Columbia rapper makes his mark

By WilliamPrentiss

The best rappers back up their swagger with verbal feats over master beats. Fresh-faced Columbia freshman Chris Engh demonstrated that concept when he outshined eight other rappers at Columbia Urban Music Association’s Rock the Mic contest in December. The Chronicle talked to the victor to find out what he’s been up to since beating the competition.

The Chronicle: How did you get involved with Rock the Mic?

Chris Engh: I came to Columbia wanting to rap and the Columbia Urban Music Association puts on shows that have to do with rap. They invited me to do this contest and the winner gets a bunch of stuff, and I ended up winning … I rocked the crowd.

The Chronicle: Did you feel like you were going to win before the contest?

CE: Of course. As rappers, we have to be confident and cocky and assholes; so I was like, ‘Of course I’m going to win this shit.’

The Chronicle: What has happened since the concert?

CE: I talked to a guy that wanted to put me in a slot at a show at Macy’s on New Year’s Eve. It was like a private party at the top of Macy’s. I got the gig, and the day of, [the show] got canceled because too many people bought tickets and security shut it down. I don’t know. It was one of those things where I’ll never really know what happened.

The Chronicle: Have you performed any concerts before this?

CE: Yeah, I used to put on shows here in Minneapolis at bars and I had a little fan base here of people from my high school and other high schools. Mostly I’ve just been doing open mics in Chicago so far, but I think I’m going to organize a show here pretty soon.

The Chronicle: You’re a freshman?

CE: Yep, I’m a freshman. It’s funny I may sound like I’m 26, but I look like I’m about 16. People always are like, ‘Are you really at Columbia?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m definitely in college now.’

The Chronicle: Does it help you perform?

CE: It’s actually an extreme advantage because people look at me and they’re like, ‘That kid is probably not going to be very confident at all.’ Since it’s the thing I’ve been doing my whole life, it’s really the only thing I have a lot of confidence in, and I exert all of my confidence into that, so when I get on stage I make a good first impression.

The Chronicle: You have many artists featured on your album. What was it like working with Del the Funky Homosapien?

CE: Working with Del was a dream come true. It was like an obsessed rap nerd’s dream. I love Del the Funky Homosapien, and I loved him so much I figured out how to get into contact with him online and talked with him for awhile. It wasn’t even a thing where I was trying to get him on a track. It was like I was talking to him to try and see what it was like to be Del the Funky Homosapien. He told me about his love troubles, and eventually I showed him my music and asked how much he would charge for a verse. He said he’d do it for free.

The Chronicle: You landed Del the Funky Homosapien, so if you could get anyone else on one of your songs, who would it be and why?

CE: Snoop Dogg or Nate Dogg. Snoop Dogg is the coolest man that ever walked the earth. Snoop Dogg is like the world’s hero. If anyone has got it figured out, the way you should live life, I think Snoop Dogg is definitely the guy. He’s probably not the smartest person in the world, but he’s definitely awesome.

For more information and samples of his music, check out Cay-Riss at