Chedda Da Connect Talks Houston Roots, Lessons Learned in Prison & ‘Chedda World’ Album [EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]
Anyone that's familiar with the state of Texas knows that its residents do it big. Whether it be business, fashion or sports, the Lone Star State has a reputation for everything being bigger and better. They also have no qualms about getting down and dirty, albeit with their disarming brand of southern charm. The same can be said for the state's rap stars, who have placed their stamp on the game with quality music over the course of the last 25 years.
Texas' reputation as a haven for the southern dope boy continues with its latest export, Chedda Da Connect, who is one of the more buzzworthy rappers to come out of the state as of late. Crashing the scene with his addictive "Flicka Da Wrist" record, the Houston native may have forged his way into the public's consciousness seemingly overnight, but just a year ago, success was far from promised.
A product of the streets and an unabashed hustler, Chedda would end up doing a stint in prison shortly after graduating high school, which altered his plans for college and set him up to be yet another dream deferred. The experience may have put a damper on his aspirations for higher learning, but helped instill the hustle and focus that has taken him from an unknown to having one of most popular songs of 2015. He even received primetime love when "Flicka Da Wrist" was used in the season two premiere of Empire last month.
The Boombox sits down with the rapper at his eOne Music label home to discuss his new project, Chedda World "The Album." While his rhymes are a focal point, Chedda also opens up about his southern upbringing, the lessons learned while sitting behind bars and his mission as an artist.
The Boombox: You were born and raised in Houston. What was life like growing up there?
Chedda Da Connect: Houston, Texas, Northside, Acres Homes. Growing up in Houston, Texas man, it's pretty much a lot of independent people. You gotta pretty much base yourself on your future when you young. You gotta know what you wanna do 'cause Houston is real big and it's wide open so you can easily get lost real quick if you don't catch up. So you gotta start planning ahead.
So growing up, man, I was kind of like a rebel child. I was always in the street running behind the people I'm seeing that I'm thinking is role models but it ain't no bad thing 'cause it made me a man, it made me who I am today. So I grew up in the streets, went to school and graduated high school, didn't go to college. I got locked up on my way to college. But pretty much Houston, Texas, I love it, man. I wouldn't change it for nothing.
Houston is known as a hotbed for football talent. Did you have any skills on the field?
All the way to probably the ninth grade I wasn't really focused on it. Middle school, all that, yeah. I was a fullback. I'd run them balls. I probably made, like, two touchdowns throughout my whole career because after school, I wasn't the one that was practicing. Soon as the kids go to start practicing, I was like, "Nah, I'm going back to my partner house and going to get it in."
Watch Chedda Da Connect's "Flicka Da Wrist" Video
Did you grow up with anybody who went pro?
He played for the Seattle Seahawks, him and my auntie, they used to date. But I think he moved and played for the Panthers now or something, I forget who he with. Then I got a cousin named Glyn Milburn that also played in the league. He was with the [Green Bay] Packers.
Houston also has a rich history far as music. What was it like growing up there with all of the local talent and hometown legends?
That was live 'cause I grew up right in the middle of the scene, like, right in the middle of everything popping off from the Slim Thugs to Paul Wall to the Mike Jones and they always had the Swishahouse thing going. So they used to have this thing called All Star where you just get up there perform and grab the mic so I used to see Slim Thug and 'em in there every Friday and every Saturday. They was in there performing.
It was pretty much a warehouse, but they turn it into a club. It was a warehouse where you could play baseball throughout the daytime, go pitch, bat cage and then at the night time, they move to the side and they turn it into a lil' club and put the stage right there. I was young, I wasn't even supposed to be in there, that was supposed to be strictly for the high-schoolers and 'em I was probably like 11 [laughs]. And they was reckless, they had the crowd, they had the city moving.
Who were some of your favorites?
Z-Ro, ESG, Lil' Flip, Slim Thug, I had a couple favorites. When Lil' Flip was the Leprechaun I was f---in' wit' Flip 'cause Flip, he gon' freestyle. He had some of the hardest freestyles, they had a tape where he had a 10-minute freestyle, man. I used to ride jamming that all the time, for real. Shout out to Screwed Up Click, man, Big Pokey, Big Hawk, Fat Pat, Ghetto Dreams. I jammed that whole album, man, for real.
You were supposed to go to college but ended up not enrolling. What was the story behind that?
Well, I was in the streets during the summer time so I ended up getting caught up on the way to college and s---, I ain't even start college. So when I came out of jail I was like, "F--- going college, I'ma make money" 'cause it kinda took away my passion. Everybody else I went to school with, they started college on time, they feeling and celebrating and I'm in jail. So when I came out I was like "I ain't finna be behind" so I'ma just keep on trucking.
You also did a little stint in prison. How did that experience affect you as a person?
