It’s more than likely that you’ve heard Chuck Strangers’ beats on some of your favorite tracks from the last decade. He has an impressive production portfolio that has earned him credits on projects such as Joey Bada$$’s 1999. Arguably one of the greatest mixtapes of all time, 1999 was an album that propelled Joey Bada$$’s career and earned him platinum certifications. Strangers was a force in developing the sound that led Joey Bada$$ to fame and produced several tracks on the album including “Daily Routine,” “Summer Knights,” “Third Eye Shit,” & “FromdaTomb$.” Strangers grew up in Flatbush where he began to rap and produce alongside Joey Bada$$, Capital STEEZ, CJ Fly, and a host of other talented MCs. Over time, he made his name as a pillar in the powerhouse rap collective that is Progressive Era.
Two weeks after the release of his most recent project, The Boys & Girls, we gathered at Elsewhere for a special night with the Brooklyn rapper. Strangers is one of the most recent Progressive Era members to embark on a solo rapping career, but don’t get it twisted: he’s been a rapper since the beginning. In a 2018 interview with Billboard, Strangers told the magazine, “Pro Era met me rapping; there wasn’t a time where I did one over the other.” The Brooklyn rapper opened his set with “Regular Season,” the third track from his 2020 EP, Too Afraid to Dance. Regular Season was Strangers’ first release under his own imprint, Sounds of Beverly, and a pivotal release for establishing his sound moving forward. The rapper showcased his pen and ability to spit effortlessly as he performed this song over the simple but artfully melancholic beat heard in many of Strangers’ songs. As the beat faded, he transitioned with little pause into “Luke Crib.”
The rapper’s stage presence was not unlike his music; slightly stripped down without any frills. Chuck Strangers is an artist, not a showman, and he has the pen to justify it. His beats transport you back to the Golden Era of hip hop, and his thoughtful lyrics often take you on a winding tour through the streets of Brooklyn. As the night continued, the artist took us further into his most recent project with songs like “Prospect Park West,” “Benevolence,” and “Venison.” Obii Say, who’s featured on two tracks on the EP, joined Strangers on stage to exchange verses. Though Strangers didn’t dive far into his debut album, Consumers Park, he did play a few unreleased songs from an upcoming album titled A Forsaken Lovers Plea. Strangers closed out the show with “Count On My Love,” an unreleased song that he described as his favorite song he’s recorded thus far.
Rap and hip hop are intricately intertwined into the fabric of New York’s culture, and Brooklyn alone has birthed numerous legends. Though every iconic artist who has come out of the scene has pushed the culture of music forward in their own unique way, their common denominator seems to be the undeniable pride that each of them holds for their hometown. It’s clear that Strangers came up respecting the culture of hip hop and the artists whose work has served as a blueprint for the genre, and he shares that same love for Brooklyn. Perhaps it’s this appreciation for the culture and humility that informs the thoughtful beats, introspective storytelling, and honest lyricism that Strangers is known for. His come up from his teenage years, to his years spent producing within Progressive Era, to his more recent transition into a solo rap career is one that can inspire many young musicians.
📸: shot by Jill Boyatsis