CONRADFRMDAAVE has one of the hottest songs on the West Coast right now. “Vintage & Adventurous” hails over 7.6 views on Youtube off an audio video alone, but its success comes from directly from the streets of Los Angeles where he was bred. Hailing from south L.A. and raised in the Crenshaw district (also known as Nipsey Hussle Square), real name Christopher Markham Jr. was able to change his life for the better thanks to hip hop.
At the young age of 17, CONRADFRMDAAVE was sent to prison to serve a seven-year sentence. It was during his solitary confinement that he started writing raps, eventually discovering his innate ability to spit and formulate rhymes. Beyond the sonically enticing production, it’s his lyrical content that paints vivid imagery of gang-banging and coming up out the mud.
If you’ve seen Nipsey Hussle’s “Hussle & Motivate” visual, you can peep CONRAD in a red sweatsuit at the 4:42 mark. Regardless of what adversities and struggles he’s faced, it was “Vintage & Adventurous” that changed his entire outlook on life. With his last stint behind bars, he realized he had way too much to lose.
The former tattoo artist turned rapper is currently signed to his own label: Bout A Bag Music. REVOLT caught up with CONRADFRMDAAVE in Los Angeles to discuss the making of his hit song, coming up with Nipsey Hussle, studio life, and more.
For those who don’t know, who is CONRADFRMDAAVE?
CONRADFRMDAAVE is AKA Bout A Bag Rad from the Ave. I grew up in Crenshaw district, Hyde Park area. Come from a single mother. Father was in prison, we kept in contact. That’s my boy, rest in peace George G-Ru. Mom and pops from Bompton. Just a street n*gga trying to eat.
What was the inspiration behind your name?
I got my name from the streets. I’m Tiny Conrad from the Rollin 60s. From that, I grew up on 10th Avenue between 63rd and Hyde Park. That’s my hood, it ran from there. That wasn’t even my name, my name was just Conrad. That was a rap, CONRADFRMDAAVE. Everybody said it so much when they seen me, it became my name. Everybody else made it my name.
Being from Crenshaw district, what were you seeing growing up?
All types of shit. Shit, rich, poor, smart, dumb, big, little. Money, drugs. Nasty bitches, nasty n*ggas.
When did the music start for you?
I started rapping in prison. When I was in prison, I started writing raps. I went to jail in 2004 when I was 17, then I came home in 2011.
So you were in juvie at 17?
Yup. When I turned 18, I went to the county, then I went to prison. I got out when I was 24.
What did you do?
Shit, I took somebody’s money.
Started writing raps in jail. Then, I got out and my homies was already playing with it. I just got involved. People liked it, so I liked it. We liked it. My shit got a lot of likes, a lot of views. We got crackin’ and just kept going. When I came home, my homie Sandman Negus — rest in peace — took me to the studio. We went to my homie Cell’s studio because I used to write raps when I was in jail just fucking around. When I came to the studio, I thought about one of my raps I wrote when I was out, then I rapped it on the beat. It sounded so hard. I’m like, ‘I fuck with this.’ We did ‘Hit yo Rollin.’
What’s the biggest lesson you learned in jail?
To be free. Free-minded. Just free, period. No matter where you are, in whatever situation — even in conversation — just be free. Don’t feel subject to say something or do something you don’t wanna do.
Can you bring us back to the studio session for ‘Vintage & Adventurous’?
I had my boy Donny Dog, he knows a guy named TK. He wanted me to meet TK a long time ago before I went to jail… The day Nipsey Hussle did the ‘Hussle & Motivate’ video, we were at that video shoot with Nip. Nip had one of us there ‘cause we were doing our little shit. Basically I went there, that n*gga Donnie Dog wanted me to go meet TK. I missed the meeting ‘cause I wanted to go with the homies to go be at the video shoot for Nip. I was in the video that day and missed my fucking interview. I was supposed to meet TK that day, [but] I end up going to jail.
Nah, like a week later. That’s when I did the four months. I got out of jail one day, I was with my boy Donnie Dog brother’s Bony Tony. We were slidin’, Donnie Dog called him and said, “Aye pull up on me real quick.” He told his brother to. He didn’t even know I was with his brother… We pull up, TK is there. Donnie Dog’s like, “Oh man, I wanted you to meet this n*gga.”
Time goes by, we link up again. He’s like “I want you to meet one of my producers.” He introduced me to Joog, Joog told me to slide through for a studio session. I go over there and kick it with them one night at their studio. Joog and his boys, me and a couple of my boys, we hang out, have a drink. They play some beats. That ‘Vintage & Adventurous’ beat was the only beat I said, ‘Load that motherfucker.’ I just started recording myself and got it crackin’. It is what it is. It was just everything built up I guess, it was supposed to happen. We had fun at the studio too that night. We stayed in that motherfucker like 15 hours.
What made you think ‘vintage, adventurous, and limitless’?
I’m just witty-minded like that. I just be sayin crazy shit. I’m real word crazy, like I done read the dictionary. When I was sitting in jail, I read all that type of shit. I like to play with words.
It has 7 million on an audio video alone. How does that make you feel?
Boom. Bam. Bang. What it do? (Chuckles) Shit, a n*gga home.
We got a video coming or what?
Yeah, for sure. Everything coming.
How’s it feel to be compared to 03 Greedo? A lot of people think you sound like him on this record.
I don’t think I’m compared to anybody. But hey, it is what it is. A person’s entitled to their own opinion.
What was your relationship with Nipsey?
That’s my homie. Blue stripe, we exchanged game all the time. We always chopped it up about shit. That’s my homie, may he rest and we gon’ do it for him. The Marathon Continues. He was a blessing, he is a blessing.
You’re from there (Crenshaw). What was it like seeing the city just…
It’s a blessing and it ain’t. It is what it is. It’s whatever you make it. I love my city. I love L.A., it’s hard for me to stay away from it. I live in Orange County. I drive over that motherfucker every day… I love where I’m from so much.
What is it you want fans to get from your story?
Be about a bag. We can’t change the fact that money is the way. Money, love, respect is the way. Loyalty, but be about a bag. Bout a bag all day because right now wherever we [are], where we at on this earth, whatever section how we living, you gotta have some money to be living. To survive. You gotta eat… Get yo money. Be creative. Keep an open mind. Treat people as you want to be treated.
What are some goals for yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
To get Bout a Bag clothing up and running. To make sure Bout a Bag music is up and running how I want to get it. I want to have the artists I release do what they need to do to the best of their ability, and I do what I need to do to the best of my ability. We need to make sure we all eat… Feed our families. Do what I can for my community in the midst. Just grow. Prosper. Be prolific. Elevate. Eat and share. Just live, but make sure we growing at the same time.
Three things you need in the studio?
Marijuana, alcohol, and water.
Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Lil Durk, Kevin Gates, Nipsey Hussle, Pacman Da Gunman, GI Joe.
Kevin Gates, he’s my favorite.