BRONX, NEW YORK – Chaz Van Queen has released two studio albums and worked withTalib Kweli, but the Bronx, New York rapper is ready to begin a new chapter as CHAZMERE. He is set to release an album under the new name June 10, he says in an exclusive announcement to HipHopDX.
“The music I’m making has such a feel,” he says of his transition. “Strong, lasting, yet graceful, sometimes smooth. Like cashmere.”
Besides rapping and producing, CHAZMERE teaches the youth in the Bronx. He says that he is a true leader in the city’s culture because he is “enabling more leaders” through his role as a workshop leader with Building Beats. The organization seeks to use the art of production to empower underprivileged children and teach them entrepreneurial skills as well as provide mentorship.
“My students make so much fire, especially the ones at Horizons Juvenile Detention Center,” CHAZMERE says. “I might have to add [the title of] manager to my invisible LinkedIn.”
As he serves as a mentor, CHAZMERE reflects on what he has learned from working with Talib Kweli. They both worked on the Colours of the Culture project, along with NIKO IS,Styles P and MK Asante. He has also performed with the rap legend. When asked what he learned working with Kweli, CHAZMERE says “the importance of quality” and how to embrace the art of music-making.
“Not just grabbing a camera and shooting a short form music video with no plan,” he says. “I also learned to enjoy recording music as a more recreational, therapeutic exercise. Because I’m also a producer-musician, shit can feel like so much work when creating. But it’s also perspective.”
CHAZMERE takes a lot of pride in representing his city. He feels a burden to uphold its cultural tradition as he sees an acceleration in the arts movement. He is releasing the single “No B Sides” through HipHopDX as a teaser for what the CHAZMERE album will encompass.
“It’s a critical time for the Bronx,” he says, “economic growth, small business incentives, thus more artistic outlets, like galleries and venues, thus a greater responsibility as the artist ambassador I am for Uptwon. My Bronx experience inspired the first phrase on ‘No B Sides,’ ‘Live from the corner of the surreal and real.’ Being a part of this growth and change in the Bronx is so invigorating.”
Stream CHAZMERE’s “No B Sides” and view the cover art for CHAZMERE, due out June 10 below: