Q&A Feature: Tray Chaney

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I’ve connected with this artist for the past five years, at least, and I have the largest amount of respect for his craft and artistry as an actor, a hip-hop artist, and a motivational speaker.

Even as today’s hip-hop industry can’t seem to draw away from negative terms and swear words, Tray Chaney has formatted his craft of not using such words in his messages.

Even as a combat veteran who swears like a sailor, I can respect him for infinite miles on his direction for his powerful stories and positive messages, because what it comes down to for the both of us is providing a positive life and changing the world for the better from our own visions. This is why I stand with his purpose and mission in his artistry in today’s day and age.

Thank you Tray for taking your time with me to answer my questions and promote Chaney Vision while collaborating with GautschVision. Let’s dive right into the interview, shall we? 

You’ve been diving into the music career for 6+ years, and ever since I discovered your music, thanks to Twitter for connecting us years ago (laughs), I’ve noticed how your lyrical messages are strong across the bored from anti-bullying, to dedicated fathers, love to women, and an AIDS anthem for the world to listen on. Of all messages, what influenced you to promote such powerful messages in the hip-hop community?

Tray Chaney: I just felt there was a void in the hip-hop industry when it came to these kind of messages, so I wanted to go against the grain and really push more positive storytelling. It’s really been a blessing with the recognition that comes from it.

Do you ever feel you are taking a risk in the hip-hop community by promoting these topics?

TC: I don’t really feel like there is a risk, because there is an audience that I’ve tapped into pursing this kind of music. I’ve been getting booked with some of the biggest acts in the hip-hop industry, because they respect the route I took. Plus, as much as I’m entertaining, I’m also educating, so it’s been a win for me as an independent artist. It is a lot of hard work, but most importantly, I enjoy the whole process.

477F9EEB-CE21-4BC8-847D-A2DF2963F0EFYour last music album, S.A.M. (Strictly About Music), came out in 2017. Are there any other music projects in production that your fans can look forward to in the near future? Any you can tell us about? 

TC: I’m working on an untitled album right now, as we speak. In the meantime, I’m staying consistent with the music by dropping singles. Just dropped my new Single MOMENTUM today. It’s available on all digital streaming platforms including Spotify, iTunes, etc.

 

A few of my favorite songs from you over the years are “Be Yourself”, “Self Made Star”, & “Mike Bully.” What are some of your favorite songs you’ve made and are most proud of to this date?

TC: That’s a hard question (laughs). All of the songs hold a special place in my heart, because I tell the truth with the lyrics. I do not have a favorite, I love all of them.

You’ve been in the film industry for a good 15+ years as an actor, but now you are starting to dive into the producer role for a few projects including your upcoming autobiography. Care to share some details on that a little bit? 

TC: Yes undeniable The Tray Chaney Story Documentary is my first major project that I’m  executive producing & I’ve partnered with a Washington DC film crew, Anthony Commodore (Commodore Independent Filmworks), & Mitch Credle (Safe House Films DC).

It’s my story about how I came into the entertainment industry and how I had to overcome trials and tribulations in my personal life. Bottom line, no matter what I went through in life, I never gave up. Features some awesome testimonials from Clifton Powell, Kenny Lattimore, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Russ Parr, Big Daddy Kane, Anwan Glover, Keith Robinson, J.D. Williams, and Blackchild! I’m very proud of it and it’s coming out very soon.

 

What influenced your decision to allow yourself to dive into the producer role?

TC: It’s about ownership & having creative control/freedom to give you all my art plus I’ve always wanted to step behind the camera & be involved with everything that goes on behind the scenes & everything it takes to put a great project together! I absolutely love what Anthony Commodore & Mitch Credle are teaching me.

Which role brings more challenges for you, a producer for film or bringing a character to life for the film, and why?

TC: I love the word Challenge & I love being able to face my challenges head on so I would say a producer for a film but the only reason why it doesn’t feel like a challenge is because I actually love learning the processe. With me being an actor having a job of bringing the character to life is pretty easy once I start diving into the backstory of who the character is.

You seem to be attracted musically and film-wise on stories with true and genuine substance. What are some stories that haven’t been brought to life yet, that you would love to see in the movie theater or in another art form?

TC: I would love to see the life story of how Def Jam records was put together. Everything Russell  Simmons had to go thru building such a dynamite brand of artist that still have a huge impact on the industry.

Are there any directors/producers/actors you would love to work with that you haven’t worked with yet in the film industry? Any artists in the hip-hop or music community in general you’d like to work with?

TC: I’d love to work with Ryan Coogler (Director Of Black Panther , Creed & Fruitvale Station), as well as, Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, and Will Smith. I’m speaking that into existence. It’s going to happen.

You’ve worked in various spots around the country for different film projects. What is the environment like in Atlanta, Georgia, compared to the Baltimore, Maryland and Washington D.C. area? Any similarities? Any differences?

TC:  The difference is Atlanta has so many projects going at one time from film, television, music , fashion, and so much more. This is definitely a location where you can come and either get on, or you will be inspired to come here and create your own. I’m from Forestville, Maryland/Washington DC area, and I see my city is improving on the music and film side of things as well, but not quite on the same level that Atlanta is at.

