When West Indian families move to the States in hopes of creating the best life possible for their children and extended families, they tend to head up north to the tri-state area — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. It’s been this way for years. The mishmash of island cultures is reflected on the streets of Brooklyn where there’s a different flag in every car’s rear view mirror. This intermingling of Caribbean customs echoes throughout the tri-state, influencing whole communities, but for pop artist Chanselah, born to Trinidadian and Haitian parents, this culture is his entire life.
“Growing up with a West Indian background means that you have a certain standard that you must live up to: you have to be presentable at all times,” he shares. “You must always carry yourself in the proper manner and be a gentleman. It’s given me discipline in writing and recording my music.”
At the age of three, Chanselah remembers observing his father and his uncle as they worked in their East Orange home studio. He sat and watched them go through tracks — from Dean Martin to Earth, Wind and Fire to Sizzla — he paid attention as they experimented with instruments and equipment. Unbeknownst to them, their actions would encourage a lifelong passion for creating music.
“They were making a lot of dancehall,” he recalls. “Music has always been a part of my life so I could never see myself doing anything else.”
When he was seven years old, Chanselah’s family moved to another hub for Caribbean culture — Florida. Being raised in an environment where music was constantly being played at home and interacting with girls that were down to dance at parties — particularly “bashment” parties (where mainly dancehall and reggae is played) — he had found his lane in music, it was mainly about waiting on the right moment.
Quoting Shaggy as another musical influence, Chanselah says that his main objective is to appeal to the ladies. “I want to make songs for women because I just love them,” he says with a laugh. “Everyone should.”
After high school, he enrolled at Full Sail University — an institution for aspiring producers and engineers. He enhanced his writing skills, adding on to a catalogue that he had been building from his youth. “I’ve always taken my music seriously,” he admits. “I just didn’t know how to record as a little kid. I attended Full Sail so that I had knowledge about every aspect of the studio. I wanted to not just write my own music but to also create it, to perfect the sounds.”
With the momentum already on its way up, Chanselah — still in his early 20s –, is taking full advantage of his being in position to win. Recently inking a label deal with Digital 1 Media Services, he has a HBCU college tour in the works and also dropped “Ya Done Know,” the lead single from his upcoming EP, Too Much Riddim. The song has a light, airy feel to it, carefree even; which is exactly what he was going for. Let Chanselah tell it, he’s ready for success and everything that comes with it. “I’m mainly excited to see everybody dancing,” he says. “I don’t get nervous. in another five years I want to be well established where I could go on at 2 a.m. and people still would want to come and see me perform.”