Christian Rich: The Most Humble Brothers You Will Ever Meet
Sitting down with the Nigerian-blooded, Chicago-born, twin-brother duo of Taiwo and Kehinde Hassan - we learned about the minds behind the brand and entity “Christian Rich”.
Currently living in Berlin, the brothers start their day off by getting breakfast at either Soho House or a cafe local to their building, where their apartments are literally next door to each other. "We talk about business like 80% of the day, in the middle of the night, at a club, out of town, when we're not around each other; it’s our everyday lives". Controlling most of their finances and management themselves, Christian Rich practically runs as a two-man-team.
The name may not sound too familiar, but if you’ve listened to Jaden Smith’s new single “GHOST”, Earl Sweatshirt’s “Chum”, or Drake’s infamous “Pound Cake”, then you’ve definitely heard Christian Rich. They have contributed to four #1 albums, worked alongside the likes of J. Cole, and have been mentored by none other than N.E.R.D’s Pharell - however, they don’t mind staying under the radar.
“We don’t want fame necessarily - we just want to be known for what we do.”
I had a few questions for the two, who left me with some pretty great advice.
Do you think living in Chicago helped open your eyes to music and fashion?
I love Chicago, but it wasn’t the best influence for us, in the 90’s especially, to learn music and fashion. Right away we were looking for New York and west coast music - Dr. Dre was a big influence, Das EFX, people like that. Style-wise, when baggy clothes were in style, Chicago was on it. We had Cross Colors, Maurice Malone, Mecca, Girbauds... we wore things like that. But as fashion progressed, people kind of stayed in that era. You had to look at New York, Paris if you knew about it, LA wasn’t even influenced like that for fashion.
In the states, how much time did you spend in LA? Was that your biggest influence, on fashion and music, up to now?
No, New York was the biggest. We moved to New York when were 21 - it was the biggest influence on fashion. That was back in different times but that’s when we started learning about maharishi and Bathing Ape, all the streetwear. It wasn’t even called streetwear back then, they were independent brands. Old school stuff - aNYthing, so many brands back then.. 10 Deep, Lemar and Dauley, Supreme, that was New York. There was a store called Wish that had it all.
Lemar and Dauley ended up designing a few mixtape covers for us and we became really good partners. The song “Famous Girl” really launched us as individual artists; Lemar and Dauley designed the cover. So the streetwear we discovered is directly related to how we discovered fashion in New York, and then it went to our music and artwork .. those kinds of collaborations.
So you guys were into fashion before you were into music?
Yeah, Christian Rich was the name of our fashion label back in 2003. We made little t-shirts and stuff. We had various names for our artist name and production name. In 2005 we came up with the idea to name everything Christian Rich because you don’t have time to decipher between different brands - let’s just brand one thing and make it easy. We got the idea from Nigo and Bathing Ape.
SS14 and FW14, were those fashion references?
Absolutely. At the time, I don’t think we’d ever even been to a fashion show. People would tell us, without knowing who we were, “Oh your name sounds like a fashion brand”, so we just played along with that. I think that’s how we did our first collaboration with L.G.R, the sunglasses company.
Do you guys have a lot coming fashion-wise? Is that why you’re in Berlin?
Yes and no. We came out here to relax a bit. The industry in LA just has too much going on and we wanted space to create more. Fashion-wise, we wanted to come out here to be closer to factories in Europe and have access to better quality products. Being here, it’s easy to go to Lisbon, London, Paris, Africa, Spain.. It helps to be on this side creating and being inspired by different cultures when you’re from America.
Have you ever been to Japan? The GHOST video had so much culture behind it.
No, we haven’t. When they did the video Jaden was on tour in Tokyo, and his label manager texted us and said they were casting for the video. They described the treatment of the video and we were like “Oh, that’s crazy”. We didn’t know the video was done until we were in Budapest a couple weeks ago. We were in Budapest with his dad and [Will] came in and showed us the video. We were like “Oh shit, the video’s done?!” The director did such a good job, it looks like it was super planned. While he was on tour he was just able to do a video. That just shows the skill of all of them, how organic it all looks. I think it’s one of the best videos of the year.
You said you had a new album on the way?
Yes, Jaden’s song kind of launched our next record, our next LP. We’re working on that right now.
We then spoke more in-depth about GHOST:
Going backwards.. GHOST is originally a Christian Rich song. The way that song happened, we were already working on our album and we sent the beat out to Vic Mensa, Vince Staples, and Jaden Smith - hoping that each person would give us a verse and we’d have all three on the song - but then Vic Mensa hit back mad late, never heard anything back from Vince, and Jaden just sent the whole song to us. We were like “Oh, this is great. You’re rapping like that now?! All soft tones and calm? That’s amazing”. So we were working on our idea of putting the song out and Jaden’s team liked it so much they wanted to put it out too. That’s how that came about.
Are there any special features, besides Jaden, we can look forward to?
We have a few, but I’ll just mention Little Dragon. Our next single is with Little Dragon, we’re working on that right now.
They are so adamanent about working on and releasing an album this year because they realize when producing for artists, in the states especially, producers don’t get much recognition. The majority of the time they’ll produce the song and send it to an artist to put a hook on, but the producer doesn’t always get credited - unless they put a tag on a song.
“There needs to be some kind of respect shown for the craft of what we do. There was a point where the producer was, if not more important, as important, as the artist. The days of Timbaland, Jermaine Dupri, Dr. Dre, the names were prominent. I think labels and artists didn’t want to pay those high prices and didn’t want producers outshining, so then it collectively went to tucking the producers back. The only way the producers will shine is if they put a tag. It kind of just works in hip-hop, but in a pop or R&B song people are really fighting for you not to put a tag”.
They are currently getting into Christian Rich: Artist Zone - hoping to release a new record every month or so, trying to focus on putting themselves infront and getting their own music out there. They did admit to having many productions in the works with other artists as well, though.
I commended them on being so humble and content with not getting as much recognition as they probably deserve, and their response was nothing shy of admirable:
“This time around we don’t care if people know about some of the songs we did before
It’s more important for people to understand what we’re bringing to the table
We’re all about making great music, but also making great things in general.
We’re not flashy, we don’t want fame necessarily. We just want to be known for what we do"
They want people to think:
'I know when I go to their show, I’m going to hear great songs'
'When I go to the store to buy their product, I know it’s gonna last' - that’s what they're pushing now. Quality in product.
We finished our conversation with them advising me:
"Fame is dangerous.
Fame is one of the worst drugs out there that people don’t realize is a drug
Fame is a scary thing that we’re not chasing. “
Written by Taylor Donley