We are experiencing a remarkable era. It’s rare an artist collectively dominates individually while also as a group. A feat like this is reminiscent of J.Cole’s, Dreamville or the days when Odd Future and A$AP Mob were at their peak, releasing music from both perspectives. The group dynamics they displayed and the excellent music made them tandems to be reckoned with—enter the Crxssroads Music (CXR) family.
The trio, made up of Chris Patrick, Dende, and Erykah Officer, have been earning their respect as solo artists. Chris Patrick is a commanding lyricist whose wordplay leaves audiences speechless. Dende is a prominent storyteller. His ability to paint visual pictures in his music separates him. Lastly, Erykah Officer has one of the most alluring and powerful voices in music. Versatility can be used to characterize the collective as a whole. This characteristic is one of many that has allowed them to remain distinct.
Over the years, listeners have been teased with collaborative records from each, appearing on one another’s projects and having feature spots together. Coming off festival appearances, a sizeable array of features, and headline tours, what better time than now to release the first group EP, Before the Summer’s Over.
Fitting with the theme of being “outside,” Before the Summer’s Over is filled with substance, a beautiful narrative of Summer Love is fully conveyed. The EP emphasizes the group’s effortless chemistry. There’s a multitude of moments over the span of 15 minutes where each artist shines and displays star qualities to capture the overall essence of a breathtaking occasion.
An immediate reaction to the EP is the desire to dance with someone. A variety of colorful arrangements and heart-dropping instrumentation engulfs you. The elements of hip-hop and R&B are fused very well together to have this on replay all day. A formidable group on the rise, Before the Summer’s Over is a soaring statement heard clearly.
I was able to sit down and discuss with all three members the EP along with many more topics. Witnessing them interact, you understand why they preach CXR is a family. Their primary objective is to guarantee that the music they consistently put out remains top-notch, and it appears they are successfully achieving exactly that.
“CXR has always been about unity and pouring into each other.”— Chris Patrick
Cherry: I’m here with the great CXR team led by Erykah Officer, Dende, and Chris Patrick. How is everyone’s mental health leading into your first collaborative project?
Erykah: As an artist, you’re going to have your challenges but working with Chris and Dende helped me a lot. When I heard about doing the project, I was excited to be a part of it.
Chris: I’m pretty good too. Every day for an artist is different. We go through waves of emotions, but it’s what we’re used to.
Dende: We’ve got some nice vibes on the EP. Outside of the music, I’m good too. Shoutout to therapy.
Cherry: Since everyone’s in different locations, what do the next few days look like leading into the EP?
Erykah: Even if it’s not our release, we normally group call to check in with each other. Celebrating from different places but still as a unit.
Chris: I’m probably going to call them when it drops. Personally, I’m really excited because I haven’t dropped music in a while besides features. Next one [CXR project], we’ll hopefully be together.
Dende: I’ll say the same. I’m about to go to LA this week, so we have to turn up individually.
Cherry: Everyone brings something unique to the table. Seeing each other’s successes this far, how does that motivate you all?
Erykah: When they win, I win too. They’re my family, and we all look out for each other.
Chris: A lot of the things we do are in-house. It’s so we know the infrastructure of what we’re building is in order. A win for someone is really a win for everybody here.
Dende: We piggyback off each other’s qualities. It allows the next person to catapult into doing something greater. Being able to go on Chris’ tour helped me get ready for my own. I love seeing them get the recognition they deserve, and I know they feel the same about me.
Cherry: Do you remember your first interaction as a collective?
Erykah: LA was the first time I met the entire CXR team. They rented a beautiful house. Everybody in CXR pulled up, and I loved that I was able to take in all the love and different personalities in one sweep.
Chris: CXR started back in 2017. It was me, Mizz, and my cousin, in his basement. Me and Dende met in D.C. to shoot with Paris Price for “Killing Me Slowly.”
“We wanted to put something fun together while also dropping great songs.”— Dende
Cherry: Who’re the introverts and extroverts?
Erykah: They’ll say I’m an extrovert, but it’s not true! They’re both extroverted, but I’ve seen them in their introverted spaces as well, so it depends on the environment for all of us.
Chris: I’m a homebody too, but as an artist, I think what we do so well is being able to switch between what we do.
Dende: I know how to maneuver being outside, but if I’m depleted, I’m not going to try to keep up.
Cherry: Let’s talk briefly about Billy Blunt and the role he plays for CXR.
Erykah: He’s amazing and super humble. Billy is one of the best producers I’ve met, so I’m honored to have him a part of my EP. I trust him.
Chris: When you go to Raising Canes and get that special sauce…that’s Billy. He’s the secret sauce. I’ve watched and learned a lot from him. He’s leaving an incredible impact on artists like ourselves and helping take sounds to the next level.
Dende: I met him through Eimaral Sol at a session we were at. Billy is my friend and main producer now. When I came to CXR, I said he had to be here too. I’m very confident, but I’m a control freak with my music. Billy is the first person I trusted to elevate my stuff. He’s an integral part of us.
Cherry: How did CXR come up with the creative direction for the EP?
Erykah: Mizz was the mastermind behind putting the Summer jams in order.
Chris: I have to give a lot of credit to Mizz for putting the entire project together. He’s the unspoken man coming up with a lot of these ideas. That’s his hand on the cover art.
Dende: A major shoutout goes to Mizz. My friend Manny is in the skit with me for one of the videos we posted.
Cherry: Who do you all take inspiration from in artistry? As a group & individually.
Erykah: I’ve been inspired by Mahalia and the way she did her rollout. She recently dropped an album, IRL, and I’ve been reflecting on her being as personable as she was.
Chris: As of recently, I’ve been taking inspiration from Drake. The way he’s able to deliver great songs without alienating anyone. From a group standpoint, we’re the Power Rangers. The way we put this project together was amazing.
Dende: Specifically for diving deep into rollouts and immersing people into another world, I’ll say Tyler, the Creator, and The Weeknd are who we got inspiration from.
“It’s going to be very hard not to dance when listening to this EP.”— Erykah Officer
Cherry: What’s everyone’s favorite city to perform in?
Chris: I’ll say Atlanta. I have a lot of great memories there, and they always show love when we’re there. Chicago is another favorite too.
Erykah: Definitely New York and Atlanta for me.
Dende: I love Atlanta and Houston. They always show out.
Cherry: What do you want CXR’s legacy to be when it’s all said and done?
Dende: I want us to always be known for making really good songs. We’re always putting out really good music, and that’s what it should come down to.
Erykah: I think our unity is special. The foundation we have is super strong, so knowing I have a team that I trust is important.
Chris: I want CXR to be the next big thing. The way they talk about Dreamville, Odd Future, etc. The creativity, storytelling, and versatility are amazing. Everyone on the CXR team is dedicated, and the music is unmatched. I have no doubt in my mind about where we’re headed.