I’m obsessed with Charlotte’s rap scene. It’s possible that listening to my trusty Celine Dion Pandora station cancels out any authority I have on the subject, but I assure you my affinity for diva Top 40 radio and my love of local rap are not mutually exclusive.
I was excited to see Pitchfork’s list of Four Rappers Giving Us Reason to Watch Charlotte’s Rap Scene this week but have a few more names to add starting first with new-to-me artist SchylerChaise. I found him on Instagram and his latest 10-track EP Black Sheep is all I’ve been listening to lately.
I like Schyler’s sound because it’s chill, layering anthem-worthy lyrics over smooth retro-classic beats. The self-proclaimed Black Sheep says he’s always had a hard time fitting the mold and his music is just as defiantly unique.
Schyler was born and raised in Charlotte and that leaves a mark on his work. The 704-heavy music video for Rebirth starts at his childhood home and winds through familiar city streets, ending (appropriately enough) at Black Sheep Skate Shop in South End.
Check out what he has to say about making music that matters, standing his ground and making his mom proud.
CA: How long have you been in Charlotte?
SC: I’ve been in Charlotte since the day I was born.
CA: How long have you been making music?
SC: I’ve been making music seriously for about 4 years now, but I started writing verses my freshman year of high school.
CA: Your latest EP, Black Sheep, is killer. How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t heard any of your music yet?
SC: Thank you, I really enjoy when others enjoy my sounds. I’m too much of a critic to enjoy it. I would describe my music as more of an experience. I believe that with this project as well as the others you can always gauge exactly where I am in life by pressing play. Maybe I should call it “me” music… nah that sounds corny. Just personal I guess, a diary of sorts.
CA: What’s the significance of referring to yourself as The Black Sheep?
SC: My entire life I’ve never really fit into anything, I’ve always been the guy who saw things a bit different than others. Though I will say it took me a very long time to embrace the fact that I was this person, I had so many years of doing things to look “cool” or to gain acceptance that I ended up pushing people away. But that wasn’t really me. Who I am today is always who I’ve always wanted to be at heart, a person who’s not afraid to be himself no matter what the crowd is doing. A black sheep.
CA: You open “Rebirth” with that line about switching the style up to watch the money pile up. What’s it like standing your ground as an independent artist in an industry that wants to change you?
SC: The line meant exactly that. For a while I was making music that I thought people wanted. Now I make the songs I think people need. I actually wrote that song the day after my nephew was born. That was a major turning point in my life. When I looked at him for the first time I knew that the next generation was here and I had to be a great example for him. I don’t want him or my younger siblings to hear this stuff that’s being shoved at us and think these are the things a man should value or the way a man should conduct himself.
CA: Tell me about Charlotte’s rap scene. Any talent we should have our eyes on?
SC: I feel as though there is a ton of talent in Charlotte’s rap scene. Pay attention to Lute, he just got a major shout out from J.Cole, but It would be unfair for me to try and list everyone else though way too many to name and I don’t wan’t to forget anyone’s name. The scene is definitely growing though. Much love to everyone doing their thing out here.
CA: Your mom comes up in your lyrics (especially “Mama Told Me”). What does she think about your music career?
SC: I can say in the beginning my mom wanted me to focus more on building a solid foundation rather than putting all my hopes into music. She’s been very firm with “You can do anything you set your mind to.” She has always believed in me no matter what I’ve decided to pick up. She’ll always question my focus because I tend to want to do something new every day, but Mom knows this music thing is real for me and she’s very supportive. Her main thing is for me to remain true and to walk in my calling, to always “have something to say.”
CA: Hit us with your favorite and least favorite thing about Charlotte.
SC: My favorite thing about Charlotte is the diversity, most of the people in Charlotte aren’t originally from the city so its tons of opportunity to pick up on different cultures and views. My least favorite thing about Charlotte would be the lackluster love of the arts. But one day at a time.
CA: What’s next for you?
SC: Next for me is more, more music, more visuals, more love…just more.
Connect with Schyler Chaise
Photo credit: Saloan Rochelle