This debut album was a long time coming for Chanel West Coast, but if you ask her the time it took was all a valuable lesson. At the tail end of October, West Coast dropped America’s Sweetheart, which not only was her debut, but also a big step for her as an independent artist.

“I think in the past with my mixed tapes, I had a very rushing energy and it was always like, I need to, I need to hurry up and get this out,” she said. “I need to beat this person to the punch and she’s gonna drop out before me. I was always stressing over the wrong things. It’s about focusing on art history and the music and taking your time and going with the flow.”

The new release brings in Too Short, Dreezy, and more for assistance, while also donating a portion of the proceeds to a good cause in the REFORM Alliance.

Speaking with The Source, Chanel West Coast details what went into creating the album, learning as an independent artist, the importance of supporting REFORM, and more.

How does it feel to finally release your debut? 

It feels very relieving. It’s been a long time in the work and I I’m definitely a perfectionist. So, you know, it was a lot of professing, I guess you could say, and it feels good to put out something that I feel as my Virgo self is the perfect album.

How did you approach this album differently than any other mixtape or this music? 

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This time around, I realized that life is about God’s timing and it’s not about rushing. It’s not about beating other people to the punch. It’s not about being the first to do this or the first to do that. It’s really about just making music that comes from your heart and going with the flow of life.

You have collaborations with legends like Too Short and rising stars. What led you to these collaborations?

the Too Short collaboration was a long time in the works cause I’ve known him for a while and we worked on a couple other songs. I did a song, a feature on his last album and for this song as soon as I heard it, I knew it was the one for him to be on. And my girls Salma and the Naya, they were working together as well. So we like made it a whole like group thing and we actually all linked up at the studio. With Dreezy, we share a makeup artist who has been basically telling both of us, we need to do a song together forever. And so she linked us up.

A portion of the proceeds from this album is going to support the Reform Alliance. What led you to want to support that cause? 

I have been through some serious legal problems in my life. And I obviously know that as a white woman, I’ve definitely been privileged and been lucky. I know there’s a lot of people who haven’t been privileged and as lucky as I’ve been to get off the hook and some of these people did not even deserve to get in trouble in the first place. In my opinion, there’s a lot of charges that are really ridiculous and especially weed charges, which is one of my charges. I got a felony for weed in South Dakota and there’s a lot of people just like me, who weren’t as lucky to get off the case and had to face jail time for that. And I think it’s ridiculous. And so that’s why this means a lot to me is helping other people who have been in the same situations as me, but have not been as fortunate as me.

We are familiar with you as a rapper but this album showcases your range. Is it hard to balance all of your talents musically for one release?

That’s a great question. It’s really hard, especially cause I love all types of music. I’ve had people respond to me saying that before, “why do you choose to do hip hop and rap?” It’s because I fell that I shine the most in that genre. I feel that it comes the most naturally for me, even though I love rock, I love pop. I love R&B. I even like country a little bit.  I like everything, but I’m not good at all those different types of music. I’ve been a hip hop dancer since I was seven years old. My father was a hip hop DJ. So I was naturally always around that music.

What would you say is a favorite song on the album and why? 

This is hard. I’ve honestly been like teetering back and forth. I love a few. I love “4AM.” It means a lot to me cause I’m telling how I feel to an ex. I actually don’t think I ever fully worded how I feel. So it was a great way to just wrap up the message and get it out and over with. I also love “White Picket Fence“ cause I feel like that really tells my story. I get into a little bit of detail about stuff I’ve been through in my music career, that I come from nothing and when Rob put me on TV, I literally had no job.

How hard is it to operate as an independent artist?

The best part about being an independent artist is not having people like to tell me what to do creatively. I love that I have creative freedom. But managing all the business, that’s a much harder side. I have a small team, I got two people I work with. It’s a lot of stuff going on, especially outside of the music. I got a whole brand that we’re working on, a clothing line, different business ventures. So it’s a lot to manage and there’s not some big label behind me. It’s a lot for an independent artist that has to do all the things that normally a label would be handling for you on top of still having the time to be creative.

What do you want fans and listeners to take away from this album?

I just want them to feel good. I definitely want anybody who’s been in a bad relationship to feel better and know they’re not alone. I want those songs to inspire people. I really hope that people who may be haters on me, I hope that at least they listened to those songs and maybe take from the message and maybe leave a more unified loving person after listening to it.