Chevy Woods is an OG in the rap game, best known for being part of Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang imprint. Not only was he able to go on tour this past summer with Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Too Short, and Berner, but he’s also been focused on his forthcoming album titled 1998, paying homage to the era of Hip-Hop we all know and love.
Beyond rap, Chevy Woods recently unveiled his first ever EDM collaboration with the producer Gromo. The two worked together to release “Protagonist,” an uptempo, bass house record that blends the genres of Hip-Hop and dance music, featuring Chevy’s distinct vocals. This is the perfect example of two creatives stepping outside of their comfort zone, coming together to create a melting pot of sounds.
Hailing from New York, Gromo is a producer, DJ, and musician, who’s a veteran performer at ULTRA Worldwide events. After studying at NYU’s prestigious Clive Davis Institute, Gromo went on to shut down stages all around the world, performing Ultra events in Miami, Europe, and Asia.
Gromo states, “I’m adopted from Guatemala, came to the city. Immersed in the New York culture, became an instant Hip Hop head. Got thrown into a lot of different things. Because in the city, there’s not one genre. You’re able to mix into a bunch of things. I got into Hip-Hop, I got into electronic music, I got into rock music. That all bleeds into my music, which is cool with this new track “Protagonist” that Chevy and I worked on. It was one of the ones where everything came together. It really represents all my influences coming from NYC.”
“Protagonist” is the second single off Gromo’s forthcoming EP titled The Vortex, following the project’s self-titled track released back in July.
AllHipHop spoke with Chevy Woods and Gromo to discuss their love for Hip-Hop, collaborating on “Protagonist,” Gromo’s forthcoming project, Chevy writing country songs, and more!
What was the moment you guys fell in love with Hip Hop?
Chevy Woods: I’m creating a project right now that’s called 1998, it’s an ode to that. I used to always listen to music of course, but breaking it down: bars, stories, flow patterns, content and topics — around 1998 is when I really fell in love with it. The project I’m about to drop soon, it’s all boom bap raps. I’m not looking for a single, none of that stuff. I just wanted to bring the essence.
1998, who was the most poppin’ artist at that time?
Chevy Woods: For me around that time, I’ll listen to a lot of No Limit, old Cash Money. A lot of Capone-N-Noreaga. 41st Side, Queensbridge stuff. Big L had passed that year or the year before, so I was listening to Big L before that. It was super East Coast of fluence. But at the same time, we had to sprinkle that New Orleans in there a little bit. Just for the thugs. [laughs]
Gromo: 1998 is when I was born. [laughs]
Chevy Woods: What?? You just dated me bro.
Gromo: I was a ‘98 boy. A lot of dope albums came out, I remember DMX’s album came out that year. For me, I really got introduced to Hip Hop through Mac Miller. That was my introduction, from his style and how his originality was so different from everyone else. But the moment I really fell in love with it was when I heard 36 Chambers. That was the album where I’m like, this is it. From that, I got into Mobb Deep, Capone-N-Noreaga, all those hardcore New York artists. Really fell in love with that gritty, grimy sound that’s really signature. Also, A Tribe Called Quest is another group that really opened my ears to how special and important Hip Hop is to all of us.
So how did you guys tap in for “Protagonist”?
Gromo: We both have our own separate teams and people we work with. The cool thing about this is we were able to combine our teams. Someone on my team knew Chevy, and someone from Chevy’s team knew someone on mine. We decided hey, how about we combine our forces and make something really dope happen? And that’s what happened.
Chevy Woods: I always wanted to do something like that. There were a couple people that pitched me records that I said eh, maybe. Or I did something that I wasn’t in love with. When I heard this beat, then I heard what I could do to it: okay, this can be something else. After he gets in his hands and does what he does to it. When he sent it back, g######! S###. Let’s go to Vegas bro.
And this is the first time you guys are meeting?!
Gromo: Yeah, literally. That’s how a lot of it is these days with collaborations. Since the pandemic, it’s been harder to get into the studio with people and people’s schedules are busier than ever. A lot of us are finding in the writing world that it’s easy to connect virtually, then throw stuff back and forth. At least going in with Chevy, we’re talking to Chevy Woods here. This has to sound like something Chevy’s gonna get on. I did not want to give them something that sounded off his lane. Coming from that HipHop background, there’s a certain edge that needs to be there. That’s something I want to make sure on my end that I did. At the same time, I want to highlight everything great that Chevy does as an artist and as an MC.
