VICE’s An Interview With Tom Hanks’ Rapping Son

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Chet Haze is the son of Tom Hanks. He’s also a rapper. He’s taken quite a beating on the internet because, well, he’s the son of Tom Hanks and he’s also a rapper.

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WHITE & PURPLE

At first I figured he was a troll, but his music isn’t quite bad enough for it to be a joke. So I guess he’s just the least self-aware person on earth (Sample lyric“Step to me/get beat down like Rodney King”). I met up with Chet in a Whole Foods near his house (A WHOLE FOODS!!!!) for a quick interview. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures (for reasons outlined in the interview), so the images of Chet you see in this post are, unfortunately, digital reconstructions.

Vice: Hi Chet. Tell me about yourself.
Chet Haze: I’m 20 years old, I’m a student at Northwestern University. I was born and raised in Los Angeles and er, I’m a rapper. I make hip-hop.

What are you studying?
Theater.

What made you decide to become a rapper?
It was out of my love and passion for hip-hop, it just happened. It wasn’t a conscious decision, there wasn’t like, a moment with me where I was like, this is what I wanna do. So, it is what I do ya know? I make music.

Talk me through a typical day for Chet Haze.
I go to my classes during the day, I spend some time just chilling, living the college life, doing the social thing. I’m in a fraternity, any other time I have I spend in the studio, making music.

We don’t have fraternities in the UK. I only really know what they are from movies. It’s a bunch of sporty people getting drunk from those red plastic cups and picking on nerds, right?
Haha, it’s basically a group of people who are all really good friends and they all have your back. Ya know?

Like a gang?
More like a social club. I would say.

What made you decide to release your mixtape on Valentine’s Day?
It’s a memorable date. And also because like, for girls, it can act as their Valentine’s Day gift.

So the mixtape is your Valentine’s gift for all women?
Yeah, it’s a gift for the girls. And also the rap game in general. And for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

The St Valentine’s Day massacre?
Yeah. It happened in Chicago.

Er, OK. What are your long-term career goals, as far as music goes. Where do you think you’ll be in ten years.
This is what I want to do. Music is like, my main focus. I plan on finishing college, but this is really what I want to do as a career.

Have you been getting a lot of good feedback about the tracks you’ve put out so far?
Yeah.

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How do you feel about the amount of attention that’s been put on the fact that Tom Hanks is your dad?
I’m aware of the fact that the reason my rapping has been publicised so much is because of that fact. So I’m appreciative of the publicity that I get because of it. That being said, sometimes in life, it can cause awkward moments to arise.

Awkward moments? Like what?
Like, growing up, people would want to become friends with me so they could meet my dad. And they didn’t care about me at all. So that’s just… Well, that goes along with it.

And how does he feel about the music. Has he heard it?
Yeah, he’s heard most of it. He’s pretty supportive.

As a rapper, do you think the fact that you come from money is an issue?
I don’t think that discredits me as a hip-hop artist. I don’t at all. Hip-hop is much larger than that. It exceeds boundaries beyond race and socio-economic background. It doesn’t matter what country you’re from or what nationality you are. Hip-hop is a music. An art form. A culture. It can appeal and come out of whoever it speaks to. And it speaks to me.

Woah. In one of your songs you ask the question “who says white kids from the suburbs can’t spit?” Do you feel that being white is an extra obstacle?
It is an extra factor. But I wouldn’t see it as an obstacle. I can see it just as much as a gift. It just puts you on a different path.

Why are so many of your lyrics about weed?
It’s a part of college life. I wanted to rap about something that I do. I wouldn’t say that’s what my life is all about. It’s one aspect that I’m speaking about in a song. I’m not some caricature of a person who just drinks and smokes weed and parties all the time. I’m more complex than that.

Is your complexity something that comes across on the mixtape? What are the main themes it deals with?
It has a variety of different types of songs. The goal was for it to be a strong, good introduction for myself. I don’t plan on having it be the end all and be all of Chet Haze. It’s not everything I have to say, it’s not even a fraction of the story that Chet Haze has to tell.

What is your songwriting method?
I write my rhymes down on my Blackberry.

Some people are saying that your song “White and Purple (NU Remix)” is plagiarised from another song.
Yeah. It’s a remix of Wiz Kalifah’s “Black and Yelllow”.

I meant “White and Purple (NU Anthem 2010)” by Mo Greene.
Yes. There was another version. But he didn’t get as much popularity as me.

Er, OK. Well that’s everything covered I guess. Do you mind if I take a couple of pictures of you before I go?
No. I don’t wanna do pictures.

Why not?
Because right now I’m not doing pictures.

Why?
Because I’m getting over a cold. We can send you a press pack with some photos in it though.

Oh. Well T.Hanks anyway!

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You can download Chet’s mixtape here.

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