Chevy Woods Talks ‘The 4800 Hunnid Project,’ Tour Stories With Wiz Khalifa & Chinx Drugz’s Friendship [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Fans may recognize Chevy Woods' face from cameos in various Wiz Khalifa videos and behind the scenes clips on the road, but the Taylor Gang member is looking to step to the forefront these days. After years of playing the background, the Pittsburgh native has unleashed his most ambitious project to date, The 48 Hunnid Project. With over a half dozen projects to his name and years of seasoning, The 48 Hunnid Project is Chevy's first retail release and marks a new beginning for Mr. Khalifa's right hand man. But the journey has been far from a walk in the park.
Born and raised in the slums of the Steel City, a young Chevy got his feet wet rapping as a teen with friends. Like many before him, he rhymed over instrumentals of hits by popular artists before beginning to build his own sound. The rhymer took a shot at higher learning with a stint at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania, but he had other career endeavors on his mind. He began seriously pursuing music and frequented local creative hub ID Labs, where would meet Wiz Khalifa and build the foundation of what is looking to be a promising career.
That meeting with Wiz lead to aligning himself with Rostrum Records and playing shotgun while watching his friend ascend from just another rapper in the 'hood to one of the biggest stars in the game. Chevy was still quietly cultivating his own buzz with a string of mixtapes (Pilot S---, The Cookout and Gangland, to name a few) that ingratiated his street-smart, but feel-good vibes to a growing number of listeners. Get familiar with songs like "Home Run," "Hazelwood" and "Napkins" if you haven't discovered his catalog yet.
With Wiz already a household name and former label mate Mac Miller also putting on for their hometown, Chevy Woods is next up and has a solid chance at achieving stardom himself. Woods stopped by The Boombox office in New York on a sunny day in August to give some insight on his humble beginnings, the true meaning behind The 4800 Hunnid Project and where he's headed next. Even Wiz Khalifa and Chinx Drugz are part of the conversation. Getcha some below.
The Boombox: How would you describe Pittsburgh to someone that's never been to the city?
Chevy Woods: I don't wanna say it's like a normal hood because everybody has different things that go on. It's like war going on in the hood, it's everything going on in the hood. And Mac [Miller] lived like 7-8 minutes from where I stay, but that [within that] 7-8 minutes, it changes dramatically, you know what I mean. It's very rich and things of that nature, then when you go down the hill, it's not like that, so growing up there was tough, it was tough in every way. It was tough in sports, it was tough in the streets.
Coming up in Pittsburgh, nobody thinks they're gonna make it out 'cause their thoughts is "I'm not gonna make it out," so that's just the environment that I grew around. Then just broadening myself and talking to other people, I started meeting people that were from different neighborhoods, but the same kind of walks of life but they were prospering, so I'm like, "Oh, they can do that?" And we grew up in the same type of environment so it gives me hope to be able to do what I'm doing now and it gives other kids hope to look at me now and see that can do it too."
What would you say is the thing you cherish the most about being from Pittsburgh?
The work ethic is what I cherish the most because I know a lot of people that no matter what people tell 'em, they go hard anyway. So when they say blue-collar city and stuff like that, that's for corporate and stuff like that, it's not blue-collar around my way [laughs]. So it's like get in where you fit in. If you got a dream or something you wanna do, you can do it; it's not nothing that's gonna hold you back but yourself.
How would your describe your childhood?
My childhood was cool. I got two younger brothers. My dad left when I was like 10 years old so my mom raised us from then 'til now so she's still giving advice, still saying pull your pants up. So she still on us the same way that she would be in the crib. But growing up, I was into sports a lot so I was already always out of the house playing in different tournaments and things like that So just doing that and being back home, my mom was just excited because both of my brothers followed suit and they started playing sports. They both followed suit when I went to the street stuff -- they did the same thing. So the household was cool, it could've been better, but my mom, she struggled and we struggled, but she made sure we had what we needed.
What was the first album to get you open as far as rap?
