[TMN Exclusive Interview] Chaz French talks Honesty in Hip-Hop, Inspiration and Overcoming Adversity

’Chaz French – Intro (prod. by Super Miles)’

Authenticity has always played a particularly important role in hip-hop music for a variety of reasons. As an art form, rapping allows for condensed, concise and detailed lyrical expression often times putting artists in a position to reveal the depths of their personality or, in some cases, fabricate one altogether. The former approach lends itself to longevity and, maybe equally importantly, to differentiation because at the end of the day if an artist is truly being them self, no one can replicate the life experiences expressed through the music–offering a genuine connection with and impact on the fans.

Early last month, we came across Happy Belated, the debut EP from DMV emcee Chaz French. From start to finish, it may be one of the most honest records we’ve ever heard and, for Chaz, has really proven the perfect way to connect with, and continue to expand, his rapidly growing fan base. At only 23, he has already gone through a plethora of relatable life experiences from spending time homeless to having his first child to grappling with his inner demons and every last ounce of it is poured out in his music. Through its broad range of emotions and a pronounced duality, Happy Belated is not only meaningful but also powerful in its ability to inspire listeners to stay true to themselves, embrace their flaws and fuel success through adversity.

We had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Chaz French in-depth about a variety of topics ranging from his relationship with fellow rising star GoldLink to inspirations to religion and, just as we expected, he kept it 100% real. Read this deeply personal conversation and grab a free download of Happy Belated below.

Download: Chaz French – Happy Belated

TMN: You just came off tour with GoldLink in his supporting role for SBTRKT. How quickly did that all come together?

Chaz French: Me and GoldLink are like brothers. So, a lot of the tour shit that happened with us was organic. He’s always trying to set me up. We’ve got another record that we did on his now project that I don’t think I can speak on but we performed that record in his set. And it just escalated from there so once the SBTRKT tour happened, it was like, “Come on brother.” I did a couple dates. It was fun.

TMN: I know that you grew up on Gospel music around the house. When did you first get introduced to hip-hop?

Chaz: I always looked at music videos and stuff but really was just listening to hip-hop because that’s what everyone else was doing.

One day, I was watching MTV or BET and I saw the Kanye “All Falls Down” video and I was like “Woah, who is that?” I knew Kanye West, but that song did a lot for me. It was just so honest. That was the first artist that really got to me. Then, when I first heard Kid Cudi, I was like “Oh my god, this is so next level.” Not even the fact that you don’t know if he’s a rapper or a singer, or even just his all aesthetic. But I’m just really into honesty and it was the whole honest music thing. Those two really did it.
And of course, old Lil Wayne like Da Drought 3. Then, when I moved to Texas, I gravitated to the whole down south, chopped & screwed movement. It was just so dope to see as far as unity and their whole movement.

TMN: When did you first start writing raps?

Chaz: I was real young. I started writing raps just as a release. It started out as boredom. I was alway on punishment, I was always in trouble as a younger Chaz French. So, I would just be bored and always in my room. I did a talent show in 9th grade and the reaction was great. I was like, “I could take this, foreal.” Then, I started going through actual things—life hit me. I wasn’t always this honest rapper, this open guy. When life finally hit me, which was around 17 or 18, I feel like that’s when I grew more as a person, but I became a better artist as well. And I didn’t even know it. The bullshit I went through when I was 17,18,19, I didn’t know it was bettering me for now. Continue reading

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[Hip-Hop] Chaz French – Happy Belated (EP)

On the intro track of his debut EP, DMV native Chaz French tells the story of his temporary homelessness, struggles with alcohol and troubled youth through his experience in a nearly fatal car accident. It’s a hell of a way to introduce yourself to an audience, but it also sets the tone for Happy Belated, one of the most honest, personal hip-hop projects we’ve heard in a long time. French paints a pretty vivid picture of himself with his music employing a verbal dexterity and variety matched by few emcees over strong, diverse soundscapes. More impressive than his savvy on the mic, though, is the cohesiveness of his EP taking the listener through life’s up and downs.

Happy Belated has a distinct trajectory almost divided into three acts. “Intro” leads into the downtempo, introspective “Watcha Know” before French transitions, through the slightly more upbeat “YNN,” into a booming trap section seemingly capturing the joys and struggles of his demons. Exiting the highest energy portion of the tape, Chaz calls on fellow DMV emcee and one of our favorites, GoldLink, for the memorable “LMGLML” and the two have a chemistry that is extremely promising for future collaboration. The tone of the final few songs come out as overwhelmingly positive considering the pain expressed prior tying together with “Before I Die,” about redemption and getting himself together for his people.

Although its vastly different musically, Happy Belated has the autobiographical, coming-of-age feel that Kendrick Lamar‘s Good Kid m.A.A.d City had in portraying what its like to grow up through adversity. Through a broad range of expression, Chaz French is able to provide a candid, sincere depiction of himself in a way that is sympathetic, rough around the edges and inherently human. Listen to a few of our favorites from the mixtape and grab a free download of this evocative project below.

Download: Chaz French – Happy Belated

’Chaz French – Intro (prod. by Super Miles)’

’Chaz French – YNN (prod. by Kal Banx)’

’Chaz French – Erryday Stuntin’ ft. Eddie Vanz (prod. by Hovey Benjamin)’

’Chaz French – LMGLML ft. Goldlink (prod. by Kris Minor)’

’Chaz French – Primavera  ft. Eddie Vanz (prod. by Hovey Benjamin)’

’Chaz French – Before I Die (prod. by Super Miles)’
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