In today’s age, the internet opens so many doors for those who use it to their advantage. Artists started using the internet to gain traction a long time ago, but we are still seeing new methods of artists getting their name out there. With the explosion in popularity of the social media platform Tik Tok, several artists have kickstarted their careers through the mobile app. Prominent artists in the scene like 24kGoldn and Tai Verdes got their start on Tik Tok. One thing that makes this process of using this platform grow in popularity is how many people it has introduced to the underground hip-hop scene, a section of music that does not get much attention outside of its regular listeners. Introducing young listeners to the works of MF DOOM, Madlib, J Dilla, and many more has not only given these legendary artists more appreciation, but it has allowed more exploration through the genre and smaller artists to get their music out there.
Chris, a seventeen-year-old from Indiana has taken full advantage of this opportunity. He is sitting at thirty-two thousand followers on Tik Tok, his main source of interacting with fans and releasing information on his music. In just over a year he has released three full-length projects and been given countless production credits for other artists, but he has not always been so determined when it comes to music. His stage name is “Scubadiver”, a name he made as a joke, stating “Yeah, I had some SoundCloud stuff which is now gone that was really dumb and more like meme stuff because I wasn’t too confident”, elaborating further by saying, “It fit the music in the way of it was really dumb and stuff but the beats got better over time and all that.” He has come a long way from his SoundCloud days, establishing himself as one of the best up-and-coming producers. He is currently sitting at forty-thousand monthly listeners on Spotify with two tracks with over one-hundred thousand plays, those being “Me and My Synths” and the track that kickstarted his career, “NO OATH!”, two songs exhibiting his talent on the production side of his music.
Recently, Chris has been teasing a new album on his social media. This will be his fourth album after releasing his first in December of 2020 and only eight months after his latest project. Godspeed To releases on April first of this year and this is easily his most anticipated release. When Stealing Traffic Cones was released in July of 2021 he had just under twenty thousand monthly listeners, this has since doubled. I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Chris to get more information on the new album and Scubadiver in general.
I had messaged and talked to Chris on multiple occasions prior to the interview, so I did not feel too uncomfortable asking for this opportunity. I started by asking simple questions about himself, kicking things off simply by asking him to give a quick description of what he does, which he simply replied to by saying “I make some cool music.” I furthered the conversation by asking what influenced his taste in music the most. After pausing for a moment he responded by stating, “Probably media – most of my favorite albums, like Igor or stuff by Peggy, were usually given from a certain video or something like that.” I would personally agree with him here, and I’m sure many others would as well, my music taste has been forever altered by the media. This could be from hearing a quick snippet of a song on Tik Tok or having it recommended to me on Youtube. One thing I was very curious about was how his music career had affected his life at school, seeing that he is still in high school at this age. He details, “I usually have conversations sometimes about music and I can recommend stuff and all that which is cool but not much other than that”, a surprising answer to me, as it’s not every day that your classmate is becoming a successful musician while in school. I then stopped to ask a question about his previous projects, noting that each of them had different tones and sounds while still having the unique Scubadiver style. He agreed, saying “I think over time I’ve decided I love to experiment but there are certain ‘scuba-isms’. Like pitched vox and chords and stuff, I have noticed kinda stayed through the albums but mostly it’s me just experimenting with all the knowledge I have from the past.” This response makes a lot of sense when looking at each album chronologically. Each album has certain similarities within the production as the one preceding it while adding more flare to the sound. I built off this question, asking if another tonal shift was incoming with the upcoming Godspeed To, to which he replied, “Godspeed has my biggest shift so far, I think it’s like the polar opposite of Stealing Traffic Cones.”, surely something to look forward to. Now, it would not be a true interview of a young, up-and-coming artist without asking the age-old question of what sets them apart from the rest of the crowd. Yet, Chris did not give the traditional “I spit harder than anyone in the game” or “my beats blow all the others out of the water”, he simply answered with, “I think I have more heart and more attention to detail and also don’t give in or up at all. I know some people have better bars and beats and all that but I have the ability to say what I want to do and then do it perfectly to my vision.” There is certainly a lot you can say about Chris and the music he makes, but one thing you cannot claim is that he is not doing what he wants; that could not be further from the truth. That is part of what makes him so unique, his unrelenting sense of self-pride in what he makes and the creative vision he has been blessed with. He then goes on to say, “Plus I’m more about art rather than the hit single. If someone wants me to sell out, I’m not. I don’t know if that sets me apart, but yeah.” Chris has the ability to make any kind of music, so it speaks volumes that he has not tried to give in and just make something that will make him money, a cop-out. He is purely in it to show off his creative ideas and make what he himself enjoys, something that truly does set him apart from the direction the music industry has been traveling.
