Interview with Topher

Avoid the hype, focus on integrity and grow your own audience. Valuable advice from independent chart topping hip-hop artist Topher.

Christopher “Topher” Townsend is a billboard charting Hip-Hop Artist and political TikTok star. He was born and raised in Kilmichael, MS and started writing and performing music as early as ten years old. He credits his musical aptitude to his father, Willie "Little Willie Farmer" Farmer, who himself is a veteran blues artist and musician. Topher has performed all across the United States with his more notable appearances being Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival and Women for America First rally in Washington, D.C. He also participated in rap battles during his year at Mississippi State University before he enlisted into the United States Air Force.

Currently, he resides in Philadelphia, MS as a full-time content creator and artist. The goal of achieving financial sustainability from his passion has finally been realized. Topher hopes to hit the road in 2021 on a collaborative tour with Bryson Gray and Forgiato Blow. These two artists, along with Topher, have been dubbed the faces of conservative Hip-Hop, a counter-cultural movement to the current trends in mainstream music.

Tell us about your latest release, what's it about?

My latest release The Patriot has hit #1 on iTunes Hip-Hop charts and #10 for All Genres making it the biggest song of my career. The song features fellow veteran and emcees The Marine Rapper with vocals from singer/songwriter Nati Dreddd. The track was produced by Killavic Beats and engineered by 2probeats. This amazing accomplishment was attained while being an independent artist with zero paid promotion. 

Topher beehind the mic with two others in the desert

How did you record it?

I record all of my vocals in my home studio that I've slowly constructed throughout the years. My walls have acoustic foam panels placed strategically around the room to provide near pro-quality soundproofing. I use the Avantone CV-12 mic to record my vocals, the same style mic Taylor Swift used to record her projects Fearless and Speak Now. Since 2017, I've trusted Studio One 3 to run all of my studio sessions.

How did you distribute it?

I use Distrokid as my sole distributor. The platform is very affordable for upcoming artists and the customer service is top-notch. It makes the process of getting my music to all platforms seamless and easy.

How did you promote it? 

I built an audience of more than 800,000 followers across all my social media platforms in the last year alone. If you combine that with The Marine Rapper's audience of over 100,000 followers, you get a pretty sizeable reach without having to create a budget for promotion. I've also established relationships with bigger influencers that have contributed to the success of this release by sharing it with their audience as well.

Topher sitting on a rock stack against blue sky

The music industry is in a state of flux right now, where do you see it heading?

All and all, I see the music industry crying out for creativity, realness, and authenticity. Major labels have controlled the industry for a long time and have not budged at all with what they sell to listeners; sex, fame, and riches. I truly feel independent artists who have not been robbed of their freedom of expression will spearhead the change so many wish to see within the industry. I, myself, hope to be in that number.

What's the most important thing missing from Songwhip?  

I would like to be able to control the source of the links. For example, I have a lyric video for my latest release that I prefer traffic to visit over the automated YouTube link that Songwhip uses. 

Topher in blue jump suit and shades

Which artist do you look up to the most and why? 

Eminem was a big influence in my career early on so I aspired to do exactly what the fifty times platinum emcee did to sharpen his artistry. I practised free-styling as often as I could remember. I participated in rap battles during my time at Mississippi State University. Anything I could to make myself a more well-rounded artist, I did without hesitation. Eminem and I had similar upbringings so when I heard him express those times through his music, it resonated deep within me and moved me to want to do the same thing.

What artist tools/services can't you live without?  

I don't know if this would qualify as a tool but I religiously use Rhymezone to help when writing my songs. When I'm stuck on a rhyming scheme, it makes it easy to find words that not only rhyme but it gives me a list of multisyllabic rhymes for that sound as well.

What is your advice to other indie artists to help fund their work/produce music?

I suggest growing your audience first. Once you've developed a loyal following, they begin to carry most of the cost for you because they now have an invested interest in seeing you succeed. 

Topher in red beanie hat against brick wall

Anything else you'd like to plug?

Remember to keep God first in all you do and the blessings and favours will follow.

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