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Name: Adam Bernard
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Artist Of The Week – Chaz Kangas
Monday, December 18, 2006

Originally from Minnesota, or Murderapolis, MoneySnowta, as he jokingly calls it, Chaz Kangas is not your average MC. He’s witty, he plays with the crowd during live performances, and throws cultural references into his rhymes that are so atypical they’ll have you running to Google to figure out what he’s talking about. Though he’s still not old enough to drink legally, Chaz, a student at NYU, has already performed at some legendary venues, including opening for the final Hip-Hop show at CBGB’s. So grab a seat and get ready to meet an MC you won’t soon forget. This is Chaz Kangas.

Adam Bernard: You opened, and hosted, the final Hip-Hop show at CBGB’s ever. What was that like and how did you get such a high profile gig?
Chaz Kangas: It was an emotional night. Being from Minneapolis we have one of the largest live show bootleg trading rings and I grew up on so many great shows from that place. The night of I approached the stage holding a “Gabba Gabba Hey” sign, a specific reference to this particular 70’s Ramones bootleg from the place that holds a special spot in my heart. We oversold the house by the end of the night to the point where people had to be turned away. Sharing the stage with the likes of J-Zone, Cee-Lo, The Juggaknots and Louis Logic was wonderful, as well. It was like performing live with my junior high / high school playlists. One more special note about the event, I attended high school with this girl named Jane Keenan who graduated a year before me. We met sitting next to each other in Geometry class and remained good friends until losing contact when she graduated and I spilt for New York. We used to write in the margins of each others’ notebooks about how we dreamed of someday moving to New York. She wanted to bartend at CBGB’s, and I wanted to perform there. Fast forward five years later and who do I see at the show but Jane herself. She had reached her dream of being a CBGB’s bartender, and I had achieved mine. Life is a carnival. She got me into the after party at the final CB’s show on October 14th as well. If you watch the footage of the infamous CBGB’s awning being taken down, you can see me standing in front of the doorway.

Adam Bernard: That’s a beautiful story. With all the bootlegs from CB’s I have to ask, who have been some of your musical influences and how did you come to create your oftentimes very humorous style?
Chaz Kangas: My style really arises from things I’ve always wanted to see artists do that they’ve never done. Further, my live show is a mix of things I love to see live, as well as pushing the boundaries of what can be done in the constraints of a rap performance. And I’m happy to hear other people find me funny! Honestly, the humor in my rhymes is just an extension of my personality. My parents have a great sense of humor and tie that with growing up on Kids in the Hall, South Park, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Troma films, and my comedic influences/approaches should be evident. I’ve also always been drawn to MCs who had real personalities. Characters, not caricatures, who had this Marvel Comics superhero quality that made you want to follow their career and their various adventures. Reading interviews and meetings some of these cats you realize that this charisma doesn’t rise out of some gimmicky-quality, but more so of being themselves with the volume turned up on stage and on record until becoming a larger-than-life personality. That’s the approach I’ve always taken to my live shows and my recorded material, to be Chaz Kangas with the volume turned waaaaay up.

Adam Bernard: Why do you feel the humor element is important?
Chaz Kangas: For one thing, it’s different. It stands out. I trace the roots of MCing back to the live show. It’s where everything, be it singles or albums or anything you do as a Hip-Hop artist, comes from. With a live show it’s all about maintaining the attention of an audience and making sure everyone has an enjoyable, worthwhile, experience. I find a great way to bridge that gap between myself and the audience is openly joking with them. Yes, I’m a serious about the artistry of my work and am passionate about each of my endeavors, but I’m not Keith Jarrett about it. I like to maintain an intimacy, but at the end of the day I’m participating in an art that has its roots in a party atmosphere and the guy at the party who can make everyone laugh and still look cool is usually the one who leaves with everyone talking about him until the next party where he’s highly anticipated and greeted with the fondest of welcomes. Plus, a good joke is arguably a lot harder to write than a sad story, so it’s a triumph of the challenge within the craft of writing.

Adam Bernard: Do you have a list of specific do’s and don’ts of live performances? And if so, care to share?
Chaz Kangas: Yes, and the Care Bears taught me sharing is caring, so here you go. My two biggest pet peeves are eye-contact and cupping the mic. Seriously, I want every MC to read this close. Don’t wrap your hand around the big ball-y part of the mic! The club you’re at has a much better system than you’re giving it credit for and nobody wants to hear your frustratingly wack “freestyle” over the “Show Me What You Got” beat particularly when it sounds like you’re delivering it from a ninth-generation cassette dub of a phonograph recording made from vocals delivered through a wet telephone. It’s worse when you blame the soundperson and demand they raise your vocals. You want the monitors raised because you can’t hear yourself, but we can, sadly, all hear you. If they raise your improper mic usage any further it risks blowing out the system and your eleven-guy on the stage typhoon of mediocrity isn’t worth the potential hazards. Also, look at the crowd. Make eye contact. Feel free to break the fourth wall any time Willy Lowman, this is Hip-Hop, stop shoe-gazing. You didn’t get any dates with cheerleaders that way, and you won’t get the crowd to go to the prom with you that way either. And if you’re coming off the top with the freestyle 12 of your 16 bars should not be about how you’re coming off-the-top/off-the-dome/off-the-brain/not-written etc. We get it. We know what a freestyle is and get that you think you can do it. Now prove it by not being restricted to freestyling about freestyling.

Adam Bernard: Finally, why should people support Chaz Kangas?
Chaz Kangas: Because I’m probably going to need to pay off these NYU student loans someday. Also, I can promise a one-of-a-kind live performance, genuine albums that will only get better with each release, and something different that isn’t different for the sake of being different. I’m not only the dopest, I’m humble as fuck. Not to mention, I’ll probably make the best MySpace friend you’ll ever have. I’ll read your blog, respond to your chain bulletins, and not randomly throw impersonal promotions in your comments. A vote for Chaz Kangas is a pledge towards great hip-hop for you and your children, but not your children’s children as I don’t think our nation’s youth should be having sex. (what up Jack Handey!).

You can hit up Chaz on MySpace at myspace.com/chazraps and check him out at YouTube. He also feels he’s found the meaning of life HERE.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:58 AM  
  • At 12:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Chaz is one of the freshest talents to hit the stage in a while. I can't wait to hear bigger and better things from him.

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