There are not many people who can actually list “professional laugher” on their résumé and be serious about it. Chanel West Coast, however, can. She is the fun-loving, vibrant, and stylish party girl who is frequently teased by Rob Dyrdek and Sterling “Steelo” Brim for being just a little bit clueless (or baked) on MTV’s hugely successful Ridiculousness.
Each episode of the show features a variety of segments spotlighting curated video clips that fit a theme. For instance, a segment showing several individuals getting knocked unconscious by an open hand to the face would be called “Slap Naps.” Host, Rob Dyrdek narrates the clips, “Steelo” Brim runs the video playback board, and Chanel laughs. Sometimes there’s a celebrity guest, usually from the music or sports world. It’s a simple formula, but the chemistry is pure magic, which is why Ridiculousness is still thriving in its 13th season.
However, the fame and the millions of faithful followers that Chanel has picked up because of Ridiculousness, as well as other television shows she has been on, have been somewhat of an impediment to her music career.
“I am so grateful to be on these TV shows,” Chanel told Entertaining Options. “I’m blessed to be able to make a stable living doing that, so I don’t want to make it sound like I hate it or I wish I never did it. But respectfully so, it hasn’t been the absolute best thing for my music career.”
Because she was introduced to the world as a goofy TV personality, people don’t realize how serious Chanel is about her music. She has been writing down her thoughts, poetry, and lyrics since she was in elementary school. She was signed to ‘Lil Wayne’s label, Young Money, back in 2012. Her first single was “Karl,” an ode to the legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. To date, the accompanying provocative video has racked up over 12 million views. In 2014, Chanel and her Young Money collaborators were awarded “Best New Group” at the BET Awards.
“Music has always been my hobby and my passion. Since I was a little girl, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life. If I wasn’t on TV, if I didn’t grow up in LA and I grew up in some small town in middle America, I would probably be performing at the local bar for my job because that’s what I like to do. I like to perform and make music, so that’s pretty much my end goal.”
Since her BET Award, Chanel has released two mixtapes along with numerous singles and videos. One of her latest is a track called “The Middle,” and it’s a little bit different from her previous releases. It’s not about money and fashion and having a good time, it addresses her personal struggle to be recognized and accepted for who she is, not who she’s perceived as being.
Why do I keep chasin’ dreams that don’t chase me back
Why am I not happy with the place that I’m at
“I think people see somebody with money who is laughing and smiling on TV a lot and they might think, ‘Her life is great. Why does she even want to be a rapper when she’s already getting paid to laugh on a TV show?'” Chanel expressed. “I love music. I fell into TV by accident. When I’m not succeeding to the level that I want to be in what I love doing the most, I’m not going to be happy. It doesn’t matter that I’m making good money being on Ridiculousness and that allows me to have nice material things because, at the end of the day, that’s not everything in life. I want to go further with my music and I wish I had a family by now. There are a lot of things that I’m not 100% happy with and I think expressing that and letting people see that side of me might help them understand me a little more.”
Even though she is serious about her career, Chanel still enjoys having a good time and laughs often. She suggested inserting “LOL” every time she laughed out loud during the interview so her quotes would read more like her. Although Entertaining Options opted not to add in all of those LOLs, rest assured, Chanel is still remarkably fun and infectiously upbeat, even when she’s being serious. Which, unfortunately, contributes to her plight of feeling unable to break free of her situation.
“I have a lot of party songs, a lot of feel-good songs, and a lot of turn-up songs, but I wanted to make something that people could relate to because I felt that way when I wrote it. I’m sure a lot of people feel that way at times and I wanted to be more vulnerable and let people see another side of me, one that they hadn’t seen before.”
“We all feel stuck in the middle of something at certain points in our life,” she continued. “We all chase dreams and get shut down a lot before those dreams eventually come true. Sometimes in life, you just feel stuck in a rut that you can’t get out of and that’s basically how I was feeling when I wrote the song. I want people to know that chasing your dreams is not easy and I hope that this song will inspire them to keep going because that’s why I wrote it. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to keep going and this song was what told me to never give up.”
Besides revealing her vulnerable side, “The Middle” was important for Chanel in another way.
“This is the first song I put out where I am fully singing the whole time with no rapping at all,” Chanel informed. “I’ve put out a couple of songs where I’m singing on them, but there’s always some rap mixed in so I felt like this was stepping out of the box a little bit for me.”
When Chanel had the idea for the song, she called her producer, Rich Skillz, to tell him how she was feeling and that she wanted a beat that would reflect her current emotional state. Rich Skills worked with Justin Trugman and together they came up with the beat for “The Middle.”
“I was like, ‘Yes, that’s perfect!'” Chanel recalled. “Then we just started writing it together. He helped me with the melodies and I came up with the lyrics. It was a collaborative effort to write the song, but the lyrics are all me.”
“I started rapping because I didn’t really know how to write melodies,” Chanel reflected, “but I’m getting much better at it now. I’ve always liked writing poetry and writing words and I wanted to make music, but I didn’t know how to write a singing song. Now that I’ve been working for years doing rap and I’ve been working with so many different producers, I’ve gotten way better at writing melodies.”
Even though “The Middle” is a stunning song with a forlorn beauty, Chanel promised that she won’t be abandoning her rap roots. In fact, her next single is “Sharon Stoned,” a hip-hop song that Chanel dropped today with the video coming out, appropriately enough, on April 20 (tomorrow).
“I do not condone anything that is not natural,” Chanel declared. “In my opinion, weed is not a drug, it is a plant that grows on the earth and, if it is growing on the earth, that means it’s a natural thing. I wanted to make that very clear in the song because I didn’t want it to get misconstrued as being a drug song. There are a lot of rappers who are putting out songs that are talking about popping pills and taking Xanax and sipping lean and I don’t think that should be condoned. Weed is now legal in so many different states – it’s soon going to be federally legal – so I feel like I came in at the right time with a stoner song,” she laughed.
“The video for ‘Sharon Stoned’ is going to be very cool,” Chanel added. “It features a couple special celebrity guests. I don’t want to give too much away, but it definitely pays homage to Sharon Stone and some of the classic roles that she has done.”
Check out the video for “The Middle,” which Chanel also directed, that we’ve posted below, and be sure to visit WorldstarHipHop on 4/20 to see the premiere of her provocative original music video for “Sharon Stoned,” which dropped Friday (iTunes, Spotify). New episodes of MTV’s Ridiculousness air every Friday at 8/7c.