Live From The Trenches: Chad Conquering Lion
“I’m a hood nigga, but I’m not trying to be a gangster.”
“I get fresh, but I’m not trying to be a backpacker either.”
By Michael Olie (@iMikeOlie)
It’s funny how the world works.
Chad Charles, known as Chad Conquering Lion, was making music back when I was in high school. And I thought he was pretty solid. He had a little buzz in the New Orleans and I wanted to see what was up.
Never did I expect him to live in the same hall as me in college.
Life’s funny like that.
He went to Loyola University with me, and we were good ever since. But after a while, he had a realization. Why is he wasting his time? So he dropped out and locked in on the craft.
And before we get rolling, watch this video. It’ll all make sense.
What made you start rappin’?
“Initially, I just needed an outlet to get my frustrations out. That was my “why.” I was playing sports in high school, but facing my own struggles within that shit as well, it started feeling like work.”
“Music was a way of keeping a kind of journal for me. My inspiration to keep going is my story, I tread the middle ground. I’m a hood nigga, but I’m not trying to be a gangster. I get fresh, but I’m not trying to be a backpacker either. I get to talk about my perspective and my shortcomings & fears as well.”
Your pops is a DJ. How did that play an influence in your upbringing and how do you use that making music?
“Man, Pops being a DJ was the cornerstone. He even had me as a radio host on a station in Amite, Louisiana, when I was 11 years old.”
“The music I used to beg him to turn off is the same shit that we sample for these records today. Even more than him being a DJ, he’s a musical historian. Like an encyclopedia when it comes to music and its references.”
“I can always confide in him when I need to know some shit about an old school artist. He introduced me to Chuck D at Essence Fest one year & Doug E. Fresh and Big Daddy Kane at the New Orleans Jazzfest in like 2004. He’s met and had conversations with a lot of the legends in music.”
Talk about how you and Wayne (Lil Wayne) grew up on the same block.
“Actually, me and Wayne are from the same hood, but not the same block.”
“Our mothers went to elementary school together, and I got the chance to meet him a couple times before Katrina. He had an aunt that stayed on Colapissa St. which is like two blocks down from my crib.”
“One Christmas he pulled up over there in a black Corvette, dressed in a mink like Killa Cam (Cam’ron). Another time I saw him in Journey’s in Esplanade Mall and I dapped him up. This was around the time Tha Carter was poppin’ off. I walked out the store and loud capped the fuck out of dude, telling everybody he was in there. I was young as hell. This was pre-Katrina.”
What shit have you gone through in your life that’s felt in your music?
“Growing up in Hollygrove, we were always close to the danger, but I had a lot of family back there watching over me. People call you by your family’s name until you make a name for yourself, even then to some old heads you’re still gone be “Lil” whatever.”
“I lost so many friends from running the streets, I’ve lost count. Even this year, with all this pandemic shit going on, I lost a couple homies and even a cousin yesterday. My hood is a war zone, and instead of adding on to the damage, for the last six or seven years I’ve been trying to guide the youth to a better direction.”
“Most of us just want somebody to feel them, give them a little push to be more, but the gangsta shit is contagious in my hood and even the humble people can turn treacherous over night.”
“I don’t have all the answers to how to make it better, but I still try to be an open ear and listen to what my youngins’ got to say. We all got room for improvement.”
What do you think draws your current listeners to your music compared to others?
“I think it’s my honesty. Music, especially rap today, has a lot of flexing in it. Everybody telling you what they have but not how to get it, I don’t fuck with that.”
“It’s that or everybody is telling you the good side of the game and not really digging into the pain. I know how to sonically make myself vulnerable without seeming weak, people relate to pain more than anything, we all go through that shit.”
Who are your favorite producers to work with and who you’d like to work?
I would like to work with Zaytoven one day. I feel like he’s the king of the piano. I could float over that shit.
Kanye and Alchemist would have to be high up on that list. Soul samples hit harder than anything to me. The Heatmakerz got some crack too.
Outside of makin’ music, what other interests you got?
“I actually enjoy designing merch and doing visual art painting. I came up in the streetwear era, and a lot of my legacy was built performing at fashion shows and sneaker expos. “
“Painting is something I picked up along the way and people started asking me to do commission work from album covers to Dickie fits and jean jackets.”
“But even more than designing clothes, I’m starting to enjoy modeling other people’s shit. It’s free promo and gets the attention of their audience as well as show mines my versatility.”
What’s the next step?
“I’m actually writing a book about my tattoos and the meaning behind each piece. The book will be called ‘Self-Inflicted,’ and will be roughly one hundred pages with pictures of my work included.”
“I’m just enjoying the ride, man.”
“ I’ve started modeling for a couple stores and brands locally, I can see that as another venture. As far as music goes, I’ve been more organized than ever with my hand in every aspect of it, from the producing to the engineering.”