How does it feel like when the hottest artist in hip hop raps over a beat previously given to you? For the upstart emcee Christian Deshun, it's beyond humbling. While a lot of fans have embraced Kendrick Lamar's monumental To Pimp a Butterfly for it's depth and sonic direction, few know that knxwledge, the producer behind "Momma," actually gave Deshun that same beat long before Compton's next mayor revealed his personal struggles. The final product was "Thank You," a soulful cut that pairs well Deshun's buttery flows. Coming out of Louisiana but now an Los Angeles native, he's has hit the ground running with with a slew of tracks that have him waxing poetic over dynamic beats. Before Deshun makes some serious moves, we thought we'd sit down with him and learn a bit more about his past and what he's got planned for 2015.
EARMILK: When did you realize that making music was less of a hobby and more of a career?
Christian Deshun: I was going through so much when I dropped out of college. Music was all I really had left and it's the thing I'm most passionate about. In the past, I was being really lazy with my music and I wasn't pushing myself at all. I would've been a lot more successful if I put more emphasis on holding myself accountable and following through.
EM: Is that why you left Louisiana and headed west for L.A.? To get serious with your craft?
CD: Most definitely! Louisiana will always be home. From the soul food at my grandma's restaurant, to the culture and slang we use there, that place means so much to me. I moved to L.A. with a purpose: to build on what began in Louisiana. I'd be lying if I said the decision hasn't changed my life.
EM: Give us a breakdown on SMPLCTY--how would you describe the project to those who haven't heard it?
CD: Ahhh man (laughs) well SMPLCTY is actually a bunch of throwaway tracks I mean I definitely enjoyed the project and it was a great experience, but at the end of the day it was a whole bunch of loosies I had written for a while, but never recorded. It took me about at week to record and mix it down and I did everything in the kitchen of my apartment. Once it was finished, I just kind of put it out there a week later (laughs.) Oddly enough, everyone seemed to dig the project; it even ended up on 2DopeBoyz' list of the "Top EP's of 2014" which is pretty dope to me. I'm glad that they picked SMPLCTY to be apart of some other great projects of the year.
EM: Tell us about how you connected with knxwledge. What was it like when you found out that Kendrick used the beat on To Pimp a Butterfly?
CD: To be honest, I don't even know knxwledge like that (laughs.) I've been a fan of his beat tapes for years; he's an inspiration of mine when it comes to crafting an unorthodox beat. I leased the beat from his Bandcamp page, but I think the controversy happened when my fans thought he jacked the beat from me. They truly thought something shady was going down, but that wasn't the case at all. I love them for getting behind me though; it shows they've got my back no matter what. But going back to the track, I flipped out when I heard that "Momma" track! I was listening to the stream on Spotify the night before heading to work and I was shocked. Considering that Kendrick is one of the most innovative and creative artists we have today, I was honoured to hear him kill it like that. I've got nothing but love for To Pimp A Butterfly and "Momma!"
EM: You also had some production from Tae Beast on SMPLCTY--how did the come about?
CD: Same story. I just leased a few of his beats from Bandcamp. A lot of people swear (and still swear) that I mess with TDE on the low, but that aint the truth. I'm just chilling and making shit.
EM: What's the story behind your latest video "Undisclosed?"
CD: Well "Undisclosed" is the first single from my new project, Subtle Weekends. The song represents a home of mine. My homies and I had this crib back in Louisiana that was off the beaten path--even if you used a tracking system you couldn't find us (laughs.) We always came up with some dope material there even though we were all going through some serious shit. That crib represents a time period where I struggled to find myself. I lost my nephew in the process and was broke and hungry, both literally and figuratively. But I also gained some knowledge being around some of the smartest people you'll ever meet. "Undisclosed" represents my life--hopefully everyone can relate.
EM: Who are some rappers/producers you look up to these days?
CD: Big KRIT, in my opinion, is my favourite rapper of the generation. But Kendrick, Wale, Flying Lotus, Lapalux, Sango and knxwledge are some guys I really rock with. But without a shadow of a doubt, Outkast are the greatest of all time in my eyes. I'll debate that shit to the grave.
EM: What've you got planned for the rest of 2015?
CD:I'm gonna keep pushing the envelope this year by being as creative and authentic as possible. I'm gonna be true to my music and keep pushing on. Also, I'll rep Caddo Parrish, Louisiana for it's growing hip hop scene.
EM: What's your preferred type of milk?
CD:Maaaaaan, I like my milk like I like my women, chocolate! (laughs hysterically)
Check out the video for "Undisclosed" down below and show some to Christian Deshun by giving him a follow on his Facebook page. Something tells me 2015 will be his best year yet.
- April 2nd, 2015