Q. First off thank you for the chance to interview you. If possible could you give us your thoughts on our magazine “I Am Hip Hop”?
You’re welcome. Thank you for having me in your magazine! I remember running some rap workshops for young girls in Brick Lane and the arts centre had your magazine in their office, it had Lowkey. I picked it up and was impressed with the content; the UK needed a socially conscious free mag especially on Hip Hop so big up yourselves.
Q. Why and how did you decide to pick up the mic and start rapping?
Digging deep, I guess I started rapping as it was perfect for being able to speak your mind and express yourself in a way that people would be inclined to listen. Obviously I already loved hip hop and garage so back then we would all be MCing over eskimo beats and old hip hop instrumentals for fun. But having that minute or two to be able to get your message across and get a positive reaction was really exciting for me. Hip Hop has always been about giving the oppressed people a voice and I think that the core of that is the same, if we have concerns we want to share them!
Q. Who or what type of music has had an influence over your rapping?
Hip Hop for sure. Rappers such as Tupac, Foxy Brown, BizzyBone, Onyx, Da Brat and Big Pun have always made me be like “ah that’s a sick line, or sick flow” and it motivated me back in the day. Over time, music from classical to trip hop has an influence on my mood and what I feel to write about. So it’s more musical however, life has been the biggest influence to my bars.
Q. You recently released your first EP Once Upon a City. For people that have not listen to it yet what types of issues do your songs on the EP touch on and what were the reasons for these particular topics?
I write poetry too and of course as a human feel so many different emotions. I have always had a love of melancholic stories and love has been a very powerful emotion in my life. Through rap I usually touch on social subjects, community, life, the system, people and experiences. Once Upon A City however, was a personal project where pieces of my poetry which were more intimate, were sitting there and I really wanted to make a concept EP telling a story. It’s a dark fairy-tale of a forbidden love, two people that have a deep connection and just want to be able to explore it but factors affect them. I think many people have these struggles through morals, cultures, class, race and circumstance. I also love lounge music, trip hop style music and the singer ‘TheWeeknd’ really inspired me, and I think it has these elements. I was heavily involved in the direction of the effects, production and narrative so I loved creating it.
Q. Do you feel as a female mc that you get treated any differently from the male mcs?
I get asked that question and my opinion evolves each time. I think that you definitely do, you get judged immediately as if you are not going to be that great, but then that can work to your benefit if you are talented. You are sometimes shown a lot of respect and then sometimes brushed aside. It’s a funny one. I mean we are classed as ‘female’ mcs as if mcs are just men, but then that’s conditioning of society and it just is what it is. When we stop labelling ourselves as female mcs then there may be a gradual change, who knows.
Q. As well as a mc you are also a youth worker. What type of work do you do with the youth and why do you feel it is important to ingrate with the youth of London?
I run rap and lyric writing workshops. Young people get to express themselves through a creative platform to get their voices heard. The workshops encourage young people to collaborate and inspire each other and work on their confidence. It also releases their opinions or any issues they have creatively instead of channelling it through a negative activity. My job is to inspire and guide them, and give them love and growth through music. It’s vital to integrate with the youth of London, there are power in numbers and especially if we have progress through a positive outlet!
Q. So what can we expect from Shay D in the future?
My Hip Hop EP is out before summer so look out for that on my site www.shaydmusic.com. I am also part of the hip hop collective Lyrically Challenged and we run monthly spoken word and hip hop nights so we are working hard on that all the time. I perform regularly and hope to do some festivals in the summer. Next should be a world tour – inspiring people to unite and produce beautiful things together!!
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