There’s no denying the honesty in Chay3l’s music; it’s hidden in every line of his latest EP, and prominently displayed in the title. “Auth3ntic, name of the tape, so here it go, here I am,” he states on “Intro,” a fitting thesis around which he fits the rest of the EP. Across eight songs, Auth3ntic paints a vivid picture of Chay3l’s life and his struggles, resonating with the listener through his deep, raspy voice and passionate delivery.
A scattershot range of production styles keeps the mood of the moment ever changing, while Chay’s captivating storytelling links the album together. His confessions are straightforward, yet cutting: “In middle school it was the worst days / Fuck balloons on my birthday, I’m helping pops with his court case, I’m 13” he reveals on “Made It Out,” before outlining more of what he’s endured in the rest of the song. The thumping, relentless percussion underneath highlights the determined drive that he displays alongside such turbulence, pushing him to make it through and continue on his path.
Later, the soundscape grows more relaxed and true to the West Coast; on “Devil’s Busy,” a laid-back bounce makes it the perfect track to ride out to on a sunny afternoon. Chay’s lyrics contrast the easygoing instrumental, again delving into his persistence and his refusal to succumb to the demons he sees around him.
In addition to original beats from Curtis the Plug, Chay picks some of hip-hop’s most iconic beats to freestyle over on Auth3ntic. “From Me 2 You” uses the instrumental behind “Hate It Or Love It, the timeless collaboration between The Game and 50 Cent. After tapping Kiiing Juan to serve as his wingman, Chay serenades the girl on his mind with breezy bars, rejoicing in the times they’ve shared and looking forward to what else is in store. Elsewhere on “Everywhere” he gives a fresh twist on T-Pain’s “I’m Sprung,” replacing the sugary auto-tuned melodies with his own coarse vocals.
It’s easy to see the growth from Chay’s previous work, as he shows versatility across a range of beats on Auth3ntic while sounding comfortable on each track. Just like he has all his life, he’s moving forward—if you like what you hear, you’d be wise to join the train.