Rap artists might just be my favorite musicians to interview.
That music genre doesn’t get a lot of love on my play list, but the rappers I’ve talked with delight me.
I got to chat with Chevy Woods, a rapper from Pittsburgh who’s part of Wiz Khalifa’s Taylor Gang, on Wednesday afternoon.
Now keep in mind, this is a telephone interview, normally not longer than 10-15 minutes. It’s like a cold sales call. I do my research and always have a list of questions prepared, but I never know what to expect.
With much of rap music filled with expletives and the N-word, one might think an interview might be more of the same.
Nope, every rapper I’ve ever interviewed has been respectful, open and very often funny.
Woods and fellow rapper Kevin Gates, traveling around the country on their “By Any Means Tour,” take the stage at the Lucky Mule Saloon, 1850 S. Clack St., Saturday night.
Woods, born Kevin Woods, grew up in Pittsburgh, in a, shall we say, less advantaged part of town.
“You know how people say there’s only a few ways to get out of somewhere?” he asked. “Pittsburgh’s like that. I can probably count the ways out on one hand.”
Originally, it seemed that his way out would be sports. He played high school ball and attended Robert Morris University as a football recruit.
“It was a time in my life I was trying to make my mom happy,” he said. Woods majored in sociology, but just couldn’t get motivated.
“I only went for a year,” he said. “I found out it just wasn’t for me.”
One day during the summer semester, Chevy told his mom he wasn’t going back.
She might have been disappointed then, but she supports his musical career.
“She’s excited now,” Woods said. “She’s my cheerleader for anything I do.”
In an undated documentary on KeepItTrill.com, Woods said before he left school, he was selling weed from his dorm room.
He made money hustling dope on the street when he was trying to get his music out. It was a chance meeting with Khalifa at a recording studio that put Woods on the rapper’s radar.
“I heard his music, he heard my music and we liked what we heard,” Woods said. The two musicians “shared a little greenery” and the friendship/partnership began. Khalifa urged him to leave the streets behind and devote his time to music.
Woods and Gates started the tour in Houston and played Austin on Wednesday, then San Antonio and Dallas before their show in Abilene.
Touring with Gates isn’t much different from touring with Wiz, Woods said, though the crowd and the mix of people change. He was looking forward to the Austin gig at the Scoot Inn, 1308 E. 4th St.
“The fans are crazy there,” he said. “The people love me.”
Tickets for the Lucky Mule show are $25, plus a $3 service charge. They can be ordered at www.luckymulesaloon.com.
The tour runs through August with shows from Texas to the West Coast and then to the East Coast and down South. Once the tour wraps up, Woods plans to focus on recording an EP, a recording with more than a single, but less than a full album, at the end of August or middle of September.
“The tour makes it hard to put away,” Woods said. “I’m trying to put it together musically. It’s like a storybook, getting people ready for me.”
He’s looking ahead to his first studio album in 2015.
Woods hopes that he offers inspiration as a success story.
“I hope people in my neighborhood see me as another way out,” he said.