With an infectious flow and an intellectual, autobiographical approach to lyricism, Qiana Chance made an impact on the Northeastern Pennsylvania music scene between 2006 and 2010.
Now the Newark, N.J., native, who creates and performs as ChanzizR, wants to re-engage the community with her latest release.
“Hidden Figure: The Mixtape” is scheduled to drop on March 21, and Chance is optimistic that it will be her most impactful release to date.
“I chose the title because of the movie, ‘Hidden Figures,’” she said in a recent phone interview. “It tells the story of three African-American females who were pioneers, but they were unknown. A lot of people known me for doing music … but I’m unknown in my community. I figured it would be a fitting title.
“I feel like a hidden jewel, a myth. It’s almost like I have a cult following.”
That cult following, though it didn’t start in NEPA, grew in the region.
While she was creating locally, Chance’s music was embraced and played by local DJs including DJ Destro, DJ Miner and the late, revered Michael “DJ Mo” Onley on Wilkes University’s radio station, WCLH.
Chance said Mo, who was shot and killed in 2013 on the grounds of Outsiders Bar in Wilkes-Barre, was one of her strongest supporters. Two men are currently facing charges in Mo’s murder case and are awaiting trial.
“He would be so proud of me continuing on and never giving up,” Chance said. “He would be proud of me going out of the area and coming back. NEPA has a part of my heart.”
After taking a hiatus from making music to focus on her professional life — Chance is both an e-commerce manager and an operations manager by trade — she returns to share her “real life experience” with listeners.
Influenced by artists who have come before her like Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick and Jay-Z, Chance has a penchant for telling her truth.
“It’s a very sensitive time in this country,” she said. “It’s important to tell a story and have it resonate with the listener. It’s more about the listener than the deliverer. You want to touch people and let people identify with it and know they’re not alone.”
No subject being off limits, Chance raps about everything from her blue-collar work ethic to her sexuality, and she takes inspiration from her contemporaries as well as her predecessors.
“The lesbian rapper, Young M.A., she’s accepted now,” Chance said. “She was able to kick down the door. I was a little ahead of myself. She shattered the glass ceiling, and that’s where I resonate from. I speak as honestly and truthfully as I can.”
Chance is also motivated by the less-than-impressive trends she sees in hip-hop.
“I’m influenced by the madness that’s going on, the lack of creativity, the monotonous cadence and tone,” she said. “You only have a handful of Kendricks and J. Coles. They are the last of a dying breed. That’s why I wanted to come out and be a storyteller.”
The mixtape’s first single, “Harder,” is currently posted on YouTube and listeners can follow new music and upcoming performances by ChanzizR at soundcloud.com/ChanzizR and instagram.com/ChanzizR.
The program director at WCLH, Chance said, will be spinning her latest work in the near future. She’s also working on a second mixtape project, titled “ISSM — I Should Sign Myself” with WUSR 99.5’s DJ Rock On, and the project will bring her to NEPA for performances.
An artist and entrepreneur, Chance plans to use her e-commerce expertise to sell merchandise along with her music.