Heavy Rotation with Chuck Strangers

Words by Daniel Isenberg (@StanIpcus)

The Pro Era movement is moving. And one of the forces behind its success this past year and change has been producer/rapper Chuck Strangers. We first got acquainted with Chuck’s material on breakout Pro Era MC Joey Bada$$’ debut mixtape 1999, where he produced four tracks, and rapped on two. Most notable was “Fromdatomb$,” a highlight from the tape that warranted its own music video. The Strangers-produced beat was steeped in ’90s nostalgia, and though lyrical lyric fans may hate to admit it, Chuck spit bars on his verse, rapping with mad charisma, ‘I know how to write these songs, I know how to light these bongs/I know how to rip thongs, and I’m pretty good at beer pong.’ Awesome.

After contributing beats and rhymes to Pro Era’s two latest projects—the crew’s PEEP: The Aprocalypse mixtape, and Joey’s Summer Knights mixtape—and also showcasing his talents on Super Helpful’s The Help EP (a supergroup he formed with producer Lee Bannon and rapper Kwame over last Thanksgiving weekend), Chuck recently relocated from Brooklyn to Los Angeles to work on his forthcoming debut project. Intrigued by his coast switch, we hopped on the horn with Chuck to see what he’s been listening to out West (aside from Pro Era) for our latest edition of Heavy Rotation. And other than one new Drake joint, he’s been mostly on a bi-coastal ’90s rap kick. Check out the five songs Chuck’s been bumping the most in his new habitat when he’s not hard at work on his own music (or while he’s hanging with his producer pal Alchemist), and stay tuned for his official debut project coming soon.

1. Ice Cube “The Nigga Ya Love to Hate”

Chuck Strangers: “It’s funny, I was saying to Alchemist that I can’t listen to my New York raps out here because they just don’t make sense. How are you gonna be in a car driving through palm trees [listening to someone] talk about ‘N.Y. State of Mind’ and all that shit that I normally listen to when I’m shuffling through the city, getting in and out of cabs, and all that east coast shit.

“But [me listening to] that particular song has nothing to do with [me being in California], because that song just says a lot of powerful ass shit, if you really listen to it. He talks about, ‘I never tell you to get down, it’s all about coming up.’ Little stuff that I was fucking with. I haven’t been listening to a lot of [new] rap music lately, because—not like, ‘Oh, your shit gotta be deep’—but I just feel like the person that’s rapping doesn’t have an opinion on anything. [Laughs.] It’s just a song, and shit.

“I found out about Amerikka’s Most Wanted in like seventh grade. I used to play basketball at this YMCA, and one of the older guys that worked there, I told him that I made beats. And he was like, ‘Oh, well if you’re trying to do music, there are albums that you have to hear.’ So he brought me Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, Death Certificate, 2Pac All Eyez on Me, both Biggie albums, everything. And as long as I would burn it to my computer and bring it back to him, he would lend me his music.

“This shit was just different, and it wasn’t mainstream. He had another song on there called ‘Turn Off the Radio.’ And when I was first making beats—and I’ve been making beats for a minute—I would play them for my friends, and because they didn’t sound like D4L, they’d be like, ‘That shit is wack.’ So I love that [he wasn’t afraid to go against what was popular]. I can relate to that.”

2. The Notorious B.I.G. “Everyday Struggle”

“I don’t care who you are. If you’re stressed out, that’s a song you can throw on. Not to say that you’re not gonna be stressed out any more, but it will make it a little bit easier. ‘I know how it feel to wake up fucked up.’ That’s just my shit. It always give me power when I hear shit like that. And that beat is fresh. You hear the horns in that? That is a dope ass beat.

“I’m a real musical person. I don’t even watch TV like that. To me, albums be like movies. That’s why when you hear a wack project, it’s almost like watching a bad movie. I actually like Ready to Die better than Life After Death. A lot of people hate on me when I say that, but it got that little edge to it. He came with the flows that were unmatched on Life After Death, ‘Notorious Thugs’ and all that. But Ready to Die stuck with me. I had a connection with that shit. Being a fat black kid from Brooklyn, who else are you gonna connect with? [Laughs.]

