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Chris P brought the house down with his debut album "Live from the Tivoli." Next, he's bringing The House in.

Rapper Chris P.
Chris P. (Image courtesy of Chris P)

Great rap albums aren't always recorded in fancy music studios.


Take 50 Cent's 2003 classic "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," for example, which was recorded mostly in producer Sha Money XL's basement. Or T.I.'s genre-defining sophomore album, "Trap Musik," which was recorded in the back of an Atlanta beauty salon.


In the case of Chris P, the Tennessee emcee and member the esteemed rap collective The House, it was Chattanooga's Tivoli Theatre which served (at least, mostly) as the workshop in which his debut project, "Live from the Tivoli," came to life.


"In 2020, we met this guy named Kessler who had a nonprofit that he started here in Chattanooga," Chris told Rising Rap. "He actually had an opportunity of starting off this space inside of the Tivoli Theatre."


"So myself, as well as the collective that I work with, we met him and we started actually going to the theatre and recording music consistently," he said.


"Honestly, man, that's where the idea [for the album] came from, the fact we were working in there. The music that's on the project, some of it was already recorded prior to us being there, but I kind of polished a lot of it while we were there."



Released in February, "Live from the Tivoli" is a fitting title for Chris P's studio entrée for more than just the fact it was recorded there – the album also channels the Tivoli's history, which once played host to the likes of jazz pioneer Louis Armstrong and Broadway legend Alfred Lunt.


The project is laden with Armstrong-esque jazz samples and groovy basslines, over which Chris spits about his love life ("I Love You"), his Chattanooga upbringing ("New Life"), and his search for purpose ("Check Me Out").


"I can rap on anything," Chris said. "But my bread and butter, or like my pocket, is that smooth, sampled, jazzy, chilled vibe."


The album, complete with humorous skits, is also structured like a play, running smoothly from start-to-finish like one of Lunt's light comedies.


"When it came to the production, once I really sat with it and my team was around it was like, 'Bro, this really sounds like music that you would perform, it sounds like some stage-type music," Chris said. "So [structuring the album like that] was kind of like a no-brainer for me."



"I Love You" is no doubt the standout track from "Live from the Tivoli."


Not only are Chris' rhymes raw and emotionally captivating, the song also has an infectious hook ("And I swear to God, I love you, yes I do"), which Chris sings himself.


"I went to a performing arts school, my sisters did as well, [and] my dad's a pastor," Chris recalled. "So singing is just something I've been able to do."


Chris explained how he feels that singing "touches people in a different way than rapping," which is why he thinks "I Love You" has been so well received.


"I can't tell you how many times it's been, 'Man, whoever singing that song, they sound really, really good on the hook.' And it's like, 'That's me,'" he said, adding: "The transition of like, the verses on it and then hearing this soft voice singing that. It was like, 'Yeah, this is perfect.'"



"Live from the Tivoli" may have been out for a couple of months now, but Chris is far from finished with the project.


First of all, he's to release a music video for "I Love You." Then, he's planning on dropping an extended version of "Live from the Tivoli," fittingly titled "The Encore," which will have five new tracks and feature some of his fellow The House rappers – YGTUT, Michael Da Vinci, Brian Brown, and Isaiah Rashad.


Asked specifically if Rashad will feature, Chris said: "He might be, can't even lie man, he very much might be."


"That's really my brother," he added of the Top Dawg Entertainment rapper.


After "The Encore," it's then all about keeping the ball rolling, Chris said.


"I feel like after you like give something that's pretty good, people are going to be asking [what's next]," he said. "I hate that it's been like flashes of me popping out, I do this and then I disappear, do that or whatever. But now, knowing that I got what I got, I gotta stay on top of it."



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