Chevy Woods: To add to that: what he sent me didn’t change me, like he’s saying. It was a perfect fit for me to do what I need to do. It wasn’t “oh, I need you to do this or that.”
Chevy, is this the first time you hopped on an EDM beat?
Chevy Woods: I have some in my hard drive that I didn’t release, but this is the first time that people are getting to hear me like that for sure. Besides the homies, they know I have these records. But it wasn’t at this level with everything: with the lyrics, with the track, with the camaraderie of our teams knowing each other. When I did it for other people, it didn’t have an organic feeling. It was “yo, throw something on here and I’ll do this.” Okay, then what? Him following up, getting the artwork created and gone, that means he’s really behind the record.
What inspired the visualizer?
Gromo: For the visualizer, that was a really important thing for me to highlight. With any kind of dance track, the one thing for me is there are not enough stories. For me, what was important with the visuals was to tell a story. The “Protagonist” video was inspired by my struggle with prescription drugs. I was prescribed a medication when I was young, which was a high dose and it ended up having a bad impact on my life.
With this video, I wanted to show that there’s really not too much of a difference between the pharmaceutical companies who make these drugs and give them to people than the so-called drugs that are illegal. The visualizer was created for you to ask questions. Why are certain things legal or illegal? For me telling stories is just as or even more important than the music itself and that’s what I tried to do with the visualizer.
Is there going to be an official music video coming?
Gromo: I’m down for that.
Chevy Woods: He got the answer. I don’t got the answer? If he wants to do it, I’m down.
Gromo: Chevy if you want to do it, man I’m totally down to do it. 100%. NYC to LA, LA to NYC.
Chevy Woods: It needs that. For me, when I listened to it, I listened to it when I was tipsy off of drinking. Off of smoking weed of course. But you know what the best is? Off the mushrooms. It’s so good. The visualizer’s so good to watch and listen when you’re off shrooms. I don’t know if you’ve experienced — when I listen to music, there’s certain places I need to go. That’s where it takes me. Oh yeah, let me do some mushrooms and listen to this s###. See what I feel like. It gives you a good dance feeling. That cool drug, not the other side.
How was the creative process, doing it virtually?
Chevy Woods: We didn’t really sit down and do it, it was sent out via email. We were using emails and Instagram. Like he said, people are still trying to climb back from the pandemic and get into a comfortable space. People think it’s going to happen with the snap of a finger, but we’re two years removed from it and it’s still in its same place right now. It’s going to be cool, but also getting stuff done like this — because I didn’t start either with my setup. I didn’t stream or do none of this stuff until the pandemic came, that’s when I really got into it. It was easy connecting through emails, Instagram, and socials, because that’s the realm we were in a couple years back.
Gromo: We literally started the track just after the summer in 2020, it was still hot in the pandemic and we were still locked up. It was very much shooting ideas back and forth. That’s something I’ve been doing for most of my career with different artists. Where I grew up, there really weren’t no creative people so I’ve used the internet to my benefit. I went on SoundCloud and Spotify, found different talent and reached out to people to collaborate. With Chevy, it was cool. You have some other people who can happen and help assist put all this magic together. It’s great that with technology, you’re able to connect with people from all over the world. From different places and make it happen. This is one of those scenarios where it all worked out.
What can we expect from The Vortex?
Gromo: The Vortex is an emotional experience. I wanted to create something that’s really going to mean something to people. The main thing I want to address with The Vortex is depression, mental health, and suicide awareness. For me, I struggle with depression. It feels like a vortex where every day goes on and on and on. You’re sucked into those bad thoughts. I wanted to create a project that can be therapeutic to me, but then therapeutic to other people.
Because music is incredible. I don’t know what it is but when I’m going through something and I put on some good music, it goes away. The special thing is as artists, we’re able to channel that in and put it into the music. Other people, they don’t have that outlet. I wanted to provide an outlet for other people who are struggling right now. To get off the internet, get off social media, sit down and tune out. Listen to some music, wherever you are. That’s the important thing for the project.
I also want to highlight all my influences from rock to Hip Hop to dance music, to film and score, all that stuff. Create an experience for people so it’s not so one-dimensional where you’re listening to a song on Spotify. You have a visual, you have a story, you have a message, you have artwork that grabs you. I want to create a whole package for people to really connect with and use this as a launching ground to keep building over the next couple of years.
Chevy Woods: Love that.
Are you guys going to collaborate on another record?
