Producer and singer-songwriter Christopher “Prince Chrishan” Dotson was born with music pumping through his veins.
Introduction To Music
His father, Chris Dotson, led a group called The Dotsons that introduced the world to Lyfe Jennings. When the group came to a halt, the family moved to Minneapolis, MN, which is where Chrishan was introduced to a recording studio and various musical equipment.
“I was able to learn how to produce and then learn how to write songs and kind of build my music repertoire,” Chrishan told AfroTech in an interview.
Over time, it became clear that a music career was the obvious choice for him. Sometimes he would ask his father questions about production, then replicate the instructions at the end of his father’s workday, affirming what he was meant to do.
“I got something here, so, I decided to stick with it,” Chrishan told us.
Navigating Music Industry
From there, he was determined to find his footing in the music industry. Back then, creating connections was not as easy since the internet wasn’t nearly as popular. Fortunately, Chrishan interacted on a website geared toward producers looking to trade top secrets in the industry and later met Eric Bellinger and The Jackie Boyz.
“These are people who went on to do really big things in their own regard and that was like my first step into that door,” Chrishan explained.
To master his craft, he participated in a writer’s room and also founded the label Right Now Sound in 2012. This paved the way for working with artists like Chris Brown on tracks such as “Grass Ain’t Greener,” “Party,” and more.
Making Hit Records
It wasn’t until working on “2AM.” for Adrian Marcel that Chrishan scored his first commercially successful hit.
“When I did that, [it] solidified a ground for me to build on and lay the foundation,” he said.
While the catchy pop song provided a breakthrough for Chrishan, it also unmasked the harsh reality of the music industry, which is that life doesn’t always mirror the same success as the charts.
He received a $7,000 advance from “2AM.” However, it took months for the funds to arrive. When they did, it wasn’t enough for a down payment on a place to live. His alternative was to buy an old Volkswagen and live in the car in which he heard the record dominate the radio airwaves for six months.
“‘2AM’ was on the radio. It was like a top 10 record, and I was still sleeping in my car,” the producer expressed. “It was kind of a bizarre feeling to be in that space, but I had to keep the faith that it was all gonna work out.”
According to a Billboard report from 2015, the track featuring Sage the Gemini peaked at No. 29 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 13 on Hot R&B Songs.
“It’s definitely tough,” he mentioned. “It still is today, just the getting paid aspect of things. We don’t get paid like a regular job unless you move onto the executive side of things, you get a salary. But, when you’re a bubbling writer and producer and you’re doing all of this work, say it takes six months to get this record done, but the label won’t pay you for three months, six months. So, that’s like a year long process to get paid off of one thing and then you’re kind of expected to use that one thing, it’s like that money doesn’t really last long.”
Despite some pitfalls, consistency has been one of the most helpful tools for Chrishan’s rise in the industry. His formula for success in the industry boils down to 20% talent and 80% work ethic. Along with his accomplishments as a songwriter and producer, he was also one of the driving forces behind some of the biggest hits in Hip-Hop and R&B through his record label Makasound Records.
The joint venture, which was launched alongside Christian J. Ward, otherwise known as Hitmaka, has created records for Drake, French Montana, Tink, Ty Dolla $ign, Meek Mill, and Gucci Mane.
What’s more, the label boasts over 100 million singles sold and over 10 billion streams since 2016, based on information provided to AfroTech.
While the proof may be in the numbers, the ultimate goal is to develop the next generation of rising artists, songwriters, and producers.
“I also want to be able to reteach these gifts and pass these gifts down to people and create proxies and people around me that all have the equal amount of opportunity that I have now that I didn’t get when I was coming up,” Chrishan said.
“I don’t like to use the word ‘shortcut,’ but like if that’s what I can be to somebody, I want to be that,” he added. “I want to mold the next generation into being superstars, into being super talented people and shine a little light on the people that need light shined on them.”