(Article) Propain – Dangerous Minded

Written By: @SimplyCecilia for Houston TREND

There are some artists that move your body, their songs instantly becoming your favorite when it comes on the radio or when played in a crowded club. At the other end of the spectrum, there are some artists that move your spirit, their songs stirring your intellect via clever wordplay and intricate storytelling.

There are few artists that can drive their body of music well between both lanes…yet for Chris Dudley, better known as “Propain,” it’s something that comes naturally.

With some of the best music originating from the worst of personal adversities, his own life experiences have turned into the catalyst behind Propain’s music and ascension to success.

Originally from a notorious section of Southwest Houston called Hiram Clarke, though blessed with a remarkable mother who did her best to maintain a stable existence for him and his older brother, his youth would be marked by hardship and constant change.  By the time he had reached the cusp of adulthood, he held the distinction of having attended three elementary schools, two middle schools, and five different high schools; resulting in the ability to adapt well to change yet reserved what some would later call the inability to easily open up to newcomers.

People that went through the things that I have understand; it’s hard connecting with people who haven’t lived the life that I have, but that’s what my music is for. You can understand me through my music, explains Propain.

One thing that would remain constant throughout his life would be a passion for both music and basketball; though it would be the latter that he would first succeed in. A star guard throughout high school, after graduation he would go on to find success on a collegiate level as well; attending both Brookhaven and Lamar University.

But music, once a hobby, would be a flame that would begin to burn more brightly as time went on. Originally called “Lil C” as time went on it soon became evident that he had a real knack for lyrical banter. So much so that his college roommate would christen him as “Propain,” symbolizing what those around him dubbed as his ability to “spit heat.”

What started out as a pastime soon crept to the forefront of his priority list, and a chance meeting with Scarface at a photo shoot opened his eyes to the possibility of a viable career. By 2007 Propain had stepped out on a limb, quitting not only the basketball team but Lamar as well.  He would go on to find employment and enroll in the University of Houston-Downtown, biding his time as he began to make his first serious attempt at a career in music.

His first project “Got Propain” would showcase his growing potential and create a buzz around his name. Though seemingly reserved in nature, he would become renowned for a gregarious grind; never asking for a handout, instead letting his raw talent stand on its own merit, so preoccupied with working that he never noticed that those around him were taking heed, his persistence would soon pay off.

The recognition of his capabilities resulted in a referral  from none other than the manager of revered legend Bun B, which landed him on Bun’s “Houston for Haiti” charity concert; an unprecedented move for a new artist with virtually no presence in the city at the time. Incredibly, though he had no major single or project out, he commanded his portion of the show with an iron grip, regaling the crowd with his own rendition of a Houston classic, proving that he could potentially hold his own.

It also proved that risk taking is sometimes mandatory when pursuing one’s dreams, even though he did risk losing the job he was then working, after he called out and was later seen performing live.

Once an obscure name in the pool of new artists within the city; following this performance, Propain would find himself on the radar of the movers and shakers of Houston’s musical elite. Though it would be the introduction to well known producer/manger Kenoe that would prove to be a turning point in his career; soon Propain found himself in Los Angeles recording his first official project “Departure,” which thanks to Kenoe, featured heavy hitters like Big Sean and Trey Songs.

It would be this project that would spawn “Say I Won’t,” a sleeper hit that would go on to provide his first taste of commercial success. Once back at home in Houston, fate would once again interject in his life, and Propain would receive a call inviting him to a sit down with DJ JQue and program director Terri Thomas of  97.9 The Box, Houston’s sole Hip Hop station.

I played multiple tracks for them, they wasn’t feeling none of it. 20 seconds in and Terry tells me to ‘turn that shit off.’ I’m sitting there like damn…then I play ‘Say I Won’t’ and finally she tells me ‘That’s it, says Propain.

He was finally able to savor reaching his first plateau of professional success as an artist; his first radio single.

Says Propain, “From the outside it appeared as if everything happened so fast, but in reality there were so many people that helped me. It was a long process that we’re still going through. Everyone played their part.”

Following the success of “Say I Won’t” his manager Kenoe made the decision to move to Miami to pursue additional opportunities, while Propain decided to remain.

“I felt like I hadn’t, like I haven’t, done enough for the city of Houston yet,” says Propain before adding “I don’t feel as if I have to leave to accomplish what I need to.  I will always rep for my city.”

