If you asked junior-in-high-school version of Chifyechi where he'd see himself today, it probably wouldn’t be in from of the camera. Back in those recent days, Chi, as he’s best known as, was just the funny guy, with Nigerian roots and a cosmic connection to his favorite rapper, Kanye West. But as the new school year approached, Chi would draw closer to his calling through the encouragement of his media broadcasting teacher, Mrs. Bouchey, who “forced” him to enroll in a news broadcasting class that would soon change the course of his life. “It came natural,” shared the 20-year-old Columbia, SC native, host, and founder of the entertainment platform, The Reach, when describing his ability to step in front of the lights and camera, putting his art into action.
His talent has been recognized by a community of local creatives that include rappers, artists and Tumblr-cultural staple, Glyn Brown, who Chi refers to as his, “Bro.” Still, with the overwhelming support backing the Reach movement, it took his inner circle, particularly his father, a bit longer to see the vision. As most continental Africans could attest, the pressure from their parents to pursue a more technical route as a doctor, lawyer or engineer is all too real; the same was true for Chi. Although his father was “heartbroken” by his decision to follow an entrepreneurial path in the digital media space, Chi knew that the proof would be in the pudding, “After I started to show him the impact that the Reach was having on the community, his eyes opened. He’s seeing now that if he was born in this day in age, he’d be doing the exact same thing.” I mean, if your dad was a self-made millionaire (in Nigerian terms) before he was 30, you’d feel a bit of pressure to get it too, right?
Now, Chi runs a budding media powerhouse that features some of South Carolina’s most talented array of artists, writers, rappers, and designers that’s soon to become a household name and put South Carolina in its rightful place in conversation surrounding, “the Culture.” But it’s not just about him; with his “think for you, as well as others,” mantra pushing him forward, give Chi a good two years and you won’t be able to get South Carolina's name out your mouth.
You’re the founder of [Chi] Media and the Reach. How has the concept of controlling your own narrative played a role in you creating these platforms?
I got a phone call from one of my friends who played me a song that was really good and I was like, “dang, no one’s going to be able to hear this.” Then I was just like, we definitely need a platform where people can be heard and share their own voice. We came up with the interviews, started hosting shows, and now it’s a full-out entertainment company. With me owning my own media company, I can literally do whatever I want. I'm a Black male and I’m choosing to cover Black culture because that’s what I love to do; and our fans, that what they like. So it was really God-given, it was supposed to happen.
“Reach” seems to mean a lot to you, you even have it tattooed on your chest. What does that word mean to you?
I came up with so many other names, but when I said, “the Reach” in my head, it sounded perfect. I’m reaching out to people, they’re reaching out to me; I’m trying to put in people’s heads that they can reach “it.” This is the stage in life where you have to reach for “it.”It seems like you’ve been able to establish a pretty solid support group of creatives to help you with your different initiative. How were you able to ensemble your tribe?
Just having them believe in the process and what’s going to come out of it. Without the team I have, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. But for that to happen, I had to get somewhere first. It was having everyone buy into the Reach and having them do the reaching out so I knew they were willing to work. I made a mistake of going to get people to be a part of [my team] and those people aren’t even here today. It’s a blessing that I have these many people with me now.
Do you believe there is a difference in work ethic between Africans and African Americans?
It’s a different kind of hustle. When I was [in Nigeria], there would be people on the street selling literally anything you can imagine; computer mouse’s, phone chargers, mattresses. No matter if it was raining or too hot, people were out there doing what they had to do. It’s different because there’s really no middle class. You’re either rich or poor as hell. There are a lot of sacrifices being made out here.
I was born into the work ethic. Just seeing my mom, who’s a nurse, work about 16-18 hours a day. She's pushed me to work as hard as her. Even in Nigeria, there are people working harder than I am and they don’t have half of what I have. So if I worked as hard as them, I could have more than what I have now.All summer, we’ve been seeing you host the ODE Pop-Up shop with APB. Take us through how that collaboration with the store and clothing line came about?
Me and Pierre (the owner of Ode Clothing), already knew each other because he saw me as “little bro” trying to get my thing going and I looked up to him because he was the man with the clothing line that’s being worn by the Game, Waka Flaka and Fabolous. So I reached out to him for a partnership and he called me and was like, “Yo, I def want to sponsor y’all.” I was like, we must have something if he wants to sponsor us.
Later, he hit me up and told me he was having a tour coming up with APB and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. And I was like, “Do I want to be a part of it? Of course, I want to be a part of it!” He told me they needed a host, and I was like, "bet, I’m about to kill this; you’re not going to regret it."
When people talk about South Carolina, it never seems to be in a good light. Some say we’re behind on everything, or that there’s simply nothing to do. Do you think there’s some truth to this?
I mean, South Carolina is not where people want it to be, but people aren’t really doing enough to get it to that point. But now, that’s starting to change because people are actually putting in the work. You can’t half-a** this sh** because when you put in half- a** you’re going to get half-a** results. Now, if I’m being honest, with South Carolina, I’ll give it two years and South Carolina will be a household name where people will come here to start a career instead of leaving. I feel like we’re going to have so much pull. We have producers that are making it big here; we own the producers right now. Pierre Bourne, Super Mario, Lil Voe, Milan on the Beat who made "Pull Up On the Stick," people don’t even know they live here! The South Carolina culture is going to be shown to everybody soon and I can’t wait for that. And when it does, people are going to be like yeah, South Carolina is the sh**; it’s not just racist.
I don’t care how foolish it sounds, South Carolina is going to be the spot.
What is your take on the growing creative movement happening in South Carolina and how do you plan on pushing it forward?
Just selling it, all it needs is exposure. Of course, we’re going to get better and there’s room for improvement, but if we just have the camera here and show what we’re doing, then everyone’s going to want to come to the events in South Carolina. What I plan on doing is just showing what we’re about. No beating around the bush. There’s a culture in South Carolina where if you’re not being authentic, you’re not going to get noticed. That’s what South Carolina is, we’re authentic.
And that’s how you would describe South Carolina: authentic?
You know how people talk about Atlanta and it’s a city, but people compare the whole state of South Carolina to other cities. But within South Carolina, you have Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg; and you will see a whole other culture depending on where you go, every place has its own thing. Now, when the light shines on all of South Carolina, people will see there’s so much to do here. With Georgia, they just have Atlanta culture that’s poppin’. They have the same movement. We have three different areas here, that’ one thing people don’t notice. I don’t care how foolish it sounds, South Carolina is going to be the spot.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I’m about to sound like Lavar Ball… I’m about to sound like a nutcase. In the next 5 years, I want to be sitting comfortably. I want to continue to give back, show love, make sure everyone around me is good, and make sure my company is at the top of the leaderboard. I want [Chi] Media to be the DreamWorks of the entertainment industry. We are going to be the brand that everyone can come to if they need to source and for outsourcing. I’m thinking of it as a Black-owned empire. Finally.What’s something that you’ve been paying attention to that you feel like other’s should be paying attention to?
People need to start paying attention to how people act behind the scenes. That helps with business, personal life, and work overall. Say you’re an artist and you have someone showing love on Twitter but when you’re in person, they’re just like… [crickets]. So just think of it as what are they doing it for and not what they’re doing. Everyone has a motive; figure out that motive and see if it’s genuine. Just be real; just be true.
For more information on Chifyechi and his endeavors, follow him per the below info:
YouTube: The Reach TV
Peace, peace, peace,