to work my ass off for every fuckin’ thing I’ve gotten and accomplished thus far and I’m cool with that. I think that’s the best way to do it. But I had accomplishments going into it last year that you know, I figured definitely qualified me for it. But it is what it is. You can’t be mad at it, so this year think again. I definitely have many accomplishments. Now I have like experience and I think there’s going to be a lot of pissed off fans if I don’t [make the list]. But it is what it is again.
KHH: Are you talking to any labels right now. If so, which ones?
Webby: Right now since the mixtape dropped, I’ve been kind of lowkey. We’ve actually been shooting a lot of videos, so that has been the main focus. I have three videos in the chamber right now ready to drop. They’re all in the final stages of production. That was one thing that admittedly I was definitely lacking. That’s why a lot of these other guys were winning, ’cause they have these incredible visual campaigns and I couldn’t afford it, so I didn’t have it. Now that I can actually kind of afford to have some dope videos, we’re taking the reigns on that and making sure that happens.
I have never really focused myself with labels, with the radio, etc, etc. If it happens, it happens. I think once we get that tour and once all these videos are out, maybe we’ll see what’s up. It’s hard to say exactly what I want to do. I have a big decision coming up basically and that’s going to be whether I want to sign to a label, obviously under my own terms. But there’s a certain stigma that comes with that at least for artists that have been independent this long. Or I could stay independent. But there’s a lot of bullshit that goes into that and there’s a lot of frustration that goes into that. Being independent is great for creativity. It’s great for this and that, but at the same time it would be a lot easier if there was somebody who could just make these things happen. So we didn’t have to spin our wheels to get a video on TV or something like that. They facilitate certain things a lot better. Basically it’s just going to come down to me having to make a decision of exactly what I want out of life. I’m going to have to make it, but as of right now, I’m chillin’.
KHH: For my last question, if you had the ability to bring back one rapper from the dead, who would you bring back?
Webby: Wow, wow, that’s a good question. Of course everyone would expect Biggie or ‘Pac. Of course I’m huge fans of both. But…god damn that’s a hard question. See I was about to go with Pun, then I just thought of another one. I’m going to have to go with Big L because I can’t say he created, but he’s the one who took punchlines and multi-syllable rhyme schemes to the next level and he never had time to reap the benefits of that. So if anybody deserves it, that muthafucker does. He deserves another shot. He deserves a couple more years to actually enjoy what he put in. I feel like he got killed before he got to really enjoy the better part of life. I think his style, where he would’ve gone with it, I’m just curious. He was an incredible lyricist. He had so much potential and it’s not like he has the same sort of discography that the other artists I named did. But I’d like to see what that discography would look like if he had the chance.