With the anniversary 'RnB and Slow Jams' event this Sunday, Tazer Black and Chuckie discuss a commitment to curating good vibes, their deep trust for each other, and reflect on the community they've created.
In a landscape where people are so often driven by fame, fortune and clout, it’s refreshing to talk to two individuals where this clearly couldn’t be further from the truth. Fans of Chuckie and Tazer Black, of which from their collective projects there are hundreds of thousands, won’t be surprised to hear the pair’s passion for community, music and good vibes reiterated. According to the bio of Chuckie Online’s YouTube channel, boasting over 125K subscribers, he’s ‘Just a music guy who loves a conversation.’ This seems like a self-underestimation. An experienced DJ, Chuckie’s also interviewed the likes of Ed Sheeran and Stormzy for his podcast, made docs for NOISEY, and works continuously making content with brands like JD Sports. Also a podcaster and event organiser, Tazer’s got a weekend slot on BBC 1XTRA and runs club night ‘Faded’, alongside other projects.
We’re sitting down to chat about their club night, ‘RnB and Slow Jams’, an event celebrating its first birthday this Sunday. A glance over their Instagram promo vids will give you some insight into what to expect, a night of bangers, inflatable microphones, and no embarrassment about singing Ja Rule at the top of your voice. Getting on the mic as the evening starts, Chuckie’s warning leaves no doubt about what’s to follow, “If you are not an R&B and Slow Jam head, you got one minute to leave the building now. This is the wrong place for you”. As echoed by both Tazer and Chuckie throughout our conversation, RnB and Slow Jams is far more than a club night, “it’s an experience”.
Chatting to the pair, alongside years of hard work, it’s clear their success is also based on a relationship with deep trust. Ahead of their night on Sunday, we dive into how their night came to be, the joys of having a legend make an appearance at a set, and why the community they’ve created is so special.
First off, congratulations on the upcoming birthday of RnB and Slow Jams! How’s this year been going for both of you?
CHUCKIE: It’s been incredible. From the first one that we did, I knew that we would be able to make it into something special, but I didn’t foresee this. From coming up with this idea to seeing it flourishing, it’s so sick to see people enjoying themselves the way that they are. That’s the most enjoyable part, seeing people coming out for good music and a good vibe.
What originally inspired you to start the RnB and SlowJams project in particular, how did it come about? What were the intentions?
TAZER: The origins are probably different for Chuckie and I. For me, I always wanted to do an R&B night, like a ‘clash’, with one side versus the other. Chuckie was one of the people I initially had in mind. My business partner Matthew and I had opened a bar in Dalston and were scheduling an R&B night in our week, Thursdays 7-11pm. When I heard the crowd singing I realised I was onto something, and I spoke to Chuckie and it developed from there.
CHUCKIE: I remember going to one of those parties, it was a vibe. For me, I’d mentioned a few times on my podcast about the new-gens not listening to Slow Jams. My business partner had also told me I should do an R&B event, and I should do it with Tazer. I went into it thinking it would be something we put on for a small group of people. Once I saw it, I realised with some fine-tuning and structure it could be so sick.
You’ve gone from 150 people in lockdown times to crowds of over a thousand – do you feel like you’ve built a community of loyal R&B and Slow Jams fans?
TAZER: Some people come to every single one.
CHUCKIE: Definitely. I think people are attracted to the authenticity of it because they are hearing actual R&B and Slow Jams. I think when people started to see the footage of what was going on, the community started to grow.
Chuckie – you described the night as an ‘experience’ rather than just a club night. What makes them so special? How would you describe a typical SlowJams party?
CHUCKIE: The reason why we talk about it as an experience is because it’s structured in a way that you’re going to hear so many different eras of R&B. I don’t think people are necessarily aware of what’s going on, but we are. It’s like we’re taking you on a journey without even realisping it.
Touching on the karaoke element as something that’s been added as you’ve gone on, how has the night evolved since you started a year ago?
