Christon Gray – A Dope, Soulful Singer/Rap Artist Makes One Last First Impression

  • [divider]Christon Gray interview continued[/divider]

Parlé Mag:  I know you’ve done tracks with other gospel artists as well as artists who share your same message, such as Lecrae and Andy Mineo, but for you personally moving forward are you particular about the artists you work with?
Christon Gray:  I am and it’s more for a different principle issue. For one, it’s very difficult for me to work with an artist that I don’t like—not necessarily personally, I mean that’s obvious, if I don’t like them than I don’t want to associate with them at all. But I think that’s even a little easier to do and work around than actually not believing in their work and their craft.  That’s usually when I find myself at odds. When I’m working with an artist—and I don’t care who they are, and what name they have, if I don’t believe in the song and the craft then I won’t be on it. If the message is opposing to what I’m trying to showcase in my message and music, you know like, ‘let’s go make a track about going to the strip club’ and just whatever and if it’s ratchet than I’m even willing to make a statement on that record like THIS is what I believe. If I have to hush that and kind of have to be the guinea pig of the track because of my talent than I also will stand up for what I believe in and respectfully decline. So yes, there are some standards. I just think I try to be very patient and try not to just be fearful of what people may think but rather what we’re trying to represent.

Parlé Mag:  I want to come back to the album, “Black Male (blackmail)” is a very powerful track, can you talk about the creative process behind the song and the title meaning.
Christon Gray:  “Black Male” falls on the second half of The Glory Album, the second to last track on the album. Initially we thought about making it the last track but we felt like it might be way too heavy to end the album with that.  It would probably create way more questions. The title is a double entendre, like one ‘black mail’, do we black mail ourselves, do we have dirt on ourselves, and do we create our own stereotype as Black people. And Black male, obviously being a Black male, just the struggles  that come along with growing up in a society and having to deal with a society that has us typecast us. And when I say us, I am a Black Male so I can speak from experience. The approach to the song was to answer social injustice with 1. the least amount of hostility as possible and 2. I wanted to involve white people in the discussion. So I told the story of an interracial couple trying to love each other in the midst of all this injustice, so that this could be a discussion where neither party, whether Black or White could ignore and we have to come together and reason and reconcile. And then also consider the next generation because they will be more diverse and we will see many more interracial couples in America and we have to ask ourselves can we exist together without solving this issue or at least keeping it in the forefront. I mean who can argue with love, right? I figure that approach would really bring an opportunity to continue the message that I’m trying to express. I don’t think our issue is necessarily a racial issue or a cultural issue. I think it’s a sin issue and we have to solve that only through the grace of Jesus Christ.


Parlé Mag:  
On a lighter note, let’s talk about the “50 Shades” track. Obviously a play on words for the book and movie that features the title character named Christian Grey.
Christon Gray:  “50 Shades” is not really a lighter note. The first half of that is really the darkest moment on the album, in my opinion. I will say that the pace of the song—this is Chris in Hip-Hop raw form. This is backpacker Chris who’s like, “I don’t want to sing nothing.” You give me this Hip-Hop sound, it’s just real jazzy, gives you that old Jay-Z Reasonable Doubt feel. It has a slow pace where you can just eat on there. I’m talking beast, I’m talking to people, I’m telling people to stop calling me Christian, I’m talking about history of what I got into before I got married and that bleeds into my marriage. Real ugly. And then on the second half you hear Kirk Franklin leave me a message where he essentially tells me, you’re free brother, your’re feee and that changed everything for me. I talk about that transition and how I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, not only for my career but for my personal life. So yeah man, it’s like the heightened climax for the album. “50 Shades” is a system of layers through which I learn who I am and hopefully people can see themselves through that.


