Christopher Shreve is a senior professor at Appalachian State University, teaching classes such as Chronic and Infectious Diseases and Communications in Public Health. But when classes end, C.Shreve The Professor takes the stage.
Shreve’s passion for teaching is nearly matched by a passion that most wouldn’t expect from a health sciences professor: hip hop.
“After college, I remember thinking I wanted to do something physical since I wasn’t playing sports anymore, so I decided to learn how to rap one day,” Shreve said. “Once I got it, I started writing my own songs, and from there I’ve kind of waded in, and I’ve trusted it.”
Inspired by the hip hop revolutionists of the ‘80s, such as the legendary TuPac, Shreve says that hip hop ebbed in and out of his life — until it stuck.
Shreve’s first album was released in 2014, and he’s performed with artists such as Topaz Jones, Lupe Fiasco, DJ Enuff and Three 6 Mafia, at events across the country.
As for students’ reactions, Shreve says that classes typically have smiles and wide eyes when they first find out.
“It’s kind of the novelty of seeing a professor do something that’s not really typical,” said Shreve, adding that teaching and performing aren’t really that different.
“You have to keep it entertaining, or you’ll lose them. Especially during transitions from one lesson to the next or one song to another,” Shreve said. “I like to have all kinds of tricks up my sleeve in case there’s not a reaction from the audience.”
Shreve is also the founder of Free the Optimus, an Asheville-based collective that’s all about “artists supporting one another and having each other’s backs,” said Shreve, adding that the name is a bit of a triple entendre for creating a better world.
The name acknowledges the freedom that comes with seeing the world from a positive perspective and trying your best, while also being a call to action for those who are stuck with a glass-half-empty perspective.
While Free the Optimus began as a way for Shreve to brand his music without using his name, today it unites musicians from across the U.S. that are a part of the collective.
“We’re a collective instead of a group or a band because we’re not always performing together,” said Shreve. “Sometimes we might open a show for each other or play together, but for the most part, we’re separate acts.”
To date, he’s released 15 albums of rap music that are available on most music platforms under his rapper name, C.Shreve The Professor, with the 16th dropping on Nov. 13. The new album is titled “Grown,” and the day following its release, C.Shreve and Jarv of Jarv Makes Music will kick off the “You Don’t Look Like Rappers” tour Boone. The tour makes five stops in N.C., two in Virginia and one in Washington, D.C.
See the Nightlife section page 24 for details.
To keep up with C.Shreve, visit his website at shreveraps.com, which has links to his social media and music platforms.