Enlisting a childhood friend as his new manager, he then set out to capitalize on his growing presence by appearing on a number of features and shows, including the now legendary “Frontline” tours hosted by award winning MC Kane. Propain was at the forefront of a shifting pendulum of Houston’s music realm; emerging as a towering force in the landscape of new artists that were cropping up.

For the first time since Houston’s short lived fame of 2005, Propain was riding the wave of a swelling movement of new artists assisting the veterans of the game in forcing the spotlight back to the Lone Star State; reminding the nation that the city that birthed a lyricist like Scarface has far more to offer than just cups of lean.

“We have the talent; it’s about getting a forum for us to be heard. Lyrically the south ain’t playing. This shit ain’t nothing new, regardless of what they want to say” says Propain.

Soon he was ready to debut his next project, releasing “Dangerous Minds” in the winter of 2011.

Thought provoking, soaring lyricism, and chock full of anecdotal storytelling, “Dangerous Minds” was an ode to both the street and the thinker. It would go on to differentiate Propain as not just a rapper but an intellectual, and proving that the adage “I’m your worst nightmare; young, black, and educated” is alive and well.

Says Propain, “Where I come from people don’t expect much of you, but you can be from the hood and still accomplish what you set out to do. I’m a thinker, I use my mind. I’m not just a rapper trying to make a hot song, its thinker music.”

Drawing off of many of his own personal experiences, it was this release that proved that even in this new age of artists with fabricated tales of fabricated experiences, there are some who can remain authentic and still have an endearing story to tell.

I don’t want to put out some bullshit just to get you to bob your head to it. There’s too much trendy music. I’m talking about things I have actually lived. I was going to school and working a job. I wasn’t trapping or killing, and there are some that claim that life that in reality was working just like I was, says Propain.

While “Departure” was admittedly a finely crafted piece, for Propain, “Dangerous Minds” is a crowning accomplishment.

“I love and appreciate what Kenoe did for me, but I feel as if ‘Dangerous Minds’ was 100% the real me,” admits Propain.

Now firmly entrenched and in control of his career, Propain has seen things accelerate rapidly; and is still adjusting to his new found success, both good and bad.

Though some artists are more than willing to shine a light on both their music as well as their personal lives; Propain has always been more open in a booth behind the mic, than in public; resulting in the misconception that he is aloof or detached. However in reality he proves to be an insightful and humorous young man, albeit not used to the increased scrutiny and attention that fame eventually brings.

“I’m still not used to people staring at me, people coming up to me. Where I’m from people staring at you usually means that there’s an issue. I’m working on it though,” explains Propain before adding, “I’m not the type of person that can meet you and just give my life story away in one conversation. But then again that’s what my music is for. If you fuck with the music eventually you’ll fuck with the artist.”

Once an underdog, he is in the process of proving that those who doubted him did so in error; and to take it one step further, those who doubted the city of Houston did so in error as well.

“Slim Thug, Bun, Paul Wall; they don’t just walk around cosigning niggas, they only speak for talent. So the fact that they’re standing behind us means a lot. I will forever be grateful to the opportunities that they have provided me and others,” says Propain.

We’re a problem. From Kirko, Delo, Doughbeezy, and  Marcus Manchild, to Les, Killa Kyleon, and JDawg; there’s a group of new artists who are really putting on for the city. There’s so much talent out, that it gives us all a sense of competiveness. It’s made me humble myself because it’s like, damn I’m not the only one out here doing it. Our city needed this. We’re getting back to being respected lyrically and I’ll say that shit with my chest out!

With offers and new opportunities pouring in, including a slot on an upcoming show with Nipsey Hustle among others, Propain is steadily handcrafting his career towards longevity; and readying for the release of “Riding Slabs” slated for release this fall.

“Riding slab is a term that means you’re riding clean, you’re looking good. So when my friends and I say it, it means you’re simply doing well,” explains Propain before stating, “It’s definitely the sequel to ‘Dangerous Minds,’ it’s about our struggle, our come up from the ghetto to where I am and where I’m trying to be.”

From childhood and beyond, Propain has seen the odds stacked against him, yet even if the odds are against him, even if society is against those who have traveled the same paths that he has, he has steadily proven that paths can be altered. Goals can be reached.

“Anything that I went through or go through, it doesn’t matter when I step into the booth. I feel like as long as I’m living I have a story to tell, my story never ends, exclaims Propain.”

There are some artists who are able to insert truth and insight into their music; for Propain, a self-proclaimed Dangerous Mind, has created a flood of great music.

Anyone that doubted him has reason to be afraid.â™ 

 

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