In what is becoming the “Indie Age,” artists are constantly discovering new ways to build their brand and their fanbase without the assistance of significant corporate money. One of those modern independent entertainers that has managed to establish himself as a serious rising force in the musical landscape is Connecticut’s Chris Webby.
The 26-year-old rapper’s Homegrown Music imprint partnered with indie label eOne Music to release Webby’s debut studio album Chemically Imbalanced. The 17-track opus features appearances by Talib Kweli, B-Real, Tech N9ne, Jarren Benton, Trae The Truth, Dizzy Wright, and more.
Chemically Imbalanced follows the EPs There Goes the Neighborhood and Homegrown as well as mixtapes like Webster’s Laboratory, Bars On Me, and the server-crashing Best in the Burbs. Even without major label backing Webby’s discography includes work with Bun B, Method Man, Prodigy, Joell Ortiz, Big K.R.I.T., Statik Selektah, Ski Beatz, and DJ Drama.
Webby’s musical output and online presence has garnered him a legion of loyal followers. Innovative social media interactions like his #IGotChemicalyImbalanced Instagram campaign (which led to the emcee sending over 600 personal “thank you” messages via Snapchat to fans that pre-ordered his album) helped establish a relationship between Webby and his supporters that is close to cult-like allegiance.
AllHipHop.com spoke with the “F**k Off” rhymer to have him reflect back on five memorable moments from his life. In the latest installment of “My Five Firsts,” Chris Webby reminisces on his freestyle battles at New York’s Hofstra University, experiencing marijuana for the first time, and being influenced by a classic Eminem LP.
The First Time Participating In A Freestyle Session In College
I do remember that first party I rolled into at Hofstra. I was a straight up freshman. No one knew who I was. I barely got into the party, because everybody was like “Who the f**k is this kid?” I walked around, then I got f**ked up. I hit the keg real hard.
I remember running into some Asian kid who was freestyling. I used to be a bit more aggressive than I am now when it came to that, so I said, “Let’s f**king battle.” I don’t really do that anymore. I’m all about good vibes now, but at the time it was all about proving what you got.
So I stepped up to him, and I remember whooping the s**t out of him. I wiped the floor with him. Everyone took note of that. From that moment moving forward that was the m.o. It got to the point that I would go to the bar and one of my friends would be a ringer and bring people over, put money on it, and have me battle these kids. I would just beat everybody.
At the same time I would not say I was ever a “battle rapper.” It was everything on the spot, freestyling. When it comes to the set-up s**t where you must have 90 bars in your back pocket and go a cappella, that’s never been my thing. When you go against these cats that really do that, that’s a whole other thing.
First Time Smoking Weed
I would not say I’m a weed rapper, but I am a huge supporter of marijuana. I think there are a lot of positives to it, and it’s not f**king bad. So whoever has a problem with it should chill the f*k out and smoke a joint.
The first time I smoked weed was in 8th grade, and I was at my buddy’s house. He had tried it a couple of times, and I was like, “I can’t wait to try this sh**t.” We had a water bottle bubbler with a pen sticking out the side. We waited for his parents to go to sleep and went out on his back porch and smoked this s**t a guy told him was g14 – the government grown weed. We were in 8th grade, so who the f**k knows. It could have been one step above herbs and spices out of his kitchen.
But it was f**king good. I remember being so high that I thought I was above myself looking down on myself. So to anyone who says that you don’t get high the first time, you’re f**king wrong, because I was blasted. I’ve never been that high again. I’ve been a pothead more or less since.
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First Time Finding Out Your Mixtape Crashed Datpiff.com
I remember getting a call from KP over at Datpiff. My fifth mixtape came out – Best in the Burbs – which is really the one that got things cooking. He gave me a call and said, “Dude, what the f**k did you do to my website?”
Apparently, Datpiff crashed since, but never like it did that day. He had to completely rewire his servers. It was down for hours. Plenty of people have crashed it since, and the website would be slow or unresponsive, but I literally broke his website. He had to rework coding.
I called him and asked if someone gave him a virus, but the answer was no. It was just because my fans were waiting to click on that s**t as soon as it dropped. That was a defining moment. That’s one of the accolades that I will wear proudly. At the time, it was especially a big deal. I was still on the come up and relatively unknown in most circles. That just let people know, we might not know much about him, but somebody does.
First Time Beating A Video Game
I had the NES [Nintendo Entertainment System] from the time I was born. My family already had it. I grew up on Mario hence why I have Mario tattoos all the way down my lower back. I have always been a gamer. I’m an only child, so you can only imagine there was some down time that was boring as f**k.
It was amazing. I don’t know if I would be where I am now if I wasn’t an only child. I forced myself to be creative. I used to write chapter books, draw pictures, and make up my own storylines with action figures. Then it was the NES in the basement.
It was very important to me. It was crucial, and the first game I beat all the way through was Super Mario 2 with the Game Genie attachment. I was a little kid, so I needed some assistance. I remember beating Wart at the end. It was a very fulfilling moment in my life.
First Time Hearing Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP and Cam’ron’s Purple Haze
My parents wouldn’t even let me get the edited version of Eminem at the time. There was so much news coverage and commotion. I’ve never seen an album have so much social impact than that one. It was really insane. He had the song “Kim” on there. There were just 120 reasons why parents shouldn’t buy this album for their kid, but of course I got my hands on it.
My friend had a mother who was less aware of these things. My mom was a public school teacher, so she knew what was going on, but my friend’s mom didn’t know so much. So he got a copy of it. I brought it to my house, put it in my old boombox, and taped it onto a cassette tape.
It’s just such an incredible album to be exposed to as a kid. I could see where it was a bad influence for me. I’ve even taken note of that in my own work, realizing some of these kids are so impressionable. I was listening to “Drug Ballad” at 12, 13 years old. Not necessarily the best influence. But it needs to be said. It allowed a white kid to say, “Hey, I can do this to.” [Eminem] was the first white dude to be accepted all across the board. If he’s not in your Top 5, you’re bugging.
On the flip side, people forget that when Cam’ron first came out he was a really dope lyricist. He relied less on his lyrical prowess as he moved on in his career, but the dawn of Dipset was huge for me and my friends. I lived in Connecticut which is right next to New York, and Dipset was everywhere.
I have a special connection with Purple Haze, because that album came out right when me and all of my friends where getting our permits and driver’s licenses. That was the song that was in everybody’s car. That was what we rode out to. That was what we took a first blunt rides to.
When you had someone in your car and you wanted to show them your system, you put on Killa Cam. Till this day – “Oh, you wanna hear how loud my bass is? Killa Cam it is.” That album was a big one for me.
[ALSO READ: My Five Firsts: Dizzy Wright]
Purchase Chris Webby’s Chemically Imbalanced on iTunes.