I ain't gonna lie, one thing that prison taught me is how to be a man, how to respect people. When you look at people sometimes and you see that they ain't got respect, you know they ain't no street n----. You can't say you a street n---- if you ain't got no respect. You gotta respect people 'cause if you in jail, you gotta respect. I don't care how big, tough you is, there's always someone [bigger] there for ya. So growing up in prison -- and I ain't talking 'bout no county jail, I'm talking prison, real prison -- I just learned how to survive. They teach you how to be strong, how to be obedient.
Did you end up forming any bonds with people while you were incarcerated?
Oh yeah, fa'sho, from different cities like Dallas etc. 'Cause I was locked up in Dallas and they moved me from Huntsville to Dallas, so I did my time in Dallas and got embraced. That's why a couple Dallas cats I'm cool with now 'cause we was locked up in there. And then far as the cats from the county on my way in, I hooked up with a few of 'em on the way out. But I ain't really hang with too many people just getting out though 'cause everybody was from Dallas, it wasn't too many Houston guys down there at the time.
Listen to Chedda Da Connect's "Whippin Up" Feat. Kevin Gates & Scrilla
Your song "Flicka Da Wrist" has turned into a phenomenon of sorts. How has life been for you since the record really took off?
It's been good, man. It's been empowering. It's been feeling good, the energy. Especially when you go from negative to positive and you don't expect it. We try so hard to get somewhere and then we feel it's no outlet and then it's like, "Boom." I was damn near on the verge of giving up. I was like, "Man, I done sold drugs, did this, did that. God damn, what's next?" I can't get no job, nobody wanna hire me with all of these tattoos, none of these people wanna hire me because of my record. That's why I kept trucking in the streets. And just when I was ready to throw the towel in, God opened up the light for me, man.
When you pretty much don't know where your record going to go, 'cause you're like damn, I done already grinded, I done did so much, like why haven't I reached this level yet? But not knowing that I'm already on that level, it's just the fact that nobody can really get in touch with me. I didn't really have my stuff organized right so I was thinking that the record wasn't gonna go. I was thinking, "Damn, this just another downfall for me so what's next?" And then boom, the light was shined.
How would you explain the overall feel of the Chedda World "The Album" and the content?
Well, when people say album, like, I know a lot of people be thinking lyrical or too serious and all that, nah, my album is different. My album is like a new album -- a new modern-day album. Like some s--- that you probably just ain't gonna hear [often]. I wanted to turn up, I wanted to give people something to have energy to, not always be depressed, not always be down. Not always feeling like, "Oh, he can make it, but I can't." I'm just putting myself in everybody else shoes. I'm just rapping, I'm just turning up on this whole album.
What can fans expect as far as features on the album?
Well, I ain't got no features on this album. It's all me. I got two features, but they in the camp besides Kevin Gates on the "Whippin Up" record. Shout out to Scrilla. And then I got T-Wayne and I got a hometown artist, Rizzo, part of TSF x Moe Gang. But I ain't really reach out to no majors on this one because I really wanted it to be about Chedda World. And that's why I kept it short and easy, didn't wanna bore all of my listeners.
Who are some of the producers that you worked with on the album?
On this album, I didn't work with too many big people like I did on the mixtape. I just pretty much went to reach out to some of the inside cats that's been rocking with me for a minute and give 'em a chance. So I went to Fred On Em, he the producer of "Flicka Da Wrist" and then XO on the Beat, he got another two or three and then I got another 15-year-old boy on there, he did the first intro. Fifteen-years-old killing the game and he did the intro track.
What are three songs from the album you can't wait for people to hear?
"Spanish," "I Need" and "Addicted to Money." Because to me they all mean something. Like, "I Need," it's talking about all these females and dudes just be playing with money and playing with your time and your business. "Spanish," that's for the culture. Like, I'm mixed with Hispanic so I done seen a lot of things growing up so I just put that out there for my eses, for my migos, just something for them to jam to. It's a dope record, like, it's more of a storyline record; I told a whole story on that one.
And "Addicted to Money," I did that right after "Flicka Da Wrist." Like, I was in the studio recording so right after I finished "Flicka Da Wrist," I did "Addicted to Money" and that was one of the records I never put out. 'Cause I was like it's something about this record [so] I'ma hold on to it. It kinda sounds similar to "Flicka Da Wrist," but it was a whole different, organic feel.
What do you want listeners to take away from this album?
Pretty much [to] live your life. Do what you wanna do, don't let nobody hold you back, don't let nobody tell you you can't. Just look at me, I'm a walking testament, I'm a walking witness, don't let nobody tell you you can't. Just have fun and do you. Don't be tryna be too serious with your music 'cause you're watching everybody else, you know what I'm saying. Like the Kendrick Lamars, you're gonna get to that level. Don't try to hurry up and get that level. He started off where we was. So I just wanna give a positive message to my supporters, fans.
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