Self love – the kind that stretches far outside the limits of a bath bomb – doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of re-teaching yourself and connecting with and discovering the person that you truly are. On Flo, the debut EP from Mel Chanté, the Brooklyn-based poet, rapper and affirmation advocate shows a fully formed version of an artist in love with herself, her higher power and her practice.
On Flo opener “The Mission,” Chanté is clear about her intentions: “Know to love yourself from the soul is the only mission.” Even if the world is burning around you, even if you’re experiencing extreme loss, even if it feels really, really hard – loving yourself is the most important thing there is. Chanté outlines a few ways to achieve this, starting with manifestation. “When belief in yourself and spirit is ignited/And your dreams you envision/Then sit down and write it so it’s written.” Sometimes, the simple act of writing down your dreams and desires can be the stepping stone to accomplishing your dreams. Some people may scoff at the idea of manifestation, but no matter what you believe of its mystical powers, there is something to be said about believing in yourself. And Chanté knows that.
She also knows that part of loving your inner self is loving your outer self. “Temple” is an ode to just that – a love letter to the vessel that contains the self. Chanté describes herself in the words of someone describing a work of art. “Ain’t no stopping this melanin/Glistening /Skin dipped in chocolate topped with cinnamon/Sweet infinite eyes and prized intimates.” Her poetic lyrics are a wonder in themselves, but the perceived mastery she has over her own self-image is another.
Chanté says that this confidence is something that has taken time to cultivate. “I’m sure it’s evolved to this point and it’s still evolving. I just take it day by day,” she says. And although she dedicates “Temple” to honoring her divine self, she doesn’t close off the opportunity to others, saying, “Bringing honor to my body – if it be temple then pray somebody.” It feels like the highest form of sensuality – accepting and admiring yourself completely, and finding someone who mirrors that.
It’s clear that Chanté is a poet first. Her delivery is clear, emphatic and metaphorical, much like her debut volume of poetry, Brown Butter. She first started writing poetry at age eleven and was introduced to the piano around the same time; poetry came naturally to her, and putting it to music did, too. Her mother – for whom the EP is named – always emphasized the power of positive thinking, and her father was a musician; it seems Chanté inherited the best from both of her parents. Tragically, her father passed away before getting to see her realize her musical talents.
“My mom was always big on positive words growing up, my father too,” says Chanté. “I had moved to New York [from Boston] and six months later my father passed… I started writing letters to him every day and from there it just was a way for me to affirm things within myself and let things go and talk to him but also talk to myself.”
The loss was a huge blow to Chanté, but she says that she drew inspiration from her father’s resilient spirit. “He’s a musician, he’s the one who bought me my keyboard… he was just so passionate about his passions and his gifts,” Chanté remembers. “Even when he was in the hospital he was still posting his videos about his surgeries and stuff – it was just inspiring to see him still grasping at his dreams when he was in the position he was in. I feel like that just kind of sparked a flame in me to do what I can with the life that I have.”
Chanté found solace in her affirmations, and quickly discovered that others did, too. She started sharing daily affirmations on social media and people would reach out to her to tell her how much it meant to them. That turned into followers sharing their affirmations with her. She used this opportunity to create a platform and podcast called Vow to Self, where anyone can share their affirmations. This platform feels like an organic pairing with her uplifting and reflective rapping. She also hosts a meditation podcast on The Shine App called The Daily Shine.
Aside from infusing affirmations into her music, Chanté practices them daily. Among her favorites: “I am inspiring millions;” “I am attracted to abundance, abundance is attracted to me;” “I am present I am here I am now;” “The divine love I am seeking is also seeking me.” With affirmations that sound like poetry in and of themselves, it’s no wonder that Mel Chanté is so on point, and only fitting that Flo reflects that.
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