Sol Chyld a flower rising from Camden's cement


Exclusive Amirah's Conversation W/ Sol Chyld 

Written by Amirah Kane-Waheed 

Marginalized musicians are victims of musical slavery. No matter what direction the artist is heading, music should broaden the minds of its listeners. Hip-hop is currently suffering because of the limits on an artist's creativity. We should give artists the right to express themselves in whatever way they choose. Sol Chyld, an outstanding artist from Camden, New Jersey, sat with me. Our team managed to meet this artist, and we had a deep discussion about what it's like to be encompassed by the world of music and art. Sol Chyld's art is devoted to her love for black culture. Sol, a Camden City Public Schools product, has learned from educators who invest wisdom in Camden youth. Having accomplished her mission, she has returned to school and teaches current students the importance of attaining greatness and never giving up on themselves. Sol Chyld is a fearless and innovative musician who has used her music to fight for social change in Camden. She has demonstrated that being an oddball is a sacrifice that she is willing to make to change the world. 

During our conversation, Sol Chyld revealed her journey of self-discovery, memorable moments from her career, an exclusive on the upcoming release of an album, and topics surrounding black culture. In particular, she offers advice for independent artists to keep their fans intrigued and appreciative of their work. 

Greetings, Sol Chlyd! Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today. I appreciate it. How are you doing today?

I am feeling good; no complaints at all. 

I hear birds chirping in your background. Are you outside right now?

Yes, ma’am, I am walking around. I’ve had such a long day and had to clear my head. I’ve found a great spot in my location to do so. 

We need to reconnect with nature and the authentic way of life now and then to give our minds a rest.

Despite not being completely slept on by others, I have slept on it recently. Listening to the wind or birds and having the opportunity to space out have been therapeutic. It has given me peace of mind.  

It would be good if I took more time to recenter myself. My workload often gets me, so I need to reconnect with my inner peace. I appreciate the reminder you unknowingly gave me. You have an outstanding musical taste. Your artistry is comparable to a blacksmith's. Metals such as iron are welded and refined by blacksmiths. Although the metal appears rough and black at first glance, it holds a lot of richness. To reshape and refine iron, a blacksmith uses strength and ability. You are a gifted wordsmith. Despite our imperfections, the hood appreciates your music. When you share a message of hope, change, love, and self-knowledge with listeners, you refine their minds. How did you discover your passion for music, and when did you decide to pursue it professionally?

Thank you so much. While attending Freedom Academy in seventh grade, I joined a poetry collective. Hasan Malik coached us for three months. Hasan has greatly influenced my career; for someone to dedicate three months to extensively teaching us poetry was highly appreciated, as it planted a mustard seed within me. During my sophomore year of high school, I joined another poetry collective. That was the same year I recorded my first studio recording. During a recording session, my friend invited me to hop in the booth for the first time. I was underdeveloped as an artist at the time. As an artist, I decided to take up music seriously towards the end of 2018. While in college, I wasn't thrilled about going to school. When I wasn't studying music theory, I couldn't focus and pay attention in class. It was then that I realized music was my passion. 

Let's explore this further. Describe your journey to becoming a fully-fledged artist. 

My circumstances led me to drop out. The school had lost its funding for students. Previously, I had a full-ride scholarship, but the school no longer offered that. My finances were too tight, so I had to stop going to school. As far as I am concerned, I would not present myself as forced to leave because I wanted to pursue a different career. I was so lost when I returned home. Society tells us to go to college straight after high school, graduate, get married, and start a family in a house with a white picket fence. We are taught the so-called components of a "happy ever after" lifestyle. I was clueless about what I wanted to do, but I have always been great at creating. Whether through dance, screenwriting, or music, my ability to create has always been a gift. I decided to continue with music, and I haven't looked back since.

Your story is heavy. I remember when I first encountered your art. There was a protest at City Hall in Camden. In your march with other community members, you called for a social change in the relationship between the community and the police. The protest was the result of the death of George Floyd. I witnessed Camden's youth uniting and fighting against social injustice for the first time in my life. Men, women, and children saw your performance of "Ignant." You were fearless, powerful, and dope! I was impressed with your eclectic, bold, and soulful stage presence. I saw you as God's wrath for the long period of suffrage my city endured. Everyone who watched you could feel it. When you told the crowd to drop the f-bomb several times, kids included, that was the highlight of the performance. Despite their reluctance at first, the anger they felt began to pour out, and healing began. 

Afterward, a parent whose child was present approached me. ‘You asked the crowd to utter the F-word on stage,' she said. ‘I got goosebumps when my daughter said, “Mom, please!”' She then told me that she let her daughter say it. The moment will be unforgettable for her. That protest was an out-of-body experience for me as I became emotionally engulfed. I was angry and nervous as quick thoughts rushed through my mind.

