You might be hearing “Young Homie” on the radio soon. Santa Cruz garbage man turned “X Factor” third-place finisher Chris Rene has signed a deal with Epic Records, where he will be reunited with his “Factor” mentor, Epic boss L.A. Reid.
“I’ve dreamt about this moment my whole life,” Rene told Entertainment Weekly. “And now it’s here. Working with L.A. Reid — ’Big Homie’ — is — ’Big Homie’ — is a dream come true; he’s a great man.”
Rene will be labelmates with another “Factor” finalist, fourth-placer Astro, the teenage rapper who revealed to MTV News on Tuesday that he would also be teaming with Reid at Epic.
Rene was one of the breakout stars in the first season of “Factor,” winning both hearts and minds with his falsetto singing/ laconic rapping and a compelling backstory that followed his rise from crippling drug addiction to a near-win on the Simon Cowell-created show.
The singer carved a new path in the suddenly crowded reality singing competition world by honestly detailing his drug struggles and performing two original songs during the show’s run.
Just 70 days sober when he came in for his first audition, Rene charmed the judges, who agreed to let him continue in the competition as long as he promised to keep on the straight and narrow. As the season unfolded, viewers learned that his sister Gina — who also tried out for the show — was also a musician who had landed songs on a number of soundtracks including 2004’s “Mean Girls.”
One of the high points of Rene’s run on the show was during Michael Jackson week, when he shared the story of how his grandfather, Leon Rene, wrote the Jackson 5 hit “Rockin’ Robin” and started the first black-owned R&B label on the West Coast.