RODNEY CHROME: WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR YOU
February 16, 2021
He just turned 21, but he’s on the verge of having the world at his feet. Born Rodney Anderson, Chrome left his hometown in Arkansas for New York City – in search of a proper playing ground to hone his talents. He’s a dancer, a visual artist, and frankly, can hold his own against any of your new rap faves. His debut album, Queer Pressure, is a stunning pop-rap effort. Exciting as much as it is introspective. It follows the misadventures of a butch queen, in search of love, great sex, and glory. His sound is hard to describe, with influences ranging from infectious dance hip-hop in the manner of a Missy Elliott, to a pop tonality inspired by a post-PC music landscape. Accompanied with the music are these glossy visuals that showcase his chops as a performer – he gives us choreography, looks, and concepts. It feels like the full package, a fully-fledged, fully realized star. As the faces of hip-hop change and the definition of rapper become more and more expansive, Rodney Chrome is gunning for the top spot.
Where did your love of rap come from?
My love for rapping came from being in a dance studio 24/7. With end of the year recitals, a song you’re going to hear is Missy Elliot’s Work It. Coming from a dance world where Missy was that all-time person when it came to dance music, I gravitated towards her lyricism as far as what can make people move and make people think. I was twelve when my mom got me a microphone for Christmas. I would go to her walk-in closet because my closet wasn’t big enough. I would write and record in there. I always wanted to be an artist that did the homework. Nicki Minaj had this exercise where she would take a Biggie beat, for example, write her lyrics on top of that but make her words rhyme the same with his original verses. So I would do that same exercise, and it really taught me the structure of a rap song.
That’s funny. A queer rapper learning how to rap in the closet.
(Laughs) Yo, I never thought about it like that but you’re right.
What was it like growing up in Arkansas?
It depends on what part you’re looking at. Arkansas is so beautiful, with nature and wholesome people. At the same time, there isn’t shit to do. We do have our cities though. I will always love growing up in Arkansas. It shaped me to have an appreciation for small towns and the people that live within them. My favorite Frank Ocean lyric is: “you don’t know how little you matter / until you’re all alone / in the middle of Arkansas / with a little rock left in your glass dick.” I will forever, ever, forever have love for him for saying that. And I don’t even know if that was supposed to be some deep shit. But having someone who shouted out such a small state – for a person like me that makes the music I do, meant the world to me. I felt like I was seen. And that’s why I know I’m never going to give up on this until I have the opportunity to tell him you changed my life with those lyrics. Because you really don’t know how little you matter till you’re in Arkansas.
What did you feel you kept with you when you came to New York City?
My mom always told me to never forget where you come from or forget the people that implemented things in your life to make you the person you are. There have been so many people in my life that have told me my confidence is everything, and that I can grab anyone’s attention with who I am. And that isn’t me speaking cocky. I just always had people who manifested a life of success for me – whether they prayed for it or dropped their blessings on me. And I internalized that. That’s what I kept with me when I went to New York. Because had I come here with a feeble mind, I would not have made it. New York is no Arkansas. There is a lot of people, all trying to be successful in some fashion. And especially in music, it can feel very defeating when you ask yourself if you can make it above all the other noise that’s being released. But luckily, I believe in myself and I have beautiful friends that believe in me as well. So we aren’t stopping till we do it.
Your debut album is “Queer Pressure”. Give us some insight as to why that felt like the right name for the project. Off the cuff, it feels like a double entendre – the societal pressure that comes with being queer and the pressure you’re bringing into the game as a queer person.
Well, when I first started, I was just making music for this project. I didn’t know what I wanted the project to be about. When I moved to New York, no one had heard music from me – at least not the people around me. So I wanted to come out swinging. I wanted to make sure that this project had a narrative that I really wanted to push and I really believed in. So I started to think of names – off the bat, I was thinking about the concept of peer pressure. But then I was like, no, I really want to talk about some gay shit. So the concept of queer pressure came into it. I began thinking about what that actually means? Thinking about my friends and me. What did we go through? As far as being queer black men. What pressure did we go through? Especially growing up in the South. So every song, I just wanted to talk about all the uphills and downhills of being black and queer.
Ever since the emergence of Drake and Nicki Minaj, the rap and pop world has fused so much. Would you consider yourself more of a rapper or more of a pop artist? Are labels boring at this point?
Labels are beginning to die out, in my opinion. As of late, I’ve been considering myself as a pop artist. But I definitely very much see myself as a rapper as well. I don’t feel like I have to choose. I want to push my pen enough – shout out to Nicki – where I can walk into any room or studio with any rapper and just be seen like, oh he might be a gay nigga, but at the same time he can spit his ass off. I consider myself both, a pop artist and a rapper, and regardless, my art should be able to speak for itself.
What has it been like launching a music career during a pandemic?
The visual is so important to my music. As a visual artist, I love music videos. A pandemic can limit your team. Being independent already, you don’t have a huge team to begin with and funding is also always difficult for independent artists. The pandemic has been the type of situation where you have to find resources as best as possible. If we got shit and it was super expensive, best know it’s getting returned right after this shoot. Shout out to Amazon. It’s all about making the video look as best as possible with whatever resources that you have. And that’s kind of what I’ve been doing, throughout this process. It hasn’t been too difficult. I feel like it’s what you kind of make it. Plus being in such a social media era where everybody is just on their computers, it’s been super beautiful to see people sharing my content regardless of what’s been going on.
I’m assuming because of the pandemic, you haven’t had the time to perform this project yet.
Exactly, and that’s what’s killing me. I consider myself a real performer. Being in front of people is what I’ve always gravitated towards. And I haven’t gotten that moment with this project yet, but just know when everything calms down, we will be hitting the ground running.
5 Starz is a very sexy track. With the music video, it was interesting to me that you went with a metaphorical visual depiction of the track. Do you think visually depicting queer sexual intimacy, especially between two black men, still remains a daunting or scary terrain?
Yes, I do. And that’s actually a beautiful question you just asked. At my stage, I didn’t want it to be too much for my debut. Plus, I want my songs to be palatable. I didn’t want it to be so much to swallow that people can’t even enjoy the music or the music video. So with the 5 Starz video, I decided to go with the more metaphorical and make it about a dinner. But now, I have asked myself why do I have to wait or why do I have to be nervous about the perception of others. Why do I have to care if other people can handle it or not? So, next round of the things that I work on I definitely want it to be more in your face.
Because sonically, you’re fearless when it comes to conveying queer sexual desire. And it’s very appreciated.
My last question: I’m assuming when more people hear your music, you’re gonna have a lot of guys slide into your DMs. What does a guy have to do to get Rodney Chrome’s attention?
Wow, we’re going there. Okay, so I’m a very sweet person and I don’t require much, even though my friends say I’m very picky. I think for me – they would have to show me they’re goofy and can hold a conversation, but also have ambition. And also that they love their parents, or love their mom. Because I love my mom so much and I want to know they have someone there for them too.
Get The Latest
Signup for the AFROPUNK newsletter