Chingy–the St. Louis rapper best known for his breakout hits “Right Thurr” and “The Holidae In”–has teamed up with Nashville country duo Meg & Tyler for a new track called “The Woah Down,” which arrives later this month. Today they premiere the single artwork via American Songwriter and discuss their collaboration in an exclusive interview featured below.
“The Woah Down” is a catchy hip-hop/country crossover that seems poised to be the “Old Town Road” of 2020 (we can argue about which is better in a few weeks). Chingy, Meghan Linsey, and her fiancé Tyler Cain wrote and recorded the track a few months ago at Cain’s studio, Bold Studio Nashville, after the rapper’s cousin saw the duo perform at a Gibson event in Music City.
“He told me, ‘We should go to Nashville and just vibe with Meg and Tyler,’” Chingy tells American Songwriter. “So we made a trip to Nashville, and I remember waking up that morning [with] this little beat idea in my head for this track. When we went to the studio, I asked Tyler if I could put the beat down on a little drum pad machine, and I laid the rhythm section. Then Tyler threw some guitar on there, and some bass. Meghan had the ‘woah down’ idea for the hook.”
“It’s meshing two worlds together,” explains Meg of the track. “There’s this whole culture right now with kids–’Hit ‘em with the woah.’ It’s meshing those two things together–the ‘woah’ and the ‘hoedown.’ So it’s kind of like a country ‘woah.’”
Meg–a Louisiana-born singer-songwriter who got her start as one half of Steel Magnolia–gained a national profile as the runner-up on The Voice in 2015. She and Tyler–an accomplished country producer in his own right–have been dating for a while now, but they only started recording and performing as Meg & Tyler last year. Now they’re gearing up to release a debut album in addition to their collaboration with Chingy.
All three artists spoke to American Songwriter about writing and recording the “The Woah Down,” as well as their recent musical inspirations. Chingy also touched on veganism, mental discipline, and cold showers–all in the same breath. Check out the single artwork and read the full interview below.
You all come from different musical backgrounds, from hip hop and rap to pop and country. How did you initially get connected to each other? What made you want to collaborate?
Chingy: My cousin was in Nashville, and he did an event with Gibson. Meg and Tyler were doing a showcase for the event, performing. That’s how my cousin met Meg and Tyler. He told me, “We should go to Nashville and just vibe with Meg and Tyler.”
So we made a trip to Nashville, and I remember waking up that morning [with] this little beat idea in my head for this track. When we went to the studio, I asked Tyler if I could put the beat down on a little drum pad machine, and I laid the rhythm section. Then Tyler threw some guitar on there, and some bass. Meghan had the ‘woah down’ idea for the hook.
That’s initially how the song came about–we were in the studio working piece-by-piece putting together the track. We went in and laid the verses down, Meg laid the hook down, we put it all together, and now we have the single coming out April 24.
Meg, where did the “woah down” come from? I know it’s kind of a play on “hoedown.”
Meg: It’s meshing two worlds together. There’s this whole culture right now with kids–”Hit ‘em with the woah.” It’s meshing those two things together–the “woah” and the “hoedown.” So it’s kind of like a country “woah.”
Chingy: It’s funny–there’s nothing new under the sun. Things always come back around. “Woah” has always been a thing!
Chingy: I remember songs coming out in the ’90s, like Black Rob’s “Woah!” “Woah” has always been this catchphrase, this catchy word.
Meg: I feel like the ‘90s have really come back around.
Chingy: That’s how it goes.
Did you stick with your initial vision for the track, or did it evolve?
Tyler: All three of us are songwriters and we all have our own processes, so we didn’t really know what to expect going into this. But when we got together in the same room, it was one of the most natural collaborations we’ve ever done. Everybody had different strengths, everybody knew who they were as a songwriter. I think we wrote and recorded this song in maybe an hour or an hour and a half.
Chingy: It was pretty fast. But even in that same process, we made other music too.
Do you have plans to release the other stuff or not quite yet?
Chingy: Well we’re gonna put this out first, and let it build some steam. I’m sure we’re gonna release some more music together as well, ‘cause it’s a good vibration and we make good music together. This is the first [track] of many.
When was that initial session?
Chingy: It was like January, right?
