Award-winning Denton rapper looks to the future

Award-winning Denton rapper looks to the future

February 25
00:12 2016

Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

@kayleighnic0le

The names LL Cool J, Tupac and Jay Z are commonly synonymous with catchy songs and deep lyrics. But when rapper and radio DJ Christopher Avant hears these names, he thinks of heroes.

Avant, a Denton local who goes by A.V. The Great, said he has been rapping and singing for as long as he can remember and is ready to become a hip-hop household name.

“Crafting words together is unlike any experience,” Avant said. “Having the ability to create a meaningful, impactful song or set of words really brings a whole new level to the music.”

Avant said he was constantly surrounded by music as a child. His dad was a DJ, his grandma had a vast collection of CDs and his mom was always pushing him to take the leap into the music industry. He began creating R&B songs at a young age, reworking songs like LL Cool J’s “Rock the Bells” to make them his own and writing poetry in order to turn a small dream into reality.

The rapper said his first real performance was in ninth grade. What started out as free-styling with his friends on the streets of West End Dallas turned into an unforgettable experience.

“There was this group that was playing in front of a crowd of 500 or 600 people, and they just called us up,” Avant said. “We basically just started free-styling on the spot in front of that massive crowd. It was unlike anything I had ever experienced, but I was nervous as hell.”

He never expected those performances and freestyle raps to pave the way to becoming an award-winning rap artist.

Christopher Avant, a Denton underground rapper feels most inspired to rap when he is out of the house or driving around in his car. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

Christopher Avant, a Denton underground rapper feels most inspired to rap when he is out of the house or driving around in his car. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

Avant was nominated for Most Dynamic Solo Artist and Best Underground Southern Rapper, the second of which he won, at the 2015 Underground Music Awards in Manhattan. The award show is a platform to celebrate the best artists in the underground hip-hop and R&B music scenes.

The first artist in Dallas-Fort Worth to be nominated for these awards, Avant said some people were shocked when they found out.

“Currently, I’m the reigning champ,” Avant said. “When I heard my name, the one thing that ran through my mind was, ‘Finally.’ I’ve worked so hard for this moment.”

Chad Reynolds, a close friend of Avant’s, has known the music artist since the two were kids. Having grown up alongside Avant and his career, Reynolds said finding out about the award was an exciting moment.

“It’s surreal and a blessing to me to know that Chris has made it this far,” Reynolds said. “If you gave him a guitar with someone snapping toothpicks in the back, he would make a hit out of it. He may not always get handclaps, but he just pushes forward and continues to love what he does. That’s talent right there.”

Music promotion company owner Louie Maldonado has been working with Avant for five years. The two have known each other since the early stages of Avant’s career and have helped each other put on shows and get in touch with various people in the industry.

Maldonado said he thinks this award will only add to Avant’s advancement as he continues to establish his rap footprint in the music industry.

“He isn’t going to stop working hard just because he won this award,” Maldonado said. “He’s the type to only use this as fuel to work harder. He has the drive of anyone else who’s ever made it big in their respected industry.”

Avant said winning the award was one of his biggest accomplishments to date. Some of the greatest names in hip-hop and R&B have both attended and won awards at the show. He said he is motivated by a desire to one day be considered “one of the greats.”

“There’s nothing like performing. There’s that jittery feeling I get, but no matter what, I’m always ready,” Avant said. “The stage is like my playground. I still feel that rush each time I get up there to perform.”

But no matter how famous he gets, he said he would always be grounded in his Denton roots. His motto, “no fake handshakes,” means fulfilling all the promises, deals and obligations he makes.

“There’s no blueprint for getting it done [in the industry]—you just have to get off your ass and go for it,” Avant said. “Denton is home, and I know I am going to be one of the pioneers to breakdown walls for this area. I’ll shake on that.”

Featured Image: Underground rapper Christopher Avant stands in front of his Denton, Texas home. Hannah Ridings | Senior Staff Photographer

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