By Shirley Ju (@shirju)
HappyBirthdayCalvin exudes positive energy, which is exactly why he’s what the music game needs.
At only 17-years-old, the rapper, singer, and producer from the West Side of Chicago has already signed a deal to L.A. Reid’s new label, HitCo. In addition, his most recent single “No Friends,” can be heard in Netflix’ Beats film.
AllHipHop: How would you describe your sound?
HappyBirthdayCalvin: It could be a plethora of things. Because I produce my own stuff, it's a very wide range but all of it sounds put together, authentic, original, clean, live, grand, big. It's a very big sound, like stadium status.
AllHipHop: You’re from Chicago, how does that play into your life and career?
HappyBirthdayCalvin: Growing up on the West Side of Chicago is like growing up in any ghetto ass hood. I’ve lived in many different places so I've had every experience, whether it be living in the suburbs (but I always went to school in the hood) or me living in the hood. Growing up on the West Side of Chicago, it's very cultural. It's real, a lot of s##t go down. You just gotta stay real and stay true.
AllHipHop: How did you find music?
HappyBirthdayCalvin: I found music a lot of different ways. My dad used to be a rapper. He wasn't good at anything, being a dad or being a rapper. Then I used to do poetry. I went to school for poetry, went to a performing arts school. Even before that me making beats, my mom actually was the first person to buy me a laptop. She Pirate Bay-ed Fruity Loops on my s##t, she rocks. She crazy.
AllHipHop: How old were you?
HappyBirthdayCalvin: I started writing when I was 10, started making beats for myself when I was 13.
AllHipHop: Since 10, you knew you wanted to do this?
HappyBirthdayCalvin: Yeah for almost my whole life. I don't really do anything else. I used to play football kind of...
AllHipHop: How do you still have time to be a kid?
HappyBirthdayCalvin: I mean, that's s##t's lame. [laughs] The way I see it, I've been trying to do music my whole life. That was always fun to me, it doesn't feel like a job. It doesn't feel like I’m doing anything I wouldn't want to do. I'm the type of guy who’s like “let's not waste time, let's just do what we finna do.
AllHipHop: Best memory from the “No Friends” video shoot?
HappyBirthdayCalvin: Man, that video shoot was very tiring, I can say that. The most memorable, the funniest memory was the slapping scene because she had to slap me hella times. [laughs] She slapped me so many times, that s##t was horrible.
AllHipHop: You say “I’m supposed to be dead.” What’s the reality of growing up in the Chi?
HappyBirthdayCalvin: Growing up in Chicago, Kanye wasn't supposed to make it past 25, but it's like n##gas dying. Kids are dying: 12-year-olds, 11-year olds, 5-year-olds, babies, all that s##t. That s##t happens everywhere or in any hood really, any place where you don't give motherf##kers resources and you don't got education. It's not even just a Chicago thing, it's the reality of living in certain conditions.
AllHipHop: Is Kanye a big influence on your life?
HappyBirthdayCalvin: S##t, he one of the reasons I started rapping in the first place. I remember me vividly watching the “Gold Digger” video. I knew that I really was going to be a rapper and this s##t was what I wanted to do in my life when I seen the “A Milli” video with Lil Wayne, then the “Gold Digger” video with Kanye. This s##t, this is what I need to do, I'm only 17, so I was young as f##k when I seen that. But I’m like “okay this is what I want to do.”