Editors’ Note: Although there is no profanity in this article, many of the artists mentioned do have explicit lyrics in their music.
Richmond, Virginia: the birthplace and workplace of a large number of talented street artists, musicians, and visual artists. In addition, Richmond is home to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Arts, a top-ranked art school. But when was the last time you heard of a rapper from Richmond who’s on the rise, making money, and has a constantly growing fanbase? Ver$ace Chachi, of course! Chachi, a Richmond native, currently has a large amount of fans in Europe, New York City, and California. His album, Who The **** is Chachi, recently dropped a month ago and is available on bandcamp.com for a nominal price of five dollars.
Chachi grew up on Richmond’s south side and started playing around with beats in middle school. He has “always had a passion for music” and became serious about making music in high school. While in high school, Chachi explored making more music, finding inspiration from reggae, and sampling tracks.
After graduation, Chachi’s entrance into the industry was no easy feat. “No one gave me a chance. I felt like I was stuck,” says Chachi as he described being a rapper in his hometown. Richmond has great artists, but Chachi says “no one ever really blew up.” After trying to make it in Richmond and feeling unsuccessful, Chachi decided to move to New York City. His plans in New York were to grow, expand, and learn as much about the rap game as possible. For Chachi, New York was a “wake up call.” He had been to New York one time prior to moving there, but when he started living there he was “blown away. I was on my own, I had to learn for myself.” Richmond was laid back, while New York was “very fast.”
On Chachi’s arms you can find tattoos of “TTF” and “12:34,” which also represents Time Ticks Forever. TTF is a rap group that has members in Richmond and in New York. The rappers in TTF are all “hungry artists” that want to spread their music. Chachi says the message he is trying to send in his music is “Just be yourself.” According to Ver$ace Chachi, people enjoy his music because it’s different: “Someone out there is gonna’ feel that.” Chachi has collaborated with local artists such as Dr. Millionaire, Chance Fisher, Octavion X, Ms. Proper and Artik Phreez. Hollywood Trell and Backstreet Play are also some of the TTF members located in Richmond.
TTF has a large fan base in California, New York City, and Europe. TTF has done two European tours, one in November of 2014 and another during June and July of 2015. Their first tour, the Medusa Space Tour, took the group to France, Germany, and Belgium. During their second tour, the Time Ticks Forever Tour, TTF performed in France, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Poland.
To promote his music, Chachi uses social media. “I just abuse technology. As an independent artist, you have to put yourself out there.” Chachi can be found on twitter, instagram, snapchat, and facebook. “My music is the face of everything,” he says. In addition to making music, he also sells merchandise. TTF recently did a collaboration with Astralland, a clothing company that makes independent brand apparel.
Ver$ace Chachi and TTF have another tour scheduled for 2016, and Chachi plans to drop an EP in late November or early December called Timeless. Whereas Who The **** Is Chachi was more fun, Timeless has more meaning and feeling. “It’s gonna be real” he said, but it will still represent 12:34 and their movement. Along with his third upcoming European tour, Chachi plans on selling merchandise as well.
Personally, I enjoy listening to Ver$ace Chachi’s music. In a way, it reminds me of Yung Lean, a rapper from Stockholm, Sweden. His music is different from mainstream rap, and it’s nice to hear an innovative take on the rap genre. His songs have quality beats; it’s music to listen to when you are hanging out or doing work. When I think of a word to describe Ver$ace Chachi, the first one that usually comes to mind is “European.” Over the past few years, this genre, embodied in artists like Yung Lean and the Sad Boys, has been growing. Another rapper I would put in that genre is Vintage Veez, who is a small-time rapper out of Hartford, Connecticut. Although Vintage Veez is nowhere near as popular as Ver$ace Chachi or Yung Lean, his beats sound similar. Chachi reminds me of Yung Lean because his music videos give off the same vibe as Yung Lean’s. Similar to Lean, Chachi’s videos make me want to get up and move around, but at the same time they make you want to be quiet and appreciate the beauty. I look forward to Timeless dropping later this year, and I definitely see TTF expanding to reach a larger audience in the near future.
All photos captured by Alex Parham.