Staying fly is nothing new for Harlem MC Vinny Cha$e, rap’s latest fashionisto whose one-of-a-kind swag speaks as loudly as his lyrics. “It’s almost subconscious,” says Cha$e of his fashion sense, “it’s just something I’ve always been like.”
Being your self can be difficult for some on today’s rap scene, but the former filmmaker who got into the game shooting artists like Lil Wayne, Chris Brown and Cam’ron, has been doing him from the beginning. After tweeting a photo of him and fellow Uptown NYC representative Diddy earlier this week, the Internet is abuzz about the rising MC’s future in the game.
Mechanical Dummy dug up an unreleased interview with Vinny from last summer when he was making rounds on the NYC circuit. Fresh off a performance at storied Manhattan club S.O.B.’s, Vinny discussed staying ahead of the fashion curve, his plans for the future, and why comparing him and fellow Harlemite A$AP Rocky is just plain lazy.
Mechanical Dummy: While you were on stage you made a point to shout out the young kids in the crowd who were “swagging” in designer brands. Why’d you do that?
Vinny Cha$e: I do it for them. I don’t do it for no rappers. I do this shit for my fans and shit, not for fuckin’ rappers to jack. That’s what it’s for. I do it for the young niggas and shit that’s coming up that just be swagging and live no matter how much money they got.
MD: How do you feel about the term “hipster rap” and the backlash to fashion-conscious MC’s like yourself?
VC: That shit is stupid, man. It’s stupid to draw lines and shit, it puts everything in a box. I think that shit is wack. I think it’s good to just be open-minded and just classifying everything. Like, “Oh, he dressed like this, or he dressed like a that.” It’s either hot or it’s not. That’s how I look at it.
MD: How long have you been getting fly?
VC: I been getting fly since high school, but growing up I couldn’t get as fly as I wanted. But I was getting fly, though. As fly as a high school kid can get. Polo, all that, nah mean? At that time I was in Coogies and all that type of stuff. They was hard to get back then, though. (Laughs) I had one… That’s the thing, I can’t do what everybody’s doing. Like, if everybody’s doing Polo I’m just sick, I can’t do that. I’m not the type to do what everybody’s doing. I do the opposite just cause everybody’s doing that.
MD: How do you feel when people compare you to A$AP Rocky?
VC: He’s cool, I definitely fuck with the homie. He know what it is with me. But comparing us, it’s lazy. They just like, “Oh, he’s from Harlem, they both swagging.” But at the end of the day, I been like this my whole career. You can look back at the dates of my shit. I’ve never changed. So I can just leave it like that— I’ve always been like this (Laughs). Always. I wasn’t one way and then it was like, “Aight, I’ma be fashioned up.” I was never on no trill shit, but I fuck with it, though. I fuck with the whole shit.
MD: Does your image as a fashion guy make people overlook your skills as an MC?
VC: I actually rap. If you listen to my shit, there’s certain records I do just cause. Like, for example, a Double Cup City, not saying I didn’t put no effort into it, but people know me. They know what I’m capable of. So I’m able to do anything from a really low level like snap music, to records that you could compare to Hov or somebody.
MD: Do you have a long-term goal with rap?
VC: I just wanna be me. I’m not tryna be here for fuckin’ two years, I don’t wanna make one song. I don’t wanna have one movement. I’m tryna be here until it’s like, “Aight, it’s a wrap.” I’m not putting an age limit on it, I’ma just keep going. I’m not here for no short-term shit. I’m here to really do this shit. I rap, I make records so that in the future people can be like, “Yo, this is some real ill shit.” When the fads are done and the trends and everything die down, niggas is gon’ be able to see what that is.
MD: But rapping isn’t your only hustle.
VC: I do different things. I do film, I do design; I design a lot of clothes, I direct videos. So, if I’m doin’ something else, it’s gonna be because of that. I’ma be designing, and I got some stuff for Dope Couture, really limited hat that’s already fucking pre-ordered and sold out but I’m trying to get some more done… I was self-taught, bro. I learned filming like before when I was doing shit with Juelz Santana. I was doing all his films, and Lil Wayne and Chris Brown and all those dudes that go on the road. That’s how I really came up behind the scenes.
MD: Did seeing them in the spot you wanted to be in push you?
VC: That’s the thing, I wasn’t tryna be them at that point. I was just a young nigga tryna film. I was on my director shit, I done made documentaries, so rap was the furthest thing from a nigga mind. You know what I mean? It’s just currently, like, two or three years ago when this Lil’ B shit was blowing up. I was like, “Yo, fuck that. Ain’t no way I can’t be a motherfucking rapper if Lil B’s a rapper.” That’s how I looked at it. If it wasn’t for that dude, I wouldn’t have came in the game. Honestly. I mean, I fuck with they whole— I don’t fuck with they music, but I fuck with they concept. But I’ma keep it real, I can’t listen to that shit. I fuck with it, though. I fuck with him personally. I fuck with B.