The Struggle And Time Shows Us Our True Colors
Happy Belated: Recognizing and speaking your truth.
“He kinda sound like Drake, but it is something about him that’s just different.” That’s the comment I made to myself after hearing Chaz French debut Mixtape, Happy Belated.
Listening to it over and over again for the millionth time, yes, it’s that good. I finally realized what made Chaz not only different from Drake, but from most of the rappers that were out in 2014. It was his openness.
By that I mean:
His willingness to share how his relationship with his mother wasn’t always “sweet.”
“Mama is a preacher so I leave it up to Jesus/Holding a lil grudge right now, so we ain't speaking/ It's my soul I'm seeking I know that a n*gga need her”
I don’t know what the underlying issue was with Chaz and his mother at the time, but most of us at some point in our lives have “bumped heads” with our parent(s) before. Sometimes our parents just don’t understand us and sometimes we just don’t understand them. But at the end of the day, we’re going to need them just as much as they are going to need us. No matter the disagreements, arguments, or how much we think we may know.
Some of us (myself included) don’t want to accept the fact that we’re going to have conflicts with individulas in our family— because that’s family—especially with our parents but no matter who it is, with any problem there’s always a solution. The goal is to recognize the issue, approach it with love, and figure out what’ll be beneficial for all.
Things may have not always been sweet between Chaz and his mother at times, but they seemed to be a little bit more bitter with his dad...
Growing through the struggles of having an absent father.
“But he taught me how to pour up/ How not to get my diploma/How to diss on a woman and live off being dishonest/How to put on a condom and take care yo baby mamas/How to bottle yo problems/What a role model he was...”
It sucks that no matter how much we want to see our parents as these pristine beings, individuals we want to model after, and as “heros.” We have to accept the fact that they’re human with their own struggle(s) just like anybody else at the end of the day. But guess what? We don’t have to share those same struggles.
Being a young father himself.
“Last night baby mama said I spazzed out/ Cause I'm worried about my daughter, and how I'm gone feed her/I can barely support her, I rarely even see her”
Although Chaz French may have picked up some bad habits from his father he didn’t and isn’t letting that shape the father he is to his own kids.
Here’s what he told the good folks at allhiphop.com:
My number one inspiration are my kids. My dad wasn’t involved in my life as much as I wanted him to be, and I want to be the total opposite,” expresses Chaz. “I don’t ever want my kids to feel like they’re alone or are going to go without. I’m a dad first before anything.”
I have friends who are young fathers and mothers just like Chaz, and the common denominator amongst all of them is to provide for their kids and to be the mothers and fathers that their parents weren’t to them. And if their parents were good examples to them their goal is to be even better examples. I applaud them. But No matter what you can or can’t do for your kids (monetary or materially). I think the most important things above all of that is your existence and presence in their lives.
I say that from experience because towards the final stages of my dads life, my uncle, my dads brother suggested that he (my dad) come see me and my two other sisters. My uncle told us that my dad said and I’m paraphrasing, “I didn’t do anything for those girls most of their lives so why should I wait until now.”
I wasn’t hurt because my dad didn’t want to come see us. I was more hurt because he thought that he had to materially and monetary provide to be considered a father. I didn’t care about what my daddy couldn’t or could buy. I just wanted his presence and existence in my life. That’s all that really mattered to me. That’s all I longed for - nothing else.
But back to Chaz French...
His struggle with his faith.
“Sometimes I just don't believe it/It got me questionin' Jesus”
If you believe in Jesus you have been at this point before. I know I have. Struggling with your faith especially when your reality seems stronger than your prayers, and then doubt creeps in. But...(there’s always a “but”)...then God shows up and out and proves that prayer is actually stronger than reality. I wrote a full article on prayer and reality. Read here.
Keep the Faith!
Having to deal with those close to him telling him he wouldn’t make it.
“They said I wouldn't be shit/ I know we all can relate/ From the family to the friends
To the man I look in the face”
Chaz was pursuing a rap career as opposed to getting a regular 9 to 5, he was going against the norm. So, the negativity he was receiving is understandable because they did not understand. Understand what? That Chaz was staying true himself and what was down on the inside of him. He took the counter-intuitive approach and it worked for him.
In Chaz’s song “LMGL” he rapped, “Growing up they swore I'd be a pastor up in somebody church.” But his goal was to rap. I just want the “they” he was rapping about to know that: He may not be healing souls in church but he’s healing souls through rap. Including mine.
Chaz also shared his thoughts of suicide, losing friends to death, relationship issues, and so on throughout Happy Belated. It’s a project full of pain that you can feel. At least I know I could feel it. You should give it a listen and feel it too....oh ‘cause you gon’ feel it.
These Things Take Time: It takes a little longer when it’s real.
