In the fifth grade, 28-year-old Arlington rapper and producer Kris Minor started writing his first lyrics. His English teacher, Mrs. Billups, would grade the songs he wrote and correct any grammatical errors. As a teen, Minor continued developing his writing ability as a member of novice rap crews — one of them was called the Baby Dragon Klan and the other was named Self Conscious Music.
There’s a common thread among many millennial/Generation Z, dual threat rapper-producer types: Their ability to make beats, in many cases, was born out of necessity. This was true for Minor, who started making instrumentals simply because they were too expensive to buy.
“The first artist I produced for was Chaz French along with Super Miles,” he recalls.
Despite his growth as a producer, Minor still aspired to rap. In 2014, he released his first solo album, Krisaveli. He’s been on hiatus as a solo artist since, but over the course of the last six years, he’s become a sought-after producer. Minor created all of the instrumentals for the album 2 ½ Minutes Till Midnight, his acclaimed collaboration with fellow Arlington native B. Anderson. His production résumé also includes Wale, Jahn Dough, Phil Ade and Kwama.
After a six-year break from rapping, Minor released his sophomore project, You Must Take Me for a Joke, on Valentine’s Day. Ironically, the inspiration for Minor's first album is also partly responsible for his extended break. The majority of Krisaveli was based on a rough separation between Minor and his girlfriend. Recording the album was cathartic but left him drained creatively.
“My absence came from not having anything to say,” Minor explains. “I said everything I needed to with my first album. I went through a heartbreaking breakup. My ex wouldn’t talk me, and I needed to get stuff off my chest.”
Minor admits that second-guessing himself creatively also played a part in his hiatus from recording his own music.
“I was insecure about where I fit in with everything that’s going on in Dallas right now," Minor says of the caliber of artists in local hip-hop. "People like Coach Tev and Jahn Dough are so good, the visuals other artists put out are so crazy I really just had to sit back and watch.”
If Krisaveli was about releasing pain and healing from a difficult breakup, You Must Take Me for a Joke is about closure and permanently cutting ties.
“'Winters Interlude' was the first song I recorded, it’s very personal to me because I’m speaking on things only I knew," Minor says. "I never told my ex about the plans I had to go to her father’s grave and pray for permission to marry his daughter. Once I made it, I felt I had more to say, so I went to work. I locked myself in my room and just vented on the records. I put it out on Feb. 14, to let her know I still love her — but I have to move on.”
Relationships aside, Minor draws creative inspiration from comedy. Musicians and comedians are kindred spirits in the way they repurpose their pain to serve their craft.
“Comedy played a huge part in this album for me ... The Office, all of the Chappelle stand-ups and a movie on Netflix called Nina — I urge you to check it out if you haven’t,” Minor says. “I feel that type of expression comes from the same place for a comedian and a musician.”
Minor seems to have his sights set on coming out of his shell and expanding his career.
“In 2020 I plan to grow my podcast called Step-Brothers that I do with Danny Fantom. I’m gonna work on another album, produce records for more artists and learn how to drive,” he says while laughing. “I have a lot to work on when it comes to Kris the man, but Kris the musician’s future is very bright.”
Listen to You Must Take Me for a Joke below:
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.