This young man from Compton, California has begun to see his wide-eyed dreams come true – co-writing a recent No. 1 smash, “Needed Me,” for Rihanna and a popular album cut, “Ring Off,” for Beyoncé. “To go from simply being a fan to working behind the scenes and writing for these artists is so surreal,” says Prince Charlez (Charles Hinshaw, Jr.). “I remember asking my Mom to buy albums from Beyoncé and Rihanna when I was coming up. And I just worked with Mary J. Blige. Here I am able to work with some of the very artists I grew up listening to; what a blessing.”
Prince Charlez (signed to Universal Music Publishing) has been on the grind for going on 10 years. Ever since he was a kid, he’s had aspirations of being a both a songwriter and a recording artist. “I actually started as a writer. I met a lot of major producers running around town like RedOne. This was before his work with Lady Gaga. Red One asked me to work on various projects which led to the Top 40 hit, ‘More,’ I wrote for Usher. I met Usher from there and just started forming these wonderful relationships in the business, writing for various people.”
Prince Charlez has his share of favorite collaborators. Among them is fellow-Los Angeles resident Starrah who co-penned “Needed Me.” Charlez co-wrote six songs with RCA recording artist Grace for her 2015 solo project, FMA (Forgive My Attitude). He’s a writer of “Beautiful” by Australian recording artist Jessica Mauboy. Charlez is also a featured performer and collaborator on the 2010 version of the Sanford & Son theme featuring T.I and B.o.B, and produced by the legendary Quincy Jones.
When asked if he demos all of his songs, Charlez responds, “Most of the time I do. Sometimes if I’m writing with a close friend like Starrah, she’ll demo the records. I really like to work directly with the artist, though – sit with them and teach them the song without my voice on it. I really want them to sing the song in a way that is comfortable for them.” ‘
Charlez also has his list of favorite producers ranging from Drumma Boy (Young Jeezy, T.I.) and Hardwork out of Atlanta to working with Rio out of Chicago (both worked on the Grace project). “I’m not really big on names but on vibes,” Charlez says. “If you play something that I feel then it works for me. I don’t want to sit all day and figure out the music. I sing whatever I feel. I freestyle everything and I really like to create in Atlanta. I love the energy of the ATL. The style of music I’ve been doing is very heavy on the bottom end and I’ve been finding a lot of amazing material down there.”
In between writing and collaborating with some of today’s top artists, Prince Charlez is gearing up for the release of his own EP through Republic Records. The project is expected for a fall release.
So, what’s the best advice Prince Charlez would offer other young and emerging writers? “Don’t be afraid to meet producers or other songwriters,” he says. “I started out hopping around going from session to session. You have to be a student; learn and move around. Have confidence in your talent but when you go into these studios and rooms, you better be able to execute.” (D. Mitchell)