Photo: James Anthony
Peezy International Is Telling The World Who He Is Through Style
The Houston rapper talks about his musical influences, how style defines a person and his new music
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.
Rotimi On Performing At ESSENCE Fest, Growing Up African-American & More
The Nigerian-American singer and actor sat down with the Recording Academy to talk about what inspired his latest album, 'Walk With Me'
In 2015, Rotimi stepped into the New Orleans Superdome for the first time to experience the magic of ESSENCE Fest. Four years later, in 2019, the "Love Riddim" singer returned to the celebration as a performer, something he said was spoken into existence.
"Last year me and my manager had a conversation and I said, 'Listen, I'm going to be on the [ESSENCE] mainstage this year. 365 days later, we did it," Rotimi told the Recording Academy at the 25th annual ESSENCE Fest.
Rotimi, also an actor on Starz' "Power," has evolved since his last album, 2017's Jeep Music, Vol.1. The singer said he really hit home with its follow-up, the recently released Walk With Me, a project he worked hard for, putting in hours in the studio after filming on set.
"Walk With Me is the first time I actually felt like I was giving myself as an artist, and personally I feel like with everything else I have going on I wanted to show people that this is really what I do," he said. "I wanted people to understand who Rotimi is, who Rotimi was before, who I want to be and just understand my growth and the journey and my passion for what I do."
Part of why the album felt like such a representation of him is because it embodies beats of his African roots, something he said was very present growing up Nigerian-American.
"I grew up with a lot of Fela Kuti and I grew up with Bob Marley," he said of his musical roots. "But I also grew up with Carl Thomas and Genuine and Usher, so there was a genuine mixture of who I am and what I've grown up to listen to. The actual Walk With Me project was a mixture of influences of Akon and Craig David."
Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY
Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business
The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.
In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.
The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com
Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors
Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it
Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.
McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award.
The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.
"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."
With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.
Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.
Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs
Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage
What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.
Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.