Twin Cities rapper Christian Vind could be rubbing some pretty famous elbows Sunday.
The 20-year-old networking master — he has 38,000 Twitter followers — got himself an invitation to Republic Records' after-party at the Video Music Awards in New York City.
No shrinking violet, Vind wanted to know if the invite came with travel and accommodations. The answer was no. Hey, if you don't ask, you don't get.
So the Brooklyn Center resident is working out getting an airline ticket to NYC for the party, which should be attended by the label's artists such as: Ariana Grande, the Weeknd, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas.
Sorry, no Jennifer Lopez. She's not with Republic but is his heartthrob. Vind said he wouldn't mind Grande. Yeah, go with her, she's more age appropriate than J Lo.
This month NYC, and in September Vind plans to move to L.A. If he makes this move he'll do it against the advice of his producer Jay Escobar, who said he's worked with Printz Board and The Black Eyed Peas.
"I wouldn't advise going to LA at this point, 'cause he's like maybe a third done with his record," said Escobar, who has lived and worked in L.A. but found Minneapolis much more family-friendly. "For me L.A. is a place where you've already got to have street cred walking in there. The first thing people are going to do is Google you to see what sort of street cred do you have in your hometown. Most people are going to be interested in working with you off that, not so much your hunger and appetite. There [are] 9 million people in L.A. proper and," Escobar started to laugh, "about 7 million of them are trying to make it right now. I worked a lot in L.A. That's my home away from home. I grew up in Philly and spent a good portion of my career out there working, developing relationships. What I like about being in Minneapolis is I can work with artists early and help build their identity and sound so that when they do make that leap, when they do start making connections, business can [develop]. Going there when you don't totally know who you are could be trial by fire where you find out who you are or it could veer you off course from what you should be doing."
Asked if Vind knows who he is, Escobar said, "Not yet."
They are in the process of figuring that out, said Escobar. "My advice to Christian has always been, 'Lean into your weirdness.' He's a cool dude but an odd dude. If you lean into what's odd about you, people are going to follow that. He's got a funny sense of humor. He's got a very different sense of style. He's got this alternate moral code where he is into his faith but he also likes to turn up, party, have fun. He's a Christian but he's not one of those people who's allergic to a good time."
Marcus Montana is helping develop Vind. Montana, no relationship to French, runs Trans4mation Records in a building behind the CW Station, across from the State Fair.
Vind was inspired to pursue a career in rap, over the objections of his family, in 2014 when he first saw Eminem's 2002 movie "8 Mile." I don't know how this career path is going to work for Vind, but he appears to be dripping in confidence. He doesn't seem to know what doubt is as he strives to be a positive voice in rap.
Q: When were you first inspired to make music?
A: In 2014, when I watched the movie "8 Mile" done by Eminem.
Q: So he would be ...
A: My favorite rapper.
Q: What is the muse that drives this?
A: All the hate that's going on in the world. People telling me I couldn't do it, so I decided to do it anyway.
Q: Why did people tell you couldn't do it?
A: The fact that I wasn't very skilled. Rapping wasn't more of the Caucasian culture. That's why people always looked down on me. I felt like, "I'm just going to do this." Eventually they started loving it.
Q: You think people look down on you because you are a white kid doing this?
A: Very much so.
Q: I've been through this, I watched the parents of one of my friends go through this white rapper phase with their kid, which I found amusing and horrifying. What has been your family's reaction?
A: I would say they told me I should be more realistic. Get a college degree. Go do something, like become a lawyer. So I decided to prove them wrong and let my actions speak. I told them I can make it. I told them I can make money off it. Now it's time to actually do it.
Q: Are you making money?
A: Oh, yeah. It's been a process. I am pretty much doing everything by myself. Not making beaucoup bucks but I will be, there, pretty soon, just making the different connections and moving out to L.A., sometime in September if everything goes accordingly.
Q: So you have a nest egg, some money you can live on for a period of time?
A: Oh yes. My philosophy is build connections and through that big things can happen. Living with roommates or doing social media work for them in exchange [for] living there.
Q: What other kind of music do you see doing?
