SPIKE CHESTER: ‘Playa Wayz’ Visual: “I Really Wanted to Celebrate Black Women.”
Just a month ago, Dallas artist Spike Chester, released his ‘Playa Wayz’ music video portraying a stunning array of black beauty, loaded with powerful messages that if you don’t watch closely enough, you might just miss completely. Chesters’ video completely engulfed our attention and immediately we wanted to know everything about the visual and artist himself. Shortly after, we arranged an interview that we came to postpone as the Blake Lives Matter movement started to reach its peak. Emotions were high and we all decided to take a step back, take action on the ground and keep the attention where it was needed most. After time of action and reflection for most, we came back and met with Chester in his Dallas-based studio for a one-on-one conversation to talk about the deep motivations behind his visual for ‘Playa Wayz,’ as well as his latest release “2 Days,’ where he shares his side of the story the year Trayvon Martin died.
THE HONEY: TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEWEST VIDEO RELEASE ‘PLAYA WAYZ’
SPIKE CHESTER: “Essentially we had two concepts for the video and they were complete opposites of each other. So, I’m not gonna front because it was a completely different idea than what we thought at first. We were first going to play into the surface level of the song with dope shots and cool cars and you know like the typical shit. Somewhere down the line it went in a different direction and I wanted to make something more sophisticated and something that brings a message but doesn’t like force it down peoples throats. That’s been my whole thing; tying the message into something that people can digest easily but it still makes a statement.
I really wanted to celebrate black women specifically in the video and Amaelyah, who was the creative director… we just hashed out the idea together. We had the idea of six models; all shapes, sizes, complexions, hair, all of that. I feel like black women get stereotyped a lot for having a certain look and we wanted to showcase that there’s all spectrum of black women and they all fall under the phrase: black women; but it’s so diverse. We wanted to showcase the skin tone, the hairstyle, the different mannerisms, the elegance, the beauty, the angelic-ness. I liked the contrast of having me there; like super dope-ass rapper surrounded by these fly girls that look really elegant. I feel like it was the perfect middle ground of artistic and urban; it was the perfect dichotomy.
We released it in a time when political issues were at the forefront of peoples minds. Specifically regarding the treatment of black women and black men. It kind of just took a life of its own; people gravitated towards the video. I just wanted to put a message in the video and people received it.”
THE HONEY: IT’S FUNNY BECAUSE IT’S IRONIC THAT YOUR SONG IS CALLED ‘PLAYA WAYZ’ BUT IN YOUR VIDEO YOU’RE LIKE ‘I RESPECT WOMEN AND I SUPPORT THEM AND I’M HERE FOR THEM.’ DOES THIS REFLECT HOW YOU FELT WHEN YOU MADE THE SONG VS. NOW WHEN YOU MADE THE VIDEO?
SPIKE CHESTER: “When you listen to the title track ‘MILK N HONEY,’ that’s more so the way that I like to present myself when it comes to speaking about women but I don’t hold back when it comes to my art at all. When I made ‘Playa Wayz,’ that was the energy at the time. Like, ‘bustin’ it down and then I’m outti.’ Like, that’s just how it was and I won’t apologize for that. That was the second song we made for ‘MILK N HONEY.’ Humans are multi-faceted. Some days you wanna save the world, some days you say ‘fuck the world.’ That’s just how we are as humans and I would be lying if I say I’m not the same way. Along with the song ‘MILK N HONEY,’ there’s also the song ‘Playa Wayz.’ I’m not gonna fake like I don’t feel those emotions. Some days I wanna be a player and just do my shit and some days I want companionship. That’s just what it is so, that’s how that song came about. That was my energy when I went to the studio. Further down the line I liked the song but it was a moment in time and I was like ‘how can I tie this into how I overall feel about women?’ Because that’s not how I feel about women on a daily basis; I don’t want that to represent me overall. So, that’s why I also wanted to make the video like we did to bring out the sophistication of the song and not dumb it down to being a song about me being a player. So, like you said the song is about being a player but the video shows the complete opposite; It’s just dope to see.
THE HONEY: IT’S FUN FOR EVERYONE TO HAVE ONE OF THOSE VIDEOS WITH THE CARS AND GIRLS DO YOU SEE YOURSELF DOING ONE OF THOSE IN THE FUTURE?
SPIKE CHESTER: “Oh for sure… I’m 24 years old. I’m never gonna be one of those people that says ‘I’m woke, I’m with that shit…’ Like I said I’m a human being. Some days I wanna wear 10 chains, some days I don’t wanna wear no jewelry. You have to give yourself room to understand there’s a time and a place for everything and that’s just not the time and the place right now. There will be a time and place for the cars and for that type of shit but that’s just not what it is right now. I feel like I show that a lot in my music; the versatility. You got songs like ‘Playa Wayz’ and you got songs like ‘MILK N HONEY,’ then ‘Love Free.’ You get a little bit of everything and that’s how I feel we are as human beings; we don’t feel one way 100 percent of the time.”
THE HONEY: DID YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT RESPONSE TO YOUR VIDEO BEFORE THE PROTESTS VERSUS AFTER?
SPIKE CHESTER: “We released the video three weeks ago and people have been protesting about two and a-half weeks, so they both kinda escalated around the same time. When we first released it, it was just celebrated for what it was and once the protests took off, they kind of became a pair. Especially when you see instances like Breonna Taylor who is a black woman, it kind of goes hand in hand. When you see black women, or at least I do, on my timeline who say ‘we’re not appreciated, we’re not credited for our contributions to society;’ that kind of got looped into that. It was like ‘here’s a local artist who’s voicing the grievances of these women in his art.’ I don’t think one came before another. I feel like they low key came together at the same time.”
