SOLDIERING ON: “The microphone is a powerful weapon,” Chachi says.
Get to know Charlie “Big Chachi” Carvalho for about five minutes and it’s clear he’s equal parts confident and cordial, proud of his Cape Verdean heritage and a down-to-earth family man (father of two) with big aspirations, and deservedly so. Last week Chachi appeared on BET’s 106 & Park as part of their “Wild Out Wednesday” segment, with unsigned nationwide talent facing off. He was victorious in January and invited back to an “All-Star” faceoff. Voters called and logged on, and Chachi crushed the comp (from Philly and Virginia) with “Something for You” from his highly anticipated official debut (he’s released four mixtapes) titled About Time, set for a December release. It’s a velvety smooth num-ber strictly for the ladies, who were squealing up front as Chachi (with his trademark fedora) killed like a consummate pro.
When I ask him to describe the overall sound on About Time, Chachi calls it “roots-based tropical hip-hop. It’s kinda like 1977 meets 1995 — in 2008,” he said. “My subjects and beat selection are very diverse, and I pride myself on making sure I rhyme with extreme clarity so people can hear me, word for word.” That clarity excludes cursing.
“About Time is clean from beginning to end,” he said, “As a father of two, I wanted to release a product that the kids could love without me feeling any guilt about the subject matter.”
His cousin and collaborator DJ Therion cooked up the beat on “Showtime” (up on myspace.com/bigchach), which will also appear on the December debut. The beat coasts and complements perfectly with Chachi’s decidedly smooth yet feisty flow; he’s killing ’em softly on this one. Unbeknownst to Chachi, Therion submitted music and video footage to 106 & Park last year. “A couple months later I was spittin’ my music live on national television,” he recalls. “It was a great moment because it legitimized my dream in the eyes of my friends and family. I think they started taking my ‘hobby’ a little more seriously once they saw me on cable.”
Carvalho is a first-generation Cape Verdean born in Providence and raised in Pawtucket, aka the Bucket. He was an all-state defensive end for Shea High School in the mid-’90s, but hip-hop was his first love. He started freestyling in 1988 at age 11, began authoring rhymes in ’91, and recorded his first song with local beat conductor Joe Beats in 1999 when they snuck into WRIU’s production room after hours. “Thank God Joey knew how to work the equipment,” Chachi said.
He’s developed into a gifted performer, equally confident away from home, winning over crowds with his charm and wordplay. “There’s nothing like performing in front of a packed house of people who have no idea who you are, then by the end of the show you’re greeted with open arms and open wallets. It makes the grind worth it.” Favorite local stages include Lupo’s, the Black Rep (“They treat me like a king whenever I’m in the house”), and the Blackstone in the Bucket, where he and his crew spin hip-hop every Sunday night.