“The one thing I really liked about Biggie is you felt like he meant what he said. It was just hella authentic. Same with Ice Cube. You just felt like he meant the fuck what he said. You would never say, ‘I bet he’s not even like that in real life.’ You heard that shit, and were like, ‘Damn, I probably don’t even want to meet this nigga!’ [Laughs.] And also, there was a stance. A story. It wasn’t just like endless music.”

3. MC Eiht “All For the Money”

“Me and Alchemist were just tweaking to that song. I listened to that song like four or five times yesterday. It was in my head. You know when a song is in your head, and there’s no music playing, and you’re just rapping [along to it]? And Al was like, ‘Oh yeah, that song is hard.’ And we had to just bang it real quick. His flow is the smoothest. He was just [spitting] some L.A. scum. And he was killing it. But in a smooth ass tone, like, ‘I gots to get mines, or I’m a take yours.’ I love that shit.

“I thought it was a great nod when [Kendrick Lamar put him on good kid, m.A.A.d city]. One thing I want to say about that song is that [Ice Cube's] ‘A Bird in the Hand’ is one of my favorite rap songs. I used to rap that song coming out of school in eighth, ninth grade, and people [my age] didn’t know what it was in New York like that. So when I heard him rehash that, I thought it was dope. He definitely knows what’s up, because that’s a really great song. And to throw MC Eiht on it, I was like, ‘Nah, that’s what’s up.’ That was fresh. That’s probably my favorite joint on the album.

“I actually used to be a big fan of The Game. When The Documentary came out, and even LAX, I was all about The Game. He was the nicest to me. It’s funny, because I’m from Brooklyn and shit, and I listen to East Coast shit all day, but I always loved old West Coast rap. That’s one of my favorite genres. I fucked with how they weren’t trying to be super lyrical and always drop knowledge. It was just about the shit that they saw, and the shit that they did, over dope ass beats. Plus, with the skits, and the way the albums flowed, they were more thought out then a lot of East Coast projects.”

4. Jay Z “D’Evils”

“I had to put one Jay Z song on here. If there was one Jay Z song I’d want my fans to hear, it would be that one, so they know what made me be like, ‘Damn, Jay Z is hella nice.’ I remember before, I used to hate on Jay Z. And my homie was like, ‘Nah, you’re trippin’! Listen to Reasonable Doubt.’ And then [after I listened to it], I was like, ‘Hov is dead nice.’

“I heard The Blueprint before I heard Reasonable Doubt. And that kind of made me a Jay Z fan. I used to be a bigger Nas fan. I’d be like, ‘Nas is clearly better.’ But when I heard Reasonable Doubt, I was like, ‘Well, it’s arguable.’ [Laughs.] He’s fucking nice. And I like a lot of songs that I don’t hear a lot of people bump off Reasonable Doubt. I like ‘Cashmere Thoughts,’ ‘Bring it On.’ Jay Z was just talking shit the best way he ever could on that CD.

“It’s just the sinisterness of the whole thing. When I was a kid, my rap had to have some sort of sinister, evil, fucked up shit about it. And when I heard Jay be like, ‘I don’t pray to God, I pray to Gotti,’ I was like, ‘Damn. That’s crazy. He’s going off.’ And the beats, too. The darkness of that shit. It wasn’t really the scratches, because I’m not really a big scratch person. It’s just how raw that shit was. I can play ‘D’Evils’ a bunch of times over.

“I wouldn’t say that no one nowadays is making hot music, but [the songs I’ve mentioned on this list so far and the rap music from the ‘90s] is the shit I’m letting influence me [while I’m out here working on my first project].”

5. Drake “The Motion”

“That song is hard. He’s talking about some real shit, like when people need a favor from you they won’t leave you alone. He sings about his life, and I feel like a lot of people give him flack for that, but it’s like, what the fuck else do you want him to do? That’s his life. Drake is ill. I would produce for Drake. I think that would be dope.

