The first thing you need to know about recent Young Money Chanel West Coast is that you know all those other White girl rappers? She was there first. At rock nyc Thursday afternoon, the blonde haired knock out you know as the rapping receptionist from MTV’s “Fantasy Factory” and the co-host of their American Home Videos update “Ridiculousness”, she of the throaty laugh, is here to ram it home: this is for real. Chanel is one part MTV reality star to two parts budding rap star, “Music is my existence” she claims and it is the two parts rap star that matter.
Disarmingly sincere and good natured, the 24 year old settles in our conference room, she answers every question with honestly and smartly and is is obviously thrilled to be talking about a huge leap forward in her career: “It is very exciting. I haven’t really wrapped my head around it yet. Basically, the deal with (former label) Zone 4 was not a very good deal. When I first got into it, I didn’t have proper management or good lawyers. Basically, I got a good lawyer who broke down the deal and said you are not going to get any money because they took so many percentages. So finally when I was free and clear and I was introduced to Lil Wayne through my new management. ” DJ Rich Skillz produced the tape. “He produced a song for Robin Thicke and won a Grammy for a song on Ludacris’ Release Therapy. And I’ve been his baby project for the past year and a half, two years. Once we met each other it was chemistry.”
“Cookies” -which Chanel distances herself from a little “It was a joke song but it doesn’t reflect my music now”, was one of her earlier collaborations with Skillz. ” “I Love Money” (the director of the video sits in on the interview) and “Keep Spinning” are the first tracks from the Now You Know mix tape dropping in June. Chanel mentions Drake as an influence and I was frankly surprised but I hadn’t heard “Keep Spinning” at the time, yes, there is a dark broodiness and a sense of being misunderstood. Indeed, it is like aspects of her conversation that came across as easy (“People don’t get me”) being performed with a hostility, a hard beat and dark undertow. The first single, “Karl” -a tribute to designer Lagerfeld, is out soon and Chanel expects this one to break through.
So who is this Chanel? A white hip hop star cum party girl “I had a Myspace page before Fergie, I was there before Kreayshaw. I was the first white girl rapper.” If you read her press release it paints a not untypical L.A. party girl, part of the ultrahip night club dwelling denizens of the West Coast scene. “I’ve been playing DJ sets at nightclubs, 3 or 4 songs, but often. All the time”. But that isn’t quite the Chanel I meet with.
The story is more complicated than it appears to be. An “Outlier” absolutely, Chanel was a baby driver born with music playing in her ears. Her father , DJ Seth K, was an East coast DJ at places like Danceteria and I would bet Area. Her mother a heavy metal chick who became a West Coast business woman selling safety appliances to factory owners. And Chanel was raised between the Coasts spending holidays here.
“I was performing my whole life, in school I was in the choir, the orchestra, dance. It was what I liked to do in my spare time, it was my life pretty much.
“I started rapping when I was 10 years old and I listened to everything but mostly 2Pac.” This was 1998, years after he died. “2Pac got me inspired to perform rap. Very poetic. I read his book “The Rose That Grew From Concrete” and that inspired me.
At the age of 15, Chanel quit High School for Home Schooling and working full time. “I was raised by a single mom and we weren’t rich. There were things I wanted, nice cloths, a car. I worked for a year in a Chinese restaurant and then as a receptionist.” Meanwhile, Chanel was rapping at nightclubs and selling tickets to her shows herself. And she was constantly inviting skateboarder Rob Drydek who followed up his first MTV reality showcase with “Fantasy Factory” filmed at his record label and while Rob wouldn’t go to Chanel’s show, he did hire her to be the rapping receptionist on the TV reality show. “So you see, I really fell into television. I was always a musician. Music is my life”. Chanel hasn’t looked back since then.
Talking to the musician was sort of odd. The hard thing to keep in sight is that she is a self-made woman. In press releases and MTV shows, there are two realities sort of colliding but speaking to her, she’s just a kid who has worked very very hard to put herself in a position to succeed. This isn’t Lana Turner serving milkshakes at a diner (wow, that was an archaic reference!) it was more like years of really hard work coming to fruition.
And while I am sure Chanel is every inch the party girl, she doesn’t come across as brass and arrogant but as a professional musician. She’s also smart, detailing the relationship between Cash Money, Young Money and UMG with clearness and explaining that Paris Hilton who has just signed up to record an album of House Music is good friends with Lil Wayne. She doesn’t speak in ebonics, she isn’t hip as such, and the cool heat of the Cristal Bottles 10Oak (where she has performed) and table service doesn’t stick to her in person. Although a fashion template, she doesn’t waste her time with me explaining it, she took one look at me and probably realized a guy who doesn’t recognize Lagerfeld’s name, “White hair and sunglasses” she shorthands, isn’t gonna much care one way or the other.
Also, with just her video guy in tow the actress is wandering around New York offices being interviewed. Though I assume she has no idea what rock nyc is, certainly even in this day and age rock journalists are a touchy lot, she is meeting on enemy territory. The woman is on the ball and pushing so hard for people to realize that a rapping receptionist and a throaty laugh (and a spread in Maxim which I completely forgot about) is only part of what Chanel is doing. I kinda admire her tenacity. This is a case where luck had just about nothing to do with success and now if you would just listen a little: “I think my music will speak for itself and I think everybody will finally get me. I’m in this position where people know me, know my personality and the funny chill side of me from TV, but they don’t know me as an artist or where my artistry comes from.
“It’s really weird.
“For instance, Rihanna, You don’t know what she’s like when she’s on a couch watching funny videos. What she acts like, how she laughs. People don’t see that side of her. With me it’s the opposite where people kinda know me.
“It sucks for me but once the music gets out and people start to listen I think they get it.”
Chanel has signed up for a new season of Ridiculousness and will be spending her summer taking part in Lil Wayne’s second America’s Most Wanted Tour along with rapper T.I. which opens July 5.
Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – August 1973 (Volume 5, Number 3)
“studiedly inhuman on the most pretentious and superficial level.”
a whiny piece of crap
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Creem – America’s Only Rock ‘n’ Roll Magazine, Reviewed Issue By Issue – July 1973 (Volume 5, Number 2)
“I don’t consider David (Bowie) to be even remotely big enough to be any competition.”
an old school New York feel
oedipal vulnerable and blue collar visceral
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