Hailing from B’more but repping the B-ronx more (that’s where he grew up after all) is Chaz Van Queen better known as Chazmere. Chaz got his earliest exposure from his participation in a Talib Kweli compilation, but has since refined his skill and presentation to put out his self-titled album through his own imprint Vibes Don’t Lie. The fledgling rapper’s value set reflects his mentor though as Chaz continues to give back to the community as a music teacher through Building Beats, a program bringing real life skills to underserved youth to teach them how to make music too. I’m not trying to be their PR firm but I’m saying I looked at it and it sounds solid, so big up to Chaz for taking the time to give back to the youth who are our future.
“This ain’t a Game Boy, I learned this s–t from Tetris” – “24K”
There’s a lot to like about Chaz, not the least of which is that he’s a new rapper who doesn’t sound like every other new rapper right now. He’s not trying to AutoTune and/or sing his way through his entire self-titled album, sounding more like a R&B reject than a hip-hop emcee — he’s ACTUALLY emceeing. Chaz has mastered the same production skills he’s teaching to the kids because songs like “EveryBody Hi” are well mixed with a pleasant musical backdrop and vocals that are easy to here. Chaz is a little bit witty too. He’s not trying to be the king of punchlines but there are definitely some pleasant chuckles embedded into his storytelling flow.
“Follow me on Twitter then unfollow me quicker
cause I ain’t you follow you back — emotional ass nigga
I can see you on the blog tryin to figure where my kicks from
Walk in my shoes ’til your feet numb
Still she like ‘Where you get THESE from?'”
Happily for an up-and-coming artist we really get to know Chaz and his voice over the course of 30 minutes and 9 tracks. That’s not always a given since everybody wants to use featured artists and group tracks to raise their profile, but using guests like ScienZe on “10” and Niko Is on “24K” keep the small number of cameos Brooklyn affiliated (the former) or Javotti related (the latter) and match with Chaz and his vibe without robbing his spotlight.
Now I’m a little conflicted by a couple of the tracks on here that come across like mixtape ideas more than original notions. Even though I can give Chaz credit for properly equalizing his vocals to the music on “Curious,” I’m old enough to remember that three rappers who already used this exact same Midnight Star track – Eric B. & Rakim for “What’s on Your Mind,” Kurious for “I’m Kurious” and Warren G for “This DJ.” It’s a hype sample and I don’t begrudge Chaz Van Queen for wanting to rap on the track, but that’s literally what he does here – rap on THE TRACK. It’s not a loop or a manipulation – it’s the whole damn song.
I could be mistaken but I could also swear that “Chaka” uses “Angela” by Bob James, which various rappers over the years have either gotten away with or been shut down completely for (Souls of Mischief lost a very dope song over it). You probably know it better as the “Taxi” theme if you’re old enough to have seen that show. As a matter of fact I’m willing to venture that in neither case is the majority of Chaz’s audience familiar with that history or the recycling, so it’s more a factor of me being an old head that remembers anything than any really damning problem for Chazmere – at least he has good taste in beats. Songs like “I Won’t Tell” are certified head nodders and he’s not even rapping on it – Chaz just shows off his sampling and production skills for three minutes. Aight then Chaz, you get props. He’s a young and thoughtful emcee/producer who hasn’t fallen into the trap of trying to emulate what’s hot in the game today, which might make him even hotter in the future once people come around his way.