50 Cent, Power of a Dollar. The very first one that nobody really 'til this day doesn't know about. I used to listen to that every single day, like, word for word. If he did a show and he did some of those songs or if he was performing on a Power of a Dollar tour, I would have to make sure I see some of them shows. When I started hearing that, it kinda clicked a light on for me 'cause the guys in my neighborhood were his age but they were doing the things he was talking about. I seen it everyday.
So that's what attracted me to it because he was telling a story that I wasn't hearing musically from the people in my neighborhood. He was saying through music what the people in my neighborhood was just doing. So I was just looking at it like that's crazy somebody that's kind of the same and on the upper level of being an artist and he's still bringing the hood sound. So I felt like if I can do that and still be kinda corporate, I can win.
You just came off the Boys of Zummer tour with Wiz Khalifa. What was that experience like?
The biggest difference was us being able to watch somebody else perform after us 'cause we ain't ever go on at no 7:55 p.m. We were opening for Fall Out Boy so we would be off the stage by 9:30 p.m. And I've never been to a rock concert ever. So being on tour and having it in my face, I indulged in it. Certain nights I was going to different places and seeing different things and listening to what they were saying. The biggest thing I took from it is they have energy from start to finish so when they intro start, it's real big and by the time they end, it's real big. So I kinda learned something from them as far as keeping the energy.
Watch Chevy Woods' "All Said and Done" Video Feat. Dej Loaf
Did any memorable moments happen outside of the performances?
That's funny you asked that 'cause something funny happened with Wiz. We had these little mopeds on tour that we would bust out after the shows over. Wiz is crazy, he jumped on one with his pajamas on and no shoes. So he's flying around the venue and taking us on these little trails he found and we get back to the concrete and he's flying and I'm right behind him and I'm looking at him like, "Something's 'bout to happen." He ends up getting out of control, skids and jumps up and didn't have one scratch on him and soon as he gets up, he grabs the bottle of Jameson and takes a big swig.
I was like, "How the hell did you fall and not rip your pants?" I said, "Something is really wrong with you, man" [laughs]. That's God looking out for you 'cause he fell so hard and then got up and didn't have a scratch and was drinking and laughin' so that was pretty dope to see and it was funny too.
If you could bring one rapper back from the dead, who would it be?
Chinx Drugz. You can ask me that question a million times and it won't be nobody else just because I haven't built a relationship with nobody like I did with him and then they get killed. He was at his peak and at the point where people was paying attention. So for him to get that cut short, I totally wish that I could bring him back and just say all the things that I wanted to say and do all the things we talked about doing.
How did you and Chinx meet?
Me and Chinx met through Wiz and French [Montana]. French was doing a "Chopper Down" remix and Wiz was on it so we were in Atlanta, Waka Flocka and everybody was there and me and Chinx just got cool after that. And he used to come to the city with French and hit me up, like "Come through" and I used to go through and go kick it. He was just a chill dude, mellow and he was just 'bout his business and his family.
And me not seeing him every day, I still got that feeling from him. He still gave me that "I got something to accomplish" kind of feeling so we kinda matched minds; we was on the same page. I got a few friends that are friends of big artists, but me and him hit it off and it was immediate. At first it didn't have nothing to do with music, we ain't even make no songs out the gate, we just vibed so that's what made the friendship stronger.
Tell me about growing up on the 4800 block and how those experiences translated into the making of this project?
Growing up there, for me personally, I had a bunch of good times and minimal bad times. But I learned everything that I know, from sports to the streets to a little bit of the music. I learned that right outside my mom's house, right outside her door. So growing up it was cool, I stayed outta trouble, we did little mischievous s--- but we ain't ever get in trouble for it. And that was just a blessing 'cause I got a bunch of friends who were kind of in the same situation and they could've been rapping and they just went the other way. And I don't knock them for that or nothing, those are still my homies, but I just had a different mindset, you know what I mean. To this day, I just try to tell 'em and bring 'em in.