What seems to be the biggest challenge you’ve come across over the years as an artist? What has been the biggest reward for yourself as an artist?

TC: It’s been nothing, but rewards to be honest. I’ve been able to really build great relationships in the industry. I’m fortunate, because The Wire was such an impacted show that opportunities even on an independent level come across my desk all the time.

So, a crazy small-world story, I must share. I was looking through your IMdB page to spruce up some questions for you, and I discovered a connection we both share now, since it involves a credit of yours. Click on This! with my good friend, Johnny Alonso, and creator, Elena Moscatt. I also recently just interviewed Johnny Alonso, as well as, working on an interview currently with Elena Moscatt. How crazy is that?! (Laughs). Talk about a small world! And, with that in factor, you were one of the hosts in 2011 along with Alonso. What was your favorite memory from that whole experience?

TC: I loved connecting with the people! Such a wonderful experience!

What’s next for the brand, Chaney Vision? Where do you see yourself in the next year? In five years?

TC: Chaney Vision is producing more projects in television, film, and music. In the next five years my company will be a household name giving other artist platforms and opportunities.

Thank you so much, Tray, for taking time out of your busy schedule to sit down for this interview.  It was such a pleasure! Make sure you all go to his web site, www.trayscurriculum.com/store, and check his merchandise out, and if you enjoy hip-hop music, swing over to iTunes to give Tray Chaney a listen at http://itunes.apple.com/album/id1324851443?ls=1&app=itunes

Top Ten Cult Classic Films

This is a total subjective list of my own favorite films that I can enjoy over and over again without it getting old. Whether if the cult following helped the film do super well or it basically shitted down the tube of finances and reviews… I give you MY top ten favorite cult classic films that I can honestly watch over and over again without any guilt. Are any of your favorites on my list as well? Which cult films are your favorites?

 

10. BEETLEJUICE

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9. V for Vendetta

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8. Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory

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7. Con Air

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6. The Evil Dead

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5. Interview With a Vampire

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4. GREASE

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3. WATERWORLD

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2. The Fifth Element

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1. The Crow

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Honorary mentions and other cult favorite include Overboard, Cry-Baby, Dirty Dancing, Edward Scissorhands, Shakespeare In Love, and Scream.

 

Film Review: How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World

MV5BMjIwMDIwNjAyOF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNDE1MDc2NTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,631,1000_AL_The third installment of How to Train Your Dragon was a huge disappointment in my view. My expectations for the closure of the trilogy and Netflix series was high. The story felt rushed and for me the comedy itself was lacking in The Hidden World.

I wish the story was more invested in the journey of the hidden world or more invested in the new dragon hunter, rather than rushing both storylines with the addition of Toothless finding his mate. Honestly, it felt two films were being squished into one poor edit.

It hurts to write this as How to Train Your Dragon is one of my top favorite animations, because who doesn’t love a good story on dragons and vikings?? I was even a fan of the series on Netflix!

Come to think of it, this story-line would have been better as a last season for the series rather than as a film for theaters. That way it could have been more polished on all three story-lines and a more successful closure to the brand.

Film Review: Life Itself

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Life Itself is one of the most beautiful performances I’ve seen in film today. In my opinion, Oscar Wilde and Antonio Banderas did wonders carrying this film and bringing the beauty of the stories to life. This is one of Banderas’ best performances in his whole career, in my opinion.

It’s a sophisticated story-line that you have to pay attention to find how two worlds end up colliding. It has a lot of similarities to the approach and direction as the films Babel and Crash does. So if you are not a fan of those directives, this will not be a film for you.

Unfortunately, there were also a few failures to this film. I felt for this film was that it was a bit uneven in the delivery, as the first half of the story being more of an unfiltered dramedy and the second half more of a heartfelt drama. I feel the setup at the beginning with the opening scene and Samuel L. Jackson narrating failed. I feel the film itself could be balanced more to bring a more smoother transition rather than hoping for the narrations to do the transition for you. Unfortunately, this film could have done without the narrators.

Overall, the message and the performances itself was beautiful and meaningful to the point of the necessity of Kleenex.

Film Review: Hearts Beat Loud

download (1)I sincerely am warming up to Nick Offerman as an actor. First, in the independent hit The Hero with the legendary Sam Elliot, and now this fun light-hearted story about a daughter and father bonding over music during a summer before she heads to college. I appreciate this guy’s taste in storytelling!

Might I add on the topic of Nick’s delivery as a comedian and artist. The humor doesn’t overbear the sense of the direction of what the creators wanted to take this film.

The vintage indie style of this film sets a good flavor to the pace of the story, as well as, being fearless to promote not one, but two minority communities in the film with the character of Sam Fischer.

The main setting of the film, the record store, gives a nostalgic vibe with the small business mindset and appreciating the times when music lovers turned to their collection of vinyls and compact discs, rather than digital and/or streaming collections of today’s society. A simple, yet hip story , with a very deep message within it of love and acceptance.

This film is created on very organic, yet subtle ingredients for success from the story to the simplicity of the cinematography. Nothing overpowers the other.. A very fun and artistic film to watch on a cold, bleak winter evening to warm the soul whether alone or with your loved ones.

I gave this film a 9/10 on the IMdB site.