Rapper Krisy Erin Morrison’s rising success

“I was trying to be a legit rapper,” the beauty recalls. “Then my best friend said, ‘Why don’t you just be yourself?’”

This time last year, Krisy Erin Morrison was “slaving her ass off” in the orchards of Te Puke. Fast-forward 12 months and the 21-year old rapper from Rotorua has just played a triumphant set at the East Coast Vibes festival in Gisborne.

In the crowd danced hundreds of her loyal fans, named Krihpers (pronounced Creepers) after her nickname “Krih”.

To date, Krisy has 59,000 Facebook fans and 14,000 Instagram followers.

“I came up with the name Krihpers at the beginning of last year as a way of uniting my fans,” she explains. “Now I get messages saying, ‘I saw someone wearing one of your Krihper T-shirts and said hi.’ I love that they are connecting.

“My fans range from 13-year-olds to 50-something mummies with tummies. I’m big on self-love and positive body image.”

Recording as Krisy Erin the Rapper, the musician – “one of many” nieces of Once Were Warriors star Temuera Morrison – attributes her rising success over the past year to her decision to be “real”.

“The previous years, I had been putting on a front. I was trying to make myself seem like a legit rapper, then I sat down with my best friend and she said, ‘Why don’t you just be yourself?’ And I was like, ‘But I’m a goof! People don’t want to see that, do they?’

“I started to release more videos of myself on Facebook, just everyday funny little skits.” Among them was a re-enactment of her uncle Tem’s notorious Once Were Warriors “cook me some eggs” scene, “and that’s when things starting really blowing up!” she recalls.

Krisy’s recent single “Stay in Your Lane” is a comment on negative female energy – or self-empowerment, depending on which way you look at it. And with its catchy, cursing chorus, it’s definitely not child-friendly. But, says Krisy, she doesn’t write for anyone but herself. “It was basically for the haters, just saying, ‘Stay out of my way, ‘cos I’m not gonna stop. I will not stop ’til I reach the top.'”

She also raps about topics ranging from body image to suicide and child abuse – the latter inspired by the tragic death of three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri in August 2015. “I’m still working on it,” admits Krisy.

“It’s hard because it’s a very emotional issue. My mum really wants me to to do it, though.”

Her mother Te Miria Kingi, 46, is her “number- one fan”. The pair, who live together, have been through more in recent years than most families go through in a lifetime.

Tragically, in 2003, at the age of seven, the rapper’s whanau was involved in a fatal crash on their way to a kapa haka practice in Taupo.

Her dad Rimmon, 25, older brother Chadwick, 11, cousins Jacob, nine, and Chase, eight, and aunt Rawinia, 32, perished in the head-on collision, while Te Miria and her five-year-old nephew Tobias survived with serious injuries.

“I was supposed to be in the car too,” tells Krisy, shuddering. “But I was being a stubborn seven-year-old. I told Mum I didn’t want to go and I would stay with my auntie. She begged me to come, but I said no. It’s weird because I loved kapa haka. But that weekend, I just didn’t want to go.”

Te Miria broke her T12 vertebra in the crash and was paralysed from the waist down. She remains in a wheelchair to this day.

After six months intensive spinal treatment in Auckland, the pair returned to Rotorua and Krisy helped care for her mum, getting taxis to the local supermarket by the age of 10 to do the grocery shopping.

The situation created an extremely close relationship between Krisy and her whanau, with her “amazing” grandparents attending important school occasions on behalf of Te Miria.

“My mum is the strongest person I know,” says Krisy.

“I’m thankful she never left me that day 14 years ago. I’m thankful she held on for me, for us, for our family because I don’t know where I would be without her. I owe her everything!”

The accident has also given Te Miria a compassionate outlook on life and love. When Krisy – who identifies as bisexual – began a same-sex relationship aged 14, she didn’t hesitate to share the news.

“I went straight home and said, ‘Mum, I have a girlfriend.’ I don’t think she believed me at first, but when she realised I was serious, she said, ‘It doesn’t matter who you fall in love with. If you’re happy, that’s great.’

“I’ve always been proud of my sexuality,” tells Krisy, who is currently single, “and I’ve never tried to hide it. I don’t shy away from it in my songs because I think if I had listened to songs I could relate to when I was young, it would have been great. I would have felt more confident.”

Citing Nicki Minaj as her number- one inspiration, Krisy began writing raps in high school after first hearing her. She also counts Cardi B and “my queen” Rihanna as influences. “Rap is traditionally a sexist genre,” she admits, “but I definitely want to change that, especially here.”

And though the crash remains painful to talk about, Krisy insists it taught her some valuable lessons.

“Life goes on and time heals all wounds,” she says. “I never thought I’d ever get to a stage in my life where I could say that, but I’m there.

“My dream is to be the first Maori woman to receive a Grammy. Success comes with mind-set – you just have to believe and work hard. I don’t chase my dreams. I hunt them.”

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