I know it's gonna start off kinda slow, but that's what happened with me and Wiz. If you hustle, then you'll be straight; you really gotta put your mind to something if you really want it. Coming from my block and naming the project 4800, it means more to other people also. It's not just my block, I got mad homies and it's their block. I got homies from another block that come up there all the time so anytime you come through, people come up there and check you out. [They] might see my car, jump out and say they enjoy the music. It's just a cool little vibe.
What was your mission or goal with this project?
I just really wanted to get people to listen instead of hearing. When you listen to it, you actually feel something; when you're just hearing it you're just like "Aight, cool." You might hear the beat and not hear the lyrics or hear a hook or the ad-libs. I'm just trying to get people to listen and open up their ears. It's a message in these songs, there's a reason I put them in that order, there's a reason why I named 'em that. There's a reason the first song is "48 Hunnid" and the last song is "Lookin Back" with Wiz because we came up together so let's just look back and rap about it.
I read that The 4800 Hunnid Project is a culmination of years of work. Tell us how about that process.
Well, the thing is, all of the songs that I got on there are kinda fresh, so what I did was I just revisited the songs with more passion. Like, I recorded some of the songs in L.A. then I got to the studio, ID Labs in Pittsburgh, they mixed it, my homie E. Dan. So he was just like, "Yo, some of these verses you need to just do over because you need to give it the same feeling of what hook has." So I went back in there. Just the progression of just becoming a well-rounded artist. Those are just things you gotta do. People record and then they leave out and think it's the hottest s--- in the world. There's so some much stuff you can do to a song or a beat, to your voice that can switch things up.
How many songs did you record?
I recorded like 100 songs before and that's just to get to that seven. Like the song "Now That I'm Up" which is No. 2 on the project, I recorded and nobody on the team thought that song was "it." And my home boy Sledgren made the beat and when we recorded it, I told him, "This is one of them songs, bro." Like this is one of those and only me and him thought that. I had to sell Wiz and my manager Will and all of them on the song. So what I did is, when I went home, I hurried up and just paid for the video, like "I'm gonna just do it" and just shot it and I sent it to 'em and they was like, "Damn. Now I understand why you said this song is that."
How did "Getcha Some," your collaboration with Post Malone, come about?
We got mutual friends. My homie Brett's from Dallas and he put me on to Post 'cause he's from Dallas too. But once I started hearing the music, I became a fan. Like before we recorded any records, I went to SXSW and I was performing every night, but when I would get offstage -- even though he didn't have s--- to do with Taylor Gang -- the song was just so awesome to me that I just let it play as I was leaving off the stage. So I played that "White Iverson" song like six out of the eight shows and that was me just showing respect 'cause I liked his music.
He was in L.A. one day and my homie called him up and I was working in the studio with my home girl PJ, who's also on that "Getcha Some" record and it just made sense, you know what I mean. He came in drinking a 40 oz. with a head band on and stuff and I was just looking at him, like "You're the perfect person fro this song, man. You got a verse for me?" and he was like "For sure" and it just came out dope.
What made you pick your Dej Loaf collaboration, "All Said And Done," as the lead single?
I feel like it had the most emotion. I recorded that from a real conversation and a real place with my homies and they used to just tell me that. That's why I was like, "I got a call from my dog doing fed time / Said he would've did it different from his past time." That was so real because my homie was like, "Man, I shouldn't have been doing this and doing that and just turned around and listened to what you told me" and things of that nature so I think it just had the most feeling and the most passion. I put the most into that song because it was so close to me. And it's not just one person going through that, I got like eight homies that's going through that situation.
That was just one thing that spurred it, but it relates to a bigger picture.
Yeah, way bigger picture because somebody that's playing that record is probably going through that same thing -- either in jail or they're the friend outta jail talking to the friend in jail. So a lot of people connect to that 'cause they got homies that's incarcerated.
Who are some of the producers you worked with?
