Last night, ATL artist Chase Shakur released his much anticipated second EP titled it’s not you, it’s me. Undeniably great, I wanted to get a jump on introducing y’all to Chase in a more personal matter, before the project blows up. Like his other work, it’s not you, it’s me, is a complete project, with the effort and care it takes to make a well-rounded EP obvious throughout. Before you read on, listen to it here.
It’s hard to introduce the real “person” when you’re on a platform such as the modern music industry, but I feel after this Q&A I have a much better sense of Chase as a whole, whose traits and personality characteristics — creativity, expressiveness, and unwavering sensibility of who he is at his core — all came to the surface. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did.
Intro: I wholeheartedly believe Chase Shakur will take over the modern R&B genre. From day one of listening (shoutout to the homie Bailey Decker for putting me on), I could tell there was something different about the recent Def Jam signee’s style and method of delivery, something I’d only seen from a select few artists.
His talent obviously lies in his voice, though that’s not where the list stops. I’m not sure I’ve seen, recently, someone with the ability to pick apart his work, find segments of each song where sound(s) may be missing, and infuse a perfect vocal melody, harmony, adlib, or background fill to absolutely change the entire sound of the piece for the better.
It’s those small nuances that I’ve learned to notice and appreciate throughout my countless days listening to music, and it’s almost a rarity in today’s scene.
Additionally, the attention to detail, patience, and effort is palpable and easily noticeable to someone paying attention. It’ll be Fine, his first major project, is a top-to-bottom masterpiece, and a collective work of art that, if listened from front to back, will completely envelop the listener. This takes countless hours of work, refining, and patience to do… there’s no way something this cohesive could ever come from a couple of mindless studio sessions. To have such a complete project, with so many hit tracks, is an anomaly in today’s industry. Every beat selection and verse was carefully executed to create the most cohesive work possible and it’s evident not only on It’ll be Fine, but in every single track he’s dropped.
I feel privileged to be able to have the chance to pick Chase’s brain, learning more about him, his music, and his journey that’s surely going to place him at the top. Dive in and get to know more about East Atlanta R&B sensation Chase Shakur:
I’ve gotta start with It’ll Be Fine. This is one of the more complete projects I’ve heard in recent years. Talk about how difficult, time-consuming, and patience-requiring it is to create something as fulfilling and beautiful as this album.
At the time I was limited on resources musically, so I built my own studio. I got the beats mainly from YouTube. Me and my boy Zae, we just recorded everything at home. Majority of the project was either through me recording myself at home or it was with help from Zae. There was a lot of trial and error, and a lot of trying things out, finding the sound that I thought worked for me. And yeah, confidence in that sound. And a story of what I was going through at the time, it helped build the project.
You’ve got a unique structure to your songs, specifically with the harmonizing, vocal layering, and ad libbing that all seem to make a full-sounding, cloudlike result. Is this something that comes organically in your creation process, or is it well-thought-out/planned?
It mostly comes organically. I don’t really write my music like it’s mostly freestyle. So it was just me filling up space, in between, like empty words, or like empty spaces in the song. Just wherever it felt right.
You’ve described your motivation as organic. Doing it for the love of the music and your creativity. Money always is a factor, but explain the importance of making your art for the right reasons.
I think when you lead with art, money will follow. If you really, truly love it like I would do this for free, if I had to. I don’t really think about money. When I create I just think about the art and how I can push it forward.
What’s your favorite song that you’ve made, and do you listen to your own music often? (For those who care, I think if I had to decide, mine would be “pray slow” or “x’s n o’s”)
One of my favorites is definitely “x’s and o’s”, haha that shit slap. But another one. That’s my favorite. It’s “gahhdamn,” the drums hit… that’s probably gonna be my favorite.
My love of R&B music derives from the early 2010s, with artists like partynextdoor. I read that you were influenced by PND and Jodeci – are there any others, and what about their music was so influential?
Growing up. I listened to a lot of Brandy, Mary J. Blige, 112, Boys II Men, like growing up in the house with a lot of people. I got a lot of different flavors of music. So the women in my family will play Brandy, Mary J. Blige and all the old school stuff, and then I would have my cousins or my uncles play mostly rap music. So it’d be like Gucci Mane, Young Thug, and 21 Savage. So all those influences created to sound like that now.
You’re part of a creative collective Forever N September, talk about how important your creativity and artistic expression are to your persona.
I think art is all about how to express yourself. Being a black artist, I think that it is important to be able to show that you can express yourself through other avenues. So my collective Forever N September is not just music, it’s, you know, photography or modeling, or it’s everything all bunched into one. Anything that’s creative is what we follow, in the collective. We new music coming from the collective, we got Allo. FM, Jamison, Daniel Barrett, and we have Bruce. We’re working with more artists in the future. It’s gonna be a lot of good stuff coming.
It seems like the present time is crucial to your career. Do you see it that way? How are you balancing the patience it takes to make great music, with the urgency to capitalize off current momentum?
That is something I am getting used to. Yeah, I know it is a very crucial time. I do take this moment in. I know how important it is. My manager Jono stays on me about social content and stuff like that. I’m getting used to the social media aspect of it, that’s probably the most challenging part of it, because I’m not used to being on social media like that. So, that’s what I’m getting used to. The music comes easy, though.
How would you describe your persona?
Genuine, real, authentic, yeah, just me. I don’t really think about personas. I don’t really follow that. What you see is actually me. So if you see me laughing, that’s me. If you see me flexed up, that’s me.
From the brief interviews I’ve seen, you seem to be somewhat reserved… is this accurate? And if so, you seem much more expressive in your music. Talk about expressing yourself through song.
It’s weird, because people see me on Instagram or social media, or whatever. Their conception of me is different from what I actually am, because of the music that I make. But I’m cracking jokes. I’m laughing and shit, I’m really goofy. a lot of the time. So you see me as a person that’s probably what you gonna get. But yeah, for the most part, I am, I guess, reserved. If, like, you know, I’m out.
I’ve noticed your presence in music jumpstarted with Soundcloud. With so many other artists of our generation attributing early success to Soundcloud too, describe the importance of that platform.
Soundcloud is mad important. That started the freedom of putting out music, if you wanted to put out music. The SoundCloud area that definitely defined a big part of my sound and a big part of how I release music. I think SoundCloud is a cool way to share music freely if you want.
You don’t have a multitude of visuals, but the ones you do are stunning. I’ve noticed some of the same names in the production credits, talk about your relationship with those people and how such great visuals came to light.
Yeah, with my previous project it’ll be fine. We were searching for a video director. I like taking my time with my videos and making sure that I make a moment to what people see. So I found my boy Khari McCloud and we’ve been locking in on the visuals and stuff like that. You know, he’s been getting me right creatively.
If you could talk to your past self, two years ago, what would you say to him?
If I could talk to myself 2 years ago, I’d tell myself like fuck that job at UPS, you gonna be straight.
Shoutout to Ahmad, Jono, and Savannah for making this happen!