To achieve greatness, more often than not, it takes leaving behind the things one is used to. From Crishawn Washington, AKA Clas A. Poet, it took leaving behind everything he stood for as a child to evolve into the man and artist he is today. Strongly ingrained into the Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, he shut out everything that was considered worldly and lived in a shell. He barely knew the gifts he had embedded in him, and it would take years before he got on the music path, which he is known for today.
He did not exactly have a smooth upbringing, but his early exposure to music was his mother’s influence. Being the only child for the first 15 years of his life gave him a strong bond with his mother as they both listened to a lot of old-school music. At an early age, Crishawn was listening to The Temptations, The Jackson 5 and Michael Jackson. He also watched shows like “I Love Lucy” and “Livin Color” with his mother. Religious beliefs hindered him from fully exploring what was tagged “worldly music,” thus, he found himself getting isolated from other people, especially his peers.
When he was 12, his mother got evicted from their home and moved back in with his grandmother. His grandmother was a big fan of rap, and all the time in his car, he was always listening to rap music. At the time, Lil Wayne was the rave of the moment, and a girl that Crishawn liked had a crush on Lil Wayne. This drew him closer to rap, and it was around the time Drake began to dominate the airwaves. Crishawn saw a lot of similarities between him and Drake, and he instantly became a big fan.
When he was 13, he got closer to the radio to get over all the bullying he experienced in school, and music was his perfect escape from the world. He began to write music and became more immersed in wordplays and metaphors. Artists like Lil Wayne, Jay Z, and Kanye West had grown on him, and they had a significant impact on him and his music. Other artists that influenced Clas A. Poet include Eminem, Royce Da 5’9’s, Kendrick Lamar, Slaughterhouse, Schoolboy Q, ASAP Rocky, ASAP Ferg, Vince Staples, Tyler the Creator, and many others.
In high-school, Clas A. Poet began to perform at cafeteria cyphers, and he would always shut it down with his lyrics and wordplay. The crowd always went crazy every time he performed, and this motivated him to start a rap movement called RAP Society, with RAP being an acronym for “Respected as Poets.”
Clas A. Poet sees himself first as a poet before a rapper because he is more about the words and lyrics than the melody of music itself. He is passionate about the culture and wants to see everyone with a dream achieve their dreams. In his words, “I speak for the underdogs and unfortunate. I speak to those who seek empowerment and have dreams. I speak to the poor. I speak to the youth who don’t know what they’re capable of being. I speak to black America and instill back a certain type of pride we once had as people, and then I speak to America in hopes they can consider points of view that are not theirs.
Clas A is passionate about uniting people with real music while showing the world that music can be a cacophony of emotions without embodying only partying, violent or gangster themes. “I’m tired of seeing young black men emasculated themselves on TV and social media for a “bag.” We can be “gangsta” but educated. We can hustle with integrity,” he says. His goal in five years is to grow his brand and be a good example for his daughters and other young people. He wants to understand that giving up is not an option, and every day is an opportunity to put in work and take stock of their blessings.
Learn more about Clas A. Poet on his official Instagram page.