You probably know Chanel West Coast for her unmistakable laugh on Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory and Ridiculousness, or maybe you’ve seen her making headlines recently when she spoke up about police brutality following her arrest in early August. A white female MC with the press watching her like a hawk ready to strike, it would seem the odds are stacked against her. But that hasn’t stopped the petite blonde – who is signed to Lil Wayne’s label Young Money – from pursuing her career as a rapper. In fact, her latest mixtape, “Waves”, was released yesterday. Keep on keeping on, Chanel!
Did you choose music or did music choose you?
Music definitely chose me. Whether that was because I grew up around a dad who was a DJ or it was just some destiny type-thing. It was in my soul. That being said, if it wasn't a natural thing for me I think I would have gone after it anyway and choose it.
How did you come to be a rapper?
I was in hip-hop dance, choir, drama, drill team, and the orchestra from a young age, so I always knew I wanted to make music and be a performer and I loved to write poetry. I started listening to a lot of rap & hip-hop—especially a lot of Tupac—in middle school, so it popped in my head one day. I realized rapping was poetry and music together, which were two of my favorite things. That's when I started writing raps.
What inspires your lyrics?
My life and the music. When I hear certain sounds in a beat, it inspires different feelings. If the beat sounds like a love song then I will start writing about whatever is currently going on in my love life, if the beat sounds like a party song then I'll write lyrics about turning up and maybe take a couple of shots too, haha.
Tell us about your album that's due to come out this year… will it be anything like your mixtape 'Now You Know' or can we expect something completely different?
It's definitely not going to be the same. There will still be party songs and all that, but I talk about my life more on this album. I think people will get to know me better. On "Now You Know" I was just having fun talking a lot of shit. This time around I wanted people to get to know my story and relate to me as a person more. I'm also singing a lot more on my album. I got a mixtape coming out in a couple weeks....a little present for the fans until the album drops.
How has being signed to Young Money changed things for you?
It helped me a lot. Being able so say I'm with Young Money is such an honor to me. I've been a fan of Wayne and the whole team since day 1 of everything they did. So when I became a part of the family, I think it was a great stamp of approval for me as a rapper. I think I gained a lot of respect from people having the Young Money name behind me.
"All the shit I've been through and learned from in my life growing up here is what makes me the person and artist I am today."
How has the West Coast shaped your sound?
It's where I'm from. All the shit I've been through and learned from in my life growing up here is what makes me the person and artist I am today.
What makes the West Coast the best coast?
We have the best weather! Hands down no place with better weather. Well, maybe Hawaii, but aside from there Cali is the best weather in the world. We also have the best weed.
You've got a great sense of style that's very "you" - what does your style say about you?
I think my style shows how diverse I am. I really don't go for one specific type of look, I kinda just try a lot of different things. I love to experiment and wear new fun things other people wouldn't wear. I also just go with the flow. Some days I'm feeling beachy and some days I'm feeling more glamorous. I dress according to how I feel.
You've met some amazing people, particularly other rappers, through your shows with Rob Dyrdeck - what are some things you've learned from these people?
I've learned that a lot of rappers can seem so tough and mean through their music but are also quite nice, sweet, and funny when you get to know them. Kind of like me.
How do your two careers mesh? Is it a symbiotic relationship?
Sometimes! When I have to miss music gigs or important stuff to film it sucks. But we film our shows pretty quick so that's not that often. I think the hardest part is getting my TV fans to understand me as an artist. Other than that I absolutely love doing both!
Do you love what you do? Would you say you're lucky enough to have your passion be your work?
Yes. I'm so happy and grateful that I can do what I love for a living. I thank god every day.
"Never give up. People will try to change you and mold you and tell you that you are too this or too that. The music is where it's at."
What is the hardest thing about being a white female rapper?
Before a bunch of other white female rappers came out nothing was hard. I started pushing my music as a rapper through my MySpace music page when I was 16. Back then people thought it was so dope and unique to see a little white girl with my looks spittin bars like I do. The shock factor gained me a lot of fans on MySpace. It wasn't until after being on TV for years and other white females rappers coming out that people started to not take me as seriously. I won't say that some other white female rappers may have ruined it for me because that's not true. But I will say that it's made it a lot harder to get people's attention when your coming out after other white females rappers already have. The shock factor isn't there like it was when I first started so that's the hard part.
What's the most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing as a rapper is being able to see people rap or sing along with your lyrics. Seeing people relate to and love your music is the best feeling in the world.
What's something about your industry or industries you wish you could change?
I wish I could change how close-minded people are. Obviously that will never be something I can change on my own. I think over time, people will focus less on race and age and where somebody comes from and how they dress or how poppin their Instagram is, and focus more on the music.
What advice do you have for aspiring female artists/rappers?
Never give up. People will try to change you and mold you and tell you that you are too this or too that. The music is where it's at. Focus on making good music and never give up no matter what anyone tells you.