Before His Prophet Bar Show Tonight, Chevy Woods Talks Finding His Voice Through Years of Mixtapes.
After years of touring and dropping mixtapes, Chevy Woods finally ready for his closeup. These days, he's very much a rapper on the brink.
With his first formal EP in the works and on the way, the longtime Taylor Gang affiliate and Wiz Khalifa hype man's life is potentially about to change. And, at 33 years old, the Pittsburgh-sprung rapper — a familiar name in the hip-hop realm over the past few years thanks to appearances on cuts from his fellow Taylor Gang cohorts, as well as tracks from such recognizable rap figures as Mac Miller and Trinidad James — is ready for it.
Of that much, he's certain.
Or, well, so he hopes. This much he definitely knows: He has a new car, a new house and, just recently, he took his 13-year-old daughter to Disneyland for the first time. So, at the very least, things appear to be on the up-and-up for the performer.
And, in advance of his headlining appearance in Dallas tonight at the Prophet Bar as part of the monthly Red Bull Sound Select Series, we caught up with the “30 Deep” rapper to talk about these changes, how he found his own voice and what he says fans can expect of his performance this evening.
Where are you at the moment?
I'm in L.A. right now. I've been piecing my new EP together, so I've been out here working in the studio.
I saw that you just played Vegas with Wiz, right? Is that part of the same trip?
Yeah, it's part of the same trip. Well, I was going to L.A. to take my daughter to Disneyland, and I had this show in Vegas, so I was just trying to knock everything out at once.
How old's your daughter? Had she been to Disneyland before?
She's 13. And no. It was crazy. She didn't want to sit down.She wanted to see everything, play everything. She was into it. It was good to see.
Had you been to Disneyland before?
No! It was new to me, too! We experienced it together.
What was your favorite part?
They had good food there! Every different section had different food. It wasn't like the same food in every section. Like, the Old Town food was different, the science part was different. That was good for me. But she wanted to ride all the different roller coasters.
Did it live up to your expectations? All your dreams came true?
Yeah, it really did! I told her before we left that I'd never seen it and I've never been either, so we're going into it together with an open mind. She was like, 'An open mind? I just wanna go have fun!'
Did you hit some of the rides yourself?
Yeah, a couple. Mostly, it was her and her mom.
Are you good on rides or no?
Man, I don't do well on big roller coasters! The lunch seems to make its way on up sometimes! I found out when I was 16 or 17 years old that I just cannot do real big roller coasters.
So this EP you're finishing up. Is that what “30 Deep” is a part of?
Yeah, it's the single.
You've dropped a number of mixtapes in the past. This is different, right?
Yeah. It's definitely way different. I've been putting together mixtapes with songs I've had recorded for a while or even something I'd recorded that night when I decided to put out a mixtape. But, as far as the EP goes, it's more like a strategy. For me, what I'm doing now, I'm working on the intro to the last song and recording in different pieces of the album, like from the beginning to the middle to how I want it to end up.
How many tracks is it?
It's going to be seven, and then we're going to do a bonus track.
That could almost be an LP, if you wanted it to be. Why do an EP?
It could've been either or, but my manager wanted to do it this way. [Laughs.]
And this is your first venture into more formal recordings like this.
Yeah, I mean, “30 Deep” is the first real single — even though I've been at it and touring for a while.
You've gotta feel like you're kind of on the brink of something, right? I mean, this is a definite change in methodology, I imagine.
Yeah. Like, I told my mom, when I bought a new car, then things are going to happen. And, just recently, I moved into a new house. So it does feel like thing are going to happen. I'm making moves, making sacrifices, trying to work on what's next and actually capitalize on it.
Why has it taken so long to get to this point? Why wait till now?
With my music, I did a lot of bouncing around. It was a lot of different sounds. Like, I have fans that like me from maybe hearing me on a track with Mac Miller or maybe a track with Trinidad James or something like that. The crowds have been totally different. Now, I'm just trying to hone the crowd that I want, the crowd that I like, the crowd that I want to entertain. I'm trying to be less up in the air.
