Santa Cruz’s own ‘X Factor’ contender returns to rap roots, makes it to top 10
A sterling rendition of Coolio’s 1995 hit “Gangsta’s Paradise” on Wednesday’s episode of “The X Factor,” scored Santa Cruz singer/songwriter Chris Rene a coveted spot in the top 10.
The Grammy-winning song—off the Dangerous Minds soundtrack—was a welcome return to the musical genre most familiar to Rene, whose silky smooth vocals and quick-spitting rhymes have won over the show’s judges (Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger, and L.A. Reid) since day one.
During the performance, the 28-year-old displayed a new level of confidence as he moved effortlessly across the stage in a black fedora and leather jacket. Surrounded by billowing smoke, he and a troupe of background dancers got the crowd grooving to the beat while green and purple lights flashed onstage.
Feeding off the high energy in the room, Rene put a positive spin on the classic to reflect his post drug addiction optimism, inserting lines like, “Skater boy Santa Cruz that’s how I’m living,” and reworking the chorus to say: “Been spendin’ most our lives livin’ in a pastime paradise.”
At the close of the song, the live audience erupted with applause, and the judges responded with high praise. Scherzinger commended Rene in particular for one of the original lines he wrote for his rendition: “I thought I was a king when I was acting like a clown, I been to the bottom, but I’m headed to the top, and when I get there I’m never gonna stop.”
Cowell expressed an appreciation for Rene’s hard work, as well as his continued commitment to a sober lifestyle. “All I can say is, welcome back Chris Rene, because this is what we loved about you,” said Cowell. “And Chris, you know we all made an agreement together, and I’m very proud of the fact that you’ve stopped what you’ve done, you’ve stopped what you promised you would do, and hopefully this show is gonna make your life what you want it to be because I think you are a potential real star.”
Thursday’s voting-results show was a bit more nerve-wrecking for fans, as Rene was the final performer to be selected for the top nine. A sing-off between the group Stereo Hogzz and the female quartet Lakoda Rayne concluded the episode, and sent the former home.
Find out what happens when the top 10 compete in the live competition at 8 p.m. next Wednesday, Nov. 16 on Fox.