Chynna | photo by Alex Hodor-Lee | @alexhodorlee | via @chizzyano
Fierce Wordplay, Fearless Vulnerability: Remembering the late Philly rapper Chynna in ten songs
While the world continues to persevere through COVID-19, the city of Philadelphia and the hip-hop world at large was hit with heartbreaking news when we heard that Chynna Rogers, better known as rapper Chynna, passed away two weeks ago on Friday, April 10th.
The West Philly rapper was 25 years old, and fellow artists such as Kehlani, Saba, Sza, A$AP Twelvy and many more have sent their condolences of the lost their peer and good friend.
Chynna got her first taste of the entertainment business at a young age, signing to Ford Models at just 14. Around that time, she befriended the founder of A$AP Mobb, A$AP Yams, and discovered a love for performing. According to her management team True Panther, Chynna wanted to get into the A&R side of the music business, but it was A$AP Yams who encouraged her to pursue a career as a rapper. It was a good thing he did, because the world got to experience a brief taste of the talent Chynna had to offer as a wordsmith.
After A$AP Yams provided the encouragement that jump-started Chynna’s career in music, she started to show the world that she had the potential to be a dope hip hop artist. In 2013, Chynna received viral success with her “Selfie” freestyle, where she bounced over Busta Rhymes’ “Everything Remains Raw” while casually playing with words. The following year, Chynna released her single “Glen Coco” under A$AP Ant and DJ Nick’s Marino Gang label. Her approach to the Cloud Atrium-produced track was introduced by a sharper cadence, allowing her to navigate through the beat like a jiggy ninja with an automatic silencer. As Chynna began to make the transition from freestyling to songwriting, she would also encounter an inescapable dark cloud.
In 2015 with her music career in full swing, Chynna would start the year off hearing about the horrible news of the passing of her good friend A$AP Yams. The person who encouraged her to get into music never got a chance to be there for the release of her debut project I’m Not Here. This Isn’t Happening EP. The title was inspired by lyrics from Radiohead’s” song “How To Disappear Completely.” Her wordplay was still on point, reminding the world that she was always nice on the microphone, but that effortless flow began to have a little sporadic bounce. As her success grew, Chynna’s emotional health began to take a turn and a depressed Chynna began to find solace in opiates — a struggle she discussed with Pitchfork in 2018. You began to hear how she was coping with the loss of a loved one while having to move through the smoke and mirrors of the music industry.
In 2016, Chynna dropped her second project Ninety to represent 90 days of sobriety. On the mixtape, she openly talked about her struggles with substance abuse and addressed her addiction. Chynna slowed her bouncy flow to a speed that allows a mind to sober up, catch its breath, and reflect. While Chynna had become sober that year, the dark cloud arrived to end her sunny days and continued to follow her into the next year.
According to True Panther, in 2017 Chynna linked up with higher-profile support coming from 300 Entertainment while preparing for her third project music 2 die 2, a four-track EP that was influenced by British film director Alfred Hitchcock’s work. Sadly before the EP dropped, Chynna was hit with another blow to the heart when she discovered the news of her mother passing away. This tragic event fueled the dark EP with witty wordplay, anger, drugs, and liquor about as dark as her demons. The following year in 2018 she released a new single “$ (Dough)” and released I’m Not Here. This Isn’t Happening on all digital streaming platforms.
However, while making progress in advancing her music career, her heart would take another blow when she discovered that another loved one had met their untimely fate when she heard about the passing of hip hop artist Mac Miller.
Last year, Chynna released her fourth and sadly her final project, the in case i die first EP. Like her past projects, that album is short and extremely dark. The hip hop artist who consistently drew from a variety of morbid entertainment seemed to be falling in love with her own darkness. She embraced it until it tragically took her away from the world this month after an alleged accidental overdose.
I never met Chynna, nor was I aware of her music until the tragic news of her passing. It’s only through research that makes me believe that the thing her loved ones or fans will miss about her the most was her ability to stand out. During an interview with FACTmagzine, Chynna talked out the importance of rappers from her city of Philadelphia being able to stand out because of the abundance of lyricists that are there. She combined her witty wordplay with her fascination of raw, unsettling content. Her music gave light to the perspective of the one who lives in darkness and is numb to pain.
She may have acted like an outcast, but her pen game had the talent of two dope boys in a Cadillac. Condolences to the family, friends, and fans of Chynna Rogers. May God comfort the city of Brotherly Love as we mourn the loss of the young West Philly MC. Below are ten tracks from Chynna’s discography where her wordplay and her vulnerability stood out the most.