Parlé Mag:  
Okay! Well now I actually need to listen to the track again.
Christon Gray:  Yeah man. Go run that back. I think the line for me, I don’t know if they’ll really catch this, but I say, “I pray and I prey, seek while I hunt…” And when you hear the context of what I’m talking about in that area, you’ll know exactly what I mean. For a Christian man, to be talking about his struggle and essentially being in a dark place and falling back into that lustful issue where he’s looking at women and thinking, ‘I want that’ But at the same time I’m praying. And I’m praying, but I’m preying… P R E Y! Come on Chris, don’t put yourself out like that.


Parlé Mag:  
It’s definitely all about context, because for me, when I heard the track, I’m thinking this is just an artist having fun on a rap track…
Christon Gray:  That’s kinda the dark side, because I was having fun talking about it. It’s like, we shot the video for it and we put it out and it’s almost like you’re watching A Beautiful Mind. A building with graffiti all over and he’s talking about himself. And it’s so taboo I believe to admit stuff like that. But I think it was a great  discussion to have on a track, with myself.

Christon Gray – “50 Shades” Music Video

Parlé Mag:  With artists like yourself and the BJ The Kid’s of the world making more music in this middle ground, do you think it says something about established religion and church or is it just a powerful time in music?
Christon Gray:  Man, I think you gotta be careful what you listen to, you know. Music, like the type of music I make or you know, BJ the Chicago Kid or even people like Mali Music, you know when you listen to that, a lot of it you relate to it. But relating to what a person is saying doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re always going to find a solution. It isn’t always our job to give the solution. I feel like it’s our job to be honest and  in the church that’s lacking. So with that honesty and integrity being inserted back into the spectrum of the church, I’m hoping this will possibly push people back into scripture to find out how to deal with this stuff and actually deal with it. Because we put on a front a lot of times at church, but we don’t really deal with the real issue, it’s always shadowed underneath with some sort of theological issue or debate. We’re over here preaching and yeah I know what the scripture says, but this is how I am actually feeling about it. It think we have to be careful of the listener on one end they can take it, listen to it and be like yeah this is how I feel too, let me just live like this, but now, you still have to change it, if you’re living for Jesus. On the other hand I don’t want to be judged either, for being honest, because a lot of people that are judging, they’re facing the same thing and they feel like we just open up their closet too.

Parlé Mag:  What advice do you have for upcoming artists that are inspired by your music and hope to find a lane similar to yours?
Christon Gray:  I say for those who want to pursue it exactly like me, first of all, you have to build a strong association with your local church. You don’t have to be out here all on your own. And also have people around you who are not afraid to tell you that something you’re doing is wack. You don’t want to be around a bunch of yes men who just tell you everything is good because you got a dope beat and a nice voice. I also think it’s important to be patient. I been doing this for 15 years and I’m just putting out an album on a major label. It’s not gonna happen over night, particularly in the Christian market, there’s a lot of things that we’re still trying to work out and it’s a harder journey in my opinion.  There’s a lot of dope artists that are raw and authentic, we just don’t have a lot of the same resources in the Christian community, so stay faithful of the service and in the mean time just keep making great music and wait for God to open that door. It may be through a major label or it may be through a Christian avenue where they’re supporting you. Just be patient and wait for those opportunities.


Parlé Mag:  
What’s next for Christon Gray?
Christon Gray:  I don’t know, I think I just need to sit back and process the reaction to the album. I’m already about 7 or 8 songs into the next one. I’m ready to keep living out the messages in this album and to help some people along the way. Showing up on a couple more tours would be nice. Being on the road and just perfecting the craft, while I prepare for the next avenue.
Be sure to listen to Christon Gray’s The Glory Album.  Might be the best thing you’ve heard in a long time.

For more information on Christon Gray check out www.christongray.com

Kevin Benoit

Kevin Benoit is the editor of Parlé Magazine. He founded the magazine while in college and continues to run it today. Follow him on IG: @parlewithme Read more articles by Kevin.

Kevin Benoit has 1788 posts and counting. See all posts by Kevin Benoit

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