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She's Got Next: NJ's Rising Star 'Sol Chyld'

Updated: Aug 8, 2020

{Preface: This interview took place pre-COVID-19 quarantine. I wrote it for Philadelphia Gay News as their arts/culture writer but as soon as COVID hit, the editor fell sick (I'm not clear if it was COVID related), communication ceased, and the article never saw the light of day so I wanted to share it here on my blog to highlight this phenomenal talent.}

Sol Chyld

The first time I heard Sol Chyld was at a live performance in Camden , NJ. The crowd was mixed with local political figures, professionals, the press, and Camden’s most influential people---she had us all transfixed. Her lyrical delivery combined with a potent message, a tough beat and the confidence that doesn’t simply come from bravado, common in hip-hop, but from skill. Because of this, I was quick to download the available single and then the full album, For The Sol, as soon as it was released the end of 2019. Sol Chyld has gained a fan in me. She’s 20. I’m now 44 and yet unlike most of the music coming from her generation, I understand and enjoy her sound which made me curious enough to interview this self-proclaimed “old soul.”

We met on the downtown Camden campus of Rutgers University during a rainstorm for our chat. I found her sitting pensively with a gorgeous hand-painted wood cane when I arrived more than a few minutes late but after a moment of me apologizing and her never letting up on the soul-peering direct eye contact, she warmed up and we eased into a a discussion about her upbringing, her influences, and her artform.

What surprised me most about Sol Chyld is how soft spoken she is. You have to lean in to hear her. She’s very thoughtful and deliberate with her words, not the rambling type at all. This helps explains her ability to really touch you through the lyrics of her music. There’s no fluff.

Sol Chyld, born Haanesha Smith, in 1999, is a 3rd generation Camdenite. She was raised here by her mother with the help of her grandparents. In her music, you can feel her endearing love for the city of Camden. She is a product of the Camden Public School system which is notoriously known for being under-funded but she explained that in 7th grade she was given a poetry coach by the name of Asan Malik who changed the trajectory of her life. She went on to study dance at Creative Arts Academy High School and joined a poetry collective. In the intro of her album, the song titled “Drop Out,” she describes how she found herself at Wiley College--a HBCU in Marshall, Texas for 3 semesters studying Mass Communications without the ability to cover the expenses. She returned to Camden and in late 2018 performed for the very first time in Philadelphia at Uptown Open Mic as a spoken word artist stating that “the stage was a calling. Being on stage and in the studio feels like home. It’s my sacred space.”

She has vast musical tastes and an appreciation for jazz thanks to her Philadelphian grandpop who would only play jazz on their trips to flea markets. Her mother introduced her to the harder sound of rap music from Beenie Siegel, Jay-Z and well as Neo-Soul from Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu. Her brother put her on to Whiz Khalifa and Mac Miller but her favorite musical influence is the late, great Micheal Jackson. Nowadays, she also finds herself listening to indie-rock pulling creativity from everywhere.

Sol Chyld bares her soul through her music. She explains it’s a form of therapy. “The best story to tell is your own because you’ll always have something to write about,” she tells me. The song “Change” on the album made her feel exposed. While another song she most recently recorded, not featured on the album, was about her father and it brought her to tears. One of my personal favorite songs from For The Sol is “Would You?”, a tag-team duet with rapper TLB Capro, about her feelings for a “shawty” admiring her style and body. It’s a sensual, lustful song giving the young lady she’s interested in the option of “just chilling” or “letting her freak out.” My other favorite is called “Ignant” which is a “a lyrical exercise to show you upper echelon this excellent mind of mine” as the song begins. She raps about how Camden has been one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in America beginning slowly to be understood but make no mistake; she is livid! Pissed at being judged and criminalized and pissed at crooked cops making the city worse instead of better. "Ignant" a juxtaposition of a smoothed-out melody with angry f-bombs. It’s very effective.

Sol Chyld has experimented with everything from the flute, clarinet, bass drum and was in the marching band in high school. She learned to write music and plans to further her musical education. The album is really impressive, especially considering it’s her first and that she thinks of herself more of a spoken word artist than a rapper. The production is as good as anything you’d get from a mainstream artist but the intimate way Sol Chyld introduces all of the aspects of her world to you, makes it feel like you’re making a new friend. Being that I'm in my forties and come the the era of Moni Love, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Rah Digga, and the likes, it's just dope and refreshing to listen to a young woman flow these days who has more to rap about than the value of her WAP.

For The Sol is available on iTunes. Learn more at and follow her on Instagram at @solchyld

Thanks for dropping in, take a look around the website if you love creative content and be sure to join the mailing list (below) for updates! --Terina Nicole xo


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