If you’ve seen Wiz Khalifa perform, chances are you’ve also noticed another lively individual rocking alongside him onstage. However, this Pittsburgh-native is more than just a hypeman and cohort of the Taylor Gang crew. At 29 years old, Chevy Woods has spent years catering to the local mixtape scene in the Steel City, before appearing on one of the year's best-selling releases, Rolling Papers.
Initially starting out under the Rap name Kev Da Hustla, the emcee soon found a more comfortable rapping style and fittingly changed his name to match it, most notably on his latest mixtape Red Cup Music. Humble yet driven, Chevy Woods looks to make a name for himself while still building the Taylor Gang empire.
DXnext recently spoke with Chevy Woods about his start, what being Taylor Gang entails, and how he wants his music to be remembered.
Youthful Impression: “I didn’t really want to do rapping, I just listened to a lot of guys around the neighborhood that were doing things like making tapes and going to makeshift studios. I really listened to local stuff before I got into any of the mainstream acts.
These were people from my neighborhood that didn’t get the chance to put their music out there. They were a little bit older than me and I never really wanted to get into it, I just listened.”
Picking Up The Pen: “It was in college. I went to Robert Morris [University] here in Pennsylvania. When I went to school, I was roommates with this guy from New York who was doing more of an Internet-level thing. He was playing beats and he was like, ‘Maybe you should just try it.’ And I was like, ‘Maybe not.’ [Laughs] It was like a month or two into the school year and I figured I might as well give it a try. So I just started writing without knowing how to put a 16 or a hook together. I was just listening to beats and writing straight through them.
Later on, around this time I was really still in the streets running around doing what people in the streets do. But I really got into it around 2003, 2004. I got into it deep. And I was like, maybe I could do this. And once I got into a real studio I was taught how to put songs together, how to do bridges and all that.”
Pairing Up With Wiz: “For me, it was more so make music, have fun and see where it goes. But for Wiz [Khalifa], he had bigger things on his mind and he would tell me things he was going to do that ended up happening. He always had his eye on the prize and at the same time we made a good connection, became good friends so it was like musically you’re doing the same thing I’m doing so let’s just mesh the thing together.”
The Taylor Gang Declaration: “We’re very tight. We look out for each other, we stand up for each other and that’s what being Taylor is. We’re all not trying to be Wiz Khalifa, we’re all individual people and that’s the point we want to get across. And he gets that put across too. He never says, ‘I’m gonna do this and Chevy’s gonna do this.’ He has no agenda as far as individuals, which is a good thing.
And I’m gonna rep for the Taylor Gang. Whatever move that Wiz makes I’m with it being that he’s younger than me and been in the business and he knows a little bit. And I say he knows a little bit meaning he knows a lot, but he has a lot more to learn, we all do. I’m just gonna go with what he thinks. We’ll sit down and talk, it’s still gonna be my ideas, but he knows people and he can give me some advice on how to manage my situation.”
Growing Musically Up To Red Cup Music: “I just threw everything I had in my hands up in the air and I was like, I’m gonna just pick apart what I do and try to find what my lane is, because Wiz always had his lane. He always knew what he wanted to do but while I was working with him I was still trying to find myself too at the same time. So from Pilot Shit to Red Cup Music, I was just finding myself. But when Red Cup Music came about I started picking out the right beats and putting the project together the way I wanted to. I didn’t just take anything and slam it together, I really wanted to put the music out and let people hear what my style is and where I’m going with it.
It took me about two months, or maybe not even that. Like a month and a half, I really went in and I knew what I wanted to do so every night I was doing more than two songs because I knew what I wanted.”
Delayed Exposure Of Pittsburgh: “It’s a small market, it’s a small place. It’s one of those places unlike Los Angeles, unlike Miami and New York and Atlanta where there’s no big radio station. And there used to be one, but they still didn’t play local Hip Hop. So our music wasn’t getting out to the world like a Philadelphia where you could go up to a radio station or a HOT 97 and rap and people would hear you. There was none of that. It came late because it’s a small market.”
A Life On The Road: “I miss home all the time; that’s just normal for anybody. I miss just being with my family, my daughter and my girl. But at the same time, when I’m gone that’s work, so I have to enter that mode. I don’t really dwell on what I have back home, I have to do this to support back home so I just go into that mode and just turn it on.”
Building For The Official Debut: “I’m probably gonna cater to the mixtape scene for the time being, just do a whole bunch of free things for the people. And when it’s time for an album, it’ll come. I’m not in a rush for anything like that. I’m really like here for the situation of Wiz, and myself, but I put myself on the back burner when it comes down to this situation because it’s much bigger.
I have The Cook Out coming out, it’s gonna come sometime between July and August. I’m not gonna have any features, it’s just gonna be me and Wiz. It will be my tape, but it’s gonna be just featuring him.”
Taylor Gang Or...: “I just heard one and when I heard it I had to hold myself, pause. Somebody said, ‘Taylor Gang or teabag a bear trap.’ For that to happen and you know what a bear trap does to a bear, whoa. I was like, I would never want that to happen. But at the same time it was cool because it was showing their dedication.”
Recognition And Respect: “I just want people to respect my music. I’m not telling anything that I’m not doing. I’m not telling the ‘bright lights’ story that maybe people want to hear, but it’s my story. It’s not too much with me. That’s all I need, just people to respect it.”