When someone says “Taylor Gang”, what comes to mind? Odds are its Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa. Rightfully so, seeing as it is the label he started back in 2008. But there is much more to Taylor Gang than just Wiz. TG has a stacked roster of talented rappers and singers but perhaps the most promising prospect from Taylor Gang Records is Chevy Woods.
Although some might say Chevy Woods is an “up-and-comer”, the Pittsburgh native has been in the rap game since the label’s launch back in ’08. His debut mixtape The Corner’s Correspondent was low-key one of 2008’s best; and the success didn’t end there. For most career rappers, their bodies of work see peaks and valleys but with Chevy, the peaks seem to keep getting higher and higher. This is due to his clear consistency coupled with his innate ability to take risks. His rhymes have always been sharper than any while his song writing gets better and better each project.
Before releasing his biggest project to date, The 48 Hunnid Project, we caught up with Chevy and chopped it up about everything from his new release, his relationship with Taylor Gang and even his take on the authenticity of hip-hop.
Thanks for speaking to Don Diva Magazine. We really appreciate it, we’ve been following your career for some time now and it’s nice to chop it up with you.
I appreciate y’all taking the time too. A few of my older homies put me onto your magazine years ago and I remember thinking “man, am I gunna be in this magazine one day?”
Of course! Well, you’ve got all kinds of momentum right now. Your newest EP entitled The 48 Hunnid Project has been highly anticipated for quite a while and it feels like this is the most steam you’ve had your whole career. How does that feel?
It feels good because of the attention I put into it and the real feeling of the project. Also the fact that it’s my first commercial project – I really paid attention to all the details. I’m really listening to the people and seeing what they’re saying. So I feel like it’s getting the attention it deserves, really because I’ve been so much more hands on.
You definitely are the people’s champ. It’s funny reading the comments on your video for ‘All Said and Done’ because people are claiming you are “the new guy”. How do they not realize you’ve been the game for such a long time?
Yeah man that’s how it goes. Fans of music feel that if you go away for a second or don’t drop something and then you come back and put something out they’re like: “ahhh check out this new artist” and then I’m like: “yo dude, check the catalogue or look at YouTube and see what’s been going on.” That’s just what music does. When you make something new and fresh, the people think that you’re new and fresh. But its good, the momentum is definitely good.
Now for the fans who love you for your unwavering authenticity, especially on the mixtapes, will they get the same realness on this new project?
Yeah for sure, you put it perfectly. I made sure that it was me. Since the first project I’ve always made sure its 100% me. The features are real too. The song fits the featured artist because I have a relationship with them or I’m in the process of building that relationship. I really try to bring them into my world and match them with the song. It’s never just like “Hey can you get on this song for me”? I never like to lead the fans on. This project is really the A and B side to the street life. I’m trying to show both sides of the coin.
Would you say you’re telling the Pittsburgh street story?
Yeah for sure! It’s just because the things I’m talking about, my feet, hands and eyes, have seen it all. I’ve actually been a part of the street life so I’m able to tell that story. People believe me. The people I grew up with know it and I speak about it with so much passion so that definitely translates to the fans that are getting to know me. That’s why it never comes off as fabricated.
On ‘All Said & Done’ you’ve got Dej Loaf sounding so powerful on that track – some of the rawest vocals. How did that come about?
Yeah it’s awesome because me coming from the streets and her coming from streets of Detroit – listening to her and watching what she is talking about it’s almost like a women’s perspective of my own. We originally had that hook sounding very R&B but we really wanted a more street sound or an edgier sound than a usually R&B track. We reached out, she knocked it out, we did the video, and we had great conversation. She’s great. I wanted it to be seamless; when she sent it back I was like “damn this is so perfect”.
Is this new project your personal favorite out of all your other bodies of work?
Yeah, definitely. I’ve never listened to a project this much. Me and Wiz actually had a conversation and compared it to when he was recording ‘Kush & Orange Juice’. He basically said that he made it his baby. I always listened to it; I played when people were around, when I was the hotel, in the car, always played it for people. So for me I play this new project everywhere too. I play it out loud, when girls are around, when guys are around, in the shower, I make it mine. With the story the album tells, I’m able to tell people exactly what it is they are listening to.
It’s noticeable to see that your song writing has gotten stronger. I mean, of course you didn’t comprise your bars at all, but, the replay value seems higher this time around. Do you feel the same way?
Yeah I feel the same way. My energy and the space I’m in, on tour especially is making me way more excited than I’ve ever been with any other project; and you can tell it is carrying over to the people. With a mixtape, I can put it together as fast as I want. But with this, I had so many songs for a while, and I realised I should take more time and pay attention to more detail. You know, really getting in the studio and sitting in on the mixing and really give my full input on the whole project. This is the most hands on I’ve been with any project.
How was the recording process for this project?
It’s funny, I only wrote on pen and paper two of the songs. Everything else was just going in and feeling the song, going bar for bar on emotion. I had the time, the patience and brainpower to make it happen. When I do a mixtape I can just go in the booth, catch a feeling and just rap, go through. But for this project I would rap four bars then come back out, listen to it, critic it, then go back in. I really took time to feel the song, the hook, the message and then piece it together from there.
What do you think about the ghost writing in hip-hop? Are you discredited if you didn’t write your own rhymes?
To me, there is no discredit. It’s just that you become more a songwriter than a rapper to me. With the whole Meek Mill and Drake thing, I’m even on both ends. I can see what both of them are trying to say. But people have been ghostwriting for years. No one knows who actually wrote what these days. There is a lot of it that goes on. People get hooks, people get verses. For me, hooks are fine. If someone wants to write you a hook that’s cool. There is a difference though between rappers and songwriters.
During a live performance, what’s going through your mind when 15,000 people are on the feet rapping your lyrics back to you?
It’s crazy – you know, coming where I come from. That wasn’t my scene. It’s kind of hard to get that many people listen to what you say and enjoy it. So putting it together like that is crazy. Seeing it come full circle. Sometimes it amazes me and sometimes I’m like “nah this is what you worked for” and then there are other times where I’m like “Woah man that’s a lot of people”, my palms sweating and stuff. It’s still always fresh to me when I get on stage. It could go either way, I could be really excited, enjoy it and take the energy in or I could be a little more nervous. It’s cool to me.
What is your most memorable live show?
Yeah for sure. One time Me, Wiz and a couple other people actually flew to Dubai. I had a three song set during his set and to see the fans rap along to my songs. Like, rapping along to just Chevy Woods music I was like “wow this is wild”. And when we left in a drop top Bentley there was people everywhere trying to get in the car and grab us, yelling our names. I went back to the hotel and called my mom about it. She was like “that’s way in a different country”. She couldn’t even understand. I didn’t even understand it at first either. But music is worldly, right?
So what’s the current situation right now with Taylor Gang?
We’re great. Everyone putting out good music still. Still full throttle. Juicy of course never stops working. Burner, Tuki and JR all have stuff coming too. Wiz is wiz. He has tons of projects. I think we are at a good place right now. We also aren’t all over the place with media and stuff too. People aren’t all in the tabloids; we just focus on the music. We focus on the positives. We just had another conversation about a compilation album. So that will be coming real soon. We are a well-oiled machine.
What is up next for you after this project drops?
I’m gunna do a bunch of roaming around and touring. Then go overseas with Wiz and A$AP Rocky at the same time promote this project. Then probably push the button on a mixtape before Christmas, and then hibernate for a little before getting the album ready.
Right on, man! Well, we appreciate you taking the time to speak with us here at Don Diva Magazine.
For sure man, thanks. I appreciate it. Means a lot.
Stream The 48 Hunnid Project below!