“The beat is on some different shit. Sampha is on there. I always hear songs, because I’m a producer, and be like, ‘I would’ve done this differently.’ But it’s a good ass song. But what I fuck with most about the song is what he was saying. Talking about where he’s at right now with the people around him, and his girl or whoever that is. Not everyone has to be a tough guy. I think his shit is real authentic, in the same way that Ice Cube was authentic. If Drake was coming at us like one of these thugged out dudes rapping, we would be like, ‘Hell no. Stop it.’ For somebody in his position, he’s killing it.

“That’s the hardest shit. That gets the rewind. I play that shit when I’m chilling with my girl or some shit. You can’t listen to Wu-Tang all day. Your girl will come over like, ‘Take this shit off, nigga!’ [Laughs.] Not that [girls don’t like Wu-Tang]. But, you gotta [mix it up, and smooth it out sometimes].

Yeah, [I’m looking forward to Nothing Was the Same]. I like Drake’s albums. I think that they show progress. He got better from the first one to the second one, and the first one was already good.”

Previously: Heavy Rotation with Sean Price |  Heavy Rotation with MTV’s Rob Markman | Heavy Rotation with Deniro Farrar


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30 Responses to “Heavy Rotation with Chuck Strangers”

  1. b Says:

    B
    10 mins ago
    Brandon Stevens
    168 st nelson ave bronx new york 10452
    Apt 3FB
    646-684- 2871.
    Shoulda stayed off the net boy

    Got eeem

    Hitters on da way!

    Circled yo crib for you bitch nigger

    Get off da white mans dick

    Wipe dat mayo off ya chin and drink this ether milk boy

    B
    7 mins ago
    B
    19 mins ago
    B
    1 min ago
    I don’t know what the big deal is though. I took showers around men and occasionally stared. It was nothing really… It’s like looking at porno and when you notice the guy with the huge dicks lol

    No Shots, Like Stray Dogs
    2 mins ago
    I dont really need female companionship tho

    B
    Land I love you boy piece

    -you do da mizzath

  2. b Says:

    ^ Idk who blandon is, b works at a capital management firm, and I get rewarded handsomely for shooting the shit with u guys all day.

    Ima let yall hate

    *im on 48th between Lexington and park

    >shoulda stayed off da net ho you easy to find

  3. b Says:

    B
    3 wks, 5 days ago
    http://tinypic.com/r/4vhlck/5

    ^my new bitch dime!

    4chan gotcha

  4. b Says:

    Log off forever or deal with da consequences

    I have your ss#

    Job

    Address

    Phone #

    All from troll gang

    We got ya back Gob

  5. no shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Lol come and get me

    Post my social now!!!!!!

    I don’t believe you!!

  6. b Says:

    U Melton bitch ima light ya crib up ho

    Rip auntie

  7. no shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Just like I thought

    U a pussy without the hair

    Lol

  8. b Says:

    Go on n melt u capital firm mgmt admin asst “program” ass nigger….say u in dat program nigger loser

  9. b Says:

    I have your entire ss fico cdc etc

  10. b Says:

    Yo b I ALWAYS thought Asspoose Aka Waccpoose Wacc-Poose was corny but dis take da WHOLE cake factory! And you ridin da him says alot about chu. Dis is a classic example we heen makn NO MOVES in da industry..similar to how you begged sick for beats…asked jihad how to rhyme….tried to be in ZIPsquad….the list continues. Insteada holdn on 2 relationships dat can furtha help his wacc ass career he destroy em! & talk ALL DAT 5% & Muslim bullshit onna tracc TALKN DOWN onna anotha blacc man insteada da Joos & craccas dat RUN DA ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY! & NIGGAS APPAUD DAT BULLSHIT! Man fucc dat hoe ass nigga! ON CRIP! Smmfh een sick said it best
    “Befriend
    Beef
    Back pedal
    Back down
    Repeat”
    You a sucka ass nigga cuz I’m keepin 100 now on. N6BH00dCrIP

  11. b Says:

    Bsinatra145@gmail.com

  12. b Says:

    say teen enroll at Everest institute fuck nigga tell me I’m Lyin.we got ya whole info courtesy of TMG! You might wanna stay n lurk mode fuck nigger.yuNg auntie sofa Yung can’t get his life together at 35 ya file long as fuck full a L’s while you busy recordin tracks n scheduling to get beat up by African sn’s u invested hoe beggin your Sn father to engage in beef after you got embarrassed by two other sn’s.you life fuckin suck n you don’t care wether u live or die….u types dat hoe

