“Authenticity Always Wins” An Interview With Rapper Connor Price
I met Connor Price at a party in June 2019. His wife and I initially bonded when we found out we grew up in the same town, then I got to know both of them. The three of us sat on a patio for hours, nursing our beer bottles and shooting the breeze while the sun gently plummeted.
I found out Connor was a very accomplished actor, with a career that spans back to when he was a microscopic kid portraying Russell Crowe’s son in Cinderella Man to performing parts in Supernatural and the Carrie remake in his early 20’s.
Then he mentioned that he’s spent the past few years zeroing in on his rap career.
My newfound friendship with Connor left me with a few questions. Questions like “Why would a successful actor pivot to hip-hop when they’re already doing so well with acting?” And more importantly “Why the fuck is a dude in his mid 20’s already married?!?!”
So, I spoke to Connor and got the answers to all (wellll… most) of my questions. I wanted to find out what got him here, and where he’s going next.
Connor speaks with hushed humility, his words paint a picture of someone who is confident but is never satisfied. Connor clearly believes in his talents, but he’s also determined to make sure he never stops learning. He approaches rap like a student, constantly studying and doing the homework. He never brags about the A+ he just got because he’s already preparing for the next exam.
With nothing but time to kill during this COVID19 quarantine, we spoke on the phone. Here’s the interview, edited for length and clarity.
DREW: So I just heard “When You’re Gone”, the track you made with your wife. Do you and Breanna plan on making more music together or was that a one-time thing?
CONNOR: I can definitely see us making more music together. With that “When You’re Gone” track she had this melody idea, she was just humming it over that beat. Initially, we were gonna find another artist to sing on the hook. But when we recorded the demo with her she just sounded perfect. So I was like “let’s just keep it with us, ’cause there’s something special there.”
It adds a certain honesty to the song since it’s a real couple singing it.
Totally. ’Cause everything we were saying was true to us, or something we’ve experienced. She’s always creative.
When you’re working on something, how much does Breanna’s feedback play a role? Do you show your music to her a lot?
Oh absolutely. I feel like I have to because I respect her opinion so much. I always ask her for feedback ’cause I think she has great taste. And her track record is 100% on point. She’s always right, which is very annoying.(laughs)
(Laughs) Well that sounds fuckin infuriating.
(Laughs) Oh my gosh, totally. Every time she says it's gonna work it does. Every time she says it wouldn’t work it doesn’t. She just has a great ear for what a general audience will like.
Your openness about your wife in your music is interesting. I like that you’re not trying to be someone else.
Thanks, man. Authenticity in every realm of creation, whether it’s music or acting, it always wins. You can’t beat it. Authenticity always wins. As long as it’s the truth, if it’s something authentic and it’s delivered authentically, it wins.
Well, that’s another interesting thing about your trajectory, you were an actor first. When did you realize you wanted to rap? What sparked that?
I’ve always been a massive fan of hip-hop. My first memory of loving hip-hop was The Slim Shady LP. I remember being with a childhood friend and sneaking to the next room where my parents couldn’t hear, and just secretly listening to Eminem make all these inappropriate jokes and laughing at it. Then as a teenager, my brother got me into Lupe Fiasco, who obviously is very lyrically driven. His early albums introduced me to songwriting, telling stories and multisyllabic rhyme schemes. It made me realize that writing rap music is something that looks so challenging but so fun. But I always had a worry of being another white boy actor who just randomly starts putting out hip-hop music. So I would release music on YouTube anonymously. I would enter YouTube contests using a fake name. But then I ended up winning one of the contests, and it gave me more confidence.
Since you’re this child actor who walked into the world of rap, do you ever feel like an underdog in a weird way? Like how no one took Drake seriously at first ’cause he was the kid from Degrassi.
I think the acting stuff has actually helped me from a performance perspective. But when I first told people, I’m sure there was a lot of eye rolls. Like “ughhh of course, Connor is gonna try rapping…” And I was prepared for that. But I was also confident that anybody who heard it, that I could shopefully change their mind.
What is it like to juggle acting and rapping?
Luckily, acting has a lot of downtime. It reminds me of an interview I heard about Donald Glover, who is like my number one inspiration, if I could have one tenth of his career I would be an extremely happy person. But I remember castmates talking about how when he was filming season one of Community, in between takes he would run back to his trailer and record verses for his mixtape Culdesac. And at the time, he had a lot on his plate.
And that’s a frequent theme in Childish Gambino’s early stuff, like in EP and Camp, refusing to be shoved into a box. I see a little bit of that in you.
Yeah, I think one of the coolest things that has happened to me recently, as far as just seeing comments online, is people have started saying “wow, just realized you’re an actor, too.” ’Cause for the longest time people knew me for the acting first. But now a lot of people finding the music organically, so that’s been really exciting to watch.
