Saint Kris - No Stress from Youth Music Movement on Vimeo.
Saint Kris, the Winnipeg based hip-hop artist, makes no pretense that he is going to play into the old tired stereotype that hip-hop should be about drugs, gangs, money and women. No, that would not be Saint Kris at all.
Instead, what you see is what you get. His work has been dubbed "humble hip-hop," a moniker he wears with pride. In fact, Saint Kris did not even reveal to his buddies that he had been writing and recording rhymes since the age of 16 (and I should know, I had been hanging with Kris since junior high-school).
Now a decade later, Saint Kris has released his musical side and is blowing-up all over Winnipeg's hip-hop scene. Whether it is playing sold-out shows in Winnipeg, hearing his tracks all over the radio, or seeing international designers like Benny Gold promoting his videos, Saint Kris is staying true, winning them over with one silken, truthful lyric at a time.
SCENE called Saint Kris to learn more on where these rhymes came from and why he kept them from us for so many years. How did first start recording tracks?
What was it like being the only kid in Kenora who could grow a sweet afro?
That definitely played into not showing the music. Like there was such an advantage to being one of the only black, or coloured (however you want to talk about it), kids in Kenora. You know, some people were amazed, saying stuff like "oh man that kid has a sweet afro... or he is good at ball...", you know all the stereotypes came out. But at the same time I wasn't trying to be that black guy. I wasn't a gangster or wasn't talking crazy slang. So to let it be known I was rapping at the same time, I didn't want to fit that stereotype. So it was gift and curse you know.
Saint, we grew up playing ball together in Kenora, and I never knew you were into writing lyrics. What made you want to start writing hip-hop?
I just had an interest in the poetry of it. I guess simply, I thought of how much I liked Dr. Suess - you know, the riddles and the rhymes and to the ability to play with metaphors and similes - that whole poetic aspect was what was fun for me.
When my parents first bought their first computer, we wanted to find out everything about it. One aspect was recording audio.
One of the first things I recorded was a rap battle against my little sister, to test out the microphone on the computer. It was just silly stuff to start but then, as we progressed, we started adding beats to it. At the same time, my buddy Justin Mejia was also doing this same sort of thing, so we all hooked up and went down to the local electronic shop to pick up a $20 microphone - which was an upgrade at the time, but now when you think of recording on it was awful - and we started putting tracks together in a basement.
Justin and my sister Nikki started showing the tracks to their friends and stuff, where I was more reserved. I kept my part anonymous and would only show it to my cousins, if anyone at all. Years later, even in college it (my rap) hadn't come out yet. I played basketball for four years during my communications degree and none of my teammates ever heard my rhymes.
I didn't even play a live show until 2009 - and even then Justin really had to convince me to come out and perform. So were you hooked from the first time performing?
I won't lie to you, it wasn't the initial performance that hooked me in. Even to this day, my favourite part about the song is not performing, it is the time it takes to write - and the attachment to the writing. I've grown more comfortable with shows now, but it wasn't the show that made me want to do more performing. It was that confidence I got that people are actually listening and want to enjoy it.How would you define your style.
There is a stereotype that in hip-hop everything is extravagant, with money flowing everywhere. I don't really fit that stereotype - and I'm cool with that.
I've been coined as "humble hip hop" and I know it is meant as a complement. It's because I talk about things that people can relate to. I'm not bragging about anything, I talk about how I live. I'm writing how I live. I work a 9-5 also, and other people work two jobs too. I'm writing what I live so people around me believe it and support it.
My newest Mix Tape is called BYOB, which stands for "be your own being." It is exactly what we are trying to do right now. I know it is easy to want to show something else, but that is not me. People can critique me if they don't like my music, but if they critique me because they think I'm fake, well that's not even relevant.