Born and raised in Pine Bluff, AR, Christopher K.P. Brown entered his first poetry contest as a freshmen in high school after winning a Martin Luther King, Jr. essay contest and $50. His teacher asked him to enter both contests.

“I’d never written any poetry before, hadn’t been exposed to that much poetry,” he says. “I entered the contest, wrote a poem called Teenage, Not Danger, and it won first place. That was my first poetry contest, and [I’ve] been writing since then.”

When he was around 16, Brown compiled 100 of his poems in a book and ended up selling around 200 copies. Making money from poetry and writing caused him to take his craft even more seriously.

Although he attended Mercer University in Macon, GA, he really didn’t want to go. He knew he wanted to do poetry full-time since he was 14.
“My only reason for going to college was so that I could leave Arkansas. I left [there and] went to college primarily to get to an open mic scene,” Brown says.
After his first semester, he did consider dropping out. But he released a CD his freshmen year and ended up selling around 150 copies in just a couple of months. The feedback he received from his fellow students made him want to stay.

“The people at school supported my poetry at that time,” he says. “Because I was away from home, I didn’t know that many people so the fact that people embraced the poetry and bought it was one of the things that actually kept me at Mercer.”

Brown wrote poetry and participated in open mics throughout college. And in 2003, he and his brother created 2 Pens & Lint so friends and family could get any work he released. The Company is now an LLC with the primary goal of printing chap books for other poets and selling and promoting them through the website.

The first Straight No Chaser Mixtape was created in 2008 after the 2007 killing of 23-year-old Sean Bell in New York.

“I took that personally, being a young, black male; I felt like it needed to be addressed,” Brown says. “It was 2008, and people wanted to talk about change, how far we’ve come, but any day you could get killed, and nobody would get punished for it.”

“Because it impacted me, it impacted my poetry, too….Straight, No Chaser is just really raw poetry. It’s not holding anything back. I felt like that was the only way you could really respond to something like Sean Bell’s killing– to be completely truthful, raw, say what you need to say no matter what because we’re being killed no matter what, so it’s like an equal response.”

The name Straight, No Chaser was inspired by one of his favorite artists, Thelonious Monk, who had a song with the same moniker. He also gave it the name because he says the poet has to be completely truthful.
Brown began working on the album after Haiti’s earthquake, and it addresses issues he feels needs to dealt with. One reason Brown put a second Straight, No Chaser out because of things going on after President Obama was elected.

“Everybody was like, ‘Ok, we’re really moving in the right direction.’ People were talking about the dream of Martin Luther King Jr. being accomplished. It was like, ‘No, these things are still happening…,” he says. “Yes, we have a black president, and I’m glad we do, but at the same time, we can’t sleep, we can’t act like America is completely changed, that it’s a utopia now.”

The album has 10 tracks which covers a few different subjects. One piece, New Day Nefertiti, concerns purchasing, respecting and preserving the black arts culture. The album also features several hip-hop beats and most were chosen for a specific reason.

Because Brown listens to a lot of hip-hop, choosing the songs basically came down to beats that match the speed of the poem. For example, New Day Nefertiti is about Brown actually buying Erykah Badu’s latest album as opposed to burning it.

“I knew with that poem, since it was about Erykah Badu, I wanted to use [one of her] beats,” he says. “I ended up using Danger from Worldwide Underground.”

“Most of the other beats were just [from] artists that I like. You have a Common beat on there, one Wu-Tang beat, two Outkast beasts, one Nas. So the artists that I respect, those are the beats I use.”

When it comes to Straight No Chaser Volume 2, Brown really just wants people to enjoy it.

“I want them to enjoy the CD, play it, and put it into their normal rotation of music just like they would play any other CD. Secondly, I just want them to take the individual messages of each song…take it in and try to use it in their life somehow…I want them to at least think about the subjects that I’m talking about, really, critically think about [them] and try to apply that to what they see in society.”

When it comes to the social change 2 Pens & Lint makes, Brown says he ultimately wants to build an institution inside the community than can depend on them.

“If you don’t have the institution, if you don’t have any kind of organization then we can’t get anything done, we can’t make these other small changes that need to me made,” he says. “Yeah, we have a president that’s making changes, but we also have to have people in the community…that’s organized and can take action, also. That’s my thing– being community-oriented and being organized enough where we can move and make these small changes that still need to be made.”

If you’re a poet interested in publishing a book or just want more info, visit the 2 Pens & Lint website.

Download Straight No Chaser, Volume 2 for FREE:

Edited by Paul Ayo
Written by Jamie Fleming (