Home » Genk rapper Chaz presents solo debut Winterhard in C-Mine Genk (Genk)

Genk rapper Chaz presents solo debut Winterhard in C-Mine Genk (Genk)

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© Saverio Sammartino

Chaz

Genk –

Even after the harshest winter, spring always follows. In Winterhard, Chaz’s solo debut, the Genk rapper gives a message of hope.

Friday, December 8, 2023 at 3:00 AM

Chaz’s real name is Jonas Thys. 29 years old, grew up in Kolderbos, now living in Zwartberg. He has been rapping and making beats since he was 17. He was a member of Goeie Jongens and the duo Chaz & Djalu. Winterhard is his first solo album. It is not a two turntables and a microphone hip-hop album: the beats are covered with warm blankets of strings and piano. The atmosphere is melancholic, somewhat dark. “I wanted to make a ‘musical’ album,” says Chaz. “To reflect the dark atmosphere, the record needed live interpretation over my beats and rhymes.”

© Saverio Sammartino

The theme of the record is like a journey from dark to light. “Plants and trees seem to die in winter, but in spring they bloom again. I think you can also look at people’s situations this way: every now and then you go through a difficult period, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get through it. The end of the record shows hope. Nothing is always just black.”

© Saverio Sammartino

He worked this out visually with beautiful black and white photos. We see Jonas with a backpack traveling through an atmospheric winter landscape. The slag heap in Winterslag is recognizable, but he also traveled on foot through the Ardennes forests for two days, together with photographer Saverio Sammartino. “Winterhardy stands for arming yourself against difficult periods, it helps you build resistance. You become hardy, just like plants.”

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No shame in me

Jonas is a morals teacher at the Diepenbeek Provincial School. He teaches 15 to 18 year olds there. He also regularly provides workshops for young people. One of the tracks, Zach – an anagram for Chaz – is about a family that is having a hard time. The mother is ashamed of her deprivation. “I’m not the ‘poor me’ type. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m using poverty to put myself in the spotlight or turn it into commercial gain. Not at all. I hope that people who listen to my record can perhaps recognize something from their own situation and that it will help them. Deprivation is not something you see in young people at school: you don’t notice it in clothing or anything, it is a situation that mainly takes place in living rooms. I used to not be the best student at school when it came to Dutch. I was criticized for my language. But now I do make raps, I can make a text rhyme. That’s also the great thing about giving workshops to young people: it’s nice to see that even if they also have difficulty with language, they can still create a poetic text. Then you see that they feel proud.”

Peter Denier

Winterhard ends with a beautiful poem. “Read by Julien Schoenaerts. I found it as a sample and definitely wanted to use it. I asked Matthias Schoenaerts for permission through the grapevine, and he agreed.” Finally, somewhat apart from the theme of the album, Not comparable (together with buddy Tiewai) contains a very good ‘Genk track’, an ode to the city of Wim Dries and Pierke Denier, both of whom are mentioned. “Don Luca is the rapper who talks about Genk, but I couldn’t resist including one song. We have so many nationalities here, so many different people, but everyone still supports the ‘Genk feeling’. How does that happen? I think it’s just a matter of time: people marry each other and have children who play together at school. Even though they have different roots, they are ultimately all from Genk.”

‘Winterhard’, Chaz – album presentation on December 15 in C-mine Genk. From 18/12 to 20/1 the exhibition Winterhard runs in the library in Genk, with photos by Saverio Sammartino, supplemented with lyrics and background information by Chaz. (c-mine.be)

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