It’s either all or nothing for Christopher Pressley a.k.a. “C5.” It all began when he got his first studio equipment and began recording music all day with his friends at his father’s house which he used to call “pops’ trap.”
North Oakland, California is his hometown which inspired his stage name C5. C is for Christopher and 5 is short for the street he grew up in–59th street–which is often called “the 5” in the bay. “I started calling myself C5 and it just fit. Everyone started calling me 5 or C5–it’s my block name,” he said.
Now an Angeleno and recent college graduate, it wasn’t until he received his acceptance letter from Cal State University Dominguez Hills that changed his life completely. Before moving out to L.A., he was “deep, deep in the streets,” he said.
“I was selling crack, weed, etc. In 2011, I got arrested and did time in juvenile. [Then] I violated my probation and was supposed to go to jail for 6 months and that was around the time I was supposed to be going to college. The day before I went to turn myself in I got my acceptance letter from Dominguez,” he said.
He turned the letter in to his judge and was given the opportunity to attend college. “If she didn’t do that, I probably wouldn't have ended up here. I probably would've gone back to the streets,” he said.
Coming out to L.A. for school was also a challenge. Growing up in the streets he had the mentality of trusting no one which made it a bit difficult for him to start his life out here. Moments like this is when he turns to his music. “I love the music so much [because] it helped me put myself out there. I started passing out my mixtape, and now Dominguez knows me. All of my relationships are through my music,” he said.
C5 also became a mentor to middle school students in South Central L.A. “I've seen both sides of it and it gives me the upper hand when I’m trying to preach to my mentees that it’s not the life they want to get into,” he said. “I’ve been down that route and it makes the message more powerful for them to see me now from what I am. That’s what I talk about in my music: where I came from, where I am now and where I'm going.”
Aside from his music career, C5 also plans to start a non-profit music program for the youth in oppressed areas in the future. When he was on probation he was part of a similar program that not only taught him a lot about the music industry but also kept him out of the streets. He will soon recreate his pops’ trap to help kids stay out of the streets.
C5 strongly believes, from his past experience, that “anything is possible and it’s never too late to turn around.”
“I [used to] have epiphanies all the time on campus thinking “Damn, if only they knew what I came from?”
To listen to C5’s music and follow his journey, check out his social media.