Parris, the rapper who was born and raised in Harlem, has a lot to say. He discusses his past experiences, his
present projects and his future plans. This 27-year-old talks about the music he makes and what separates him from
the rest. “I make good music, not that gunplay an all that. It’s a little bit of that, but it’s music with a little pizzazz
to it” explains Parris in a mild tone, Harlem accent. “I talk about all types of things; political things, street things,
more or less street things, that’s what everybody talk about. I keep it real though. It’s a thing with keeping it real, as
far as street wise, and as far as life in general.”
Although Parris enjoys what he does and most of the time chooses to sit home and just write instead of partying,
he was not always considering music. He played ball. He admits that he’s not the best at what he does, but at playing
ball, he was “nice”. “I aint gonna say I’m nice at rap and all that, I’m pretty good, better than people think I
am, but I was nice at ball. I could’ve gone there. I always wondered what would have happened, who knows.” It wasn’t
until five years ago; Parris began to take music serious. After being locked up, listening to friends, and watching
“clowns in videos do it”, he was convinced that he could do it.
“I been rhyming about five years now. It’s cool, I started it, but then I really didn’t take it serious. I enjoyed it a
little bit but not too much. A couple of friends of mine were jiving around with it, but then I got locked up. First, I
caught a gun charge. I wad pulled over in a cab, I was doing a bunch of bullshit I had no business doing. They
caught the gun on me and gave me probation for that. I had to go upstate for catching a drug charge, violating my
probation before it was over. After that I had to get my mind right. I didn’t have much. I had a 1 ?-3, it was short.
I chose to take a program called shock, but they messed up my paperwork, so they had me in Elmira for a minute. I
was in there with lifers and all type of shit going on. I finally got my paperwork and came out in 11-12 months.
That shit changed my life, its crazy up there. I had love though. My name is up, not for the fanciest cars in Harlem
or the baddest broads in Harlem, but my name is up for the type of dude I am. I knew everybody, I never had a
problem. You run into your little scuffles and all that. But it aint like that, I aint have no real problems, so I was
good. Seeing other niggas getting their heads torn off threw me off like, this aint it. So I came home and was just
going hard with the music. I came home and took it real serious. I needed something to fall on. I looked at it like
Parris did not just decide to become an artist overnight. He is no stranger to the music industry. He had an album out called Volume1, Parris. He quickly learned the shady ins-and-outs of the business. He had a deal with RCA through another production company called Big Shot, but RCA dropped the urban music. Parris didn’t get a chance to put his album out but it was complete. He looks at it more as a lesson than anything else. He can now appreciate what he has instead of taking it for granted. “With a backend coming and a publishing deal, I would’ve had almost a quarter of a million dollars. I would’ve done all kinds of stupid stuff, because it was more than I ever had. I didn’t get a chance to get all of my money cuz they dropped the urban music. They aint drop me, they dropped the music. I used to be with a production company. They still my niggas. No love loss for them. They still doing it. They had this dude called Nascar he ok I think, Epic dropped him. They had Loon before he became who he is, but something happened with that. Something happened with me, something happened with Nascar. Its like they got water on they hands or something, they just can’t hold nothing. That’s because I think some bullshit be going on. If they keep it 100 then that wouldn’t happen. But that don’t bother me.
After RCA dropped urban music, Parris realized he could do better on his own. “It was a lot of other people trying to holla at me, but the dudes I was with called Big Shot; I ain’t want to be with them no more. I aint have no animosity toward them or anything like that, but I just felt I could do it better on my own. I was fresh home, caught a deal out the gate real fast. I aint really what was going on. When you by yourself you in charge of everything. In a group, it aint gon’ work unless everybody has the same attitude. Like Ruff Ryders, for instance, not saying them particularly, I’m just using them as an example. The Lox could have the same attitude, but if Dee and Waah don’t have that same attitude, then it aint gon’ work. Obviously they have the same attitude because they still together. But if the splitting up comes that’s because they aint thinking the same. Everybody wanna eat, it’s all about eatin’. I feel the artist is supposed to eat, not because I’m an artist, but nobody is up with you 3, 4, 5 in the morning
writing them rhymes. You using your mind. They using they mind as far as the business part. Somebody blind
could do that if it’s in brail. You can’t take food out of a nigga mouth that write all day and just sacrifice all kind of
shit like that.”
When asked about his style and the influences on his style, Parris says his style is to do a little bit of everything, but stay true to his self and others. As far as style in appearance and attitude he says that he is a “grown man”. You won’t catch him in a white-T or throwback, but just a good shirt, sweat suit, jeans and boots. Real basic, but not what everybody else is into. “Now that you hear that I aint into all of that, you would swear somebody was copying off Jay-Z, because he done made the stamp with it already.” Parris’ influences come from growing up in Harlem, writing about what mood he is in, and listening to legends like Patti Labelle, Barry White, Lionel Ricci, Eddie and Gerald Levert. He says he doesn’t listen to music every day (his or anyone else’s) but he has learned to love music. “Once you get some cake from it one time and you know you gon’ eat off of it again, you be like this is my shit right here.
“I rhyme reality rap. They say rappers is the cause of this and that, but if you keeping it real, you talking about
what goes on in everyday life, they knock you for it. If you living a fantasy, they still knock you for it. If you get too
political with it, they aint gon’ really feel that because they don’t understand. They minds don’t go that far. Them
white folks is looking at it like, ‘We got to keep this a billion dollar industry’. They aint trying to help. That’s where
they come in getting all different types of artists. You got the dude that’s keepin’ it real for the streets, the dude that’s
humble, rhyming like he’s playing both ends of the stick. Then you got the dude who is political like, ‘I don’t give a
fuck.’ They sign them dudes, but they don’t last. It was a dude named Parrish I used to listen to. He was down with
Scarface and them if I’m not mistaken. His music was crazy but he didn’t last long because he was too ready for war.
