Chuck Strangers

Agent: Devin Garcia
Territory: North America 
Label: Lex Records

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While recording his new EP, Boys & Girls, New York-based MC and producer Chuck Strangers came up with a mantra: “The journey is the reward.” It’s the sort of phrase that can disintegrate into cliché when performed disingenuously, but this philosophy permeates through Boys & Girls and helps Chuck showcase the ways in which he’s grown as an artist and a man. In fact, though it’s only 10 songs long, Strangers is certain this is his strongest work to date. Though the subject matter touches on scars from the past and memories that just won’t fade, Chuck’s ability on the mic helps communicate a joie de vivre; after all, his new mindset is based around the idea that spitting rhymes for a living is a damn good job. Moments of desolation come for everyone, but on Boys & Girls, Chuck Strangers wants to showcase the arresting beauty of expertly crafted rap music.

On the album’s second cut, “Prospect Park West,” Chuck cues up a blistering chopped soul sample that can clear a sky full of clouds and beckon the sunshine. It immediately conjures feelings of nostalgia, but not in the saccharine way artists so often use in confusing memories with emotion. Here, you’re riding along shotgun with Chuck as he lights up a spliff. These are moments reserved for the closest of confidants. In a sturdy, unending flow, Chuck laces together words like a snake uncoiling to reveal a hulking behemoth hiding in the curl. He spits, “I got a million friends, I only trust about four or five of em.” The industry is cold and invites packs of vultures, so when the walls close in Chuck’s gotta remind himself that the life of a spitter is a worthy one indeed.

“Stop looking for it to be over. This is the gift,” Chuck explains. Late nights in the studio are moments to celebrate, not remember with disdain. “You get to turn on a sampler and get creative every single day. Some people have to go do all kinds of other shit.” When Chuck began to fix his mindset and steer it towards this positivity, he not only became happier, but a better musician, too. While projects like 2020’s Too Afraid To Dance and his work with Joey Bada$$ and the Pro Era squad are rightfully celebrated, Chuck considers Boys & Girls a fresh start; a renaissance. “I started really thinking about my shit deeper and not being afraid to just start over,” he adds. “I always used to be like, ‘Oh, well I'm half done with the song.’ Now it’s like, ‘Nah. Start over and write a new verse.’”

On “Devin Hester,” Chuck flips the script completely, offering a whole new range of sounds in the beats he spits over. The hazy melody, especially when contrasted with the shimmering soul of “Prospect Park West,” offers a mood of foreboding. Chuck takes a few hits but like the football star the song is named after, he gets up every damn time. The psych-tinged synth gives the song a mystical somnambulance, with Chuck free-associating memories from deep in the recesses of his subconscious. He reflects on the psychic toll of the street code, feeling the weight of the world resting heavily on his shoulders: “Never name names, I’m the one to blame.”

There were times in the past few years when Strangers felt like quitting on his dreams and picking up a 9-to-5. It’s not like he wasn’t making money, but the culture of comparing himself to others made him feel spiritually poor, even when his pockets were fat. “It was real and it was humbling. I just appreciate everything so much more now,” he explains. The revelations were tangible and karmic. When he stopped caring about making enough money to flex how much he had, the checks started rolling through more frequently than ever. He works harder than ever before, not because the bills are stacking up but because there is no joy like crafting a breathtaking musical moment.

Chuck also found strength in the collaborators that have entered his orbit over the course of his career in the rap game. Strangers has produced for Roc Marciano and was featured on the last two records from celebrated Brownsville, Brooklyn MC Ka. On Boys & Girls, Chuck recruits the duo of Fly Siifu–Fly Anakin and Pink Siifu–on album closer “Hurry,” Obii on “Say” and “July 28th,” and Navy Blue on “Venisin.” It’s a short guestlist, but each artist perfectly complements Strangers’ expansive scope.

One thing Chuck made clear throughout the record is that he has fallen back in love with rap music. Boys & Girls is his ode to the glory of the perfect bar, the way he gets tingles down his spine when the just-right sample interlocks with drums he’s been sequencing for two days straight. “I'm so grateful for anything I have. Every time somebody comes up to me and says, ‘Oh man. I love your new shit,’ it means the world to me,” he explains. For Chuck Strangers, the joy is the process, but damn…a little validation goes a long way, too.