After listening to Eminem on his portable CD player in elementary school, Christian Torrisi wrote his first rap when he was only 10 years old: a story, in poetic form, about his five-year-old cousin’s adventures in kindergarten.
With help from Josh Brett, the chief executive officer of Frunt Runnaz Productions in Manchester, Torrisi, now 16, is about to make waves as an up and coming hip-hop artist. Now known as C-Side the Miracle, Torrisi released his first album, Genuine, on Dec. 31. He will be featured at a hip-hop show at New Hampshire Technical Institute in Concord on Friday, Feb. 4, one day before his 17th birthday.
“When I was really getting into the idea that I wanted to do this as a career I said I have the talent, I know I have the talent, people told me I have the talent, I just needed to push it,” Torrisi said.
Then, he said, a miracle happened on Facebook.
Brett had only just returned home from his third and final tour in Iraq when a friend played one of Torrisi’s songs for him.
“It rejuvenated my spirit for hip-hop,” Brett said. “I was getting bored with [hip-hop], it was missing something — it was this kid.”
Brett soon reached out to Torrisi through the social network to see how he could help jumpstart his musical career. Brett then opened Frunt Runnaz, a small office and mini-studio, to help develop and promote local hip-hop talent and distribute their music.
“Christian has that, I like to call it that old-school flavor,” Brett said. “He is just having a good time speaking his mind, nothing crazy or gangster, he is just a free spirit on the mike.”
“It’s like the Rob Bass days, it’s about being a better emcee and having some intellectual lyrics and he is young, that kid is only 16 — imagine what he will be when he is 21,” he said. “He needed somebody to push him and guide him so I took that role on.”
Torrisi, a junior at Salem High School, said as he grew older he got more into hardcore rap and began to think of himself as a thug.
“Then at one point, I realized that wasn’t me,” he said. “I didn’t do any of that stuff.”
He now writes about things happening in his life and his feelings while still managing to throw in a few “generic
‘I’m the best in the game’” lyrics.
“It’s fun because you can get creative and metaphorical,” Torrisi said.
With his influences including Lil’ Wayne and Chris Brown, both of whom have served time, Torris said he feels he could set a more positive message for young hip-hop fans without “necessarily teaching them a grammar lesson in a song.”
“Everyone goes through their own thing at a certain time,” Torrisi said of his influences. “I feel that [Lil’ Wayne and Chris Brown] went through certain things that made them do certain things. Am I promising never do those things? No, but I would never beat a woman [like Chris Brown].”
Torrisi added that he makes an effort not to use obscenities in his music and while they do sneak into a few tracks, the songs that do not have them bring a more positive message.
Torrisi cites as another one of his influences a friend he met through Movement City, a youth center with a music program in Lawrence, Mass. While attending the program, Torrisi said he focused on “down south music” that emphasized catchy lyrics and tunes.
“He told me I was being too closed-minded about music, to create my own sound and be my own musician,” Torrisi said. “That helped me get better.”
Torrisi broke down the thought behind his rap name, C-Side the Miracle. The “C,” he said, stands for Christian, naturally, and the “side” because he felt he has always had his own side of things.
“I always felt different,” he said. “It’s like a my-side-of-the-story kind of thing.”
The “miracle” part was an afterthought because as there is another rap group called “C-side” Torrisi needed to tweak his name a little bit.
“I could say I’m the miracle for hip-hop but I don’t think it needs to be saved, I don’t think it’s dead,” he said.
Torrisi is as serious about his music career as he is about his education. He plans to attend college for audio engineering or sound recording, after he graduates from high school in 2012, so he will always have something to fall back on.
“If not a musician doing this, I definitely [will be] working in a studio environment recording people — hopefully somewhere warm,” he said.
Brett noted that the hip-hop scene in Manchester is growing and emcees have been coming out of the woodwork since he opened his production company.
“There is a lot of great up and coming talent,” he said. “There are a lot of older artists still trying to pursue their dreams, a few ’tweeners and people in their young 20s. Once New Hampshire kids have a venue or place to go, [hip-hop] will blow up.”