BE Modern Man: Meet "The Songwriter" Chris Classic - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Name: Chris Classic

Profession: Recording Artist

Age: 36

One Word That Describes You: Genuine

Ever wondered who was responsible for those original songs you hear while watching your favorite Hollywood movies? If  you visit  IMDB you’ll find that  Chris Classic is the man and the mind behind the music.  The super-talented artist and actor has written, recorded, and licensed his own work to Hollywood for the past decade. From writing and producing the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” soundtrack and score, to performing the track “Speedin'” for Dreamworks’ “Turbo” movie, Classic has given cinephiles award-winning music without drawing too much attention to himself.

This 36-year-old phenom received his start from Jam Master Jay and the legendary Run-DMC in 1999. BE Modern Man asked Chris Classic what inspired him to join the competitive profession of Hollywood soundtrack making. He answered: “It was an eighth-grade English assignment,” he told us exclusively. “We had to make a song to sell a product. It was to teach us how language moves people. I received the highest grade with my song, and I kept the fire burning from there.” Through his work with Jay, Run-DMC, and film music mogul Ali Dee Theodore, Chris Classic developed his reputation by writing songs for other artists, for movies and for television. In 2008 he, alongside the DeeTown team, won an American Music Award for Best Soundtrack for his work on “Alvin and the Chipmunks”.

Unfortunately, Classic’s success isn’t always the norm when it comes to Black in mainstream Hollywood.  Knowing this, Chris Classic explains the lessons he’s learned while navigating the treacherous streets of Tinsel Town. “I learned that being behind the scenes had honor,” he said. “It also made me look at the spotlight as something I needed to reconsider. I think now, I want it for a different reason, to leave a legacy and inspire, not to be quote-unquote famous.”

For an insider’s look at how Chris Classic gets down, this dutiful father either fields requests from music supervisors and producers, or just creates original content and submits it. “They [music supervisors] want the best music to fit a scene, without spending a ridiculous amount of money,” he mentions. By covering topics, both generic and specific, Classic makes “feel-good, radio-friendly” music which appeals to a general and young audience. Songs made by individuals for publishing in a movie, or television show, or any form of programming are registered through a publishing company which allows the creator to track the usage of said work and appropriate residual royalties. “In my opinion, it is best to have a lawyer help you set up proper structure for negotiating the licensing of your music if you choose to enter into this game,” he tells BE Modern Man exclusively.

Men like Stephen Foster and Paul Williams made their living creating original content for Hollywood, yet none of them have as audacious of a name as Chris Classic. Having his name bestowed upon him by the late, great, sorely missed Jam Master Jay, Chris spoke about the impact of having him as a mentor and what having one can do for any black man looking to achieve a goal. “Jay always reminded me to be aware of new things. He taught me to embrace the old and make it new,” he said. “To me, mentoring is crucial in this day and age. We read reviews of restaurants and products before we buy, so why wouldn’t you want to hear advice, reviews, and guidance from someone who embarked on your journey?”

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Kevin L. Clark

A pen-for-hire, I am well versed in the subjects of small business, pop culture, music, tech, politics and video games. Unapologetic with my opinion and armed with a strong skill-set, my vast nerd-like knowledge has gotten me into a lot more trouble than your average everyday scribe.


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