CJ Wallace Jr spits rhymes, stars in hood drama Kicks and has some opinions to share on ‘Famous’
You’re growing up in a pressure cooker when you’re born to celebrity parents. As soon as people know of your existence – often long before you even leave the womb – there’s an expectation placed upon you that as the child of Celebrity XYZ, you must continue carrying the torch for their legacy.
And so it is for Christopher Wallace Jr, son of The Notorious B.I.G. and singer Faith Evans. Although he evaded the exacting beam of the public’s magnifying glass that has singed other celebrity progeny (Frances Bean Cobain, Paris Jackson, to name a few), he has been making music since he was young. His sister used to write raps for him and his brother, he explains over the phone from Hollywood. Did he feel a certain pressure to follow in his dad’s footsteps? “Definitely,” he says. “I feel like (making music) is just one of those things that’s in my blood.”
“I love writing. I love spitting bars, it’s just fun,” he continues. “It’s one of those great outlets to be able to do.” While writing rhymes weighs heavy on his mind, right now Wallace Jr is focused on acting. He’s already played a younger version of his father in the 2009 biopic Notorious. Now, the 19-year-old plays one of three friends in the upcoming film Kicks, a hood drama about a guy named Brandon (Jahking Guillory) who gets his sneakers jacked. The trio goes on a crusade to retrieve them, sinking deeper into the gang lifestyle along the way. The three young actors – Guillory, Christopher Meyer and CJ Wallace Jr – are hyped for the world to see what they’ve been working on. For Wallace Jr, it’s his first big role. The perfect fit, as the soundtrack features Wu-Tang Clan, RJD2 and Mac Dre. Oh, and it opens with Biggie’s club banger, “Party and Bullshit”.
Naturally, as the offspring of one of hip hop’s greatest, Wallace Jr – along with his Kicks castmates – has some opinions on the state of the genre in 2016.
What do you guys think about the new Frank Ocean?
Jahking Guillory: I think it was worth the wait. Most people don’t think it was worth the wait, but I think it was worth the wait.
Christopher Meyer: You have to understand he put out two visuals and basically two albums. He gave us – the world – content. I thought it was dope.
CJ Wallace Jr: ‘Night’ is my favourite song.
Why is that?
CJ Wallace Jr: Just because I think the melody on it, and then the switch up; he has a switch up. I mean when he starts rapping I can see his Chance the Rapper influence. You know what I’m sayin’? I like that, and I like when Frank raps a little bit.
Jahking Guillory: And he hits every beat, I think that's what makes the song so catchy, every nick and nock.
Christopher Meyer: I think my favourite song is ‘Nikes’ – I love the video.
Jahking Guillory: The video is dope.
“I hate ‘Famous’ (by Kanye West). That’s like my least favourite song […] I think it’s the Taylor line” – CJ Wallace Jr
CJ Wallace Jr: I hate ‘Famous’, I hate ‘Famous’.
Jahking Guillory: By Kanye?
CJ Wallace Jr: That’s like my least favourite song.
Why the hate for ‘Famous’?
CJ Wallace Jr: I think it’s the Taylor line, I think it’s just—
Jahking Guillory: You have to respect Kanye, man! Kanye’s a visionary. I think Kanye doesn’t really have that many people behind him. He is a genius, he’s like the next Albert Einstein of rap culture. He has visions, he has ideas, and I respect that.
Christopher Meyer: I’ll tell you this, I think Kanye is the greatest at what he is. His attitude overshadows that. People just can’t deal with that – but at the same time they kind of forced him into it in a sense because they tried to box him in and they tried to box his ideas in – what do you expect? You keep putting somebody in a box who has so much to say, eventually they're going to go crazy.
Jahking Guillory: Even on interviews with Kanye, they ask him: Do you ever think about the tweets you post? He says, ‘What’s the point to think? What is there to think about?’ You know that’s why I really mess with him. I really respect that dude.
Christopher Meyer: My favourite Kanye line is when he was like, ‘You know they just keep asking me what I mean when I say I’m a god, and it’s just like, I’m a god – I just told you!’
Jahking Guillory: He has no remorse for the people who he’s dissin’. He just goes.
“I saw a lot of my mum (Faith Evan’s) records being made […] She was working with a lot of great producers, like Pharrell, Just Blaze, seeing how all of that stuff was made at a young age prepped me now so that I know how to go into the studio on my own” – CJ Wallace Jr
What was it like growing up with parents who have this huge legacy?
CJ Wallace Jr: For both my parents, like my mum – her being the singer that she is – I’ve always been used to her going on the road. We used to go on the tour bus with her and go on the road with her sometimes. It’s just one of those cool things. You get to see the inside of the business, see how things are done. I saw a lot of my mum’s records being made; she used to have a studio in our house when we lived in Atlanta, where she pretty much recorded all of her Grammy-winning album, Faithfully. That’s one of my favourite albums by her. She was working with a lot of great producers, like Pharrell, Just Blaze, seeing how all of that stuff was made at a young age prepped me now so that I know how to go into the studio on my own, or with my brother and get it done. We know how to work just us together. We don’t really need much. She’s always schooled us at a young age.
Kicks is out in cinemas on September 9