Pap Chanel (born Jaida Chanel Roby) might’ve released her first mixtape earlier this month, but the Atlanta-based rapper — who lives by the tagline “Pretty and Paid,” aka Pap — is well on her way to executing that self-fulfilling prophecy. On her debut project, also titled Pretty & Paid, Chanel wields Atlanta’s signature Autotuned flow like she’s been in this game for years, even though she’s only 20. Growing up in the relatively small town of Milledgeville, Georgia (with a population of less than 20,000) Pap moved to Atlanta as a teenager to focus seriously on her music career – until a pandemic set in this year and live shows shuddered to a halt.
But not even COVID-19 can slow down the young MC, who has already racked up over 300,000 followers on Instagram and boasts an early collab with the likes of Lil Baby. Pap’s love for music started early, at the tender age of six, when she would write bars and rhymes down in her diary. Inspired partially by her brother’s taste in rap, and partially by the reign of Nicki Minaj, the Georgia young performer is poised to breakout in the rap game during a golden era for women in hip-hop.
Between the mainstream pop success of Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B, and the rising wave of female stars like Rico Nasty, Malibu Miitch, and Mulatto, it’s hard to think of a better time for someone like Chanel to come onto the scene. All of these women are completely different from one another, and Pap is different from them, too, but each one is finding a foothold and an audience in what can often be a very fickle industry. But none of the potential roadblocks even makes Pap flinch, her confidence is palpable and one of her other signature phrases is: “If I want to, I will.” That’s the kind of faith that a success in the making needs to have, and she has it tenfold.
Pap and I spoke over the phone recently to discuss her early love for music, the Pretty & Paid mixtape, and the unexpected way Miley Cyrus inspires her. Read a condensed and edited version of our conversation below, along with her brand new video for “2 Way Street” featuring Blac Youngsta.
When did you first start getting into music and realizing you wanted to be a rapper?
I used to have a diary when I was six years old. I would always write different little freestyles and bars. I would just rhyme, I fell in love with rhyming because my brother was big on music and loved Lil Wayne, Tupac, TI. I grew up on that sound. When I was six I just fell in love with rhyming, and I kept doing it. Time went by and when I was fourteen I fell in love with Nicki Minaj. From that, it was up, because once I fell in love with Nicki Minaj, she really inspired me to put effort into making actual song lyrics and songs that would stick.
So I would make different freestyles off songs that were popping at the time. And over time, my videos would go viral and viral, and it got to a point where I was like ‘people are enjoying it, so I have to take this seriously.’ Because people out here believe in me and thought I could go far with it. I decided to take music seriously around the time I was 17, so I’ve been doing music seriously now for three years — and I love it.
What was it like growing up in Milledgeville, would rappers come through town? What was your relationship to seeing live music when you were younger?
I’m from a small town, so a lot of big time artists would not come through the town that I’m from. So I just grew up on the internet. I would go on Youtube and watch different videos, listen to different audiences. And I grew off that. If I wanted to see an artist, I would have to come to Atlanta. But me just watching artists off the internet was enough of an influence for me to be doing it now.
Do you remember the first rap show that you got to see live?
Nicki Minaj! I came to Atlanta , that was my first concert. I actually skipped the first day of school to go see Nicki Minaj — my first day of high school, actually. [Laughs]
Well you’ve mentioned Nicki, Lil Wayne, and T.I. as some influences, who else has influenced you or who is at this stage in your career?
When I was younger I used to watch the show Hannah Montana, and I would love how she would just change her wig. And I was like you know what? When I get older I’m going to just switch my wig, I’m going to have multiple alter egos, and you folks aren’t going to know who I am when I come. So she was a big influence on my style and how I dress and stuff, because I just like that. When I was younger I liked color and animation. She influenced my style because she kept it interesting. And Foxy Brown, I love Foxy Brown. Her voice inspired me to rap from my diaphragm and her tone inspired me when it comes to how I lay down my music and bars. I do have love for a lot of different artists, but those are still my main top three: Nicki Minaj, Wayne, T.I.
You moved to Atlanta pretty recently, how are you liking it there and how has it impacted your career?
It’s very inspiring, because I’ve learned that it’s all about who you know. Now that I’m up here I can be in a lot of different rooms, network, and grow different relationships that are vital for the music industry to help me out and get me where I’m going. It’s making me work harder, honestly, because Atlanta is an inspiration every day. I see all these people doing it in this industry and it makes me realize I can do it too, I just have to get into the right rooms. It makes me step it up.
There’s always a lot of conversation about the state of “women in rap.” I would love to hear your thoughts on that subject.
I do feel that the industry is dominated by males. And it’s a prime right now for female artists. The main thing I notice over the years is that people will try to pit female artists against each other. And the reason why I feel like a lot of female artists right now are popping is because we’re all coming together, we’re all working together. You never know what’s going to happen when you work together. A lot of female artists bring bars and have the whole nine, all of it. It’s dominated by males, but right now we’re coming through, we’re breaking a lot of records and making history right now.
I feel like females right now are winning. We’ve always been winning but we just had to wait for the world to notice that. I love being a female in the music industry because actually it gives me a lot of different ways to come. You’ve got to have the looks, you’ve got to have the bars, you have to have everything for people to take you seriously. So, I love it, it’s hard being a female in the industry but it’s a good hard, because it makes me work hard. It’s not about what I do but how I do it. I’ve got to outwork everybody.
Tell me a little bit about your project Pretty & Paid, what does this tape represent for you?
I feel like this is my breakthrough project. Everybody is recognizing me now. It’s been out for just a few weeks, seven songs, and one feature with Blac Youngsta. Pretty & Paid is me showing my different alter egos. I can be very versatile. I have seven songs, and across all seven they sound nothing alike. I wanted to show I can do different genres and this is just the start. I want people to see the growth so I dropped a lot of songs that I made earlier this year, and I have more things coming to follow that. I want people to hear the growth and that I’m serious about it. Since it’s my first mixtape I want people to know that my foot is in the door, my foot is all the way in there.
You mentioned Blac Youngsta, why did you choose him as the sole feature on the tape?
Because I just love his personality. I’ve always wanted to work with him and so when I had the opportunity I was like, why not? Shout out to him.
Who is your dream collaboration at this point, either another rapper or a producer?
Nicki Minaj, always.
What are your plans for the rest of the year and 2021?
I’m working on a deluxe for the project I just dropped, Pretty & Paid. I’m going to drop a few more singles, and hopefully by then I have a release date for my next project. I’m going to drop some videos, I have a lot of those coming, and hopefully I drop my next big project by the end of the year.
Stream Pretty & Paid above and follow Pap Chanel on Instagram here.
This profile first appeared in shortened form via LA streetwear company The Hundreds’ blog for our Hint of Cinnamon monthly collaboration.