With the stage name of Chris Daniels, a Southwest Florida hip-hop artist is hoping his music will get people to stop living in fear and get out and follow their passion.
Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, Daniels moved to Southwest Florida to attend Florida Gulf Coast University in 2011 and decided to stay. He writes about his experiences and the things he deals with in day-to-day life, which makes his music special — and relatable.
"Everything that I’ve gone through I’ve started to look at it through this lens that it’s not just me," Daniels said. "We all go through these things, so I write through my voice knowing that my voice is probably shared by many."
The artistic voice of Chris Daniels is an alter ego of sorts. The artist’s given name is Daniel Christian Stallings.
"I was just telling somebody that Chris Daniels is everything Daniel really wanted to be and say, only he just couldn’t get away with in real life," Daniels said. "Chris Daniels is going to challenge you. He’s going to be wild. I felt like I was always ready to be wild. I couldn’t be wild in class. I couldn’t be wild in school. I couldn’t challenge the people around me because they weren’t ready to be challenged, but I feel like Chris Daniels is all of those things on 1000 — just to the fullest."
Though he didn’t get involved with the Southwest Florida hip-hop scene until 2017, Daniels didn’t waste time finding his place. He believes the local talent has the potential to make its mark on the industry, but it will take everyone doing their part.
"I think that, right now, everybody is trying to get a real idea of what is happening locally," Daniels said. "And, it’s on the artists to not just be beholden to Southwest Florida, but to know that this is the home base, but they have to find a way to bridge outside of that and get the traffic going online as well. It’s, like, a mix. Artists can do more because they are very talented, and the city is still trying to prepare itself to be able to support those artists."
Daniels says the region is still much like a baby.
"Everybody wants this city to blow, but nobody wants to be the one to compromise on what they feel like they should give up or who’s 'the man,'" Daniels said. "You have to work through those things, but a lot of love is happening right now. And, a lot of people are not used to seeing that. We just have to keep going and keep making more and more events and connecting all of these cities together. It takes people dropping their egos, and I think that people are starting to do that and realize there’s something bigger here for everybody."
Daniels already released two EPs this year and is now working on F.E.A.R. It’s his latest concept project, which he says will demonstrate to his fans just how seriously he takes his craft.
Despite having done music since he was in middle school, he says that he still gets extremely insecure about his art.
"You have no idea how many hours I stayed up and just said, 'Nah, this is not good enough,' or I rewrote this; or I didn’t want to release this; and I recorded 50 songs and I kept them on my hard drive because I felt like none of them were ready," Daniels said. "I felt like I was trying to perfect something. It’s just the weirdest job in the world because it’s not like a normal job where you just want your boss to like you. Your job is to make everybody like you because every one person that likes you is one more listen. You just need the world to love you.”
Overcoming that insecurity is a work in process, he says, and it’s a different challenge for everyone. In the same way he hopes his music relates to everyone, he wants his openness about the artistic experience to encourage people to not allow fear to paralyze them.
"If you’ve been saying you’re going to do a thing or you believe that you can do a thing, and you might say 'I’m too old now' or 'I don’t have enough experience,' your job right now, today, is to just wake up and create a plan and just go out in the world and just do it," Daniels said. "You will lock yourself in a cage of your own emotions and doubts and fears if you don’t go out there and prove it. I just think that everybody is capable of it. We just limit ourselves. The world’s not limiting you. You’re limiting you. Remember that."