The Spring Issue #11 of Subbacultcha quarterly magazine is out now!
Journal-writer-turned-rapper Chynna Rogers is just a regular girl who likes burgers, burritos and bbq ribs. If you met at a party, she’d never tell you she made music unless you really pried. Every so often, the West Philadelphian’s serious, wry demeanour is rippled by bursts of youthful enthusiasm for hopping on planes to unknown places, her loyalty to Panic! At The Disco, and chain-ordering junk food to her apartment in Chinatown, Manhattan. Chynna’s latest EP, music 2 die 2 hails a fresh return for the 23-year-old since her 2016 Ninety mixtape and even earlier releases Glen Coco and Selfie, which first set people’s rap radars on red alert for this irresistibly cool emcee. Straight outta high school vibes have long been shaken off. In their place appear Chynna’s biting spoken lines and woozy beats, reflecting a brewing anger and a coming to terms with the aftermath of death, depression and drugs that have passed through her life. In between tour lags, she’s back in her usual Williamsburg studio recording new material, commenting that the EP was a snapshot of past emotions. Her headspace now is more focused on connecting with her fans, producing new music and expressing herself through visual projects, inspired by directors like Alfred Hitchcock and Terry Gilliam.
You’re in between tour lags. How’s it been and what’s up next?
My music was supposed to be like a journal, I started it without knowing what would happen, didn’t expect a career from it, but here I am doing just that.
I did a US tour recently and met a lot of college students. I like meeting people who don’t do what I do, people who are going to do political science, architecture or law. That’s cool. Europe’s next. I lived in London for shorter periods of time, but I’ve not been to 80% of the other places I am going to. I’m just excited to eat all the food and travel, man. I’m excited to meet my fans and grateful for them too of course, but I’m satisfied with whoever comes to my shows. I’m really excited to just get out there. I’m just going to take a lot of money, not a lot of baggage, go crazy and just buy a ton of stuff there. I’ll roll through JFK customs with mad baggage full of stuff from the places I’ve never been to. I’ve never been to Finland or Greece, for instance. I might just get all my stuff in Greece.
Traveling and eating, eh?
I just looove to eat. I eat out a lot! Actually no, I order my food on Postmates and eat it at home. I had these bbq ribs the other day, so good. I also eat a lot of Mexican food, especially burritos. And I love this place in New York called the Meatball Shop. It’s the best! I’m also really into eating a lot of burgers. I haven’t had anything marginally healthy recently.
Switching gears now, what are the core elements of your musical identity? How did you end up rapping?
In the last year, shit just got darker for me. In general, I have a different perspective now than when I started out.
I have always enjoyed writing, it was the intro to all of this from a young age. I would write books on my desktop. I’d get five chapters in, but I just didn’t have the willpower to keep on going. Music was the second thing I loved the most. So, why don’t I write a story in 4 mins rather than 400 pages? It was the only real outlet I had. I was not open about what was going on in general, I can be pretty secretive. My music was supposed to be like a journal, I started it without knowing what would happen, didn’t expect a career from it, but here I am doing just that.
Music 2 die 2 shows a departure from the past tracks that you’ve put out as singles and mixtapes. Tell me more about the themes running through your latest EP.
It was a little more experimental than anything. I have been consistent in the things that I want to talk about in my music, but this one might be a bit more depressing. In the last year, shit just got darker for me. In general, I have a different perspective now than when I started out. Coming out of high school, everything felt exciting, I felt grown, and then life starting going super fast. It was an immediate change. As drugs came into my life, as death took friends and family, as relationships came into my life, you’d hear that in my music. The thing with this release is that a lot of these songs are older and people think that they’re about now, but actually my music now is totally different. I’m recording more things right now that I didn’t get to when I was on tour. The goal is to stay productive.
Out of the other directions that you get pulled in to create, which do you like most?
I never got into the emo look though. I mean, I wanted to, but you can’t do that in the hood.
Besides music making in the studio, the best part is making the videos. I’m working on one right now and can’t wait to go out to Europe and shoot some cool scenes that no one’s ever seen. I’m going to take advantage of the sights if nothing else. The last two that I did were based on films that had a big effect on my music that came out that time: The Birds by Hitchcock and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Terry Gilliam. I’m very inspired by those directors’ visions. I think that artists don’t put that level of effort into their videos anymore, not because they don’t want to, but because they don’t have the budgets anymore. People of my generation or even younger kids, they also don’t have those director references anymore. As for music, I’d love to collaborate with Young Dolph or Uzi. And emo bands.
Ok wait, you listen to emo bands?
DO I LISTEN TO EMO BANDS? You’re going to get me started. There’s a lot. Honestly, Panic! At The Disco, Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Underoath. I would have to do a collaboration with Panic! At The Disco if they asked me. I never got into the emo look though. I mean, I wanted to, but you can’t do that in the hood. That get up won’t pass.
Anything else you want to share?
I don’t think I’m that interesting. I’m pretty regular. You can tell them that.