Christopher Townsend better known by his stage name Chris Barz (stylized as "x||z" ) is an American rapper, record producer, pianist and singer. He dropped his first EP "Do You Know Him?" in late 2007 which featured Alicia Keys remix of "Feeling Me, Feeling You" entitled "Conversations WitHER" and was praised for his amazing wordplay at such a young age. The style featured Chris rapping poetic, soulfully clever lyrics over musical accompaniment without any drums, a style later popularized years later by Young Money artist Drake. The song"Regular Day" from "Do You Know Him?" got Chris recognized by the Best Kept Secret (production team) (responsible for production on Wale's mixtapes 100 Miles and Running, and the 2009 Mixtape of the Year "The Mixtape About Nothing" ).
They immediately started working on a project that reflected that style of Chris's artistry, reminiscent of the Golden Age of Hip-Hop. Barz then released "You Cool", "Dreamers" and "School Aint Workin'" on Thanksgiving 2009. He then released his first full length mixtape entitled "Class[Sickz] Out The Dark" in December 2009.The Washington Post wrote, "The underrated young DMV native may finally break through with his whip-smart, soul-fortified new mix tape, "Class[sickz] Out the Dark: A Dedication to Hip Hop."
His first official music video directed by LightUp Films "Dreamers" featuring Soul Train Award Nominee Jesse Boykins III was put in daily rotation on MTVU and Ofive.tv in France in early 2011. In March 2010 while in pre-production for his next release "Angels & Jets", he and drummer band mate Tarek Mohammed produced "Stadium Status" which would later become the intro "Don't Hold You Applause" forWale's first Maybach Music Group album, Ambition. On June 6, 2012, Barz was featured in Complex magazine as one of the 10 New DMV Rappers to Watch Out For, placing him at #2 on the list. As of July 13, 2012, Wale's Ambition album was certified Gold by the RIAA certification moving over 500,000 copies, earning Chris his first gold plaque.