ADORNED IN NEON green soccer shorts and a matching green shoulder bag, Alejandro Chal, who goes by A.Chal in the hip hop world, sees the beauty in the world around him. He credits nature and the natural world as some of the biggest influences in his music and worldview. Born in Peru and raised in Harlem, New York, A.Chal has been making waves in the music world, with his hit song “Love N Hennessey” garnering over 20 million plays. He has attracted the likes of rap superstars French Montana, 2 Chainz, and Nicky Jam to have guest features on his songs. With the help of Stanford Concert Network, PULSE Magazine had the opportunity to interview Alejandro before his Stanford Live concert at the Bing Auditorium.

 

PULSE: What does A.Chal mean? Where did you get the name?

A.CHAL: I got the A.Chal name from my brother who was named Ichal. He passed away and I was inspired by him. ‘A’ is for Alejandro Chal and the dot is the universe that combines us.

PULSE: I know you started making beats with your friends at the Boys and Girls Club when you were 12. What was your musical upbringing like? How did it lead you to where you are today? What was your path?

A.CHAL: My parents didn’t really let me play much rap music. So it made me want to start making rap music even more, to the point where I started making my own rap music. From there, I got into R&B, I got into pop, I got into Alternative, and it made me change.

 

PULSE: I know you grew up in New York. Did that influence your music style at all?

A.CHAL: Hell yeah. New York is so different from LA. It’s so gritty. It’s more of a melting pot, like an immediate melting pot. In LA, you have to travel to different pockets to see different cultures. I love the fashion culture [in New York] , too. It’s a very stylish city and that’s how it impacts my music.

 

PULSE: I noticed that about you. You have a great sense of fashion.

A.CHAL: Yeah. I feel like before, I used to try really hard to impress my friends. But when I moved to LA, and this is how LA inspires me, I let my lifestyle lead what I wore, moreso. Like, right now, I’m feeling very ambitious. So, I’ve been wearing soccer shorts a lot. I wake up and I don’t want to be restricted or limited as if I’m wearing denim. If I’m tapped into my real spiritual side, and I’m tapping into historic parts of Peru, like Shamanistic things, I might wear a poncho or this bag just to remind me of my roots. And there’s those times where I feel like not being comfortable. I feel like being extra. My lifestyle leads my fashion.

 

PULSE: That’s really interesting, especially because you have so many connections with the A$AP Mob, who are some of the biggest fashion influencers in the music industry. How did you connected with the mob?

A.CHAL: I lived in Harlem for a while and Harlem and we’d run into each other. My bestfriend, Ghost, he’s part of Gazi too. He went to school with some of them. Just being in Harlem, honestly. They inspired me in making music.

 

PULSE: Who else influences your music?

A.CHAL: Bob Marley, Prince, Lil Wayne, Hector Lavoe, Sade, Drake. All those people.

PULSE: Thoughts on the Pusha-T diss?

A.CHAL: Hahaha oh sh—… that’s crazy. Umm.. I got to be respectful to both sides, but I’ll say I think rap is a sport and it’s good to see a challenge because Drake hasn’t been challenged like before. So it’s fun. As for as how deep it is beyond rap, I’m not them so I can’t say, but as a spectator it’s entertaining.

PULSE: Now, do you consider yourself a rapper or more of an R&B artist?

A.CHAL: You know what’s funny? I’ve been thinking about that a lot this week as I’ve been finishing up this album. I’m a big fan of rap music, like I said rap is a sport. It’s like being a fan of basketball. But, my favorite rappers are not people like me. I carry different values because I grew up differently. Even though I grew up in those environments, I still came from a household that was very strict with parents that were still together. They didn’t expose me to crime or anything like that. But when I went to school, I was exposed to it. I feel like I hang out with rappers, but I’m very much not one. The DNAs in my music, but I really just want to focus on making music that touches people’s souls. That makes them feel happier, makes them feel sexy, or makes them want to smile.

 

PULSE: Coming from Peru, I know you mix a lot of Spanish lyrics into your music. What’s been your experience as a Latin artist in the Hip Hop industry?

A.CHAL: Well, right now it’s cool to be a Latino in the music industry. So that helps out, but it’s fun because I can bring a completely new flavor to the environment I’m at. Even people like Lil Pump and Tekashi are Latino, but I embrace my culture more in my music because I grew up very Latin. For me, it’s such a goal of mine to introduce my culture to people who would never be introduced to it before.

PULSE: On your song “To the Light,” you sing “… blowing on this cash on the things that never last. I don’t want it. You can have it.” You’re obviously blowing up now, but what’s your ultimate goal with music?

A.CHAL: With my music, I still have layers to go. My first layer is just my songs being heard across the world. From there, it’s just opening the doors for people like me, the anomalies. Like maybe even a Korean lesbian punk artist, you know? I just want to open doors for them because I feel like I’m the first kind of my breed so I want to help others like that.

By: Justin Kang

Photography by: Caroline Moon