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Arts & Culture

SA Rapper Turns The Page: 'I Was Going To Die A Slow, Painful Death'

Nathan Cone

San Antonio rapper Chris Conde wears many hats, all of which influence his music. He’s a drag queen, recovering addict, musical connoisseur, lyrical genius, and an astute musician who calls San Antonio home after growing up pretty much around the world, having been born here into a military family. He returned to San Antonio a little over six years ago.

A byzantine himself, Chris developed a uniquely blended approach to his music. “I'm rapping and singing but I want make the music very malleable, and you can kind of expect this experience of rawness and live passion in what I'm doing,” he says. For live shows, Chris plays acoustic guitar and sings directly into a PA system, but listening to Twisted Kite Strings, an EP he released earlier this year, is an entirely different experience. His aggressive vocals are backed by electronic rhythms that drive the music in a much different but equally powerful way. “I've always loved contrast, ever since I was little,” he notes. “I was always drawn to people that you don't see a lot,” he adds, explaining some of the dichotomy in his music. As an example, he talked a little about his fascination with female pro skaters and female rappers and the challenges they face to realize the social and cultural duality in his music.

Chris was candid with us about his life over the past couple years. He spent some time on the streets, addicted to meth and alcohol, and struggled with his homosexuality. “When I sent out my press releases for the EP release, I wrote ‘Gay Rapper to Debut EP’ because... for so long I've lived trying to be someone that I'm not. It's important to me and to my own sobriety to live authentically.”

Chris finally got honest with himself one year ago. He had been struggling to pay the rent and keep a job for years, and hit rock bottom. “I came to from a blackout with my truck in the front yard. I'd spent all my money and I had this overwhelming sense of dread that came over me. I knew that I was going to die a slow, painful death,” he says with a sigh. “It was going to be a slow, drawn out adventure into oblivion.”

Today, his lyrics speak to the truth he lives by. The first few songs on his debut EP were composed from journal entries he wrote in the midst of a meth addiction. “There's a lyric like ‘Where the hell is God, what the f*** is happening to me, bro, why is this quiet stench, the breath of leviathan, rising up from under me, my teeth are broken vitamins.’ There is no hope for this guy, basically,” he confesses with a knowing laugh. But it gets better from there. His EP is a journey through addiction, recognition and recovery. It’s the story of his personal struggle written and recorded throughout the process. “I don't feel like I'm the spokesperson, and I don't really want to be, for a sober musician, but there's a lot of drugs and alcohol in the gay party scene and there's a lot of drugs and alcohol in the music scene.” He knows how difficult it can be to be a musician hitting the clubs while staying sober, and he offers hope in his music to anyone seeking recovery from addiction.

As for the future, “The doors have kept coming open,” he says. I [reached] a year of sobriety on June 6th and my life is completely different. I want to do music. I keep saying ‘yes’ to things. I have a lot of amazing friends who have supported me and what I’m doing which is really overwhelming. Right now I'm working with some new people... I'm just excited to be a part of the growing music scene in San Antonio.”