Words by Carlton Wade
Independent music labels are synonymous with Florida rap music. Gold and platinum superstars like Trick Daddy, Plies, T-Pain and Rick Ross all the way back to DJ Magic Mike and Uncle Luke all started out on independently owned, operated and self-contained local labels.
The most recent independent sensation from the Sunshine State is St. Petersburg native Cristol. He has been turning heads for some time now and recognized as one of Florida’s hottest new entertainers. He once again proves why he can’t be stopped with the recent release of his single “All Up N Thru There.”
In mixshow rotation on the radio and in Florida clubs, the flaming hot single “All Up N Thru There” has kept the summer months sizzling even hotter. Without question, Cristol is the next musical landmine to explode from the state of Florida.
“You won’t hear me rapping about shooting, killing or flipping bricks because I don’t do that,” Cristol explains. “I got that charisma and personality that you can’t teach an artist to have. It doesn’t matter the genre, the audience or the tempo of the song. I make good music. And that’s why I my career has been so successful.”
Known to his Northeast High School graduating class as Herman Grant, Cristol grew up in the spotlight. He always knew he was going to be a star. He won countless school talent shows and developed his craft over the years playing trombone and saxophone in band. He reached the highest level in chorus and was promoted to be a thespian in drama class, for which he won the Semper Fidelis Award for Best Performer for 1999-2000.
After high school graduation, he went off to college at Averett College in Danville, Va. When he returned home on Christmas break, Cristol recorded a rap song with his cousins. He took the song back to the college and it became a big hit amongst the co-eds.
“I then knew that I wanted to purse the music thing,” he remembers.
Now after a lifetime of perfecting his natural talents, Cristol has developed into a complete entertainer. His raspy voice and unique sound has grabbed the attention of the Sunshine State some time ago with his DJ Trans-produced debut hit single “Whatcha Drinkn On” featuring Strizzo and Sojo in 2005.
A classic to many Floridians, the single lead Cristol straight to the center stage. Before long, he was headlining his own shows and creating a major buzz in central Florida. The song made so much noise that Cristol got offered a deal with an independent label based out of Miami.
In no time, the situation went sour. Cristol had released his first LP “My Story” and the label he was signed didn’t realize what it really took to run an independent label. Cristol was a newbie as well and hadn’t fully understood the music business. Before long his project would take a turn for the worse and he was released from his first deal, Cristol quickly started learning the highlights and pitfalls of being signed to an independent label.
“Don’t get caught up in the spotlight without knowing the business first,” Cristol warns. “If you don’t know every aspect of the music industry it could possibly land you in a bad position.”
It wouldn’t be until 2007 that Cristol decided to make a comeback. And he returned in a major way with another banger “My Pockets Swoll” featuring Baton Rouge bad boy Lil Boosie. Within weeks of its release, the song was featured on mixtapes all over the world. Cristol was not only buzzing the streets but he had the Internet jumping as well. That year, Cristol was Mypace’s number 1 Hip-Hop artist in Florida and number 30 in the nation.
His momentum continued to pick up when he won the opportunity to open at Tampa radio station 98.7’s Wild Splash Concert in 2008. That same year, Cristol was chosen to produce and feature on the official team song for the Tampa Bay Rays. “It’s Our Season” features Cristol and fellow Florida rappers Big Gill and Bay Boy.
What the trio didn’t realize, however, is that they just had released the first big sports song to hit the Tampa Bay area. With the Rays being Number 1 in 2008, it quickly led Cristol to being the center of the media’s attention. Throughout the baseball season, the hit song was played on almost every radio station, news channel, and newspaper in the Tampa Bay Area. It also led the trio the opportunity to perform the song at various locations throughout the area and in front of over 30,000 fans at the final ALCS game of 2008.
“The song had an impact on everyone,” says Cristol. “We had 80 year old women coming up to us saying I don’t listen to rap but I love your song. And this year, we plan on recapturing the essence of that winning year.”
His name was getting so hot that fans demanded a mixtape. And that’s just what Cristol gave them with Famous & Broke. Debut single “Ahh Ahh” as well as other certified heat seekers are cuts such as “Swag So Mean,” “My Pockets Swole,” “She Don’t Give A Damn” and “Ass So Phat” have had the streets, clubs, and mixtapes ringing around the St. Pete, Tampa Bay and Florida area.
Most recently, Micah Anderson launched the imprint label Hussch Boy Productions and signed Cristol and two other artists, Famous Kid Brick and Blackboi. Together, this dynamic trio has different aspects to bring to the table.
As a team or as individual artists, there is nothing to stop Cristol nor the Hussch Boy roster of artists. The limit is past the sky. Watch them dance on the moon.