Anyone who’s followed Chuckie Perez’s suave blend of rap and R&B since his early 90s beginnings can account for an unwavering commitment to authenticity. Long before their was “bling, bling” and pre-fabricated urban incarnations, the California based artist has been cutting his teeth on the streets, impacting every facet of culture in his community and beyond, while breaking down barriers of all associations in the process.
Throughout that span, those mediums have featured a variety of label outlets (like Essential, Diadem and current home CrownTown Records) along with global touring, including trips to Europe, Israel and even an appearance with the Pope at World Youth Day before a quarter million people. The star’s also been applauded in the press- from an L.A. Times cover story to Billboard to CNN- and has penned tracks for immensely popular TV shows including “One Life to Live,” “All My Children” and notable programming throughout Italy.
Given that meteoric rise and a legion of fans that span global territories, it’s no wonder why Perez’s forthcoming 2005 effort A Page From My Life has been met with much anticipation. Add in the fact that it’s his first recording of any kind in three years (nine since recalling his spiritual roots) and fans’ interest levels have reached a frenzied peak. So where has this west coast creator, innovator and genre blending purveyor been after all this time?
“I took some time off to get married, had a son and cleared my head a bit from the whirlwind of all that came before,” says the personable and enthusiastic singer/songwriter/producer. “I had to take a step back in order to fully dedicate time to those new life experiences, but I have my own studio and was still writing music that whole time.”
Unlike many acts that conjure up some sort of dramatic scenario or, on the opposite end, sugar coat a problem to wrap up nice and pretty, Perez is to be commended for his honesty and vulnerability. Each one of the ten cuts in this latest offering is lifted straight from his personal life, those within his direct circle in addition to the emotional roller coaster riding all parties face on a daily basis.
“I got real tired of listening to so many Christian artists not being real with their audience,” Perez admits. “I’ve always been an open book in my lyric writing, though now I think I’ve turned a corner to be even more inclusive and in-depth about what’s going on straight out of my experience scope.”
Issues include survival through street savvy certainty (the title track) to overcoming the setbacks a selfish society can inflict (“Couldn’t Keep Me Down”) to light-hearted get up and dance escapism (“Groovie”). There’s also a call for racial unity, tolerance over judgmentalism and peace over problem starting- all hopeful but practical scenarios that fall under Perez’s spiritual stability.
“I’m always growing in my faith, though I’ve gotten away from religion completely,” he shares. “I’m not into the ceremonial stuff where everybody’s looking at those outside their walls as a heathen. My message is based on my relationship with God, but it’s designed for all audiences and is never set up to limit anyone from feeling included.”
Take for instance the scintillating fiesta jam “My People” (a collaboration with New Breed’s Macho) about a bold new generation of believers and a celebration of one’s faith no matter their ethnicity or background. On the flipside, there’s also “Hip Hop Crasy,” an assessment of hip-hop artists who talk about the inner city when they actually live in the country and never experienced other cultures (further affirming Perez’s reputation as the originator of Christian urban dance music).
“I’ve stayed in California for many reasons, but it’s mostly to stay close to the heart of the music I’m writing,” Perez says of his urban area residency. “It wouldn’t be the real deal for me to cover topics like those sitting in some safe suburb and not actually getting out in front of people. It’s fine to move to Nashville if you want to write country music, but it would’ve been impossible for me to write within R&B, rap or hip-hop traditions, aside from living in the actual culture.”
Another example of socially conscious dialogue comes in the electrifying beat box execution within “Legacy” (featuring Dax from the Tunnel Rats) a song speaking about second chances and leaving behind a respectable heritage for one’s family. Autonomy is also an essential undercurrent on the album, best represented in “Break Free” and “Freedom,” both of which discuss starting over under the guise of Perez’s supernatural centering.
After fully encompassing oneself in A Page From My Life, it’s easy to see why Perez is proud of the project on both message and sonic surfaces. Not only is the disc destined to resonate with those who’ve fallen in love with his previous efforts, but it’s likely to reel in brand new followers of all musical associations given its genre jumping intelligence, slick production, plus old and new school blend.
“My goal is to throw everything out on the table with this project,” Perez summarizes. “You’ll hear the past meeting the present and a definite pop radio appeal. But bottom line is I have a lot of say that needs to be heard and embraced. My goal is that through these words and me coming from a genuine place, someone else may be encouraged or inspired. That’s what authenticity means to me.”