While local music insiders have been dissecting and debating the quirky viral fame of Spooky Black, another young, St. Paul-reared white dude that sings in a sultry R&B voice is generating more legitimate attention in the recording industry outside the state.
Chris Lawrence, age 25, has been signed by Pitbull’s label imprint Mr. 305 Ent., and he’s already generating a buzz with his tender heartbreak single “Withdrawal.” The song beat out Jesse McCartney’s new tune in the “Beat Battle” last week on nationally syndicated radio show “The Weekend Top 30,” which airs locally on KDWB. MTVhits, MTVu and VH1 have also aired the video (posted below), which includes a fun nod to Mobb Deep’s “Shook Ones.”
The single was produced by Kay Gee of Naughty by Nature, who also happened to produce tracks for the last big R&B act to break out of the Twin Cities, Next. Lawrence is currently finishing off his full-length album with Kay Gee, expected for release late 2014 or early 2015.
Lawrence’s co-manager, Tim Wilson (Urban Lights store owner and local scene vet), said. “If anyone deserves success it's this guy. He's been through a lot and has persevered.”
Among his past brushes with success: He has been through the “American Idol” rigmarole twice, making it to Hollywood in Season 10 but missing the cut. He also won a contest with controversial Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync manager Lou Pearlman that went nowhere.
Not just a studio musician waiting around for things to happen, Lawrence has been gigging like crazy around town, too -- just not in the kinds of places where buzz bands are usually found. He’s at Doc’s Landing in White Bear Lake tonight and the Doghouse in Maplewood on Thursday, plus he regularly performs at the various Cowboy Jack’s locations.