’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.

TMN: Moving on to the mixtape. The intro really grabbed my attention when I listened to it. Can you talk about the story of “Intro”? Was that something that was going on while you were recording the tape?

Chaz: Everything I said in the intro was stuff that had happened prior to me even moving back to Texas. That whole Intro was before Happy Belated even existed. It was before I even knew there was going to be a Happy Belated. That whole situation was Happy Belated. Me not knowing. That’s why I say, “the struggle what made us, happy belated.” That whole process is what made the tape.

TMN: And at that time, you mentioned you were homeless. Was that just you being rebellious, trying to get out of the house and do your own thing?

Chaz: Exactly. Because I had opportunity to go back home with my mom or back to DC, but it was more so of a pride thing. And it was more so of, “Okay, well no one wants to believe in what I want to do, so I’m going to show you better than I can tell you.” Even if that means I’m homeless. Even if that means I go without eating or end up in jail. It was just more of a, “I’m going to do me. Fuck it. Family, whatever.” That was just me being young and not having any experience with life. Because, you know, before that I was an at-home guy, everything I needed was at home. I had a couple jobs but that was just life being like, “Oh, that’s how you want to act? We’re gonna turn up then.”

’Chaz French – The Vent (prod. by Pharaoh Sistare)’

TMN: Can you talk a little about your honest approach to music more broadly? Why do you think it is so powerful?

Chaz: Because that’s just me and my personality in general. When I think of fans and people that I want to hear my music, I think about family. I think about people that would accept me for who I am. So, the more me I am with the people, then the more people I can gain. People don’t realize, honesty is the best thing that has ever happened to life (laughs). The shit that people talk about that’s fabricated in music, that’s not going to last very long. I feel like, ten years down the line, people will still be able to listen to Happy Belated and relate to it. Someone’s going to be going through the same shit I’m going through ten years from now. In the beginning, my music wasn’t always as honest and upfront, but the more you grow as a person, the more you grow as an artist.

TMN: Something that also comes through on Happy Belated is your religion. Can you talk a bit about your relationship with God and its importance in your music?

Chaz: Growing up, my mom was a pastor, but she never tried to hide the world from me. She always let me know the consequences and repercussions of my actions whether it be Jesus, jail or death—it’s reality. As far as my relationship with God, I talk to him everyday, he’s my best friend. I may not read the Bible like I should, I may not go to Church or abide by the rules of Christianity to the full extent, but I do talk to God. It’s nothing crazy, it’s just real to me.

TMN: Another part of your life that comes out through your music is your daughter. What’s the importance of your daughter in your music and what you do? That must be an enormous driving force to succeed.

Chaz: She’s right next to me right now. Say, Dada! People don’t know, it was a whole different Happy Belated before all of this. When she was born, it was like “oh, it’s go time.” It was subconsciously, but I just found myself taking life more seriously. So, she’s definitely the only inspiration. Literally.

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

TMN: You talked a little bit in the mixtape near the end in “Before I Die” about wanting to make a song with Cudi and how you felt he saved your life. What is it about Cudi’s music and that type of music that can really save people? I think it’s something that you’re also striving for and doing pretty well.

Chaz: Exactly. With Cudi, he’s very upfront and personal but he always gives people hope at the end of the day. I look at him like a superhero. Cudi made it cool to be not cool—he gave the uncool kids a lane. That’s what it’s all about. Those are the kids who grow up and actually do shit.

The lames grow up and still are the worst dressed people, but have the most money in their hands. Fuck it. Who wouldn’t want to create a lane for people who can possibly change the world but are just in a fucked up situation?

TMN: What kind of advice do you give to kids who are in the sort of situation you were in?

Chaz: I just always try to preach to people, stay true to you and don’t get involved in other people’s expectations for you. A lot of people get lost in, “my family wants me to do this because this person did that.” Of course, always take into consideration advice, but stick to your plan. You’ve got to realize, though, nothing’s going to happen when you want it to happen. Very seldom does that happen. But that doesn’t mean give up, at all.

TMN: So, has your family at this time come to really accept what you’re doing? Now, that you’re reaching a certain level of success.

Chaz: Yeah, of course. I mean, it was like they knew, but back in those days when I was rapping I wasn’t benefitting from it. Now, things are kind of picking up and I’m able to take care of my daughter—do certain things I wasn’t able to do before. Also, now, I’m busy. I’m never not doing anything. So, that’s a good thing.

’Chaz French – Primavera  ft. Eddie Vanz (prod. by Hovey Benjamin)’
TMN: When your mom listens to your music, what’s the reaction like?

Chaz: She doesn’t like the profanity of course, but she loves the honesty. The other day we were at a gas station in Virginia and this kid comes up to me and is like, “bro, are you Chaz French? Oh my god, bro. I’m listening to you right now. Keep doing what you’re doing.” And my mom was just so shocked. She was like, “no, this isn’t happening.” So we get outside, she drives around to his car, and is like, “turn your car on, let me hear what you’re listening to.” Of course, it’s me and she thought it was amazing. So, you know, it’s coming along.

Special thanks to Chaz French for taking the time and keeping it 100 with us and his fans. We’re excited to see what he’s got in store! 

P.S. We got some new dopeness from Chaz yesterday in the form of a feature on a new Phil Adé track. Check it below.

’Phil Adé – Way Too Much ft. Chaz French (prod. by Kris Minor)’
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