Chevy Woods Talks Early Days With Taylor Gang & ‘Since Birth’ Album
It’s Taylor Gang Or Die, all day everyday. Chevy Woods has been with Wiz Khalifa since the beginning, serving as his hype man as they were both coming up in their hometown of Pittsburgh. Chevy, whose real name is Kevin Woods, actually used to rap under the moniker Kev Tha Hustla, which speaks volumes to his life before the music.
The name Chevy came about after he was blocked out of his Twitter. During a show in Kansas, Wiz let Kev use his Twitter to ask the fans what they thought about changing his name. Chevy actually was given from one of his homeboys in his neighborhood of Hazelwood, and the people were all for it.
Chevy has been featured on some of Wiz’ biggest hits, including “Medicated,” “Karate,” “No Permission,” “Still Down,” and more. Now 17 projects later, Chevy returns with his highly-anticipated debut album titled Since Birth. The project details the real Chevy Woods as a man, father, artist — not just the positive things you see on the internet and social media.
AllHipHop caught up with Chevy Woods at the Kandypens house about how he got his name, early Taylor Gang days, the meaning behind Since Birth, fatherhood, and more!
AllHipHop: You used to go by Kev Tha Hustla, how much were you hustlin’?
Chevy Woods: I mean, I’m here now. I was the true meaning of listening to the OG saying: “get in and get out.” I got what I got out of it, then I got out. It wasn’t really a struggle to do that, because music came about.
AllHipHop: What was a young Kev Tha Hustler like? When did music come into your life?
Chevy Woods: I played basketball in different neighborhoods. I was writing raps then, but nothing I wanted to show people. I went to college after high school for a year, at Robert Morris University. I met one of my homies, he’s my roommate. This dude’s showing me how to do the parental advisories on the computer, the artwork. He had a book full of rhymes, I’m like “yo I can rap too.” At that time, I remembered everything I said. He had it written down, I wanted to write rhymes. It wasn’t 16s or 8s, it was straight to the pad. Next page, rip through the pad. He showed me how to put raps together, I started in college. Then I left school and went back to the hood, jumped to the streets. It was still a hobby, but it wasn’t an everyday thing for me.
AllHipHop: When did Taylor Gang happen?
Chevy Woods: Taylor Gang happened when I was hustling in the hood, s##t didn’t work out. At one point it was good, then at one point it was super bad. I went broke, I was f##ked up. Hustling of course, you're going to go through roadblocks. I f##ked the money up. Nobody else's money, but my money. On some embarrassed s##t, I left the hood and went to stay with my girlfriend at the time. She lived 30 minutes away from the hood, so I never had to go there. People don’t know, this is deep s##t. I’m letting this out because the album’s called Since Birth, basically everything I f##king went through. It’s destined for me to put this album out at this time and explain it to people.
AllHipHop: How old were you?
Chevy Woods: I might’ve been 21, 22. It wasn’t me because I’m used to being in the hood with the homies all the time. Damn, you broke. You can’t really hang with the homies, they have nothing for you. Of course I had people that’d give me s##t, but my pride was too big to ask for something. s##t got bad, I asked one of my cousins for something. He gave me something, we turned that into something, then turned that into something else. We’re back on the move again. I was in the hood, s##t got good. Real s##t, phones start crackin’ again. I couldn’t even really f##king sit down no more, now I’m running around hustling forreal. That lifestyle was everyday: wake up, answer the phone, serve people, smoke weed, sleep, repeat.
AllHipHop: Were you making bank though?
Chevy Woods: I was, everyday. To put it into perspective: when I quit hustling, Wiz said “yo, I feel like you got one foot in and one foot out. I’m about to give you 2 weeks.” It wasn’t an ultimatum, but he had to be on the move with what he’s doing.
AllHipHop: How’d you and Wiz meet each other?
Chevy Woods: We met through my homie Freeze at ID Labs, with my homeboy E. Dan who mixed this whole album right here. It goes way back. We went to the studio, Wiz was there. He liked what I was doing, I liked what he was doing. We recorded a song called “Me” the same day, been cool ever since. I was his hype man, he’s thinking bigger than what I thought it could be.
Once he put me on, I thought “alright cool, I’ma ride this out. Put the same hustle I was putting in the streets, over here.” I cold turkeyed. When I left messing around in the streets, I had $33K. I didn’t really have any responsibilities. I was with my girlfriend, she had a daughter. I was raising her (who’s still in my life right now, that’s my baby). A bunch of stuff going on for me. Wiz showed me we could do this s##t, if we really do it. f##k the street s##t. I’m still that n*gga regardless if I sell drugs or not, but I quit hustling to go do this.
AllHipHop: You said people seen you grow up on the internet, did you enjoy that?
Chevy Woods: Yeah for sure, I didn’t know that though. Of course, Wiz one day said “we’re gonna take over the internet.” I’m like “what the f##k do you mean?” The internet for me wasn’t a thing to be taken over until Twitter s##t came about. He showed me Twitter, then he showed me Ustream. I’m from the streets, my mentality isn’t really thinking that.
I’m not even gon’ say I come from the streets, I come from a good home. Even though my dad left, my mom raised us as good kids. She worked in the Board of Education. Of course, times were hard. Sometimes we didn’t have the best of foods or the best of clothes, but we weren’t mad. Wiz showed me this music s##t could work. I’d never have thought of it like that, on a bigger scale.
AllHipHop: How hard was it to leave the streets?
Chevy Woods: It was difficult. I was making $3K, $4K, $5K a day. Of course the streets, you go up and down. You go to jail being caught with s##t, it sets you back. If your phone’s ringing and you go to jail, they call somebody else. It sets you back, no matter how much time it is. Once I cold turkeyed, f##k that s##t. Going on the road, Wiz was starting to pop. We weren’t making $10K or $15K a show, it was $2K a show we had to break down with the homies. Wiz was still that in tune to be like “y’all out here with me, let me break y’all off with some money.” Even if it was for clothes and eating, we’re here. He’s paying for the hotels, it was real s##t.
