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Celebrity Circuit

April 10, 2012 11:27 AM
Chris Rene says his post-"X-Factor" album is "almost done"

(CBS News) Chris Rene just wrapped "The X Factor" at the end of December and he already has a rising hit single with "Young Homie."

And that's not all.

The 29-year-old singer-songwriter told his new full-length solo album is almost done and could be ready for a summer release.

"I have four more songs to do," Rene said in the midst of a busy recording week. "I got three songs done in five days. I had a 22-hour day a few weeks ago."

The album will be different from anything that's been put out before, said Rene, who cites Santana, Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder and Eminem as his influences. That's on top of his musical family. His father was a jazz musician, and his composer grandfather, Leon Rene, wrote "Rockin' Robin," recorded by both Bobby Day and Michael Jackson.

Rene's self-penned "X Factor" audition song, "Young Homie," will be on his upcoming album. The track won over judges of the TV talent competition and is now winning over fans. Its accompanying video already has nearly two million views on YouTube.

"Shooting the video was cool because we free-styled the shots," said the Santa Cruz, Calif.,native, who finished in third place on "The X Factor." "Everything was organic. All the people were local. There were not actors. My buddy organized all of our friends to meet up. They captured that."

The song, with its positive message of "Life's too short / Gotta live long" was born out of Rene's battle with addiction. He was just 70 days sober when he auditioned for "The X Factor" last year and linked up with mentor L.A. Reid, who's heavily involved in Rene's new album.

"It's been a journey," Rene said. "It's been a struggle, a beautiful struggle -- my life. Being in and out of different facilities and trying to get it all together, it's been tough. But I'm glad I figured it out and made a decision to change. I want to make a movie about it."

Clearly, Rene has some big plans ahead. He will soon visit "The X Factor" auditions to check out the new crop of hopefuls -- although the upcoming season of Simon Cowell's brainchild will look a little different.

When asked what he thought about judges Nicole Scherzinger and Paul Abdul leaving the hit series, Rene said, "I'm just going to say it -- Paula and Nicole -- they rule, so they're out. And I think it sucks."

Also in the works is a tour to support his as-yet-untitled album. That means, though, more time away from his young son.

"It's hard because I don't get to see him," Rene revealed to "He misses me and he calls me. He gets upset that I'm not there because he's 3 years old. It's hard on him, and it's hard on me."

But just as he does in the song "Young Homie," Rene maintains that same positive attitude in his own life.

"To actually see what I saw and go where I went is pretty crazy," said Rene, who still sounds surprised by the recent success. "This doesn't happen to people like me. A year later, after overcoming my addiction, which is a daily battle, I'm out here on the road. I'm living my dream."