Chevy Woods: Oh yeah, the start is the base point. We like what we just did, so why not? You might hear an EP, you never know.
Gromo: I’m always open to any collaboration, videos. When something works out — and it’s so hard with artists to really have a natural vibe. Sometimes when you work with people, it’s hard. But with Chevy and I, we clicked instantly. Things just happened. He knew exactly what to do with the record, and I made sure I knew what to give what was most comfortable for Chevy to hop on.
Chevy’s been in the rap game for a minute. What do you like about Chevy and his music?
Gromo: Chevy’s energy, he has such a strong command on the mic. He really believes everything he says, he owns it. Sometimes when I listen to people, I don’t believe what they’re saying. When Chevy says something, I know he’s saying it and he’s putting you in the room. That’s such a hard thing. The best MCs can put the listener into the room, Chevy puts me into the room and I know what’s going on. He’s picking every little setting of the room and what’s happening in that setting.
Chevy Woods: I appreciate that brother, because that’s what I aim for real. I’m not gonna lie. I want to give people a feeling of themselves in me. When they listen to my music, it’s a reflection. If I give you the message, then you may be going through these things. If I give you an album of things that’s content-driven and topics, then it’s helping somebody in the world. That’s what I go for. I can go for singles and do that s### all day long, make the biggest blah blah blah.
But what is the message? What’re you trying to tell people? What’re you trying to get across? How are you trying to make people feel and think? It’s not just going into rap for me, it’s never been that. Maybe the first two years way back when, I was trying to show off. But after that, yo this has a real meaning because it’s grabbing people. Now I gotta watch and pay attention to what I need to say to the people, and what I need them to hear.
Were you on tour with Wiz and Snoop this past summer?
Chevy Woods: I was, it was crazy. Wiz, Snoop, Berner, Too Short, Warren G.
What was the highlight?
Chevy Woods: We’re friends with Snoop. For me, I seen this commanding energy that wasn’t aggressive. Not to us, but even to his team. “Go do this, or I need this.” His camaraderie really helped that run smoothly. Of course, he grew up with Warren G, Too Short, and everybody. But his kids love Wiz, and he ended up loving us. We’re in his gaming community, with the Gangsta Gaming League that he does. All of that stuff was easy and family going.
Then you got Berner. Berner’s the first person I’ve seen bring his f###### weed plant on the tour bus, and grow it. All that stuff was meshed in one. It was really a family vibe. The way that Snoop brings everybody together, that’s what that’ll do. This brings everybody together as well. You combine those two, you win.
How much weed was smoked on tour?
Chevy Woods: Too much. There’s lot of times, I left the room. You know what? I’m good bro. How much higher can you be? I’m cool alright. Go to sleep now.
Every time I’m around y’all, it’s spark up. Spark up. Spark up. It never ends.
Chevy Woods: The funny thing is you won’t see me do that. I do smoke my weed but once they get to doing that, you know? I’m cool. [laughs]
Anything else you guys are excited for?
Chevy Woods: I’ve been writing country songs lately. I really want to tell people: music is music. But there’s so many different genres and so many different ways you can go with it. You have to find what you love, what you like. I like storytelling. Once I started writing the country music, this is perfect. I don’t gotta do punchlines. I can tell the story, build it up start to beginning. Give people more of a feeling in the music. I know you get feeling from rap music, but country music, R&B is emotional. Emotionally driven. The country music that I’m writing is some s###.
Gromo: That’s so sick. I’m ready for some Chevy country for real.
Chevy Woods: Yeah man, I got you. I’ve been back and forth to Nashville with writers. Doing certain stuff on the low, preparing myself for what I think is going to be a good thing.
Gromo: Right now, it’s kind of the same. I’m really going to start tapping into my rock background. I used to play guitar for 10 years before I got into DJing and production, so I’m getting back into that. After 10 years of producing other artists, now I’m going to force myself to become the artist. Write the lyrics and perform on my tracks. Because certain parts of my story, it’s hard. You can’t always give it to other people. I have to tell this story.
Right now, I’m working on developing my next project. Do some more band music, get back to my roots but then still have it be very much heavy bass within distortion and all that. Synths, guitars, and crazy vibes. I miss in the late 90’s when you had metal bands combining Hip Hop. Limp Bizkit collaborating with Method Man, Ice Cube with Korn, that type of stuff. I miss that. I want to bring back that energy.
Chevy Woods: I love that. Blink 182 and Jay Z, I love that.