A: Either more of like the rock 'n' roll or the jazzy feel. Maybe some R & B. Like R. Kelly, Trey Songz.
Q: You mentioned two bad boys. (I should have said "one bad boy and one disgusting adult.") Why them?
A: The way they [present themselves] on stage. Their vocals are always on point. Some artists don't dress the part; everything matches up with them.
Q: They also are oversexualized performers.
A: Very true.
Q: That's not your style?
A: Correct. I am a very positive artist.
Q: For what singer would you like to open?
A: Michael Jackson, but sadly he's not around.
Q: Pick somebody alive, who's a rapper.
A: Even though he's not in my lane, I would say G-Eazy. I'm not doing music just for myself, I'm doing it for the fans.
Q: How did you get 33,000 Twitter followers? You said you didn't pay for them.
A: Exactly. Training myself to sacrifice, learning how to target, learning how to market. Doing some research online. YouTube can be your best friend, believe it or not. I had to go on apps, target celebrities. Be like, "They posted at this time. Do something that's relatable to that and make sure it's relatable to the fans." Once I start doing strategies, then I get their fans to follow me.
Q: Do you follow everybody who follows you?
A: I don't. It depends on if they engage with me and want to get to know me.
Q: What toxic people have you had to let go, so you could be happier? I've been reading your tweets.
A: Yes, yes. Family members. Friends. I remember a long time ago I had gotten jumped by friends I've had for years.
Q: By "jumped" you mean beaten?
A: Very much so. I remember being a person who hated being alone and I just loved being around people and after I got jumped, I said, "Enough's enough. I've got to find myself." That's when I started getting close to God. That's when I started living the Christian route. My life has changed ever since then. It still sucks being alone, but I know I found myself at the end of the day. Didn't think I could do it.
Q: Why do you think these people wanted to beat you?
A: Because I had things they didn't. I had more opportunities. I came from a background where I felt like I was always alone, always targeted and mainly because I was white. I did have a lot of things others didn't have but I didn't have the emotional support from my family. I've gotten emotionally abused, physically abused. Family telling me I couldn't do it, I should be more realistic. With all the doubt, it just inspired me to be my own person. If I can encourage myself, maybe I can encourage somebody else one day.
Q: Were these people who beat you up all black people?
A: Mainly, and I'm not racist whatsoever.
Q: Have you had a conversation with them since to find out what inspired them to beat you up back then?
A: Honestly. I just say let the past be the past. I don't want to reconnect because I don't want to put myself in that negative position.
Q: Where is the place of sadness where you continue to look for happiness?
A: I would say relationships. Searching for love and not finding it. Honestly, that's not such a bad thing for the career I'm going into; that's something I need to push away and focus on myself. Make sure I can better myself first and then let the rest come.
Q: That means you don't have a partner, right now?
Q: You're 21 years old. You don't need to be paired. Concentrate on your career. Read a book when you're lonely.
A: [Laughter] Right. I need some more knowledge.
Q: I adored the picture you posted of the dog who is more content in that moment than the owner, sitting there dreaming of other stuff.
A: I can't remember who posted that, but that makes so much sense. Humans, we want money, fame, love, but the dog just wants that one person who will love them unconditionally.
Q: Maybe you need a dog. But you don't need one headed to L.A. You'll need a dog before you need a girlfriend.
Q: Have you written a song that explains why a white kid wants to sing hip-hop?
A: I would say that is one of my newest songs called "Somebody." It explains what I am doing now and how all of this doubt makes me unleash [what I have to do].
Q: If you could select a singer to bring you breakfast in bed who would that be?
A: Jennifer Lopez.
Q: When you become famous can we expect see you paddling around naked like Orlando Bloom or taking photos like Bieber?
A: I don't know if that was a publicity stunt [by Bieber] or if he just wanted to live free. No, I ain't that weird.
Q: White rapper. Ironic or a cliché at this point?
A: I'd say it's a cliché. Eminem is one of the top dogs in the game. And if he can do it I'm pretty sure I can.
Interviews are edited. C.J. can be reached at email@example.com and seen on Fox 9's "Jason Show."