We had the good fortune of connecting with chris burger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Chris, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
Above my desk I have a plaque that says “Never, Never, Never Give Up!” My Dad passed in 2019 and this was passed to me from him. I feel We honor those who have sacrificed so that we could have whatever opportunities we enjoy by never giving up. Now there are times to step back and reassess. I think that is one of Sun Tzu’s quotes. Pressing too hard in a direction that is less than fruitful is not the lick. Identifying these moments is part of knowing oneself. Life is music and music is a reflection of living. All that I am and work towards being is told through my lyrics. For me there are a couple ways to approach the Art. There is Music and there is the music business. Each artist must come to terms with their idea of perfection of their personal expression and the commodification of that expression. I’m always searching for the perfect compliment to the music that’s been provided to me. The way I approach the music in that moment is different than any one else might do it. The answers are in the ether. Whether you see that as internal or external isn’t the point. For me it just starts to flow. That flow changes and I meet it where it’s at. For the last couple years, I see the flow when I’m in motion. I’ve written over 60 songs since 2020 either walking, running, biking, or driving. Writing and/or creating is like oxygen or therapy for me. There is no choice, I have to breathe and work out my issues. As long as there are issues, then I’ll always create. Those that choose to check in with it are usually moved by the vibe and the honesty. Yeah there is a time to get loose and move your body. We all desperately need that. And when you can compliment that with soulful expression and a road map to self preservation, then that’s when you got em. That’s what we call FIYA.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am an Emcee, HipHop artist, Golden Era, Love and Vibz song writer. I am fortunate to create music with live musicians. As one of the founding members of Alphabet Soup, the original Hip Hop/Jazz/Funk crew out of the Bay Area in the early 90’s. I created the Luv Phenomena project about 10 yrs. ago as an idea to reach folks through shared life experiences. I got clean and sober back in 2009 and the Luv Phenomena was a celebration of life. A big part of cleaning up was going inside myself to see why I chose to get lit, numb, or blotto. Learning to love yourself is a tough one for some of us. Saying it and living it are two different things. Add to that is that we are each either extremely special or just regular. The point is that we all have pain, we have a past, and we all are responsible to look at this honestly and move on and treat others (including ourselves) with respect. I am also a Digital Literacy instructor for a non-profit affordable housing organization in California and Hawaii. I’m blessed because I get to operate from the same place as my art and not wear the mask.
I’m most excited about the continual production of art that the Luv Phenomena is churning out. First there was the Luv Phenomena album in 2018, then the Luv Phenomena compilation EP in 2020. The Luv Phenomena & Kenny Brooks produced Alphabet Soup album will be released in January 2022 followed up by another project called Satellite Kids. I am constantly doing collaborations w artists such as Jacque Ibula, AngeLex, Vinyl, and one my favorite local emcees, Rico Pabon.
It was not easy to get where I am today. I am laughing right now because it was dark and difficult. I try to communicate this through song, because I know what it means to hear that you are not alone. I love so deeply, and I do my best to let others know that they are worth it. Life is hard, but it can be so beautiful. We must all find what our forbidden fruit is and just let it go. Live life, please do it. No shortcuts, not time outs, and no days off.
I want the world to know that as an Emcee, musician, educator, person. I will give you truth as I learn it. Without Gill Scott, the Last Poets, Chuck D, KRS ONE, Rakim, all my lyrical heroes, I would not be doing what I’m doing. So many other greats paved the way. Many have taken me aside to up me on the game. BIG Shout out to Zigaboo Modeliste from The Meters for always looking out for me and always picking up the phone when I call. We are the OG’s now so it’s important to look out for the young ones, both in the game and in life. My brand is “be you- be your truth, let ’em feel, and make ’em move, You are loved, We are one, Children of God, Daughters and Sons, come- your time’s begun.”
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We out in the Bay. I live in West Oakland, about 1 mile from the water so definitely take em on the water to see a new perspective. Gotta bring the fam to all nice food spots- the Mission in S.F., all my favorite taco trucks in The Town, the Bay trail to walk the Bay Bridge or on roller skates. First Fridays in downtown Oakland so they could feel the vibe. Bring em up to the Berkeley Hills to walk the fire trail or up in Redwood or Tilden. Take em fishing at lake temescal to just chill. Bring em to Panther Fist Studios in West Oakland so that we could make music. Mintos Jamaican spot for a bottle of roots or a smoothie. Miss Ollies for some real chicken soup and beignets. Oakland Chinatown to trip around and get some tasty snacks.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My folks at Luv Phenomena & Panther Fist Studios. Namely Josh Lubensky and Emcee Mike Blake. These gentlemen have helped foster a vision of honest artistic expression for a Brotha and I love them for that. To be such an integral part of my artistic growth during the loss of both my parents and other family members, they’ve helped create a safe space for me to let it all out. Brutal honesty is what I asked of all members of our collective. They’ve afforded that. Blake and I have been at each other’s side musically for the last 28 years. Josh has poured so much into making sure our music gets out to the world. He is our “Leatherman”..