When you saged a police officer during the protest, it was hilarious. I have never seen that before. 

Yes, I have a picture of me saging the officer. He thought I was gesturing for a hug in the picture. In truth, I wanted to sage him to ensure that his intentions would be pure at the protest. 

I love it! Regarding the spelling of your name, I wonder what it means. Do you have a particular reason behind how you spelled it?

My name has multiple meanings. The day before a show I was scheduled to perform, I had no stage name. I decided that my stage name would be "Soul Child.” As a result, I played on the spelling so people would not think I had an affiliation with Musiq Soulchild. Sunlight is a vital part of my being, especially when I experience seasonal depression. The sun makes me feel good. I want people to feel good, love themselves, and be happy in my presence. To explain why I spelled child the way it is, I will refer to a line in my song "Save Yourself". I wrote, “I'm not knocking y'all, I tell my truth, and that is all. My word is bond, and that is law. You love yourself and all your flaws. Without the team, you can't ball. No 'i' in child, no 'u' in soul. No you in y’all. But this one for you and y'all is for you and y’all.” 

What a dope artist you are. The single "Grow" that you released recently features Mir Fontane and Wayne Campbell. The persona you portray in this piece reminds me of the woman who played Ray Charles' mother in his biopic. Ray would recall the moral lessons she taught him on the world's cruelties as she sat on the porch of his childhood home. When he engaged in life's difficulties, she always told him where and where not to go in her melancholy but stern tone. There is so much pain in Fontane's melodic hook, but he yearns for recognition. His work is outstanding. I resonate with it because I, too, am from Camden, and many of us who are striving to grow consider ourselves to be roses that grew out of concrete. 

My favorite verse out of the entire song is the second verse. I find my poetic approach to that verse very touching, especially the part where I say, "...cops shot and pumped a couple of pops and poor kids." Things like that we might not want to experience. Although we might want to turn up and escape what is happening, it is happening. I wrote the first verse of a phenomenal song called "Mystic Voyage” by Roy Aires. As a shoutout to Roy, I mention Mystic Voyage in the first line of Grow. I wrote, “ through this mystical voyage. Lost in forest of colors red and tropical orange….” It's difficult for many artists to rhyme orange with anything, so I wanted a word to rhyme with orange. Eminem's explanation of rhyming the phrase in an interview inspired me to create this. To make the phrase sound rhythmic, you have to manipulate its sound when you say it. It's fun to learn the rules of poetry so you can bend them. This technique allows you to control them as you see fit for whatever purpose you desire. 

You’ve made an excellent point. Writing and reading poetry are among my favorite pastimes. The evidence of an experienced poet is when their readers cannot discern a rhyme scheme while reading, but once they hear you recite the poem aloud, they understand it. The artist has worked hard to encrypt themselves in their work. If your listeners can’t detect your tone or aren't familiar with your work, they won’t understand the poem's meaning. My first encounter with you was at a Caribbean festival in Camden. While analyzing your whole persona, I discovered many exciting things about you. For example, I used to embark on scavenger hunts to find glass mosaics by Isaiah Zagar on South Street in Philly when I was a teenager. To find out more about the artist, I used to scour the area. While analyzing you, I discovered your coiled locks with bottle caps at the ends, your unique style of dress, and then your walking stick. You're so electrifying when you perform. It’s like you’re bouncing off the walls! Could you please explain why you walk with a stick?

Is it possible to be 100% transparent? Even though I don't feel it on stage, it took me many years to develop my stage persona because I have social anxiety. Apart from being Sol Chyld, I am a tranquil person. My walking stick symbolizes my strength and stability, and it takes me time to warm up to someone. I feel invincible when carrying my walking stick; nothing can knock me down. My walking stick helps me feel confident on difficult days, at shows, in the studio, and even when I'm feeling down. It is something that everyone should have, whether it's a scarf or your favorite pocketbook. People make fun of my Aladdin pants, but I love them. They're colorful and comfortable. I've never hopped on the fashion trend; I just f— with being the oddball.

I'm impressed. A change-maker is ultimately the one who ushers in the future for us. What music are you working on at the moment?

I’m about to drop the title exclusively for you. "Eyes Towards the Sun" is the name of my next project. As you listen to the album, you will understand the meaning of its title. The second project I am working on will be different from the first. My first album has its own canvas. For this new project, I have used new paintbrushes. Making this album successful is based on knowing the goal of the artwork. I wrote my first album when I was about 18 or 19 years old, and I had a very scant understanding of myself. It was when I was trying to establish myself as a proficient rapper. I didn't necessarily feel I had to prove myself with this upcoming project. In this project, I was creating with the sole intention of liking what I heard. Through this project, I became an artist in a sense. 