Is part of it finding your own voice, too?
Yeah, that was the process. I was going back and forth. I don't want to say I was copying other people, but I was definitely listening and trying to find my own lane. Like, what can I do for myself? How can I find my own fans?
So what changed? What did you find?
Well, I just found out that the shows that are intimate when you're on tour, like the ones that are just 500 or 600 people? Those are the show where, every time you show up to a city, those people show up no matter what. It's about finding that core group of people and then just attracting the regular people, too. The internet is a huge tool, but when you're in front of people, touching people, interacting with people, slapping hands, I think that's just a huge part of the process. So me doing that first and touring a lot and putting out mixtapes, I was touching the people. But now I can more focus on the music because I kind of think I've got my show in order.
You've been to Dallas before, right?
Yeah. There's a place called Trees, I think? I've performed there. Twice, I think.
What do you remember of those past Dallas shows?
Just the crowds. They were turnt up. It was wild. Y'know, when you go to these cities and people say your raps back to you and you don't even have to say them, I mean, that's what I get out out it, that's what I love. It just makes me understand that there's people out there catching what I'm doing. They really try to live the same thing that I'm talking about.
This show in particular should be pretty interesting in that there's a Dallas performer, a Houston performer, an Atlanta performer and then you from Pittsburgh. So it's a bunch of Southern rappers and you.
It's all the same, though. A lot of it is just the way that we talk, the slang that we use, the way we say the words. If people pay attention to the lyrics, a lot of it is the same. We may say words different, but we're all trying to get our message across.
What's your message, then? What's coming across on this new EP?
My story. I've been through a lot, I've made a lot of decisions, I've sacrificed a lot of things being on the streets and hustling and making money to getting to the point where I'm just making music and wondering, 'Well, is this going to work for me?' and going back and forth and wondering if I should go back and maybe do this or do that. Mostly, though, it's just the story of what I went through to this point right now. So, when you hear the music, it's getting that across to people.
What's next with the EP?
We're tossing some names back and forth. After this show, I'm coming back to L.A. and we're going to be tossing some artwork around. It's non-stop. I try to get out here at least two weeks out of every month. I mean, this is where the mix is, this is where it's all happening.
Is it weird not to do it at home in Pittsburgh?
Not really. I mean, even back home, I'm still making sure I find the time to shoot videos and everything.
Like “30 Deep,” which you filmed both in L.A. and Pittsburgh.
Yeah. I'm just working.
Speaking a little bit of Pittsburgh: Everyone knows you're close with Wiz Khalifa, and everyone knows Wiz's hit from a few years back, “Black and Yellow,” and how closely that song was associated with the Steelers. Are you guys aware of how his newer single “We Dem Boyz” has been appropriated by the Cowboys this season?
[Laughs.] I've seen that!
Does that weird you guys out as Steelers fans?
It doesn't bother me! [Laughs.] It makes sense. It doesn't mean that we're Cowboys fans, though. But we like what they're doing by putting their twist on it. I mean, it's just entertainment, man. Anything that's entertaining and cool, I'm with it.
Back to tomorrow night: If people haven't seen you live before, what can they expect?
Just high energy. A lot of fun. Like, I always say this and you'll hear me say this at the show, but when I come to do a show, I don't come to just chill and rap a bunch of lines. I come to have a party and to get everyone in the building to party like I party and have fun. Like, if it's your first time seeing the show, I want you to understand just by looking — like, 'OK, there's all the energy.' We're going to turn up. It's going to be fun, man.
Chevy Woods performs with Sam Lao, Fat Tony and Goldyard tonight at the Prophet Bar as part of this month's Red Bull Sound Select showcase. Tickets to the show are $10 or $3 with an advanced RSVP right here. An RSVP, it should be noted, does not guarantee admission. Entry into the show will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis until the venue hits capacity.