Free the Optimus
After achieving his high school dream of walking onto the team
at a major college football powerhouse — Virginia Tech — Chris Shreve felt like there was something
missing in his life.
An athlete with a creative streak, Shreve yearned for the fulfilling, yet fleeting moments of creating art that he enjoyed as a youngster.
“I thought I missed out on a lot of the arts and writing from when I was younger,” he said. “I felt I needed to update that part of my life.”
As he has always been fascinated with writing structure, particularly lyrics, Shreve began the ever torturous and rarely rewarding task of becoming a writer.
He soon developed a rhyme and a few catchy jabs and slowly began grooming himself as writer.
“Ten years deeper, I feel more comfortable with how to express myself through the artistic process,” Shreve said.
Originally, Shreve wanted to hone his skills as a freestyle rapper, eventually forming a duet or larger ensemble.
“As time goes on, you may write a good verse, then a few good songs, maybe an EP, and eventually you have enough material for a live show,” Shreve said.
With his material slowly maturing, Shreve began to envision a larger collaboration of artists and a support network than transcended scrawling lines on notebook paper and assembling demo tapes.
He looked at the feats accomplished by the renowned hip-hop group, Wu-Tang Clan.
“They had this marketing scheme in the early ’90s that said, ‘We are a group, and we have more power (as a group) because we support each other,’” Shreve said. “They actually signed one of the more creative and lucrative record deals in history. Part of that stipulation was they were all free to do their own thing.”
Outside of traditional marketing and promotion of his artistic side project, Shreve also had the unnerving task of developing a real rapper name to boost his street credentials.
His day job of teaching in the health and leisure department at Appalachian State University seemed to mesh well with the “Professor” persona he’d assumed in his rap career. The recent appearance of a white point guard on the And 1 Mix Tape tour — a traveling showcase that featured some of the nation’s top street basketball players — who went by the very same moniker solidified Shreve’s stage name — C. Shreve the Professor.
After connecting with who would be co-founding members, including Brett “The Last Boss” Zimmerman, Shreve and his cohorts began to market and promote their new rap creation, “Free the Optimus.”
Coming from a reference to Optimus Prime of the popular “Transformers” television and film series, the name is also a challenge to anyone who listens to the group’s work.
“It encourages the listener to bring out their best and be positive,” Shreve said. “While growing up, we are all very optimistic, but we become kind of jaded and harder to be optimistic, so that’s part of the reference.”
Shreve and Free the Optimus will look to transform Boone Saloon on Thursday, Nov. 21. All shows after 10 p.m. are for those 21 and older. Cover costs $5. Boone Saloon is located at 489 W. King St. in downtown Boone.
For more information on Free the Optimus, visit http://www.ftolife.com.