THE HONEY: DID YOU HAVE ANY INSTANCES WHERE PEOPLE STARTED REACHING OUT TO YOU PERSONALLY BECAUSE OF THE VIDEO?
SPIKE CHESTER: “Yeah for sure. I think what people liked the most is that all the women looked real. Not to say that some women look fake; I mean whatever you want to do with your body do it. Do whatever you choose. But, I think just to see women who look like… the women in my life everyday. A lot of times we like to create false realities as artists. We go get the super model chick that you probably don’t even date in real life. You have a girlfriend who is just as beautiful, why not put her in the video? You go get X, Y and Z, who you know in real life is not what it is. I think it’s just the real factor. That’s my reality; these are the type of women I see on a daily basis. These are the type of women I relate to. It creates empathy versus a false reality I can’t relate to.”
THE HONEY: HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO PORTRAY STRONG MESSAGES IN YOUR MUSIC?
SPIKE CHESTER: “Yes for sure. I wanted to do it in a way that’s easy to digest but it still gets the point across. If you listen to my earlier music it’s all like ‘fuck the police.’ I have always been talking about these things but earlier it was out of frustration. It was out of pain and anger and that just came from being a young man; you don’t really know how to articulate those thoughts well, so you resort to anger. As you get older you learn, you start to educate yourself, you understand and you’ll be like ‘okay I still feel the same way I did when I was 17,18, putting these things in my music but now I know how to do it in a way that’s not so off-putting and overwhelming to people.’ Sometimes you have to be overwhelming but you have to know how to have a balance of both. I’ve always had these things in my music; now I feel like it’s more so a celebration of blackness as oppose to speaking about the grievances of it. In my real life that is what I advocate for; the grievances and the disenfranchisement of black people. In my music, I more so want to speak about the celebration of it. I feel like sometimes we can be looked at like… like, we ain’t throwing no pity party for black people. Black people are fucking amazing… our creativity, our whatever… it’s amazing. I want to exude that in my music as oppose to before when I was making it more so like fuck-the-world type shit….”
THE HONEY: LET’S TALK ABOUT THE SONG YOU JUST RELEASED ON SOUNDCLOUD: ‘2 DAYS.’ WHAT’S THE STORY?
SPIKE CHESTER: “2012 was the year Trayvon Martin died, I was 17; I think that’s why I said I probably died in 2012 when Trayvon Martin died. That was the first time that… I always knew about Rodney King and civil rights and all that and I’m not gonna say that I was sheltered because my parents definitely did a good job instilling what it is to be black in this country… but that was the first firsthand experience. Trayvon was 17, I was 17. He had a hoodie on, I wear hoodies. He was gunned down, like, not even by a policeman but by a white racist man who got away with it. So, that was the first case I saw where I was like ‘oh shit this could be me.’ It was no longer stories that my parents told me about that took place in 1960, 1970, 1980…. This is 2012 my-life-type-shit. [In the song] I was describing a scene when I went to a protest and I saw these cops and the way people were being beaten. I got handcuffed, I got… not beat badly but I wasn’t handled gently. I experienced that type of shit; simply from saying, ‘hey this is wrong!’ The average person would be like ‘yeah this is wrong’ and then you have other people who are like ‘shut the fuck up.’ I experienced that, so I wrote about it. During this whole period it’s been very self-reflective. I don’t know what it is about these three cases with George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Why these three stand out so much but in my lifetime I feel like this is the one that no one can turn a blind eye to. Not to say people were before but what happened with George Floyd, you can clearly see what happened. You have to ask yourself; all these people that are speaking up now… This hasn’t been a new issue. Where was the outrage in 2012 when I was on the curb handcuffed? When other people who were like me were getting beat? That wasn’t the straw that broke the camels back; it was seven years later. Either way, I feel like change is slow. But yeah, that’s kind of what went into the song.”
THE HONEY: WHAT’S YOUR MUSIC GOING TO BE LIKE MOVING FORWARD? WILL YOU CONTINUE TO PORTRAY A MESSAGE?
SPIKE CHESTER: “It’s definitely going to be a balance of both. I’m a human being so the conversation we’re having right now, I’m not having these everyday. If I did I would probably be exhausted. Sometimes, I just wanna kick shit with my homies. Sometimes, I just wanna kick shit with my homegirl. The music I’m working on right now is kinda geared towards what’s going on right now but that’s natural because I’m locked in the house on my phone. What else am I going to look at? So, that’s what it’s been more geared towards lately but I’m sure when my project comes out we will have a bunch of jams on there too. It will always be a balance of both; just understanding the human aspect. I’m not here to be preachy or you know stuff a message down peoples throats because as a human being when you tell someone to go right, they immediately go left; that’s just how we are. You have to understand we’re trying to unravel centuries and centuries of racism and that’s not gonna happen with a fucking 14 track album, if I’m being honest. Will it spark that change? I believe so. But, I don’t believe anyone can put an album out and tomorrow congress is gonna be like ‘this is amazing.’ I feel like it takes real work in real life and when it comes to music, you just make the music you enjoy. In real life it’s creating that reality; as long as you’re not creating a false reality. You make the music you wanna make. This is a creative outlet. I don’t want to hear a fucking protest track from young thug; that’s just not what I look to him for. But when I look to artists like Kendrick, I’m expecting a certain thing. It’s just knowing that people are going to be people and I feel like as long as you’re making the change and you surround yourself with people making the change that you want to make, that does the job enough. It starts at the ground. So, I said that to say, when I put out a project it will be a mix of everything.”
Check out Spike Chester’s music video ‘Playa Wayz’ below; available on Youtube. You can find links to local organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement here, to learn, donate and make change.
PUBLISHED BY THE HONEY
WRITTEN BY MILAN MERLO