Local computer programmer branches out to create hip hop album and short films

Posted by: Amy – Sep 14, 2016


After VCU computer science major Joshua Christian Akan-Etuk was rejected by their film school, he decided to turn that negative into a positive and forge his own artistic path.

The 20-year-old, who goes by the stage name Christian Smthn, spent the summer creating a nine track EP, I’m Still Here, along with visuals on a website that he coded himself.

“I’ve been coding since before I came to college and when I came to college I was doing bigger things than what we were doing in class,” said Smthn about his decision to transition from computer science to film.

“I remember that moment so well, like this is it, I want to do this,” he continued, recalling a scene from Inglorious Bastards that inspired him to pursue film.

As far as his sound goes, Smthn pulls from several different influences, making the EP an interesting collective. From the synth pop instrumentals and visual themes comparable to Grimes or Beach House, to the hip hop lyrics and vocals comparable to Lil B or Earl Sweatshirt, Smthn creates an experience for the listener/viewer to enjoy.

“What I see a lot in Richmond is people releasing their music, but it just ends right there, and what I think is that when it comes to art and being successful in reaching an audience is using more than one medium,” said Smthn about the project.

Smthn created his own site where you can download the full project which also serves as a host for the shorts and the digital booklet.

The programmer turned artist hopes this project will help people who may be dealing with personal disappointments to have the courage to overcome it.

“The message is you can do more than you think,” he said. “The audience is me when I was younger and other kids my age going to school who are kind of lost. I wrote, recorded, did vocals, coded the site, created a digital booklet and directed the site and some friends helped with the vignettes.”

The nine short films, or vignettes, all correspond with each song on the EP.

The EP, along with other projects Smthn is involved in like local art collective Ice Cream Support Group, show his range of talent from videography, producing, and graphic design.

You can check out Christian Smthn’s new EP and films I'm Still Here at this link and he can also be found at the Richmond Zine Fest Sept. 30 where he will be showing a group Zine as well as his own photo book.

Words by Sasha Jiron