Image & Video by Ira Chernova
“A lot of life events affected how I make music.
Number one has to be when I was homeless.
That made me realize never to take things for granted.”
— Chaz French
D.C. native Chaz French is a 25-year-old musician and rapper. Following the success of his mixtapes Happy Belated (2015) and These Things Take Time (2015), his newest release True Colors is out via Motown Records, featuring the likes of Curren$y, Casey Veggies and BJ The Chicago Kid.
Originally from Moscow, photographer Ira Chernova is based between Los Angeles and New York. View her portfolio here.
Originally from D.C, rapper Chaz French credits his music to the influence of gospel, artists like Amy Winehouse and a stint of homelessness. In the span of 2015, French produced two mixtapes, Happy Belated and These Things Take Time. His debut album, True Colors, is infused with political and personal themes and features collaborations with notable rappers such as Curren$y, Casey Veggies and BJ The Chicago Kid.
Where are you from?
Northeast Washington, D.C.
When did you start making music?
I’ve always been into music. I fell in love with the drums at age 4, and I started making music when I was seven.
Who did you listen to growing up and who is your music influenced by today?
I wasn’t really allowed to listen to rap. I grew up in a Christian home so I was listening to Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Yolanda Adams, CeCe Winans, Hezekiah Walker—all gospel really. But when I got older, the first hip-hop album I bought was Kanye West’s Graduation. Now, I’m influenced by Andre 3000, Kanye West, Kid Cudi, Frank Ocean, Marvin Gaye, Wale, Amy Winehouse, Lil Wayne and gospel music. I can keep going, but those are the first to come to mind.
How and when did you decide that this is what you were going to do?
I decided music is what I wanted to do after my first high school talent show in 9th grade at Eleanor Roosevelt. All the girls went crazy. My friend Marcus and I did a song called “All I Do” and an instrumental version of Cassidy’s “Hotel”.
“I decided music is what I wanted to do
after my first high school talent show in
9th grade at Eleanor Roosevelt.
All the girls went crazy.”
— Chaz French
What life events have most affected you and how do they reflect in your music?
A lot of life events affected how I make music. Number one has to be when I was homeless. That made me realize never to take things for granted. Number 2 has to be when I had my kids. They made me work so much harder knowing that music was the way to provide for them, so I did what I had to do to perfect my craft as much as possible.
What principles would you never break?
I would never break my belief in God. I always keep Him, my kids and my immediate family first.
What’s the most valuable advice you have ever been given?
To never give in, never give up and always follow your heart. Also, never be scared to fail—it’s all a part of the process. A loss can always be a blessing. Just keep pushing!
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
I always wish I could’ve worked with Amy Winehouse. I really want a record with Frank Ocean, Andre 3000, Lil’ Wayne and Rick Ross. These people are just legendary! I’ve learned a lot from their music.
“I wasn’t really allowed to listen to rap.
I grew up in a Christian home so I was
listening to Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond,
Yolanda Adams, CeCe Winans, Hezekiah Walker
—all gospel really.”
— Chaz French
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
I really love bowling and being with my kids and family. I love video games when I have time, movies as well, but mainly just spending time with the kids doing whatever they are into.
What’s next for you?
More music – my debut album True Colors drops July 14. Also planning to go on tour and hopefully do some acting. I just want to keep the ball rolling.