Laid Back and Taylor’d: Chevy Woods Talks Production of “Gangland 3” + Finding His Sound
“They call me Quiet”, Chevy Woods lounges back, and explains why his fans prefer the laid-back flow from his Gangland series to his older style on The Cookout. “One guy told me I shouldn’t use auto tune as much. He was like “you’re a great rapper man, you don’t really need that, your voice is cool” So I kind of took that advice.
Taylor Gang’s own Chevy Woods has stayed quiet the past couple of years because of touring heavily and being the support for Wiz Khalifa. Now, Chevy shines with Gangland 3, where he boasts more of his signature easy-going delivery on songs like “Fernando” and “Champagne”. The transition from The Cookout to the Gangland mixtape series was key for Chevy, since it was during that time that he mastered his own style.
“When I did The Cookout I actually did it with Wiz on the tour bus and it was just an idea we had because we don’t get to record much while we’re on tour, so we just put something together real fast. The Cookout kind of sounded more him than me. I was still trying to find what sound I wanted to create. And once I got into Gangland the series, I actually started finding what music, what producers, what words, and what content I want to get across to the people, so I really started digging in to places that I’ve been and things that I’ve seen.”
It is in the Gangland mixtape series where we get more specificity of Chevy’s story, as he opens up about the origins of his street hustle ambition. On “Gold Chains Gold Daytonz”, he shouts the line “1 woman 3 boys 2 bedrooms no pops and we still made it”. Chevy explains the grim reality of the youth idolizing the dopeman where he comes from.
“What’s behind the title of the song is I knew this dude in my neighborhood who was the high school superstar, and he was supposed to go to college but he didn’t, he got into street life. All of his cars had gold Dayton’s on them and he always wore gold chains. In the neighborhood when we saw that, we looked up to it. Everyone has their own Gold Chains Gold Daytonz, whether it’s a job you’re trying to get or a degree in school or trying to make a movie, everyone has their own way of pushing through.”
And while “Gold Chains Gold Daytonz” details the earnest motives of Pittsburgh’s youth on a haunted beat produced by Arthur McArthur & Rich Kidd, Chevy’s track “Fernando” proves his ability to simplify the same heavy details with a more bouncy, carefree beat produced by Zaytoven. Chevy raps, “He talkin slick, POW, watch his mind go on the curb and you’re gonna see his mama cry Woah”, on another catchy Zaytoven beat. Chevy explains how he got the beat for the song:
“I’ve been a fan of Zaytoven since he started producing for Gucci Mane. I have a friend who linked me to a contact for Zaytoven. I haven’t honestly talked to him, I don’t even know if he knows of the song but I got the beat and I used it! He’ll probably catch wind of it later.”
And although hustling gave Chevy Woods what he needed to stay afloat, it is with Taylor Gang where he amplified his strengths for a more secure future.
“I was in the street hustling everyday. I made a lot of money everyday, but there were a lot of problems. Wiz would say “I don’t feel like you’re really feeling the music game, let’s revisit you really being a part of my team in 2 weeks” and in 2 weeks I went cold turkey and I quit the street business. Wiz told me “if you put in the same effort in the studio as you out in the streets, you’ll never be broke again”, so I was like “DING!” It’s hard to get away from the street hustle when that’s all you know. All I knew was to wake up, answer the phone, sell to the people, and do the same thing the next day. I didn’t really get to see too much outside of my hustle, but once I got to see everything and other places, I saw people really living. I was just stuck, and I needed to find something to really do.”
Chevy explains that with Taylor Gang behind him, he can enjoy freedom as an artist.
“Everyone always says the label is a machine, but really, the artist is the machine. The labels are batteries. So if you’re independent, if you put in the work yourself, you don’t always need those batteries.”
Taylor Gang welcomed heavy hitter, Juicy J, to the label back in late 2011. HardKnock TV’s Nick Huff interviewed Juicy J on staying relevant, in which Juicy J simply explained that the music really has to be in the artist’s heart to succeed. On what he takes from Juicy J, Chevy explains:
“With Juicy, it’s the work ethic I can learn from him. He’s still going. I’m coming up, so how can I slack seeing him still wanting more? I can’t. With all the artists in Taylor Gang, it all happened organically, and that’s how we work.”
And with the help of his Taylor Gang squad is how Chevy’s first retail single “30 Deep” happened.
“Me and Wiz wrote 30 Deep together, while he was recording “We Dem Boyz”, he had already recorded the hook for 30 Deep. The verses were somewhat there, but I used some of my own words too, so it’s a spin off of how we were feeling when “We Dem Boyz” came out, and I just wanted to continue with that.”
On shooting the music video for “30 Deep”, Chevy explains he wanted to represent for his city and bring his city out. Surprisingly, for him it went smoothly.
“I shot 30 deep with like 70 people on my mom’s porch and they all don’t even get along, but they came out to support and represent the city of Pittsburgh and they were all having a good time. That made me realize we can bring people together.”
As Ludacris has said, “pressure could either bust caps or create diamonds”. Luckily, Chevy practices a good habit to handling pressure.
“For me, I live 15 minutes away from my mom. If anything, I go there. To get away, I go there. I still have a cool little room there. I go there just to relax and reset my mind sometimes. She’s real into the music now. She wasn’t at first because of the cussing. When we were younger, she had a big stereo in her dining room where she didn’t want anybody to play cussing music. So we used to have to go to the store and buy the clean versions for us to be able to hear it inside the house. “
Chevy’s mother’s house rules were fuel for innovation for a young Chevy whom further let me know he used to fill in the blanks on the edited versions when his mom couldn’t hear. It was then that he realized he had fun rhyming, and would enjoy doing it for years to come.
Now that Gangland 3 is in rotation as his 8th mixtape, the question remains… When will Chevy drop his debut album?
“For me it’s just been not trying to push it, like force the issue, you know what I mean? Sometimes when you force things they collapse, so I just want to wait on the chance to create the album, and I’ve had plenty of chances to put the album together, but it wasn’t the right time for me. Just like with Gangland, my last project was a year and 4 months in between, and I could’ve put out an EP but I felt like I would’ve been cheating the fans of a year and 4 months of not putting out material, so I’m just giving them something free to make the jump.”
Chevy wraps up the interview by revealing when his debut album will drop… “FALL 2015 is my time.” I would’ve personally liked to cheers to that with the Bombay bottle next to us on the table, but we’ll leave that for the debut album release party!
Written by: Celeste
Photos by: Samantha J