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A Crisis emerges

Not many 21-year-olds can lay claim to logging a dozen years in their chosen career field. While his L.A.-area peers played basketball or video games after school, a 9-year-old Christopher Maggiano and the few other budding rappers at his school ...

Not many 21-year-olds can lay claim to logging a dozen years in their chosen career field.

While his L.A.-area peers played basketball or video games after school, a 9-year-old Christopher Maggiano and the few other budding rappers at his school plugged away at their verses and delivery.

That hard work is paying off for Maggiano, now known as Crisis, who grew up in Oregon, Washington and Hawthorne, Calif. He landed a recording contract with Individual Records, an L.A. hip-hop label. His debut CD, "Catastrophe," premieres May 16. He's also appeared in videos for Snoop Dogg and Xzibit.

Contrasting Crisis's rhymes Friday will be Smitty, a reggae musician from the island of Trinidad. Smitty will showcase his soca reggae sound at the event.

Preparing for the Fargo show and his CD release, Crisis put down his mic and picked up the phone to talk about his career from his home in Los Angeles.

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What first inspired you to get into hip-hop?

I grew up listening to hip-hop. I wasn't like from a rich family or anything. I was into hip-hop and it kind of went along with my lifestyle. It talked about things I could relate to, things I was talking about.

I started with a crew when I was 9 or 10 years old. I did my first show at a fair in Oregon for 4,000 people there, and it kind of blew my mind. I figured I could really do this. It's a lot of hard work, but if you love the outcome it's worth it.

Do you prefer playing live or recording?

I like both, but performing is more a way of getting to exert all your emotions and all your stress on stage ... it's the best part of it.

Who are some of your influences?

I like Rakim, Naughty By Nature, Dr. Dre, Snoop (Dogg), he's a cool guy. We hung out and I freestyled for him.

Did Snoop give you any advice about the business?

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It's pretty much the same as anyone, he told me keep working, you've got good skills, maybe we can do stuff in the future.

Talk to me about your writing process.

It varies. It could be either from a certain track a producer gives me, and I'll listen and come up with something. Or I get an idea for a name of a song and go from there. I've got club songs, an MC battle song, a song called "My Life" that addresses social issues like living in poverty and struggling to get food on the table.

Is it difficult these days for a white guy to break into hip-hop?

Sometimes it is, but I haven't had a hard time dealing with the people I've been dealing with. When people hear I'm a white rapper they expect me to mimic or mock Eminem's style. I'm totally different from him. We come from different places and have different points of view. For the most part I'm accepted.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Andrea Berninger at (701) 241-5533

If you go

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What: 2002's Best Hip-Hop and Reggae Event featuring Crisis and Smitty

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Playmakers Pavilion, Fargo

Cost: $15. All-ages event. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster outlets, on the Web ( www.ticketmaster.com ) or by phone at (701) 235-7171.

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