By: Lauren Royer
“It’s one thing to act cool, it’s another thing just to be it” -Chevy Woods
Finding genuine people can be a real impossible trip. Ya’ll know what I mean? It feels like there is so many fake people out there and the relationships we form with them are even faker. That’s why when you come across someone who’s down to earth and organic, it’s refreshing as hell. Let me tell you about a true OG organic master: Chevy Woods, most noted for his alignment with the Taylor Gang (Wiz Khalifa’s crew). I had the absolute pleasure of talking to him about his history/come up with his crew, the importance of having a solid fam to keep it held down, as well as lessons learned from great artists he’s worked with. This dude is one cool cat who is a father before he is anything else. Off the top he is humble and doesn’t take credit for his own success even at his level (he points to Wiz and family for it). Most importantly, we talked about keeping things real, because what you’re trying to do will be lost if it’s not organic and it’s guaranteed you won’t be considered classic with that attitude. Luckily for Chevy, he’s got genuine down pat, even if he’s 6’4” with a fear of roller coasters- it doesn’t get more real than that.
Talk about your super early days.. when you were just starting out and the progression of coming up. How was that for you?
I really wasn’t into music back then, I was more in sports. I went to college and some friends of mine were getting into cyphers at school, and they just kept going with it after college. I kinda like ran into being in the streets and picked it up through that again. People were saying ‘no keep going you can’t stop cause you can really rap’. We’d be at like cook outs, rapping and just stuck with it until at some point Wiz wanted to go professional and started looking for a studio. We kept it going forward from there.
So it sounds like you weren’t ever really planning for it to happen, it kind of just progressed that way? Or did you hit a point where you watched what the internet was doing for up and coming artists?
It wasn’t really dream of mine at the time you know? Like I knew I could partially do it, I was more into sports as I said, but once I met Wiz he gave me a new look at it and helped me see it from a different perspective and I believed in it, why he wanted to be a superstar. When someone wants it, they are also going to need people around them that support what they’re going for and help them by showing them how to move throughout the business.
How did the Taylor Gang come to be?
Same studio that all of us would go to through Wiz. We were friends with guys in the neighborhood that we would bring, Wiz had his friends there too and we would just go to the studio. At the time, we didn’t even have a name for it, it just was. We were part of it but we’re all separate artists. Then one day Wiz turned over a new leaf, started wearing Chuck Taylors and then all our clothes became tailored and so it became our name. We just kind of talked it into existence.
What are some pros and cons coming up with a crew? Would you recommend it?
Okay, so the pros: you create a family vibe, what you have at home- they become people who are brothers and sisters. I tell my daughter (14) when she was young that ‘stranger’ means when you’re on a playground and a van pulls up and there’s a dude wearing a shirt with your name on it with some candy telling you to come in the van- those are strangers we don’t trust. But when you become older, strangers become business partners who are also like your family, people that hold you down. Don’t just shun everyone out because you could miss out on those relationships with those strangers that help you in business too. Wiz would have that happen to him at that time, he would shut people out and then people would say stuff like “Wiz doesn’t talk to anyone, blah, blah” and then on the other side, I was trying to find out who he was before I put judgement on him. That’s a pro of the music industry you get to make new friends.
Some of the cons: at the same time when you’re gaining new friends you’re going to lose old friends, cause either you’re moving beyond them or they don’t want to start at the bottom with nothing, be their own boss, and work their way up. As a collective we are a family members but we also are our own bosses and separate.
What are 3 important tools you feel helped you get to the level you’re at now and going up to next.
My Mother, my brothers, and just the Taylor Gang, just us. At any point you know, a lot of things get going on and it can go wrong and there will be times you get frustrated and want to throw in the towel. Those people will say ‘no we don’t want you to do that’. It’s just like having that around so you can’t quit is the best thing ever. They help me get into the next step that I CAN make.
What is a struggle you have being a famous artist that up and coming artists may not know about?
(laughs) Oh man, the star status always surprises me and always in the smallest of places. People will look at me like they have some idea but they don’t know for sure…and I look at them and I kind of help them out like ‘ya it’s me’ and they say ‘oh ya I knew that…I just didn’t want to be wrong you know?’ People notice and it’s always fun to see fans react. I’ll be somewhere regular and the waiter will recognize me and will run back and tell the staff and they’ll all come out and look. My daughter will say ‘Dad, you’re famous’ and I just say ‘not really, I’m just Dad’ (laughs). I was never expecting it. I was in a negative area before and I didn’t think I would be able to gain people’s respect to get to that level. Most people don’t even really have any idea of what I’ve been through, some may know a little from my music and what I’ve said in there.
LR: I think there is something to be said about the ability to tell your story through music though, one that is real and that people can actually take in. Not all genres of music have that ability to express that way.
Ya people can’t say what they want to in a lot of places and I’m fortunate because I have a platform to tell my story in both a positive and negative way without having to worry about anything happening because of it.
What is the biggest cue you’ve taken from OG, Big Snoop Dogg?
Oooh- don’t stand by nothing that’s not yours. It’s just not cool to support things that you don’t have a belief in. Like okay, a dude will come up to me and say ‘hey man I got this t-shirt and I was wondering if you could post it on Instagram’. I’m like ‘man look, I’ll take your shirt and maybe one day when I get up in the morning and like go outside or something to stretch and film myself in it. Then maybe I’ll upload it there and tag you.’ See that’s because it’s organic and I prefer organic in those forms cause I have the luxury to that. With a lot of artists it may be they don’t cause they’re trying to stand by something that isn’t them.
LR: Nowadays it seems really important to know what’s organic and what’s real…and if you’re not standing by what you feel is real, then you’re fake. It’s like bein with something you don’t fuck with- it just doesn’t set you up to be confident in what you do.
Exactly and with it being organic – it doesn’t have a time frame. It just won’t. But when it’s not real, it all has to be done now or quick too.
LR: Ya definitely, like there is something with a lot of music now that isn’t classic or timeless either.. It’s made for the now and done real quick. So when people can create something that is classic, it’s going to be organic.
For sure, I think the reason that it’s that way nowadays is because people’s attention spans have changed. Whether you’re watching a video, interview, or TV shows, people have like a 4 second attention span and then it’s gone.
Bless me with a mantra of yours
Okay so when I wake up I feel like I’ll think first thing ‘I gotta get it’. I gotta get it no matter what it is if I want it, if it’s in my mind I gotta get it if it. If it’s smoking some weed, I gotta get it. If it’s a hug from my Mom, I gotta get it. If it’s on my mind that means I am going to go get it.
LR: For sure! It’s all about the power of thought and what you want just locked in and then it’ll appear. Universal shit.
Definitely and I also feel like I’m one of those guys that learn from Wiz. I am always on the internet, trying to catch up and I may miss something, but I’ll do all kinds of things to stay creative and I try to do something musically every day, like writing a song or listening to old music we’ve made, always jotting ideas for other people, around my shows and then something clicks every time within me and I get it and we’re a team.
LR: Something I can recommend for creativity that I try to do every day is things that are scary and I’m afraid to do, because once you do that it opens a whole new world of creativity and perspective for yourself.
Definitely, like on the fear thing, people are doing things they are afraid to do so they can face fears. Like you know, tall people who are afraid of heights. I’m afraid of heights and I’m 6’4′. I’d look at roller coasters and say ‘Nope, no thanks. Not doing that’ and once I was at a fair with my daughter and brother and they convinced me to get on it and it wasn’t that bad. Doing those things opens a lot of things for everything else.