Family ties have been a long-standing tradition in the hip-hop industry since its inception. From C-Murder and Master P in the ’90s, to Swae Lee and Slim Jimmy today, some of the most iconic duos in hip-hop are actually related. To have one superstar child is plenty, but you have to wonder how the parents of hip-hop’s most prominent siblings feel when they see their kids performing together in front of thousands of fans. In basketball, we’ve seen Lavar Ball, father of NBA stars LaMelo and Lonzo Ball, singing the praises of his sons all over social media and any sports news outlet that will listen. But the parents of hip-hop siblings usually garner much less attention. Benzino, the former rapper and star of “Love and Hip-Hop: Atlanta” is on a mission to change that narrative.
The reality television star is the father of rappers Coi Leray and Chavo, both of whom have garnered a lot of attention over the past few years. Leray has become a bonafide superstar after her single “No More Parties” featuring Lil Durk went viral on TikTok at the beginning of this year. Chavo on the other hand is still a bit more underground, but his single “Michigan,” which was released early in 2020, has gained massive traction this year, amassing over 10-million streams on Spotify alone. Benzino has spoken out numerous times about the success of his kids, eloquently stating on IG Live, “That’s two kids, who got major deals by these nuts”; still, he emphasizes that his son Chavo deserves more recognition, claiming that he had a deal with Interscope Record at only 9 years old.
Chavo seems to be doing just fine without the same industry support as his sister Leray, and he is currently signed to rapper/producer Pierre Bourne’s Sosshouse label along with artists like Sharc. Unlike some artists who are discovered and signed by rappers, Bourne and Chavo have a personal connection, meeting back in 2015 when Bourne was still a studio engineer. This genuine bond helps Chavo grow in stature as Bourne becomes an even bigger figure in hip-hop himself, giving him a larger platform to promote his artists.
Regardless of Bourne’s co-sign, Chavo’s single “Michigan” is garnering him plenty of attention on its own. In an interview with Makin Moves Tv, Chavo explains how serendipitous it was that his hit song happened to be called “Michigan,” telling host Frank Nino that the song was simply named after Bourne’s beat. In a year where the Detroit and Flint rap scenes have flourished, “Michigan” has coincidentally launched Chavo’s career to the next level.
Leray, on the other hand, has had a buzz in the rap scene ever since her public relationship with Trippie Redd, but since then she has come a long way as a stand-alone artist and entertainer. In an interview with HypeBae magazine, Leray explains that she didn’t actually want to become a rapper until the end of 2018. Still, she clarifies that she grew up around music, stating, “Music is in my blood so I always knew somehow it was going to find me.”
Leray talks about being inspired by male artists such as Chris Brown, Chief Keef and Bon Jovi, but she has recently given strong praise for the current wave of women in hip-hop. In her R&B/Hip-Hop Rookie of the Month interview for Billboard back in April, Leray shared, “One thing that people love to see is two artists come together. Megan Thee Stallion, for example. She’s so successful, and probably one of the smartest female artists — just because since day one, she’s always supported other females. With the men, they just have so much pride and ego, and it stops a lot of good music and great collaborations.”
As with many women in the hip-hop industry, Leray has come under scrutiny for something completely unrelated to her musical talent — her physical appearance. Leray has faced constant criticism on social media for her thin physique, which culminated with her performance at the BET hip-hop awards. Internet trolls took to social media to call out how “skinny” Leray looked, leading her to respond in frustration on Twitter: “My body is always trending, I don’t understand.”
Leray seems to be keeping her head up after the cyber-bullying incident though, as her last tweet of the night wittily remarked, “I hope all y’all mothers got beach bodies.” Though Chavo may still be the underdog among the two siblings, Leray has to live each day as a woman in a male-dominated industry, which is its own battle despite the immense stardom that has shined on her over the past year.
For Leray and Chavo alike, hip-hop isn’t about the antics or the blogs; it’s about the music. Both artists have said that music has been a part of their life since they were children, especially when you consider the fact their father was a rapper himself. Interestingly, while Chavo has spent much of his career in Atlanta and Coi Leray’s breakout hit featured Chicago artist Lil Durk, both siblings are quick to reference Boston as their musical breeding ground.
In her Hypebae interview, Leray was asked about her Boston roots, responding, “The support system is crazy and they know music. They love trap music out there. All of my family is out there so they’re just a big influence.” In the same vein, Chavo is excited for what the future of Massachusetts hip-hop has in store, telling Makin Moves Tv, “I feel like this year and next year a lot of artists from Mass are going to shine.” He goes on to explain there are many buzzing artists already from Massachusetts, including Millyz from Cambridge, who is signed to Jadakiss, as well as Cousin Stizz, who has made songs with the likes of Offset and Freddy Gibbs.
While 2021 is nowhere near over, it is clear that these hip-hop siblings are taking the year by storm. We saw them collaborate on Chavo’s single “American Deli” last fall and we can hope for a Chavo feature on Leray’s upcoming album after she announced its completion in May. Long-term supporters of both artists can boast that they were fans before the fame, but the biggest flex comes from Coi Leray and Chavo, who can tell people that their sibling is the next big thing.