    Log off n meet our demands or comprise your entry level “program” job…

    Choice iz urs hoe

  13. b Says:

    brandon loser stevens jr<< how much bread in ya bare ass bank account you punkbitchnigga…did ju pay auntie back!!! wheres dat 12 racks u sposed to recieved you lyin fraud ass nigger. gettin punked at ya job. catchin softees wit hoes…aunt think u gay(c) tkf

    You got -.19 in ya checking acct dawg….You can't even afford the Free Wi Fi at muthafucking Mickey D's, b….

    You a secretary my nigga…..beatn yo dick, aunt sayin u suck dicks, payin fa puss. You better quit Shelton Lee'ing you Uncle Tomming ass Sambo….Why you always losin faggot? You the only nigga on here who had a Nahright abortion…..Nigga where dey do dat at? Nigga loses his child and runs to Nahright….Nah,right…..Thas' why you's a DOUBLELOSER…L'z up for den Losers….Lil' Durk wrote yo' broke ass an anthem, bruh bruh…..Nigga YOU need to fall the fuck back from LIFE in general, nigga….No friend having ass bitchnigga….lmg? who joins a online rap group?!? YOU, thas' who!!!! Nigga have you even hung out w/ J7 r arclip n person….Nah, right….But you ridin fa niggaz n payin money to record bullshit that NEVER sees the light of day outside of ya iPod headphones….You a naive lil' girl, dawg…..You believe whatever sounds good to ya pussy ass ears, nigga….I KNOW for a fact you another one of them fatherless children always under ya dead Mommy's fucking titty…..Ol' Mommas boy ass nigga….When you moved out ya auntie house…Nigga you pathetic…You work at a hotel fixing the cash registers when they act funny….You printed out ya GED just like You dropped outta high school in 9th grade ….Niggaz NEVER walked down that Graduation line….You niggaz is Phoenix College success stories, b….Nigga brag about knowing ALL this technology but you work at the hood mart ….Yung Samsung …..not even the Whole Foods joint that the white niggaz w/ bread be shopping at. Lemme find out you be bagging groceries for a living nigga….Fuck dat, ya new name is "Paper or Plastic"….Bitchnigga better not put my coronas in the same bag w/ my wheat bread….You a lost nigga, King….j7 ya father figure in life…You aint got no woman who loves you,(aint had a girl since high school) because why would you be online 25/8? Check my comment times…I shoot the shit once in a blue moon thas' why my shit be mini novellas….Niggaz wake up in the morning b4 they brush they teeth(4am) comment on Nah….Niggaz be running late for work cuz they sitting on their phone trying to girltalking w/ random screen names they never met….Niggaz will be here on a Friday night commenting to themselves….Nah,right….But you gon' talk about ME, you bitchassnigga….You a coward my nigga…..I put money on it, a nigga has snuffed you in ya face before just for being YOU…..You a pussy, my nigga….You live that Struggle Life, nigga don't even KNOW the difference between topshelf Vodka and the shit you can get outta 7-11…Nigga hand you MD20/20 and tell you it's Ciroc…..Nigga how it feels to have to work Monday – Saturday and STILL not have enough money to do what you want…..STRUGGLE LIFE!!! I dare you to quit ya job right now….Nigga you barely made this months rent how you gonna pay next months….You's a paycheck to paycheck ass nigga….One misstep and it's back 2 square 1 for yo' L7 ass…..This the Nahright Gazillionaire, right….But he works FULL-TIME, tho….Entry-level position too….Where day do dat at? Loser! be the first to accept my challenge and Chris Lighty yaself for me on Ustream….I'll make sho' to take care of ya loved ones for you….Nothing but hard dick n' bubblegum for ya broad and I'll drop ya yungin' off at the Adoption center b4 I go to JfK airport n' fly back 2 LA…..Take the pistol put it in ya mouth and just squeeze the trigger, my nigga….Nobody gives a fuck about ya life, bruh bruh….did u tell ya aunti?….what she say? That shit sound type gay to me, sure there wasn't sumthin extra that you wanted to indulge in….Now it all makes sense….
    Quit.life.now!
    #TruthHurtsBitch!!!!

