The New Class Of Femcees: Chynna
As the rap game consistently changes and grows, it’s easy to get stuck on the favorites because, overwhelmed. To make it easier, VIBE has rounded up some of the industry’s newest rappers, who happen to be women. Get to know them in our series, The New Class of Femcees.
Chynna is up next, in more ways than one. Most people would celebrate 90 days of sobriety with a few close friends, maybe some cake. Chynna, on the other hand, released her newest project Ninety, and is still taking the internet by storm. Her flow is unapologetically truthful and besides rapping, she’s also a runway model/aerodynamic scientist. Take it all in below.
Craziest thing on your show rider: “I don’t really have anything crazy, but I’m about to start asking for Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce.”
Three words that describe the music: “Unisex, dark, surprising.”
VIBE: When it comes to rap, how did you get into it?
Chynna: I was always a writer, I enjoyed a very young age. I would try to write books and articles and all types of stuff. But I just couldn’t finish anything, my attention span is just not there. I realized could tell the stories in song form, shorter and a lot easier to finish. I just felt like I had a knack for the rhyming and flows, its fun and challenging. It really took me until I graduated high school to feel comfortable actually making music because even I pre-judged female rappers. We have a really negative connotation that we don’t write our shit or that it’s super sexual or that you need a group of guys to help you. I just wanted to make sure that I was at least okay before I started rapping. I didn’t want to suck and then get better. I put out something randomly on a Sunday and it got a pretty good reception. Enough for me to want to go make more stuff. From there, I think my friends just supported and I had a little bit of a following already from modeling. So it just worked out.
When it comes to gender diversity in the game, how do you feel about it and have you encountered anything crazy?
I feel like it’s definitely not enough women in rap. I think that’s because besides being a good rapper, or being catchy at least, with females we have to be some kind of attractive. Somebody has to find us attractive for people to even want to listen and that’s unfortunate. With guy rappers, the money makes you look better. Nothing crazy happens to me. The only thing I notice that’s repetitive is that guys will start off very friendly. They’ll find out that you’re talented, they like it, then they start liking you and then eventually they’ll come at you. Super delayed from a couple weeks to years. Nothing super disrespectful has ever happened to me from what I’ve seen. But I think that is a good thing about having a bunch of guys around you who do care.
When it comes to your sound, how did you develop it and what do you think makes it stand out now?
At first, I didn’t think I would be making the music that I’m making now. I swore I was going to be taking the Joey Badass approach. I started off rapping on old school beats, that’s what I was more attracted to at the time. But then I was like I don’t really want to make nothing that sounds 90s. I think that’s kind of cliche a little bit. I just started going to that part of YouTube where it’s whoever “type beats.” I would listen to my favorite artists and listen to the beats they rapped on and realized that I didn’t really like the beats. I realized that YOU make the beat. YOU are more important. I just started to realize I like bass, I like drums, instruments and a beat would stand out to me opposed to me knowing exactly what I was looking for. So my sound just kind of developed from what I noticed I would keep being attracted to or would write a song to fastest. Which turned out to be a little of the darker, heavier sounding stuff. I just don’t want to sound gimmicky. I’m trying so hard to not sound like a “female rapper,” I don’t want people to say that.
What does that sound like to you, a standard “female rapper”?
I just feel like there’s some kind of gimmick behind it, there’s some type of act that goes along with it. Whether it’s the appearance or just with female artists in general. It has to be a whole thing surrounding you. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I personally don’t feel like it. I can’t wake up and be in character. I just want to believe this is who you really are, you know what I’m saying? I feel like that’s why we make music and or whatever art you make, it’s to express yourself.
What does your process look like when you’re making music?
I either listen to beats and something sticks out to me but a lot of the time I write a capella. I’ll just write in the notes section on my phone or as of late, I’ve been writing physically again and I haven’t written physically in years.
What brought that on?
It happened when I broke my phone because I had an iPad and a phone, so I could listen to one and then whatever. You know when you open stuff in your email, it can’t stay open. So I was like cool, now I have to write because I’m listening to the beats here. And I realized when I write it, you know they say you remember things quicker when you write. I noticed I was memorizing it as I was writing. I was like oh this is kind of cool and I could see my emotion on paper. I can see where I got angry by my handwriting or excited. This makes it a lot more special to me.
