We got Rise started in August 2014 with a goal in mind of highlighting the people working their asses off in Buffalo. You can throw millions in tax breaks at giant development projects to attract people here. But the people we like to write about, they do the work that makes people stay here – creating culture, making Buffalo cool and fun and different than anywhere else. Restaurant and store owners, artists and leaders of non-profits. We’ve met a lot of hard workers doing really cool shit along the way. And then we met Chae Hawk.

It’s 8AM at Tipico Coffee. I haven’t had a sip, and I’m already excited. We wanted to recap his recent show at The Historic Colored Musicians Club on Broadway and Michigan. We planned to talk about the crowd of people packed into the upstairs lounge, about the first ever rap artist to take the stage in a jazz club so historically significant in American history, and a performance that blended jazz and hip hop, black and white artists, teenagers and grown men into a sound not just new to the CMC, but to the entire city of Buffalo that night.


Chae Hawk, Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die. Photo, @tinadillman


Instead of diving right into a review, we kept firing questions at Chae about his journey leading up to that show. You’d be hard pressed to find someone working harder in this city than Chamus Hawk. He was born in Albany, he grew up in Rochester, and he became a man in Buffalo after moving here during high school. With his heart set on being an artist, he took a look around at Buffalo and declared it pointless to stay. The people here got passionate about sports and not much else. So he left. Off to Chicago. To Connecticut, New York City, Hollywood, Brooklyn. Until it was time to go back.

He’s no different than many others who return when he says it was the people. The friends and family here in town that kept calling him back and convincing him to stay for good.

So as an aspiring artist with celebrities and producers in other cities believing in you and your talent, but the people in your own hometown barely knowing your name, where do you start?

From scratch. With ambition.

“I catered to the community’s taste. If their passion lay in sports, we’ll name our lifestyle brand ‘Team Radio.'”

Years of hard work brought Team Radio to where it is today – developing raw talent, marketing themselves, their music, their videos and their brand and moving forward with smart, strategic plans. They’re packing shows and picking up followers.


Chae Hawk. Photo, Christina Laing.


It’s not good enough for Chae Hawk to be just a rapper. He’s a Progressive Rap Cinema Artist. He’s been hitting locations all over the city with film crews, putting together mini storylines into each song’s music video.

The videos are good. The music is good. He’s fucking talented. Yet for many of you reading this article, it may be the first time you’ve heard of him.

I think that so many of us spent years watching our high school and college friends, siblings, and cousins leave Buffalo and we’ve become accustomed to thinking that anyone who is “too talented for this town” will inevitably leave, and so we don’t want to latch on.

But look at what’s happening now. Those who left are coming back. And those with talent aren’t leaving in the first place.

It’s time we embrace an artist who could excel anywhere but has committed to staying and growing with Buffalo as his base. When you sit down with Chae, you can’t help but get excited for him, and for our city, and get motivated yourself.

“Just imagine the city we could have if everyone just gave it a shot. There’s so much opportunity here. Just give it a shot.”

The show at CMC saw the bands pull away and leave Chae alone on the stage, with a broken voice, shouting into the mic the chorus of a 2011 track:

“I got so much ambition! I got so much ambition!”

Let that kind of passion infect you.
Learn more, and explore the anthology of his video projects at chaehawk.com 

Listen more here:

Now, let’s continue the weekly tradition of those that are getting out there, exploring, getting those unique angles and edits, and making the Buffalo Instagram community proud. #RiseBFLO

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