  14. no shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Lol

  15. b Says:

    http://www.labor.ny.gov/careerservices/adult-loser-program.shtm

    Say you ain’t get ya job thru dis site loser…you in da program nigger dats why dey got you dougie n Gettin coffee…you goin in a capital management for nigga don’t een kno what capital means…wit foams n a trench….dey laughin atchu….you stealing sammiches after da meeting….Yung new slave….Yung Toby….fetch my water…Yung TPS report chu get da memo fuck boy?

  16. b Says:

    u been droppin a Mixtape da da last 5 yrs…Yung detox…but you spendin studio time and money recording multiple songs for online strangers…dot dat plague yo mind….why yo cousin sleepin in ya bed….Yung grown man in a bunk bed ass nigger…all man ya Ls is endless…how many time you types tough den dodged beef….Yung don’t want no prollems…..I can go on forever wit ya list full of real life loses

    Log.off.life
    #TruthHurtsBitch!!!!

  17. b Says:

    Prove.to.me.you.aint.a.loser!
    NOW

  18. no shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Lmao

  19. no shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Whoever you are you are clearly invested

    I win.

  20. b Says:

    keep Meltin young shelton lee…say you ain’t ask to be in da zips…say you ain’t ask troubleshooter for money x life advice…say ya aunt ain’t question ya sexuality….say anything I typed is a lie Yung faggot…say u can’t get hard for women….answer me now!!!!

  21. no shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Yea that molasses is kinna tough earl

  22. b Says:

    Defend these truths fuck nigger you need nahright boy! Stay ya ass in this ring

  23. no shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Bang bang

  24. b Says:

    My bad y’all I be tripping.I been single since high school and will be 30nextyear .and sometimes not having that female companionship fucks with me.so much shit I missed out on.and now I be thinking letx say I do get in a relationship and actually really like the girl,I’m not gon know how to act.Nigga self esteem been impacted by this shit.I have no clue what it feels like to be in a relationship cuz I’m so used to being dolo.yo my aunt be asking me if i’m gay cuz she never seen me wit a girl.

    *explain to me why you never had a girfriend at 35….tell ME why your aunt says your a cocksucker littlerally! The earth done went around da sun 35 times….12,775 days have passed in your life….The New York City Metropolitan Area’s population is the United States’ largest, with 18.9 million people …and you couldn’t get ONE girl to call your own….nigga you a faggot!
    Drink this ether milk bitch!

  25. b Says:

    Suck on this ether straw hoe!

  26. rahrahrah Says:

    I would like to see Pap keep it consistent and go at everyone who claims King of NY. I would like to see Pap go out and do as he said, burn the snakes from the underground. Win or lose, take that title to the performing grave. Biggie can be the dead king, and since nas and Jay don’t want it. Let Pap, who struggled so long to release his backwards american dream, let him rep for the all too american city.

    Let that be his legacy.

  27. no shots, like stray dogs Says:

    Bang

    Bang

  28. b Says:

    B
    0 mins ago
    Up a pic of u n a female now or ur a certified faggot…oh wait….2 late I done upped my whole life on dis bitch..matta fizzact u was my biggest fan Tellin how my raps was dope etc….Yung fan do u not member how I had u scared to comment….while u asked for my autograph multiple times…Yung never been kissed…prove to me u date women! Now! Bitch u upped a pic of ya boyfriends finger asap…prove to ME u dont suck dick Yung Brandon Stevens…..you might not wanna comment anymore bitch nigger…faggot

    #truthhurtsfaggotassniggas

  29. ApeLincoln Says:

    This dude along mf doom trashed these tapes. Not in a good way. Noone I know but my still tribe called quest backpacking 80′s rap head friends fuck with Joey badass tapes. Don’t get me wrong he can rap but the majority of those beats are trash.

  30. London Bloke Says:

    Daniel Isenberg

    ^eskay tryna play nice and get into that kosher money

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