Inspired by late mother, Johnson raps to self-express


As seen in the Nov. 8 issue
Zoe Kenealy, staff writer
Before his mother passed away, senior Chris Johnson promised her that he would do great things with his life. On top of taking many AP classes and being the wide-receiver on the varsity football team, Johnson makes music for his peers and Soundcloud followers to listen to. For him, making rap music is another way that he can create an opportunity for great things to happen.
Johnson has released two of his songs on Soundcloud: “Motive” and “The Start.” His musical inspirations for his songs include Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Pusha T and Rockie Fresh. However, Johnson’s first inspiration to express himself through art, specifically writing and music-making, was his mother. Johnson’s mother was a muralist, and the first to show him that he could convey his feelings into an artform.
“My mother was an artist and she put it into my life that I could express myself through art; anything that comes from inside,” Johnson said. “If it weren’t for her, at least not at the you age that I was, I would probably not have been so open to getting my feelings out through writing.”
Since he was a young child, Johnson enjoyed writing as a way to express himself freely and comfortably. He found pleasure in reading poetry and became interested in the art behind it. When he started writing poetry himself, he gradually developed an interest in composing rap songs that would express his emotions at the time.
“It’s more than simply throwing together words that rhyme; it’s more so feeling the lyrics and conveying deeper meanings through the songs themselves,” Johnson said. “Following along with that, I try to create song titles that portray an overall theme for the piece of music. Memories, desires and just pensive thoughts all lead to songs for me.”
Students who have heard Johnson’s songs support his efforts in the field of music, and have asked that he make more. It is Johnson’s distinctly dark voice that differentiates his music from all others.
“Chris has a really deep voice and it sounds super good on his tracks. I remember in our English class sophomore year, Ms. Goler loved his voice so much that she would always ask him to read” senior Milan Walls-Smith said. “I listen to a lot of rap and the rap that he makes is actually up there with all my favorite rap artists’ music because it’s so different. You can’t really find it anywhere else”
All artists have different methods for creating their music and Johnson’s is to keep an eye out for potential lyrics at all times. He has been writing his feelings down for as long as he can remember, so at this point communicating his emotions onto paper comes naturally. According to Johnson, the turning of his ideas into lyrics relies on luck and random bursts of artistic vision.
“I’m writing lyrics straight from the heart and recording whenever I have the chance,” Johnson said.
What started out as a promise to his mother has grown into a way of life for Johnson as he continues to strive for great things from his education to his music career. As of right now, Johnson is working on a currently untitled song that speaks of his appetite for success, and the importance of matching perseverance with ambition.