Local rapper uses hopeful hip hop to chronicle coming of age in Norwalk
By William Odis Martin
NORWALK – Unlike most rappers these days, Chris Torres writes music to shine a light on issues that matter.
“I feel like everyone has a story, but it is just a matter of how you want to tell your story,” he said.
Torres does just that by rapping about the struggles of a young man trying to find himself and navigate his way through life.
The 24-year-old Norwalk native has been working on his 16 song debut mixtape entitled The Beginning for the past year and is finally ready to release it later this month.
Torres incorporates his life into his lyrics. At times in the mixtape, it seems to be an intimate reading of his personal diary. His song “Change” opens up about the purpose of his music and introduces his thoughtful approach to writing.
“At the beginning of this mixtape, I was just trying to find myself,” said Torres. “I didn’t tell anyone I was making it.”
His poetry was his therapy.
“Eventually I found my voice and felt like I could make a difference with music. I built up the confidence to put myself out there in December of last year and plan to keep pushing this for the next year and have two more mixtapes planned down the line. That is the goal.”
While not afraid to have a little fun and rap about traditional hip hop topics like smoking marijuana with friends, hanging out with girls at parties and throwing back some brews like in his song “Good Times,” Torres also taps into real life themes like going to work, social issues like police brutality, and interpersonal themes like falling in love.
His song “She” is an intimate love letter to his girlfriend. “Pushin” is a tailormade radio hit with double time rap style that calls out the mumble rap culture that is currently prevalent in popular rap music.
“Those guys aren’t about telling stories, [but] I like to be real and just tell it like it is,” he said. “I feel like my story can help people with similar struggles get through the tough times.”
The next generation of kids within the community need as many positive male role models as they can find. Although Torres admits he is not an angel, his words could be what someone needs to hear to counter the negativity that swarms lower-income communities.
In his song “Justice,” Torres writes about the police shooting that occurred across the street from Cerritos College. It was written around the same time the Black Lives Matter movement was building momentum after the series of videos showing police-related homicides around the country.
Unlike Mike Brown or Eric Garner, this incident seemed to be getting a lot less attention so he let his emotions bleed onto his notepad and express the frustration of having to live in fear of yet another deadly gang in the city, the police, who according to Torres, could kill without repercussions for their actions.
Part of Torres’ story ran in a February issue of The Norwalk Patriot featuring a group of young skaters and musicians called Forever Dedicated who are collectively trying to catalyze positive change in the city.
“We are all trying to grind and all trying to be somebody. This is not about getting rich and famous. It is about spreading a positive message,” Torres said.
“I had a passion for skating but now I put that passion into my music. I was grinding, putting in work at all kinds of warehouses trying to make ends meet but now I have direction. I have a purpose. I am only getting better from here. That’s why I called it The Beginning.”
To check out his music, visit his soundcloud by searching “Chris Torres FD.”