With today’s climate of Hip-Hop, you’d certainly be hard pressed to find emcees who are perfectly fine with being honest, and even vulnerable, on a record; and if you do find them, they’re often overlooked, in favor of whatever the “hot” artist or song is of the moment. Tucked away behind all the raps about lean, pills, women and money is 23 year-old Chaz French.
Hailing from Washington, DC, Chaz French brings a seldom seen brand of Hip-Hop to the table, sharing relatable stories that are sure to get your attention, with thumping beats, catchy hooks and witty wordplay. We caught up with Chaz to discuss his latest project, These Things Take Time, and so much more. Keep reading.
First off, I appreciate you still being down to do the interview, even after our schedules didn’t match up.
Definitely. Thank you.
I read somewhere that your Happy Belated project was basically a testimony to all of your personal struggles, and that These Things Take Time, is geared more to the struggles and challenges your fans may face. What inspired you to approach this project that way?
I just listened to my fans, man. I put what I was going through, and what I had been through, into a body of work. Basically, through that, I was just giving hope and giving people faith, and just trying to, you know, boost people’s confidence, letting them know that whatever you want to do, you can do it. It’s just going to take a little time; or it may happen overnight, but it’s still going to be a process and you just have to trust yourself, trust your team, and trust God.
These Things Take Time is definitely one of the more transparent projects in Hip-Hop, right now, which is rare because rappers don’t really like opening up and being vulnerable. Did you find any difficulty in making some of the songs?
Not really. Not at all, because that’s just what kind of music I make. So that’s just what comes out. Like, I don’t force a story. It’s just me, so that’s what you’re always going to get. However I feel. Whatever I’m going’ through. Whatever’s on my mind. Whatever’s on my heart. Whatever is in the air at the moment, that’s what you’re going to get. I mean, sometimes it’s like “Man! I’m being really straight forward”, but when you do that on a regular basis, you don’t even realize it, you know what I’m saying’? You’ll look up, hear a song and be like “Wow! I really said that? I really told the world that? I really expressed that?” But I think that’s the cool part about what I do, and how I go about making music.
So all of the stories that were told on this project are true? These are things you actually experienced or seen up close?
Definitely! From Happy Belated, to These Things Take Time, to whatever I put out next. I feel like… Why would I talk about stuff I don’t know about? Or why would I talk about stuff that I haven’t been through? It’s all about talking about the past, talking about what’s going on now, and speaking everything else into the future. So everything you hear, I’ve done, I saw or somebody else in my circle has gone through the same thing; or just however my fans tell me they feel. That’s just what it is.
Describe what your creative process was like when making These Things Take Time.
I got to see more. I was in Atlanta for a bit of time. I was in L.A. New York. I got to see a lot. But I was so busy that I couldn’t really write much. So it was just really, spur of the moment type stuff, when I recorded. Everything was on the spot, like “Boom, boom, boom”. I really didn’t have time to write things down. Plus I had just had a son, so I was going through new trials and tribulations with that. It was just a lot of growth during that process and it taught me the essence of patience. It taught me what I’m capable of doing; what I’m capable of going through. What I’m able to take and endure. It was a much more fun process than Happy Belated. It was less stressful. It was more work, but it was less stressful. It was smooth.
You can tell. It sounds like you had a lot of fun making the project.
Yeah, it was a lot of Corona drinking (laughs)
Your style is pretty unique and original, but every artist is influenced by someone. Who are some artists that inspire you?
Definitely Kanye. I feel like every artist is influenced by that man. Definitely CuDi. Definitely Amy Winehouse. Definitely Marvin Gaye. Just real, soulful shit; like Lauryn Hill and people who I could connect to, as far as vulnerability. These people are so vulnerable in their music. So honest. There’s just a connection. So that’s what I’m inspired by; just honesty. But then I’ll turn around and listen to Reggae music, or fuckin’ Jazz or something. It’s just whatever I could connect to. Whatever I’m going through, that day.
That’s my bro. We’re from the same area, so it was only right. My manager reached out to me and was like “Yo, you should check out GoldLink.” and at first I was real iffy. Not because of him, but it was just me being an artist like, “I’ll check him out on my own time”, or whatever. And then I heard his song, “When I Die”. I think the video was out and I was like “Damn. This shit is so tough. Like, God, this is tight.” So it’s crazy. I ended up tweeting him and as I was tweeting him, he was tweeting me. I was like “Bro, this shit is fire. Let’s work soon” and he was tweeting me like “Yo, we need to work.” So ever since then, that’s been like my best friend. We don’t even have to make music, to be homies. We check on each other every day, type shit.
It’s always good to see it happen like that.
Yeah, it’s real organic. Like, when you build an organic relationship with somebody and there’s nothing forced, the music is going to come. Regardless. And we’ve never recorded a record where we weren’t in the studio together. So I think that makes it better, too.
Is there any chance of a joint project with you two? That would be dope.
I don’t know! We might have it done, now! You never know! (laughs) We’re going to let it happen, but that would be dope.
You recently had a show at SOB’s, which is a legendary venue that many artists would dream of rocking. What was that like?
It was cool, you know. New York crowds are real laid back and kind of distance themselves, and sometimes people take it the wrong way like “Aw, they ain’t fuckin’ with me”, but they’re listening. They’re paying attention. You just gotta push through it. That’s what makes it legendary; the people that come out, how they react and how they take it, and how you finesse control over the show. It’s always a good time.
We talked about how honest your music is. Do you think there will ever be a time where the kind of music you make is at the forefront, as opposed to raps about women, jewelry and the latest designer drugs?
I hope so. That would be amazing. But in all honesty, they don’t want to shine no light on positivity. But if somebody has the balls to shine light on the positive side, that’d be dope. But it is what it is. That’s not going to stop us positive and honest folks. There’s still people that listen to us. That’s not going to stop us from doing what we do. We just gotta work harder. When we get the chance to speak, we just have to make sure that what we say has that much of an effect that it doesn’t matter what’s in the spotlight. One day. It’s going to get there.
Going back to These Things Take Time, one of the things that really stood out was the production. Talk a little about the producers you worked with on this project.
All the producers are really, like my homies. It was really in-house. I worked with Izzy the Producer, Dot Da Genius, Super Miles, Kal Banx, D. Woo… YOG$. I think that’s everybody, really. I sat in the studio for every beat. Nothing was sent to me. Except for YOG$; because he lives in Michigan somewhere.
Are there any producers that you would like to work with?
I mean, anybody. I’m not bias. As long as I can sit in and watch and work, I’m good. I’m open to whatever. I’d love to get some work from Kanye. PAUSE! Gotdamn (laughs). 40. That would be dope. My DJ makes some dope beats too, so we got some shit on the way. Flying Lotus would be dope. It’s a lot of people.
What’s currently in rotation on Chaz French’s iPod?
I think Anderson .Paak’s album is flawless. Like, that was one of the best albums I heard in a long time. I listened to Earl Sweatshirt’s recent project. That was dope. I listen to all the new shit that’s out. I try to stay up on what’s poppin’. I fuck with Bryson. Other than that, it’s just a lot of old Kanye, Amy Winehouse. I always listen to CuDi. We just listened to the whole Alicia Keys Unplugged album. That shit was crazy! I just been into a lot of old music.
Before we wrap up. There are so many new, good up and coming artists, right now. For people reading this, who might not be hip, why should they check your music out?
It’s a fun time. It’s an honest experience. It’s like a movie, almost, taking you through the motions of somebody who’s probably going through the same thing. I’m just putting it in an art form. Nothing is fabricated. It’s great music. The message I have is for the world. So do yourself a favor and check out Chaz French.
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