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From the visuals of Fabri Fibra to the success of "Torino": the rise of Cha Cha

A chat with one of the faces of the new generation of Italian rap

From the visuals of Fabri Fibra to the success of Torino: the rise of Cha Cha A chat with one of the faces of the new generation of Italian rap

If you google the name Cha Cha you won't get many relevant results, but if you open YouTube and type the word Torino you'll get immediately the idea of the artist we're talking about. With more than 3 million views, the most well-known song of the Turin rapper shows undoubtedly two of his characteristic traits. First of all the deep and unique bond with his hometown, the city becomes the protagonist of his lyrics as in the best examples of American rap; second of all, it's clear his fashion sense, perfectly combining more street staples with high fashion brands, a style similar to the one of Ghali at the beginning of his career. 

It's not a coincidence therefore that Cha Cha is now one of the faces of the latest Foot Locker project, Festival Drop, a new collection of sneakers in bright colours and bold silhouettes perfect to be worn during the many summer European music festivals. 

We reached out to Cha Cha to ask him a few questions about his early days as a dancer, his relationship with Paola Zuker, "the lady of Italian rap" and about that famous video message by Sfera Ebbasta that changed his life. 

#1 You're one of the faces of the new Foot Locker project that celebrates the most talented emerging artists. What is your relationship with the sneakers and more generally with fashion? The right look can make a difference on stage?  

I've always been passionate about sneakers. Before becoming a singer I was a dancer and in the street dance, it's crucial to have the right pair of shoes, both for a matter of feeling (you have to be super comfortable to dance at your best) and also for a matter of style. Because of my experience in this street culture, I became passionate about streetwear fashion as well, and now I follow closely the drops of many different brands. I believe that the right look can make the difference on stage, a concert is a party, you can't go dressed as if you were going to the supermarket. The right look helps you to have the right attitude. 

#2 Was there a specific moment when you realized it was time to start writing songs? 

The first instinct to write arrived in 2015. I was listening to Julian Ross Mixtape by Izi, I remember that I thought "Wow, it would be cool to try and write something", but I didn't take myself seriously, I wasn't ready yet. I kept listening to a lot of music, then one year later, for a series of coincidences too long to explain, I ended up collaborating with a group of kids who were making music (today they are the 35 Gang). They also started telling me to write and to sing. Even though at the beginning I wasn't convinced, in the end, I really wanted to give it a try so I started writing. 

#3 How did you end up meeting Paola Zukar? What has been and is now her role in your career?

I met Paola Zukar in 2009 on the set of the video clip for Tranne Te by Fabri Fibra. At that time I was working as a dancer, that's why I was there. We've kept in touch ever since, we have built a friendship that has lasted to this day, she's an amazing, kind and generous person. When I started writing, back in 2016, I would often go to her for a piece of advice, she's one of the few people to have a draft version of my first single, Torino. Paola is very close to me and to my project, she's helped my group, the 35 Gang, she gave us a lot of tips that were fundamental for our growth, and she's also our editor. 

#4 What inspires you when you're writing? 

My creative process usually begins with the beat, through the emotion that it makes me feel I look for that element or a specific context to draw inspiration from, and it can be really anything. I don't write without a beat, and I don't like writing on a type beat, so I try to always work with my producer Br1 to follow the creation of every single sound. 

#5 What artists do you consider your role models? 

There are a lot of artists that I consider a reference point, I'm not one of those artists against Italian rap. Fabri Fibra has always been my main role model, I started listening to rap music because of him and I think he's a legend. Then I would say definitely Marracash and Gue Pequeno. Of the new generation, I would pick Sfera Ebbasta, I saw him starting from the bottom and arriving at the top, I appreciate what he's doing for the Italian scene. Moreover, there's a kind of connection between us: I decided to quit my job and to dedicate primarily to music after a video message by him, where Sfera praised me, and that has definitely influenced my choice. At the time I was working 10 hours a day in a chain store while my first song was starting to get some recognition, I had a thousand questions in my mind, I didn't know what to do with my life but when that message arrived I decided to quit everything and to focus exclusively on my music. I would mention also Izi for the reasons I explained before, and Tedua because I think he's a modern poet. 

#6 What do you think of the current Italian rap and trap scene? Where is it going? 

The Italian rap and trap scene is going through a moment of great expansion, but we need to be careful to what we put under the spotlight, I'm against the censorship but I think that there is a limit of decency, especially for a music genre so popular among young people. Besides that, the moment is definitely positive, we've overcome barriers that years ago looked insuperable, more and more people are getting passionate about this genre, and so it grows further. The best is yet to come. 

#7 Is your debut album on the way? 

There will definitely be an album, but I haven't officially started working on it yet. After the summer there is a lot of new stuff coming, so you have just to be patient. 


The Foot Locker Festival Drop is available here, while you can stream Cha Cha's music on Spotify