Chavis Chandler – Breath of Fresh Air II (2011) [Self-Released] // Grade: B+
I don’t know when I first heard Chavis Chandler’s name, but it wasn’t long ago. And while it’s puzzling to me that I didn’t hear about him sooner, it’s becoming a common sentiment. For whatever reason(s) the last three years in the United States have incubated a number of artists spread throughout various semi-urban to urban pockets. As if we were all entreprenuerial winemakers stocking our cellars for the eventual launch of our vineyards, it would seem the end of 2011 was an excellent vintage. More complex than a trend the Wave seems to move in intervals that never cease, but at times reach an absolutely monstrous swell. Count Chavis amongst those who are contributing to that absolute monstrous part. If you were going to do one of those word clouds to describe this record you’d need lots of “beast mode” pixels, lots of “cool flow” pixels, and even some “oh damn dude can sing” pixels. Chavis is a well-rounded artist on his way to being a game-changing rapper.
Chavis records himself. I can’t remember if I’ve talked about it on the Bloglin at all, but I feel like the auto-tracking rapper is quickly becoming the most avant of the new age of rappers. As the whole world is changing, so too is rap and music at large. Whereas recording and releasing a record used to be the province of many hands, it has slowly distilled down to the work of small teams commonly made up of no more than 3 or 4 people at its core. Moving much more like cigarettes than massive tankers, the boat that rappers are in has become more nimble. But the boat rappers are in has also become more intimate. The difference between recording yourself, or being recorded by others is the one difference that can make or break you in this Ocean right now. For those who record themselves, there is a flourishing that cannot be head otherwise.
Just think about it, we’re stepping out of an era where artifice and posturing were the most important elements of rap. Most rappers weren’t really concerned with the craft, or the fact that they were making art. So, it would fall perfectly in line that they wouldn’t record themselves. Why bother recording yourself when you can hire someone else to do it? Thomas Kinkade anyone? The alternative that is emerging is for rappers to record themselves so that they can be more intimate with themselves, with their art, and thus with the audience as well. The result of Chavis’ music is clear: he is a very determined and focused dude, he has a good ear for sound, and he has style for days. Because he records himself we get to hear Chavis not only rapping, but also capturing himself rapping. It is a paradoxical thing, and one that harkens quite clearly back to DJ Herc.
The profound thing that Herc did was split time open, and he did it with the help of two turntables, and two copies of the same record. Through this odd, and seemingly innocuous combination of materials Herc was able to perform magic and literally break time open. With these special tools Herc then manipulated the flow of time back and forth between two points in space, and what came out was what we now call beats. For Chavis, and the emerging leagues of auto-tracking rappers it’s the same story: they’ve found a way to break time open, and take control of the flow of time. By recording himself, Chavis is not only rapping into broken open time, but also operating the hatch and regulating the flow. Again, maybe it’s one of these mall distinctions, but it’s a huge difference. And one that will probably not come to the fore for quite some time, but Chavis is an excellent place to start to undertand this more. And Breath of Fresh Air 2 is a pretty dope way to go about it.