Photo: James Anthony
Peezy International Is Telling The World Who He Is Through Style
Christian Phillips aka Peezy International is a rapper from Houston who is as much about music as he is about his style. To him, style speaks volumes and as someone who fluctuates between street style and high-end designer looks, he is telling people who he is, before he even says a word.
Phillips grew up around a versatile, musical environment—from playing the guitar to his mom singing at church to his sister playing the saxophone. He recently dropped his EP Baggage Claim where you'll hear him rapping about his lifestyle, love and the journey to where he is now.
We caught up with the rapper to talk his latest music drop, how he got into music, his fashion sense and approach to style.
How'd you got into making music?
I've been making music for a long time now, since probably the first grade. [That] was the first time I really got involved, myself, making music. I played guitar, actually, starting off, and I had a short stint in the school band for the trumpet and also drums. Flash forward to about 12 years old, I actually started writing raps and writing music, and I built my first home studio at the time. Kind of just guided me to my journey here today.
When you talk about being in a band, was it a school marching band or was it like you made your own band with friends?
In first grade it was a school band ensemble. We did everything from folk to jazz. I have a pretty extensive background when it comes to music in itself. I grew up around my mother singing in the church. My sister, she played the alto saxophone in a jazz band for many years. I've always been around a lot of different types of music.
I noticed that you went from playing the guitar to rap, so does that mean that your musical likings changed?
I wouldn't say my musical likings necessarily changed because I think today I still delve into a lot of the influences that I [partook] in while playing the guitar. I actually have since started playing again as well. I kind of fused the two worlds and mixed the two of them together, so no, I wouldn't say that my musical influenced have changed at all. It's just progressed and grown, and I've learned to put the multitudes together.
How did you come up with your name, Peezy International?
My very first moniker that I made music under was C Plus. This was when I was 12 years old, like I explained to you before, and I used that name from about 12 to 16, in which it changed to C. Peezy. Around that time Lil Wayne, everybody called him Mixtape Wayne, those were his days when he set the whole rap game ablaze and changed his name from Lil Wayne to Lil Weezy.
At that time during high school, I'd actually adapted the "eezy" and became C. Peezy. The "C" ended up getting dropped just because I'm from the South and we shorten up everything when we speak. The "international" comes about from me being able to transcend from different groups of people and relate regardless of skin color, tone, background, nationality. I thought that was kind of fitting for me and exudes what people can expect from me and my music being able to just transcend across different groups of people.
How do you feel like your style of music is different from other rappers?
I feel like my style of music is different from other rappers just when it comes to terms of layering. I can give you fashion-laden raps, but it has an undertone that actually means something and it's not just for the clubs or for you necessarily to dance to. I'm a Virgo, so I live in my head a lot. I'm kind of all over the place with my thoughts, and I do that a lot of times in my music. Depending on what mood you may be listening to it in, you might only catch what's at the surface. You know, it talks about fashion or materialistic things, but when you listen to it that second, third, fourth go-around, you'll actually start to catch the undertone and underlying meaning within the songs.
You brought up fashion. I'm wondering, in what ways does fashion and style inform your music?
Actually, I am a creative director for a brand, Helena Ferrar. It's my partnership with a buddy of mine, Duane Ferrell and myself … It's a high-end sneaker line. That and being a part of my whole movement and effort, it definitely gets talked about.
One of the things that's always kind of drawn me toward style is being able to give a person a closer view before you even have to open your mouth. You know what I mean? The way that I've always styled myself and dressed has always put forth me as a person before anyone else could.
How did you get into fashion?
It's just always been a love. We actually started designing in about 2013. We started designing and building the brand, so now is really a culmination of all of our efforts and all of the things that we put together up until now.
Do you style yourself or do you have a stylist?
Oh yeah. I always style myself, and I always pride myself on that. If you ever see me in a bad outfit, you can definitely point toward me for that.
Fashion has so many elements. There are shoes. There are accessories. What is your favorite?
I'd have to say shoes. I'd have to say shoes. There's the saying people can't walk a mile in your shoes, and I think the shoes are one of the things that tie an outfit together. It can take your outfit from a cool six to a ten very quickly, and I thought that shoes was one of the biggest staple pieces within everyone's wardrobe, which is why we ended up switching gears with the Helena Ferrar brand and actually deciding to go after the shoe market.
I'm wondering, because a lot of popular music is ... not just music sometimes, but an artist becomes a persona. How important do you think fashion and style is to being a performer?
I think it's very important because people are able to get a sense of you just from your style of dress, and you can almost always at least make an assumption about what someone's music will sound like just from looking at them and seeing them and how they present themselves.
Your album is called Baggage Claim. Can you explain the theme behind that?
The theme behind Baggage Claim is basically, essentially, me claiming all of my personal baggage from past transgressions to things of love, money, all the things that I've dealt with along the journey. The Baggage Claim title derives from my monikers, Peezy International. It's basically, essentially, a travel theme. The "International" just comes from me being able to transcend from different groups of people almost leagues apart from each other, so that's where it came to stick on that.
The "baggage claim" is just an offering up of me claiming my personal baggage, like I said, and living in it. I think it's the first part of me unmasking myself as not only an artist but as a person and having the vulnerability in which I'm seeking within my life also be reflected within the music.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Song that's my favorite? I'd probably say my favorite song off of the project would be "Stuck," self-produced by myself, and it features GRAMMY-nominated singer/songwriter Alexander Lloyd, who goes by A-Lex. This song is essentially about the L.A. lifestyle, and it talks about a lot of my past transgressions and how to afford it, the lifestyle that I have, while also being a love song at the same time. It's a really cool dynamic within the song that I think the listeners will really take to and appreciate because, depending on their mood, the song's going to mean something different to them.
What's next? Are you working on anything else right now?
What's next, the Baggage Claim EP is actually going to be a series. It'll be about two to three other EPs with the same name that will come about, leading up to my debut feature album, which will be call F.O.R.E.I.G.N., which actually stands for Forever Opulent Richly Engulfed In Grand Nature, and it kind of ties in the whole international theme as a whole.