You model and have done some groundbreaking stuff. How do you keep fashion and music separate?
The only real separation is I go by Chynna and Chynna Rogers when I’m modeling, but people just end up calling me Chynna Rogers regardless. They were separate until happened, because now music helps me get the modeling stuff. I don’t have an agency, so companies don’t see my face anymore. I don’t go to castings and all that stuff. So at this point I kind of want them to mesh it more. I just don’t want it to be like how most artists end up modeling after. I don’t want that. Modeling is hard work. You got to keep your body a certain way, it’s just… I don’t want it to be like I just got it off the strength. I want it to be because I’m actually good at modeling. I really want to go get an agency so it can really be separate so they can see the different sides of everything.
What do you want people to take from your music? Not just your most recent project, but as a whole.
I want them to understand that life comes at you fast, it comes at you super fast. Don’t test the universe because it will… whatever you think it won’t do, it’ll go do it. I want them to understand that it doesn’t really matter what my appearance or my gender is, it’s just, I like what you’re doing and we can really relate to it. That’s why I try to really make unisex music. I don’t try to talk about all the same stuff all the time. I’ll even switch it up in a song, I’ll say “he, he, he,” or “she, she, she.” So everyone thinks I’m bi. I just want everyone to feel comfortable rapping this. I think majority of my fans are men, I want them to feel comfortable rapping my music, I want them to enjoy my shows.
When getting into this specific project [Ninety], what did you want people to take from it?
The main thing I want people to understand is that this addiction sh*t can happen to anybody. From models like me, it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to say I’m anti-drug because I’m not. But I’m saying don’t do the super bad ones, they want to kill you, they will settle for your suffering. It’s not a game and I feel like music has romanticized drugs so much and so many great artists have passed away due to them. It didn’t make them great artists. I might have tapped into parts of myself I didn’t know existed, but they’re not parts of myself that I’m trying to hang out with all the time. It can happen to anybody, life comes at you fast, and not to internalize anyone else’s problems and make them your own.
What’s next, you’re getting into producing. How’s it going?
It’s difficult! I really need to just cash out and buy all the equipment. I need to rob a bank or something because I need to get all this stuff so I can just sit there and teach myself. I feel like most other artists that are my age and stuff, even my friends, when I hear their stories it’s always like “yeah I just sat in my room and made beats all day.” I never had that luxury of having all that equipment. I like that it’s kind of struggle. I have not had a laptop my entire career. I did everything on my phone, shout out to iPhone.
Would you want to be a producer eventually?
I’m a control freak, so just wanting to control all the components of my music so it sounds exactly how I want it to sound. I have great synergy with a couple of producers, but I just want to wake up and have an idea and just do it. Even if I don’t like tomorrow, just to know that it’s there. Any of music of my friends that do both, end up dedicating more time to one or the other and I just don’t want producing to become more successful than the music because then you’re just a producer who’s trying to rap.
You’re currently an independent artist. Do you want to remain independent or get signed?
I want to be independent as long as it can happen. I’m not going to ever get shelved, I’m not ever trying to have somebody tell me that my music can’t come out because that’s not what they want me to do. If I had some other position also in a label, then it would be fine with me. I wanted to do A&R before I was in music, that’s how I became friends with [A$AP] Yams. I wanted to follow him around and learn about A&R and sh*t. I just ended up making music instead. If I could do that or that position also or just do something else, then I would.
You seem so multi-faceted. What’s your ultimate goal?
Hopefully one day I can own a chain of venues, on some House of Blues sh*t. I noticed from when I was 17, 18, in Philly there was a lot of those smaller venues for those artists that could pull like 150-300 or 300-500 and over time they started closing because there’s a big gap. It doesn’t exist anymore, that space of artists just doesn’t exist. The people are internet lit, so they could probably pull about 60, 70 and then it just hops 1000 and there’s nobody in between. So I would like to have a place like that and keep them in cities that they might not be that lit, but where a lot of artists are coming from to make people interested in going to the local sh*t.
Completely outside of music and fashion, what are you passionate about?
This is where it gets interesting. I would have went to college for aerodynamics. I really like planes and I want to be a pilot. But the job was a plane crash analyst. Ingenuity is my thing, I want to figure how the planes were crashing and sh*t.