AllHipHop: How was it having his career explode the way it did?
Chevy Woods: It was dope. I left the dope game, the streets with money. I wasn’t really worried about money, I was worried about him going to where he saw it all going. I wanted to help that in any way I can. When it came time for me to become the hype man, I was all on-board. f##k what I’m doing, we gon’ do this and I’ll get to what I’m doing later.
AllHipHop: What are your fondest memories from the early Taylor Gang days?
Chevy Woods: Man, we used to be in ID Labs studios man. Shout out to E-Dan, Germ, Franchise, Josh. Ideas were flowing, we never knew where the f##k it was going. We recorded in places where the heat wasn’t on, in full coats and hoodies writing rhymes. Record in the basement, then go in the stairs. It was tough.
AllHipHop: How are the studio sessions now?
Chevy Woods: Oh, they’re amazing. [laughs] You go where you want, you go when you want. You come with your ideas and work. Of course we thugged it out to get here, but it’s a real working environment now. I could go with f##king horseshoes on or I can go with a f##king sweatsuit, or with shorts and a t-shirt on. We can do whatever now, it’s way better. And we’re in California.
AllHipHop: You dropped 17 projects and no album. Why is that?
Chevy Woods: Sometimes I ask myself that, all tapes and 2 or 3 EPs. I was prepared to do albums. Before this album, I trashed 4 or 5 of them.
AllHipHop: Are you a super tough critic on yourself?
Chevy Woods: For sure! It has to be the right way. Some of those songs come back, like “Hands on a Dashboard” is from 2017. All the stuff happened with police brutality and it made sense. I didn’t put it out at the time, I made it because it’s a situation that happened to me. It had nothing to do with anything going on in the world, I went to the studio after that s##t happened. I didn’t even write a second verse because the first verse explained exactly what happened.
AllHipHop: Talk about album listening tonight, you have everyone out here. How’d it feel to see Wiz dancing to your records?
Chevy Woods: It’s crazy, that’s my dawg. We talk about everything. For the album, I really wanted him to be in tune. Making it, I was sending him everything. I was telling him the moves I was going to make because without him, this is not what I saw. Me believing in what he believed in, then he believed in my talents enough to be like “alright, now we can put the album out.” Not that he wasn’t behind all my other music, but now he’s like “you feel comfortable? I feel comfortable.”
He wasn’t pushing me to be album, album, album. He said ‘when you ready, we gon’ do it.” Now I’m ready, I’m doing it. I put it together, he sees all the work and all the songs. How I’m doing all the videos, putting all the promo s##t together, as a team too. A lot of people aren’t talking but they’re handling all my s##t and I appreciate it. Shout out to the gang man. I’ma pull up to the office, I’m sorry I’ve been neglecting the office.
AllHipHop: “Gang With Us” went all the way up, bring us back to that studio session.
Chevy Woods: I wish Sledgren was in the session, but he wasn’t there. The thing with me and Sledgren, our moms are close friends. That’s my mom on the back of the artwork, my mom’s standing in front of Sledgren’s mom’s house. It all tied in. My mom told me where the picture was taken at, but she didn’t tell me what year so I don’t know how old we were. They’re good friends, so it’s close-knit. I used to live on the 4600 block then moved to the 4800 block, but we still stayed friends because Lewis Park is the playground that we’d all meet at and have fun in the hood.
AllHipHop: What’s one thing you want fans to get from this project?
Chevy Woods: They watched me grow up on the internet, without the music. They heard projects I put together, but it’s a lot of s##t I haven’t ever told nobody. I had to be comfortable with myself. It’s me man, this is the real me. My path wasn’t easy and I wouldn’t change it, but there’s a lot of things people don’t know about me. A lot of things I went through that people don’t know. I show them all the happiness, all the fun, all the smoking weed, all the drinking, but at the same time it’s a message. I don’t do one side of the coin, we’re both sides of the coin.
AllHipHop: You’ve been cheffing it up? Seen you make jerk chicken.
Chevy Woods: The cooking’s real man. I went home 10 days ago and cooked for my mama on Father’s Day. I’m still in my stepdaughter’s life — not even my stepdaughter, that’s my daughter. My princess. We’re really in tune, she does everything like me. A lot of the times, it’s “I'm a dad man, I’m tryna lay back and drink a beer.” You know what, let me cook for my mom. My dad’s still in my life, but they’re not together. Let me go over and cook for my mom, show her Big Woods.
AllHipHop: When are you and E-40 battling?
Chevy Woods: That’s my role model, not even gon’ front. I watch his videos, I see his wine and his tequila. He’s a f##king role model. Kobe was happy as hell to go against Jordan. Allen Iverson was happy to go up against Jordan. I’m the Allen Iverson of cooking. One time we might play, I might cross him up. He told me after this quarantine is over, we gon’ get together. He told me how much he’s a Michelin star, it’s all good. I respect that. I don’t think he knew I watched so much of his cooking until I said something. Shout out to E-40, sprinkle me man.
AllHipHop: Did you and Wiz bond over fatherhood, especially in the beginning?
Chevy Woods: Oh yeah, for sure. I was on the road when he didn’t have a kid, he said “yo, I see how you raised your daughter. I’ma have a kid one day and it’s gon’ be the same type of deal.” How he does it is amazing, out of this world. His dad’s amazing, his mom’s amazing, we all help. It’s a village.
AllHipHop: As someone with a platform, what do you think needs to happen in the world?
Chevy Woods: Get Donald Trump the f##k out of office. [walks off]