One thing I find especially interesting with Chris’s music is how much he collaborates with other artists. As established, he does not have a very large fanbase, but he has managed to make several connections in the underground music scene. His last project alone had five features, not to mention how much production work he does for other artists. I asked Chris how he gets features from artists at such an early stage in his career, to which he explained, “For Stealing Traffic Cones I was coming off a high since Apple Cider Ranch blew up a bit, so I had a lot of features at my disposal. I usually hit people up if they fit the song or I can hear them popping off on it.” Tik Tok had greatly helped get his name out to audiences, but also other artists, opening many doors for him. It does not look as though features will be abundant on the upcoming project, however, as he mentioned that he does not “try to over-feature my albums, though. I don’t think albums like Donda are in my future because I like doing stuff my way as well, you know?” Features may take away from his full creative vision, something very important to Chris, like most artists. While he is better known for his abilities on the production side of his music, he raps over his beats as well. This is something he is very adamant about continuing with and improving, as many have criticized his abilities on the mic. Seeing that he is passionate about both aspects of his music, I asked him what he preferred more when it came to working with other artists, to which he quickly answered “Producing for sure because I can have more freedom and also it’s like I’m making the base for the whole song. It’s always fun to see their reaction to the beats too because I try my hardest on those beats and make some bangers. I rarely do features, but production I do all the time.” When taking into account that he has a separate alias as Oskar Tate where he has multiple compilations of instrumental beats, this answer becomes quite clear. Not to mention that he has just two credited features on Spotify. Out of curiosity, I asked if there was any artist he could collaborate with who it would be. He replied to this with multiple ideas, explaining, “I’d love to collaborate with Kid Cudi or Travis Scott. I feel like if I produced an album for Travis or Freddie Gibbs I could do something iconic.” The meshing of sounds that a Scubadiver, Kid Cudi collaboration has piqued my interest lately, as well as the other two artists. Each of those artists has proved time and time again that they are as dynamic as they come, so to see them take on the task of the production of Scubadiver would be quite fascinating.
I then transitioned into asking about the upcoming album, Godspeed To, a project he is extremely excited to get out into the hands of the public. I initially asked how he would describe the tone of this album, to which he detailed, “I think it’s my darkest and most uncanny album in terms of tone. I definitely think it’s my best. I experimented with tone and atmosphere a lot and it sounds amazing.” Chris is very confident in this record, which is very promising. You never want to hear any hesitation in an artist when talking about their pieces of work, and Chris does not in the slightest. He even allowed some of his friends to hear the album ahead of the release, to which they described the music as, “kinda like a scary video game, but you know you’re safe”, so take that as you will. I then asked him what he thinks he has shown the most improvement in since his last record, to which he responded “Vocals and production are both my best but overall I think my vocals and overall mixing have improved a lot” specifying that the mixing was all done by himself. This is what I think the next step with his music is, making the sounds work together more cohesively, similarly to the step between Goblin and Wolf with Tyler, the Creator’s music. In the time between Stealing Traffic Cones and Godspeed To Chris released four singles, so out of curiosity, I asked if any of these can be seen on the upcoming album. He said they will not be making an appearance on the album, as they “are very different from how the album is tonally” detailing that he wants “everyone to go in blind.” Trying to pick at his brain I asked in what ways this album could change the scene and leave a lasting impact, responding by saying he thinks “this is one of those albums that will make people experiment more” and interestingly specifying “If anything I hope people will use aesthetics and atmosphere more in the future” a way of looking at music I do not take into account often. This is definitely something to keep in mind during the first listens of the album. Continuing, I questioned how he hopes to bring in fresh ears, which he fascinatingly answered by saying, “To be honest, I’m not. I know the project is good enough to draw people if they want to hear it” specifying that “None of these songs are ‘playlist bait’.” He goes on to describe the songs as “full art” saying he does not compensate and that “Hopefully people respect that and it attracts some new people. If people like art I’m here.”
I ended the interview by simply asking what his aspirations are, what he hopes to achieve by the end of this. His answer was surprisingly compelling and respectable, stating, “Honestly I want people to look back at my discography and be like, ‘yeah, that was a fucking trip’. I just love the idea of releasing an album a year showing where I’m at and then when I die all that art is out there forever. If some kid finds my whole discography of like 45+ albums when I’m long dead and they bump it like people do today and it inspires them then that’s awesome.” When you hear things like this from a kid who is still so early into his career, you cannot help but to root for him. For a seventeen-year-old who has been given the attention that he has, it is impressive how maturely he has used it. In all, I wish Chris nothing but the best in the future, and after this interview, I truly think he will be able to do that for himself. Using Tik Tok to his advantage, he has been able to establish himself as a respected rapper-producer in the underground at just seventeen years old. Godspeed To releases on April first of this year and I ask that you please give this album a chance, not to get this guy more listeners but for more listeners to experience something new and refreshing. Chris is a great guy with an incredible work ethic, so get used to the name Scubadiver, as it will be around for a while.
Special thanks to Chris for making this all possible. Check him out using the links down below