Do you have a deeper perception of artists who have to prove themselves in a room surrounded by established individuals? Honestly, some people feel like you owe them something when you're in a room. As a writer, I've experienced this myself. It's easy to lose your purpose in rooms with other seasoned people. Your presence in the room adds to the ambiance. The question is: what makes you shine? Where are you plugged in? Every individual is a star in their own right, but what is the source from which you draw your inspiration? 

One of the challenges we have as a people is that we do not understand one another enough. Often, we find it difficult to let others be themselves as they are. Sometimes, when people do not meet certain specifics, we try to change them. The majority of our people are not living their purpose due to society's limitations. Many people who cannot let others be themselves cannot even be themselves. Currently, you and I are conversing. Perhaps you are wondering what dinner you are cooking tonight, or maybe I am wondering what pajamas I am about to put on. By not worrying about a future we do not dictate, we will be able to be in these moments and have these conversations. What matters most is to live in the present and enjoy what we have. Instead of recognizing that we have the choice of moving along and letting others be, we judge others often based on their characteristics or character traits. Our culture has an obsession with changing people and creating narratives of others they deem comfortable.

That's pretty deep. In terms of our mindset as black people, we tend to be very critical of one another. In my younger years, I could easily say that "sister so and so is a hater" or "brother so and so is a hater," but I found it challenging to maintain that mindset as I grew older. Take a look at the condition society forced us in. We no longer see ourselves as black gods due to 400 plus years of mental slavery. How do you feel about that?

Most of us are raised for survival, not in love. You either receive it at birth, or you must acquire it in the best possible way you knew how. As a teenager, I assumed that Camden was huge, but I realized that I had taken on a hood mentality when I moved. As soon as I realized that, I decided not to pass it on to my children when I became a mother. Being open to change makes you less defensive. To learn more about ourselves, we need to travel outside the neighborhood. When I traveled outside of my home, I was less dependent on others. Since a single mother raised me, I did not know what it was like to depend on both parents. I relied entirely on her. I learned to give love to my people when I left home, and I also learned to receive it from them. 

That is an interesting point to consider. I believe love is a duty. Don't get me wrong, I love being a mother, but there are parts of motherhood I don't like. Other bloggers who rave and only post about the good things have made me think I was ready to be a mother. After becoming a mother, I realized that they had sold me a dream. Our people are in the same boat. Although I love black people to death, there are some things we do to one another that I don't like. While it's one thing to say we love black people, do they understand that we have to love each other for our current state to improve? I would not love myself if I did not cherish my people. While I love every one of you, I don't like seeing brothers sell drugs to one another. I do not like seeing our sisters strung up on the corner. I do not intend to glorify us so much that we forget we have work to do in our community. Let's start living up to our potential. No matter what, we just have to activate what is in us to make us better. Let's begin with the mind. 

Yo, some of those drug dealers might be the most successful entrepreneurs. However, they are not applying themselves where we need them. We must realize that white politics did not mean for black people to benefit from building the "American Dream." We were beaten, exploited, and killed to make this land fruitful without receiving any gain. We are still trying to figure out where to put our feet. While teaching creative writing at my alma mater, I always encouraged my students to "do it." They should never give up because they can succeed if they put their minds to it. Even if you sucked on day 1, by day 450, you better be the best because you never stopped. Our youth need to hear life-giving words, as there are millions of them searching for them. We cannot ignore them anymore. In grade school, Hasan Malik planted the mustard seeds that led me to become the artist I am today. Imagine speaking life into 30 students. You can just imagine the impact. 

As an artist, I've gained a deeper understanding of you through this conversation. What has been your most excellent career highlight to date?

Please don't think I'm a bighead. I put my accomplishments in my backpack and keep moving forward. I would have to say that my favorite moment to date was standing at City Hall yelling, 'F— you're to the police. The performance of "Ignant" at the rally was incredible. 

I've enjoyed learning more about you and the art you create. Would you like to tell our readers who are independent artists anything else before you leave?

Don't hold back. Give up the fear you have that people won't appreciate your art and let go of your doubt. F— that! You've just got to go for it and hope for the best. Don't let anything stop you from being passionate about your work. In addition, strive to give your work the quality it deserves. Invest in your marketing efforts. Having high-quality content gives your listeners what they deserve. If you half a– your fans, they will reduce their support. Good content is essential to them.

Keep an eye out for Sol Chyld’s upcoming shows and the release of her new album. As a musician, she demonstrates to the world and her fans the importance of standing out while bringing about necessary changes in modern music. 

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Sol Chyld - Pluto (Official Music Video)


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