Meg: December! It was my birthday, December 10th–that’s why I remember. It was the best birthday ever. I was super stoked.
Tyler: Chingy’s cousin said, “Do you know who Chingy is?” and we’re like, “Of course we know who Chingy is!” We’re big fans of this guy. We grew up listening to all kinds of music and Chingy’s voice crossed genres. His hits have been mainstream pop hits, so to get to work in the studio and create something new with him was really exciting for us.
Chingy: You’re making me blush!
Chingy, you’ve also done some producing in addition to your writing. Do you approach those things differently?
Chingy: I’ve been producing since I was like 12. I’m talking about ‘92, ‘91. My second album–[2004’s] Powerballin’–I produced on that. I was always producing, I just didn’t take the time to really get into it because I was so focused on writing and other things. But the last three singles I’ve released independently–”Sparks Fly,” “On Go,” and a song called “Yeah Fuckem”–I produced those tracks. So I’m no stranger to producing.
I’ve always been keen on being authentic and original and creating my own sound. I thought along with writing I had to create a beat. That’s how I got into producing. Of course you get inspired by listening to other people, but I always thought I needed to have my own musical sound as well.
What are some recent influences for each of you?
Meg: There’s a lot of good music out right now. I’m super excited about all the females coming up in country music–I feel like we’ve been deprived. Kelsea [Ballerini’s] new record just came out. Maren Morris’ music is really great. There’s just a lot of awesome females coming out with new country music.
Chingy: I’m a fan of a lot of big mix engineers like Bob Clearmountain and Al Schmidt. I’ve been getting a lot of inspiration from what people call “old” music, like Roxy Music’s “More Than This.” I’ve been listening to that lately. I’m a big fan of John Legend, because I just love his individuality. I love Tame Impala. There’s a lot of stuff. I go back into wiser, older music and just see what they were doing back then. I feel like I’m pretty fresh when it comes to music, and I like to see what they were doing back then and take some of their ideas and reconstruct them.
Tyler: People like Pharrell [Williams] that have been able to recreate themselves over the years and also go between genres and go back and forth between a career as a producer and an artist–that’s really inspiring, too.
Chingy, I know you’ve cut out cigarettes and alcohol and gone vegan. Why did you make those changes? Have they had any impact on your writing or producing?
Chingy: I cut out cigarettes and drinking in 2011, maybe 2012. As far as drinking goes I just got tired of drinking. Being on the road and partying and doing all these shows–you drink, drink, drink till you can’t drink no more. And then with cigarettes–a close relative of mine passed and I remember asking a cousin to let me hit his cigarette like I was stressed out or something. I remember starting the habit then. But–may my mother rest in paradise–she was actually a chain smoker. So when she quit, I was like, “She’s a chain smoker, so if she can quit, I totally can quit.” So I slowed down and eventually quit.
With being vegan, I haven’t eaten beef or pork [for] about 20 years ago. But when it comes to fish, turkey, chicken, I think it was like 2011 or 2012 when I cut all that out. I’ve always been working out, trying to stay in shape. I’ve always been researching and studying and feeding my brain, keeping my brain in shape as well. It’s all about mental discipline, whatever you do.
How I manage to keep my brain in shape–people may think it’s strange, but it’s not strange to me. When you call somebody weird, that’s because they’ve got different genius–something that’s different and genius about them. My garage, where my car is, is dark. Sometimes I’ll go into my garage remembering in my mind where everything is in my car and outside of my car. I’ll pick things up to train my mind to see in the dark. Even with taking showers, I’ll take cold showers. A lot of people think, “Cold showers? I can’t do that.” And so I mentally discipline myself to take a cold shower. I tell myself, “Get used to this.” That’s how I get through a lot of those things like the vegan lifestyle, drinking, and smoking. I mentally discipline myself.
Meg and Tyler, what do you hope people take away from “The Woah Down?”
Meg: For us we came into this with no expectations. We were just going to write a song, but it’s really turned into something special, especially during this time. Everybody is in quarantine and things are really weird in the world. We want to bring joy to people and bring people together in this strange time. That’s the goal.
Tyler: There’s that saying that there’s only two kinds of music: good and bad. I think we’re just trying to make good music and not overthink it–music that feels right.
“The Woah Down” is out April 24.