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Chazzie Shepherd: Native Tongue

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Chazzie Shepherd has achieved more in the music industry than some veteran artists, but has yet to sign a major label contract. How is that possible? The Atlanta native consistently works with the industry’s best, and has put in more work behind the scenes than most. Music insiders bask in the glow that is Chazzie’s sultry and authentic sound, and the time has come to give the outsiders a taste of what she has to offer.

Chazzie is an artist in every sense of the word. She is a multi-faceted musician who is a master of the Country, R&B, and Rock –n- Roll genre. She is a painter whose works of art captivate the homes of some of music’s most well known talents. And this is only the crust of what she has to offer the world. This rare gem sat back with Allhiphop.com Alternatives and laid down her master plan to take the game over, slowly but surely.

Allhiphop.com Alternatives: Let’s get into what you currently have in the works right now. Obviously, there are certain things you cannot speak on, so talk as much as you can about your music as it stands right now.

Chazzie Shepherd: I am currently doing some things with Parliament, I’m on Cee-Lo’s next album, which is dropping January 20th, and I’m also doing some things with Killer Mike. I have some paintings, and I’m getting ready to go in the lab and do some things with Ludacris. I did some paintings for Cee-Lo’s wife and for his manager, and I did some paintings for Luda.

AHHA: Are your paintings the ones that were featured on MTV Cribs when they did a segment on Ludacris?

CS: I don’t know which ones you saw, but any of the ones you saw in Cee-Lo’s house, I did. The ones in Ludacris’s old condo, I didn’t do those, but the newer ones I did. I have a couple of songs I’ve done for Macy Gray for her documentary, and I have two songs that are available now on this movie with John Amos, called “The Watermelon Heist.” I have a number of different things going on.

AHHA: Do you have any information about your upcoming debut?

CS: I’m going to try to have everything done after I go on this tour. We haven’t come up with a date to drop it.

AHHA: Is this an independent project, or are you going to go with a major label?

CS: I wanted to do the independent thing. I didn’t really want to sign to a major label because I think right now it’s in my best interest to go independent. The majors are raping people. I’m trying to stay clear from that. Although I’m doing some major things, and it would be good to have the people of the industry who’ve been there for a minute, I’d rather risk some of these small time people who’s really trying to get their name out there, and being real about it first.

AHHA: When does the tour begin? Is this just a national tour, or are you venturing out overseas?

CS: [It started] December 4th. This is a just a promo tour, so we are going to stay in the states. I got to stay clear of the water right now. We’ll probably head overseas in the spring and the summer.

AHHA: What exactly drew you into this business?

CS: I grew up doing this all of my life. I’d been singing in church. My mom played the piano in church for 30 years, so being that she was over the youth choir, I had to sing in church. Then, I ventured off into learning and wanting to write songs on my own, and fiddling with the keys a little bit. I fiddled with the guitar a little bit, too, so I just tried to establish myself as an individual and not really follow the gospel thing. My music is kind of a conscious music. Everything has a message behind it. You’ll bounce your head, but if you take the music away and listen to the lyrics, they’ll move you just as well.

AHHA: I took some time to listen to your music, and I identified three different influences. I want to know how much these three particular people play a part in what you do. I hear a lot of Cee-Lo…

CS: When people hear my songs, they always swear he’s on it. Actually, I did that before I even got on the album with him.

AHHA: I hear a lot of Macy Gray…

CS: Yes sir, yes sir!

AHHA: Is she a major influential force in your music.

CS: Yes, I love Macy Gray. Anything that’s kind of back wood and deep root. I can get down with anything kind of country but real. I go from old Billie Holiday, Nancy Wilson, Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, and then I can go to 2Pac, Eminem, and Dr. Dre. It depends on what mood I’m in. I love all kinds of music. I love country music, so I got a couple of country tracks on there. I got some rock –n- roll on my next album, and we’re already working on that. Expect the unexpected with me. You can’t say I’m just neo-soul because I’m everywhere.

AHHA: I also hear a lot of Erykah Badu in your music, too. Where does she fit in with the influence of your creativity?

CS: I listen to her a lot, but I’m more caught up on her lyrics. I like Erykah, of course I like Cee-Lo, Outkast, Nappy Roots, and Talib Kweli. But like I said, it’s all kinds of music. I’ve been inspired by a lot of different people. I play the piano for my mom, and I play the guitar because it was something that I wanted to fiddle with. I’ve been doing this for 12 years, and I was writing behind the scenes for a minute. I did some stuff with Dallas Austin when he was working with TLC. He also had an artist named Diamond, and I worked for her in secret for awhile as a ghostwriter.

AHHA: What kind of buzz and response have you gotten in Atlanta thus far?

CS: Man, they was ripping my clothes off. I had to hire my brother for security. (laughs) I knew it was time to venture out and do something else, so I’m excited about this tour to see how other cities and states take it.

AHHA: What is your best description of neo-soul? I ask that a lot, but no one has been able to give me a straight answer as of yet.

CS: It’s the same thing as soul. It’s a more soothing sound, a more soothing feeling, and they say it’s a more conscious music, but that’s not necessarily true. Music is music across the board to me. As long as you are telling a story, to me that’s music.

AHHA: From what I’ve gathered so far, you can basically take any genre and make it your own. What do you to keep your creativity fresh and avoid making repetitive music?

CS: Living life everyday and talking to people. All you have to do is watch and observe. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. You always got a story to tell; you always got something to say. Someone can always relate to anything that’s going on in your life, as long as you have a certain way to relay it.

AHHA: What is your opinion on these award shows, like the Grammys and the Source Awards? Do you think these shows actually validate these people as legitimate artists in the industry?

CS: It don’t make or break a person. Honestly, I’m the greatest known unknown, and I’m triple platinum in my heart. Whether someone likes my music or not, as long as I’m satisfied with what I’m saying, and it makes me feel like I’m living life and causes me to do better, then you know.

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