That’s a rap

Cris Kenyon

Photo By Bryce Benson

Cris Kenyon just turned 18 (June 7) and graduated from Chico High. If you’re a KZAP, or Club 96.7, listener, the phrase “In the Rearview,” might sound familiar. It’s the latest on a list of Kenyon’s songs that have received regular air time on that radio station. Dedicated to the class of 2007, the song was inspired by graduation. In it, Kenyon tells graduating seniors from area high schools to look back at the memories they’ve made and start planning for their futures. A week ago, Kenyon took a break from his Thursday Night Market stroll to talk about his ventures in radio and his plans for the future.

When did you start writing?

I’ve been writing poetry since I was 9. I listened to a lot of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. By the time I was 11, I started putting my own words into songs. The first song I wrote was lyrics for Bone Thugs’ “First of the Month.” I wrote a lot out of school, then in like seventh and eighth grade I didn’t get great grades because I sat in the back of the class writing lyrics.

How do you write a song?

I think of it in my head, then when I have what I want, I write it down. Sometimes I’ll just be walking to the bus stop or somewhere, and I’ll think of a line.

Is that how you came up with “In the Rearview”?

My friends and I had the idea for a graduation song at the beginning of the school year. Later I went to L.A. to visit family, and I wrote the song on the train on the way back.

How did you get the song on the radio?

In junior high, I used to go to Cal Skate Dance Night every Friday, and I started talking with Boomer, who is the program director for Club 96.7, because I was really into music. I did a Chico remix of “Ms. New Booty,” and that was my first song on the radio when I was 14. So, when I wrote “In the Rearview,” Boomer hooked me up with Dana Hawking, who produced the Stevie Wonder song the Hooliganz do. After it was finished, Boomer started playing it.

Are you inspired to write by any other artists?

Joe Budden is my biggest influence. New York rappers are really lyrical, which is my style. I also like the blues—Bobby Bland, B.B. King.

What are your plans for your first summer out of high school?

I just want to work and make some money. Right now, my first CD is a work in progress. On people can buy “In the Rearview” as their ring tone. I make 30 cents out of the dollar for that. Really, I just want to save up so that I can go to the Los Angeles Recording School and become certified in audio engineering.