I didn’t think Chaz could do it again with, These Things Take Time. I was actually nervous to hear it because I was thinking to myself, “What else could he possibly rap about after telling what seemed liked his whole life on Happy Belated?” I also didn’t want to be let down.
But he did not let me down and it was with this project I officially became a Chaz French fan.
With These Things Take Time I felt like Chaz did a lot of reflecting and introspection, ridding negative people out of his life, made sense of what he went through during the Happy Belated era, and came to the awareness that his struggles are all a part of the process. Life’s process.
He even said it himself:
“I just outgrew you n*ggas you wanted just a name homie...”
I made up this term called the “Maturity Gap.” It is the space that life and experiences create between you and others for the better, (mainly people you’ve been close with for a long time). It’s not a space that one forces to happen. The growth that comes from experiences and life in general does this naturally.
I’m certain we all have friend(s) that we were once close with, but aren’t anymore that we still consider a friend(s). Just friends from a distance. A fight, falling out, or whatever else that causes friends to be on bad terms didn’t create this distance. Growth did.
Understand what I’m saying?
“My story my struggle all made me who I am now/No worries no regrets cause I know that these things take time”
I thank God for who I was, who I am, and who I'm going to be. Who I was made me who I am today, who I am now is preparing me for who I am going to be tomorrow. That is one of the greatest things I told myself that help alleviate the day to day struggles of my life. I came up with that when I was twenty-three it sounds so corny and cliché now, but it’s true. Truché.
“You know that such testing of your faith produces endurance. Endure until your testing is over. Then you will be mature and complete, and you won’t need anything.” James 1:3-4
Remember when I told you Chaz had to deal with people telling him he wouldn’t succeed on Happy Belated? Well, on These Things Take Time this is what he had to say:
“Everybody don't look at life the way that you do/ So keep your head on a high, keep your eyes on the prize/ Your gas tank on full for the people that ride/ Cuz at the end of the day its only you and your God”
I can't argue with that. What about you?
And remember how he was struggling with his faith? But he realized that:
“Sometimes you got to let go, and let God/ Sometimes you got to let go, and let God move”
Sometimes we try to solve situations and make sense of things on our own, but our human capabilites and thinking alone isn't enough. We can’t grasp the mysteries and unknowns of this world/life. We just have to allow God (or whoever/whatever you believe in) to move in our lives, not fight against reality and be willing to have it so. If not, we're going to always be in a struggle with ourselsves and with life. It will all work itself out; it always does. I know it always have for me, It did for Chaz, I know it will for you.
For me, These Things Take Time was an exhibition of Chaz's growth as an individual. So, now I know why he didnt disappoint me on this project. Since he had grown as an individual he was most definitely going to grow and get better as an artist.
Lauryn Hill spoke about how when she was in the prime of her career people were on her to constantly put out music. So she could stay “hot.” She said that the reason The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was the album that it was “because of the myriad of experiences that took place before the production part..before the creation.”
She said she made plenty of music after the MEOFLH, but it wasn’t substantive because there wasn’t any experience.
True Colors: When people show you who they are believe them.
What makes Chaz a great artist is his willingness to bare who is and not deviate from that, especially in an industry where facades are encouraged.
On his latest project True Colors he continues to share his struggles, but this time with aggression. It’s that “despite my circumstances I’m coming for everything” type of aggression. And that’s basically what he said on his song “Peace and Happiness” (my favorite song by the way):
“This is care free living middle finger giving/ living every day like it’s my last...”
That is how we have to be with life. We are going to always have struggles big and small, but we can’t let that hinder us from living and enjoying life. I don’t want to be living the only life I have sulking over the difficulties of life. Do you?
Chaz really let his hair down on this project. Wait! Can that metaphor apply to dudes as well? Anyway...
All I want to get across is that on some level we are all Chaz French. Our struggles may or may not look like his, but we all struggle. As long as we are real live people we’re going to have real life situations. Like Chaz said, “We all got problems but never out of options.” And the good thing is, we can either allow them to take us under or we can be some overcomers. Your choice.
If you’re still not convinced just look at Chaz life now. He recently signed with the legendary Motown Records, On Tour, collaborating with some dope and legendary artist, and so much more. As I heard someone recently say Chaz is out here, “living his best f*cking life.” He’s an overcomer!
One final thing...
In James Allen book “As A Man Thinketh” he contends that, “Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself.”
I concur, circumstances reveal ourselves to ourselves by showing us what areas we’re strong and weak in. But...I also believe they allow us to strengthen our weaknesses, which in turn, makes us a better individual than we were before.
The struggle gon’ always makes us!
This is myself and Chaz French on FaceTime back in 2015. Hey, Chaz when you come to Houston I still want my tickets. Ha! (P.S. S/O to Eddie Vanz)