Earlier this year, I wrote about the rising Persian-born, New Zealand-based emcee and producer, CHAII. When she turned eight, her family migrated to New Zealand — and as it turns out, her first introduction to hip-hop was through Eminem, who at the time had just released The Marshall Mathers LP. Fueled by a growing interest in his music, the rising Persian-Kiwi emcee was rhyming along to his work before she really learned how to speak English. “Mr. Eminem was my English teacher,” CHAII recalls in press notes.
When she was 11, she stated to write her own rhymes to express everything she was feeling at the time — from being a confused third culture kid to her troubles adapting to a new way of life. As a high schooler, the rising Persian-born, Kiwi-based emcee started to make beats to accompany her rhymes. At that point, she realized a deep love for all aspects of creating and writing music from writing, producing, recording and mixing. After several years of experimenting the Persian-Kiwi artist began developing her own unique sound, which features elements of traditional Persian music, experimental pop and hip-hop. The material she began releasing is “the closest music to me and who I am,” she says.
As an adult, she developed an interest in film, and that has created a synergistic approach to her creative efforts, centered around a decidedly DIY ethos. With the release of her debut single “South,” earlier this year, off her forthcoming debut effort Safar (Journey) the Persian-born, Kiwi-based emcee exploded into the international scene with the track being featured by FENDI. She quickly followed that up with her second single, the urgent and defiant club banger “Digebasse.” Featuring lyrics in English and her native Farsi and a guest spot from Australian emcee B Wise, the track is fiery commentary on millennial social pressures that urges the listener to “say ‘enough’ and stand up for your rights.”
Building upon the growing buzz surrounding her, CHAII’s third and latest single “Trouble” further cements her unique sound and approach: wobbling, tweeter and woofer rocking low end and percussive Southern Iranian drum patterns and the Persian-Kiwi’s commanding and self-assured delivery. And much like its predecessors, the new single continues the rising artist’s commentary on social pressures on millennials — particularly on women — paired with dance floor friendly production.
Directed by the rising artist, the recently released and cinematically shot video follows a collection of children — both boys and girls — doing what kids everywhere do, and should be doing: playing soccer in the streets, riding bikes, hanging out and roughhousing, listening to music and daydreaming. Interestingly, in the world of the video, the kids are of an age where they’re aware of the fact that they’re different genders — it’s obvious as day, after all — but i doesn’t seem to matter a whole lot. In their world, what seems to matter to them are things that are much more essential and meaningful: “Are you cool?” “Can you ball? You live nearby Can we get along?”
The video’s protagonist, a young girl dressed in yellow is a symbolic doppelgänger of the artist as a child , that also captures what life as a child in her native Iran is generally like. “I wanted to capture my life as a kid, who grew up in Iran,” CHAII says in press notes. “She does all the awesome activities I did as a kid in Iran: playing soccer in the streets, listening to music on my cassette player, climbing trees, swimming in the river . . . Filming it was very surreal, like going back in a time capsule and resisting my childhood. I wanted to simply show a glimpse of my childhood, who I was and who I grew to be. You just never know where you’ll end up in the world and what you’d be doing.”