My homie Arthur McArthur, he's dope. He actually became one of my favorite people in the music industry out of all the people that I've met. Every time I call him, he shows up. If I got a video and he's in the area, he shows up. If I'm going out, he shows up; he was there for my birthday, made sure he brought me a bottle. It was just genuine. And then the rest of 'em, it's like in-house, the homies. Ricky P, Sledgren and then you got Rico Love, he speaks for himself. The reason that the people are on the EP and the people with beats are on the EP is because we got relationships. This is just not my project, it's their project so they're gonna go just as hard as I go about it because they're a part of it.
Watch Chevy Woods' "Now That I'm Up" Video
What record are you most excited for fans to hear?
I think the Rico Love record, the "Wit Me" record" because when I recorded that... it's funny that I'd never been to New York And never seen [Funkmaster] Flex in the Tunnel or none of that stuff back in the day, but knew if Flex was in the tunnel, he'd play that right now. So the feeling came from a New York kind of vibe to it. I wanted to really rap, have strong bars and the hook to be just perfect and Rico was like, "I got the perfect song for you."
It's not that often that you get a call from a person of that stature saying they got the perfect record for you, like, what you gonna do? You gonna flake on it or you gonna hit it right? So when I sent it to him, he was like, "Damn, you smashed that, let's just keep working." And to have him, as busy as a producer and as an artist as he is, to take the time out to talk to me and give me some advice and tell me, "Let's go work some more," that's pretty dope.
How does it feel to finally be getting your just due after all these years of grinding?
I'm excited about it. The feeling I get is excitement. I feel like now, there ain't no limit. Finding yourself as an artist, you don't try to do a lot of things. For me, for instance, I seen some things that Wiz did and I was like, "Aight, I'ma do that too." I didn't listen to nobody else's music, I was prolly just listening to Taylor Gang when I was in that mode of making that EP. So for me the feeling is there, like my mom called me like, "I got goosebumps" 'cause the feeling is there. She knows these stories and my homies know these stories so it's just me talking to the world now through music and doing interviews like this and letting 'em know me as a person through conversation so then they tie the two together and then they understand it.
What's next for Chevy Woods?
Well, in between thinking should I make a mixtape or should I start working on the album, and not think too much far ahead and prolly just do the mixtape or the album when the time comes. We might do both, we might do one or the other, but at the top of the year, 2016, I'ma really turn up. I'ma really chase this thing and really go after this now 'cause I put this album out for sale and it got a good response so now it's time to give 'em the full-length story.
Name five songs that have changed your life.
Black Rob's "Whoa," because it was like the illest metaphors and the illest beat that I heard at the time. OutKast's "Elevators," that joint. Remember Puff Daddy and the Family album, remember that song he had with Twista, I think it's called "This Is The End." [The song is "Is This the End?"] When I was listening to the "Elevators" joint, I never heard nobody say "Me and you, yo mama and yo cousin too." I was like, "What, you can really say that on a record and it flies?" And then everybody started loving the song.
Back then I didn't even know what it meant. People back in the day when they used to do stuff, they used to not be so conscious of what they're saying and now everybody's so conscious 'cause they put you in the media for saying something. I used to play that in my mom's living room 'til the speakers break.
The Twista one was just smoking music for me. And I was like hiding and smoking, I wasn't smoking out freely. I used to do things like get high, think I'm that looking normal, walk in my mom's room, sit down and be like, "What's up?" And she'd be like, "Get the f--- out of my room, you're coming from across the street, you're so high" and yadda, yadda, yadda. So that's one.
And Ghostface, off Supreme Clientele, it's a song called "One." He says, "We're at the weed gate for Jake, we need eight ravioli bags." In my neighborhood, the 20 sacks were in ravioli bags so I knew exactly what he was saying. Like, he's way out there in New York and he's not calling it weed or dime pieces, he's calling 'em ravioli bags? In the hood, we called 'em raviolis, there was green ones, red ones. We had all kind of bags.
And the last song, I used to think I was Montell Jordan [sings "This Is How We Do It" hook] because he was tall, I was like, "This n----'s like 6-foot-8-inches out there singing!" So when I do melodies and stuff, that's where that comes from. I was influenced by stuff like that, so I started to kinda like imitate it.
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