C Plus: Making the Grade

“I’m so ahead of my time that I look back at the future.”

announces C Plus on “Back at it Again,” a track off his 2006 mixtape, The After-School Special. Despite his moniker, the Sacramento, CA-based emcee is proving he’s far above average. He’s revitalizing the west coast music scene, giving listeners a taste of his compelling lyricism and witty wordplay with an onslaught of recent mixtapes like The Smallest Giant and Avant L’Orage (with emcee Gameboy). C Plus’ name is ringing bells to where if you say “Sacramento” and “hip-hop,” you have to mention him. Sitting on the steps in front of his home, he gives Oh Dang! an introduction to who he is.
Listen to “Tighten Up”

Who is C Plus?

Plus is a 22-year-old … [who] grew up on old school, west coast hip-hop but then really got into alternative music, and then came back on hip-hop when I started skating and got into freestyling. But I’m just trying to make it out here, that’s all it really is. I’m just trying to establish myself as an artist, and get some people to hear me.

Why’d you latch onto hip-hop?

It was the first thing that I found that I was actually good at … It’s too natural for me to not do it. From the first time I ever tried to write a rhyme, I pretty much had it, I knew what to do.

Do you remember the first rhyme you wrote?

I kind of remember how it went. It was for a battle, like, they were going to film it for school or whatever … Something about swinging swords like a Samurai.

You were listening to Wu Tang when you wrote that, huh?

Yeah! That’s when I first got into Wu Tang.

What are your earliest memories with music and when did you begin rapping?

I started rapping when I was 13, 14, just freestyling and stuff, and then [at] 15, I started writing. One thing that got me, the radio station out here, 103.5 (then KBMB), used to have this thing on Sundays where you call in and you battle people over the radio, so I’d just write the most battle rapper-ish writing that I could and just fucking try and win. I held it down for three or four weeks, actually. My evolutions as an emcee: I used to talk about the fakest shit; I used to want to be as gangster as possible when I first started rapping. I would fit too many words in each bar and it sounded real cluttered but I think that kind of helped me later on. If you listen to my shit, I try and say the most intricate, most over-your-head thing in the simplest way in the least amount of words. That’s my whole approach to everything.

What emcees have inspired you the most?

My favorite rapper of all time: Nas. Blu, Below the Heavens, I felt like was my life story, front to back, you know what I’m saying? I’m listening to Blu rap and I’m like, “Yo, why isn’t this me on the speakers right now? This nigga going through everything that I’m going through.” Definitely Blu.

So how does your alternative music filter into your raps? Why does it inspire you? Did you feel outcast in rap for liking alternative music?

I didn’t seriously start listening to hip-hop ‘til about 8th grade. Before that I just listened to what was on the radio. I knew all the words to Pac and Big’s shit, Mase, Master P … but I also knew all the words to Green Day, Radiohead, Bush, etc. I’m damn near half white. I got hella white friends, I skate, all the shit. I was just blessed enough to be exposed to a lot of different shit, especially at a young age. As I got into high school, I was really heavy on The Strokes, Interpol, The Postal Service. But like I said, 8th grade, it was a wrap. Blame Tribe! (Laughs) Between my older brother and skate videos, that’s what got me into rap. The alternative shit is just dope ‘cause it’s like you can do something different without trying to “be different.” I can loop up something that a band did, rap on it or sing a little bit and a certain audience may react to it that wouldn’t have felt it if it was just me doing my thing on a hip-hop record. I felt kind of outcasted in high school for being into different shit, like the whole mixed kid identity crisis type thing, but I grew up and grew passed it. It’s funny now because we grown and cats that may have looked at me funny back then are waking up now and realizing that different is cool and cool is different.

If you could collaborate with an alternative group/singer, who would it be? And Why?

Julian Casablancas, period. I feel like The Strokes were one of the most influential bands at that time in the early 2000s where it seemed like the more raw, gritty alternative sound was becoming really popular. His solo stuff is ill; it’s a little more electronic than the group shit.

And if you could add your verse on any classic hip-hop track, which song would it be?

I would love to add a third verse to “Life’s A Bitch.” I feel like AZ is just as dope as Nas. I feel like he got outshined by Nas. This is what I would’ve said: “This is my niche, now I came to steal the show like AZ on ‘Life’s A Bitch.’”

Tell us about your latest projects.

I got a few things going right now. Most recently, I did a mixtape with Gameboy called Avant L’Orage (which is French for “Before the Storm”). It’s a prequel to the album we got coming, which is entitled Saving Sacramento: A Story Told by North & South. It’s gonna be fully narrated and is the most “musical” work I’ve done to date. After that, I got my first solo LP coming. Then after that, I got ALL C.I.T.Y. (Creative. Intelligent. Troubled. Youth).

What are you looking to accomplish with these projects?

I just want to get my buzz going enough to where people know what’s up. I just want my name to ring bells at the end of the day. I don’t want the fame, but I’m trying to get a little money in the rap game, take care of my people and my situation and from there, go on to other endeavors. I’m just trying to solidify my name. I want to make an impact on music and push the boundaries.

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