Edible Ink: Local Pittsburgh Rapper Chevy Woods
Things are heating up at Taylor Gang headquarters. Inside the studio, of course, but also on the rooftop, where local rapper Chevy Woods is manning the grill. “It started when we were in LA,” Woods explains, turning the seasoned chicken on the hot grates as we chat. “Ordering food for everyone is a mess. Coordinating it, making sure you get what you ordered. So, instead, I started making big meals at the studio for everyone to eat.”
Adding to the family feel within Taylor Gang, “Chefy,” as his crew affectionately calls him, frequently whips up dinners for those working in the office and studio. It keeps the artists fueled up for late-night recording sessions and even serves as an incentive to stay later. (We’re also told nobody wants to leave if they know Woods will be cooking!)
Chefy’s specialties? “I like to make everything. I like to look at ingredients, read directions for making them, then put my own spin on it.” He started to find his footing in the kitchen when he moved out at age 21, bringing in techniques he learned from watching his mom and grandma cook. “I don’t like to go by measurements because that doesn’t matter when you eat the food,” he says. “My grandma cooked the same way — never measured anything.”
Cooking serves as another creative outlet for the artist, allowing him an alternative way to express himself. The same could be said about his tattoos, which cover his arms and peek out from below his pushed up sleeves while he grills. Each one — from the music notes by his elbow to the Taurus bull by his bicep — represents something special.
“I don’t write on my body just to do it,” he says. “I know why I got each one and each one has meaning. I could never just walk in and get a tattoo. It has to be thought-out.”
His latest pieces of work — his hometown’s zip code and his grandma’s name — continue to weigh on his mind. “I’m always doing things with my hands,” the Hazelwood native says. “When I look down and see my neighborhood and my grandma’s name, it’s inspirational.”
Towards the end of our visit, those hands move on to transferring the delicious food from the grill to deep aluminum trays. As the mouth-watering aroma creeps into the building, his colleagues working downstairs slowly make their way up to the kitchen to grab a plate.
“You guys staying to eat?” he asks us. Yes, please.
While we all dig in to the spread of perfectly grilled chicken, asparagus, and corn on the cob, plus a scoop of creamy mac and cheese, Woods scans the room and smiles. “This is my favorite part right here,” he says. “Silence: the true sign of a good meal.”
The raw chicken spent some quality time soaking in water before hitting the grill, making it extra juicy and flavorful.
- - Number of Tattoos: 30
- - First Tattoo: A flaming basketball on my arm. I got it when I was 16. I played sports in school.
- - Most Recent Tattoo: The zip code of my hometown and my grandma’s name on my hands. I got it after she passed, but she knew of my other tattoos. She always said, ‘What if you can’t get a job with those tattoos?’ I’d be like, ‘Grandma, I do music. I can have tattoos.’
- - Favorite Tattoo: My new ones. These tattoos are a sign to remind me to work hard.
“Nobody else cooks,” Woods says of his fellow Taylor Gang members.
“Wiz [Khalifa] makes good breakfast. Everyone else just eats.”
+ Chevy Woods joins Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg on stage at First Niagara Pavilion August 10, as part of The High Road Summer Tour. For tickets, visit wizkhalifa.com.
+ Download Chevy Woods’ new EP, And The Story Goes…, on SoundCloud, and keep up with the rapper on social media @ChevyWoods.
Chevy Woods, chevywoodsmusic.com.