TAZER: What we noticed with the main event is sometimes Chuckie would cut the music and the crowd would all sing along. Everybody is vibing – everyone is here for R&B, so the karaoke element just made sense. It was Chuckie who said let’s put the mic there and let the DJ play songs. If you feel that this is your song, come to the stage. The DJ would mix a song and girls would come to the stage and perform the song,
CHUCKIE: One of my favourite things about this event is seeing the mandem doing it, because it’s easy for women to do it. But when you see the mandem singing, and singing to mandem they don’t even know, it’s incredible. All it took was one person. Once one person went up and did it, that was it. Even Tazer went up…
What did you perform?
TAZER: Ja Rule – “Put It On Me”!
What are both of your relationships to R&B? Is the role it’s played in your lives similar or different?
CHUCKIE: R&B has always been a part of my life. It was always there. I loved Flow Jam and R&B from young, and I think maybe that’s got a lot to do with my mum. My mum was a soul head. So, R&B and soul was always in my household. Growing up, I was always involved in grime and garage – that was what was around me day to day and it’s music that I still love. I was always listening to R&B.
TAZER: My story’s pretty similar. My aunty and my mum introduced me to R&B. Mainly my aunty. She used to burn CDs and write the track listings and I’d sneak off and listen to it in my room. And I just liked the energy that R&B gave me. Also, I’ll be honest with you, R&B kind of taught me how to talk to girls. Back in the days when you recorded your voicemail message next to the phone. There was always a slow jam in the background. You were that guy if you knew about a slow jam that no one else knew. So you had to dig deep into the archives.
Your events go across the country – they’re not just in London. That must’ve been mad realising people wanted to come down from all over, do you feel like there’s an appetite for events like yours across the UK?
TAZER: I wasn’t shocked because I know what R&B does to people. When something isn’t there, you can think it’s not there because no-one likes it. But maybe they do like it and no one’s providing it for them. What we’ve said is, we’re going to provide what we can, in all of these cities. You start off small, and then before you know it, you’re doing the same size that you’re doing in London, in all these cities. It all comes down to the love of R&B.
How long have you known each other?
TAZER: I’ve known Chuckie for years. The oldest picture I’ve got of us is from 2009…
CHUCKIE: We’ve known each other since before then though. I feel like how we grew up, like-minded people went to certain places, and you just chatted like you always knew each other. Before you know it I’m dropping him home, asking about the motive next weekend [laughing].
Doing a bit of reflection – like you’ve arrived at your current moment and achievements down different paths, from the outside it looks like you’re balancing lots of projects with podcasts, DJing, club nights, making documentaries – is this where you imagined yourselves ending up when you first started out?
CHUCKIE: I can’t lie – it’s sick that we’re doing this. We’ve known each other for time, but I wouldn’t have thought that we would have come together and done something like this. It’s not a surprise that we’ve both gone down our routes and made something out of it. But it never crossed my mind that we would end up collaborating. And I like creating these memories for other people and for ourselves. I think it’s sick.
TAZER: Also, you got to remember, time lets you know how someone is. I’ve never shared a piece of information with Chuckie and then it’s come back to me that he’s disrespected me or snaked me – that’s never happened. And vice versa. As time has gone on, our bond has gotten stronger and stronger. It’s a nice feeling. Who knows where we’re going to be in six months, or a year’s time. But it’s definitely going to be in an exciting place.
Has there been a moment at any of the events this year where you’ve stopped and thought, like wow yeah, this is working, this is doing something big…?
CHUCKIE: There’s been a couple. The first major one was when we did an event at Site Five. There was 900 people there, the sun was beaming, and I’m looking at people singing acapella at one point in the set thinking this is crazy. It made me think ‘Wow, we’re here now’.
TAZER: That, and also Halloween. We knew we had a little secret, and it got to the point where there were 15 minutes left. It finally happened, and seeing people’s faces when Donell Jones came out was unreal.
CHUCKIE: A whole R&B icon!
TAZER: And the fact we didn’t even need to announce he was there to sell tickets, was the cherry on top.
Your birthday celebrations are on Sunday 21st May at Electric Brixton – can you let us in on what we can expect?
TAZER: If you love R&B, if R&B is your thing. This is an experience that you need to have at least once in your life. Once you come, it will just make sense. It’s hard to explain, but you need to witness it. Come to one and let us know after!