It’s like you can’t win for losing when you rap you just gotta do you.”
The artist gives some examples of the diversity on his album, from personal songs like The Letter, written to his
son, and Round for Round, where he is bringing it to you like a boxing match. He also has a ballad on the album
called, something about Em, where he’s talking about 3 different women in Harlem, in each verse, but never saying
their names. He has a song called Dirty, a dirty south joint that he did with Ardie, he also has producers he worked
with from Atlanta. He plans to push the majority of his CD’s in Atl. Parris feels there is a void to be filled in the game,
especially since Jay-Z is, “quote on quote, not coming back.” He says he likes dudes like Jay-Z, Nas, MOP, 50Cent,
Dirty south rappers, Andre of Outcast, and Cam’ron. “I feel Cam is doing a good job for Harlem.” He respects
them for having unique styles and bringing something different to the table. That’s also what his style is about. “I be
buggin’ sometimes, my mind just be gone sometimes. I hold back cuz I don’t want people to say I’m crazy, so I keep
it real easy, but I’ll air off.
Parris worked with hot producers Ron Browz, Dame Grease,Ardie from Harlem, Funkyasiatic, P.5. ent. And
Alcon from Atl. He likes Kanye West, Just Blaze, and The Neptunes. He says he doesn’t need a beat to make him
hot, he helps the beat too. He even sees production in his future, He also likes Darrel “Digga branch from six figga
ent.” He makes it clear that he has big future plans. Besides writing, rhyming, and maybe producing, he plans on
opening a couple of Laundromats, and maybe even acting. “I could do acting easy- give me a show or movie, I’ll shut
it down. As long as the money is right I could care less. He says he’ll play almost any role accept for a “mammy”
role. “I aint playing no slave or gay roles, those are mammy roles. Whatever I do I’m gonna be smart about it.
Everybody wants the finer things but you gotta get something you can appreciate. You can buy a home, but put it in
your kid’s name. Get another home, condo.Apartment, brownstone, whatever and rent it out. I learned you cant
really go out and gat stupid.”
Keeping his mind right, staying grounded and taking care of his family are his main priorities right now. Taking
care of his mother, getting his brother a lawyer so “he can see some daylight”, and making sure his 7 year old son,
Parris, is straight. My brother keeps my mind right. My other brother is incarcerated. I gotta do this for my son.
What about his mother? Me and my son’s mom is cool, we go through our little things, but that’s my homie. I gotta
get this money for my family. It’s not really fun for me. It’s an art and all that but I take it serious. Everything else
falls into play after that.”
Parris is currently working on a mix tape that should be ready in January. It features other artists on it such as:
Lox, Ali from the Lunatics, Nas and Cam’ron. He also has a double CD called Musical Movement, following the mix
tape. “It has 10 songs on the front and 10 songs on the back. It’s coming out immediately after the mix tape and it
should be a real treat for people.” Says Parris. “I’m working on the mix tape with Jule, from Felon magazine, we coming out with it. It’s called Felon Presents Parris. I hooked up with Jule, we vibed. He understands me, we just piggybacking off each other. It doesn’t even matter who get the deal first because it’s all the same shit. On top of all that he’s my man, that’s why we have such a good understanding.” Along with the mix tape and double CD coming out, Parris has a record label, Music Makers 101, owned by him and his brother. He combined the label with Felon.
Parris wants to let others coming into the industry, that it’s not what it’s caked up to be. “If you’re not smart,
you’re greedy, and you get caught up in the glamour of it all, you won’t succeed in the long run. “Loyalty is everything,
I don’t gat caught up in titles, I don’t need nobody managing my cake. If you my man ad my manager you’ll
get my man percent and my manager percent. That don’t even matter to me. Politics in the game is just like the
streets. I learned that from being in the streets. You can’t trust nobody. On the street it’s robbing you, in the industry
it’s finagling your budget. They’ll give you a budget that you automatically owe. They looking at it like these
young black dudes is stupid, we’ll give them this money and they’ll spend it back with us. All they gonna do is put 10
ki’s on the street, all his friends gonna eat and we gonna lock them up. It’s like a setup.” He has learned from his
first time around and says it won’t happen to him. “At the end of the day all you’re left with is a bugger tissue, it’s
enough to wipe your nose with, but that’s about it. I’ll try to keep it positive all the way around, but push comes to shove, I’ll have to keep it negative. I’ll have to take that budget and gat a couple of them things. I wouldn’t want to but if I gotta eat I gotta eat. I’m gonna keep it real.” Keep it real is exactly what he does. He doesn’t hold back and he refuses to change for any amount of money or let somebody “muscle his cake”. It’s all about staying true and loyal to himself and his family. He gives shouts out to his brothers, Lette, the sister he never had, his father, Jimbo, Bubsy, Gangsta, Everybody in R.F.A, an Jule. “Those my niggas.”
No matter what happens, rapping opening businesses, or acting, Parris sees himself “caking, just caking for the next couple of years.” He says his swagger is what makes him and that’s what’s gonna take him far. “If you naturally born with a swagger then it don’t really matter, I’m naturally born with one, I didn’t develop it.” He doesn’t care about what people think because it’s just opinions and letdowns only make him stronger. He real makes music that people can relate to and for others to follow. “My music is sort of like a movement, you’ll have to judge it for yourself.”