So what’s the game plan right now? Are you working on a mixtape? An EP? Just focusing on putting out loosies for a while?
I wanna create momentum. The plan is to release a single once every 2 weeks. I wanna keep improving. Hopefully get it on some Spotify playlist or have some blog pick it up. The producer I mostly work with, Halfademic, who’s real name is Ryan Golden, we have this Dropbox folder that we call “The Promo Bible.” We have a list of all these emails, YouTube channels and Spotify playlists that take submissions. Once we finish a song we just send it to all of them, I spend hours sending it to a bunch of publications hoping someone will pick it up or talk about it.
One thing I love about rap is that there are so many ways that rappers can ride a beat and hit different pockets. When Halfademic sends you a beat, how do you find out what your flow is gonna be?
Trusting my instincts is a big part of that. When I hear a beat I like, I start recording myself and I start freestyling gibberish. I’m not even saying words, I’m just trying to find a certain flow pattern and a certain tone.
In terms of recent music, who’s been inspiring you? Who have you been listening to?
It’s all over the place. I really love Travis Scott right now. Early on as a hip-hop fan, I was all lyric-focused, I didn’t care about beats or melodies, I was just obsessed with crazy, multisyllabic rhyme schemes. But now my ear has gotten addicted to listening to things that have a great vibe or an interesting flow. So, Travis Scott, 10 years ago if you showed his music to me I’d be like “this isn’t real hip-hop” or some stupid, pretentious shit like that. I think that’s also why my appreciation for Drake has gone up significantly. I’m also obsessed with Jack Harlow right now, I think he’s somebody who’s super gifted at finding that balance between having really clever bars but also really fun flows and patterns.
I think Jack Harlow is a good example- Young M.A is also a perfect example of this, where they are killing it but they present the illusion that they’re not even trying.
Yes! I’m so glad you brought her up! I LOVE her. There’s something about artists like that, like Harlow or Young M.A, that have that laid-back confidence and they make it look easy. I’ve really been responding to that style lately.
I had a similar trajectory as a rap fan. I used to only be into lyrical rap and I was a snob. Young Thug is one of my favorite rappers, but if he came out when I was in high school I’d be like “this is trash.”
Me, too! I was literally the exact same way. I was definitely a snob. But I’ve grown a huge appreciation for rappers like that. And as long as they’re being authentic to who they are. If they make the music that they like, and talk about the things that are true to them, then you can’t hate on it.
I think the so-called “mumble rappers”- and I hate that term, it’s like “that dang rock & roll”, but those guys are just as valid as the more lyric-focused guys.
Exactly. I love Eminem but you don’t always wanna listen to a guy who’s throwing 18million syllables at you at once.
When you step in the booth, how long does it take you to get a verse right? What does that process look like?
Sometimes it’s just one take and I’m like “this is it.” I’ve learned from acting that you don’t wanna overthink things creatively. Once you overthink it, it takes out that instinct, that authentic, initial reaction to something. It’s hard to replicate that. But there’s other times where it’s the opposite and I’ll spend a few hours on part of a verse.
What inspires the subject matter? Do you hear a beat and you’re like “this will be something darker” or “ooh this sounds like a love song.”
That’s a good question. For me, the beat always comes first. The beat dictates the vibe and the topic. I heard Kendrick’s process is the opposite, he apparently thinks of a theme first, or a problem he wants to address, and then finds the right beat for that topic. I’d be interested in trying that eventually. The thing I struggle with the most is “okay, what do I rap about next?” What can I say that hasn’t been said? What’s something interesting about me that someone hasn’t heard yet?” I’m just always trying to grasp for that next thing.
Are you recording every night?
Yeah, been doing it every day. I mostly record during the day. My wife works from home during the day so she’s in the other room, I’ll be in my own little closet studio working. Then at the end of the night we’ll eat dinner together and watch Ozark or whatever Netflix show we’re binging. A majority of my recording happens in the morning.
It sounds like you treat it like a day job. Like a 9 to 5.
Yeah, that’s definitely how I want to treat it. Which has helped me a lot, because I found that I flourish most when I have rules and boundaries. If everything is just kind of random and relaxed, I’m not as productive. So I’ll kind of set a do-list. Every morning me and Halfademic do a phone call and lay out our goals for the day. I definitely want to treat it like a day job.
If I can get kinda cheesy and glance at the big picture- in regards to music, what’s the endgame? Where do you see yourself in 5 to 10 years?
Ooh thats a great question. I’ve actually never really thought of those specifics. Honestly, I’ve had situations with acting where I got addicted to reaching certain numbers, but it never created any fulfillment. It was more about- and this is gonna sound super corny- but it was more about my overall well being and my happiness. In 5 to 10 years, I just wanna still enjoy it. Whether that means I’m at the Grammy’s or I’m still on YouTube just trying to get noticed. In 5 to 10 years, if I’m enjoying making music and I’m happy- then I won.