Babii Cris is a 22-year-old rapper from San Francisco with a penchant for penning candid, introspective lyrics and a knack for spitting quickly and hard. She began producing around the age of 13 when one of her mom's friends showed her how to record a song on her computer. Upon graduating from high school in 2011, Cris enrolled in a community college, taking electronic music courses to learn how to further craft and produce her own music. A year later, she transferred to San Francisco Art Institute's audio production program, where she learned how to mix, master, and engineer.
[jump] Last year, Cris released her first album, Triple Threat, which she wrote and produced herself, and recorded at the studio she built in her home. The 22-track album features a medley of lush R&B melodies, as well as acoustic guitar, that blend well with Cris's crisp, pointed voice and rapid fire lyrics.
Today, Cris has releases her second album, Fearless, which she spent the last year working on, and also recorded, engineered, and mastered herself. Unlike with Triple Threat, Cris used a producer — Junknuts from Japan, whom she met through SoundCloud — to lay the foundation of the album. After hearing one of her songs, Junknuts began sending Cris beats, which she would then turn into songs. After a few collaborations, he proposed the idea of producing a full album, which Cris agreed to.
But there were challenges. Compared to Triple Threat, the beats in Fearless are more ambient and jazzy, with a lot of piano and horns, which was a new sound for Cris to rap over. But she got the hang of it, and in retrospect, is grateful that she tried something new.
“I really liked what the beats brought out of me lyrically, rhythmically, and emotionally,” she said. “It allowed room for me to use my voice, play with my flow, and add a little more singing in these songs.”
For the last year, Cris has worked at the Oakland non-profit Hip-Hop For Change, which has become a pivotal force in her life, helping her to become “more conscious as an artist [and] more conscious as a human being.” She realized that for most of her life, she had “been living in fear” of what others thought about her, how she dressed, the genders of the people she chose to date, and how good her work was.
Because of these realizations, she decided to dedicate an entire album to the theme of “fearlessness,” through which she would highlight the things that make her different (she has one song on the album called “Why I Love Her,” which is about her girlfriend) and encourage others to be equally proud and unafraid to be who they are.
“I want to inspire and empower others to be fearless with each song,” she said, “We are stronger when we stand together, and the best that we can do is be there for each other.”
Catch Babii Cris at Back Bar Sofa in San Jose at 9 p.m., on Thursday, July 21. More info here.