PREMIERE: Chazmere “No B Sides” Video
The halcyon days of the Lyricist Lounge are behind us. But there are pockets throughout New York City and elsewhere where the original intention of fostering artistic expression through those sessions has lived on. One artist who has upheld that ideal is Bronx’s Chazmere. He’s interpreted “No B Sides,” off of his upcoming self-titled project to be released on June 10, into a visual performance piece fit for a standing ovation.
After watching the video, you can tell that Chazmere operates a lot differently than most NYC rappers. He’s not concerned with making every line rhyme with something you’ve never heard before. He’d rather make sure each line stands out as its own thought for listeners to mull over. Sometimes they do rhyme: “As a youth, cops inside my school trying to recruit / Same ones outside project tenements ticketing, trying to shoot at us / Leaving cookies all over my computer / They tracking my movements, bruh!” The visuals are rich with metaphors as well, as one would expect from someone who spends his days teaching 12- to 18-year-old kids production.
Watch Chazmere’s music video for “No B Sides” above, and read our interview with him below.
Mass Appeal: There’s a lot going on in this video. Did you come up with the concept of the entire visual on your own? What was the inspiration?
Chazmere: I wrote the concept as my first performance art piece, titled “Struggle and Triumph in the Urban.” I am inspired by the emotions and process of trying to actualize your ideas and live successfully in such a metropolis as NYC, where there are so many options and so much competition.
Can you break down the following…
The paint on the women.
The bodypaint is by fellow Bronxite, graphic and tattoo artist @ArtbyJAR. We collaborated through these adinkra symbols drawn on the women’s backs, which represent moral values. Faces are not shown because their bodies represent all women. They are topless to acknowledge their beauty, strength, and perceived vulnerability.
Why they’re doing pull ups.
This exercise is a vivid depiction of the struggle and triumph we endure on our journeys actualizing our ideas.
The vegetation used.
We all need nature. We are nature. A lot of us who are living in these concrete jungles take steps to keep nature and serenity in our lives with plants, trips to the park, periodic trips out of the city, etc. The vegetation represents my yearn to have land and grow my own food, which is my serenity.
An older lady braiding your hair.
This is my mother. Our elders braiding our hair is a form of connectivity amongst many cultures, where virtues and life lessons are passed along. This is acknowledging how we need the advice and help of our elders just as we need to help the coming generation.
Is the interview at the end of James Brown? Why did you decide to include it?
Yes, it is! To remind us that the issues he speaks of still exist and are urgent. Surviving is difficult enough for many of us. Even a great musician and entertainer such as James Brown was frustrated.
Does the title of the song also refer to not having a backup plan? How did you come up with it?
Yes, in part. It is inspired by that, but also doing everything with your best effort. The notion comes from when we used audio tapes and singles were released with an A side and B side—the latter normally not as popular.