Thursday, July 2, 2009

Back Packer Weekly: Sha Stimuli Interview


Original Post Date:

09/ Nov/ 08

Sha Stimuli is one of the most underrated MCs out right now. With my BPW series, I wanted to highlight and showcase some of my favourite MCs, and ask questions that you, the readers really wanna hear, and really wanna get answers to. Sha and I spoke about label politics, the useage of the "N" word, Nas, Barack Obama, the economy and respect, or rather, a lackthereof.

Jaxx: Peace and blessings ahk, I appreciate you taking the time out in your schedule, how you living brother?

Stimuli: I cant complain at all, Im breathing, sleeping, waking up and all that. Life is good.

In case niggas been living under a rock, tell em who Sha Stimuli is?

Hmm, hopefully they have computers under rocks because then even those cave people might know who I am. I'm still trying to figure out who I am myself but to sum it up, I'm what some would call a hip-hop artist that's pretty seasoned when it comes to how long I've been actually writing and how long I've been around the game. I won some awards for being a good rap guy and I get praised for putting words together but to be honest I feel like much more than a rapper. I use words to vent and music to me is bigger than just spitting bars. If you pick up my Stevie Wonder tribute "Hotter Than July" it will give you a good gauge as to what a versatile human with a gift for wordplay sounds like. I go through a lot of shit and I am vulnerable enough on record to put it all out there.

Let's cut the bullshit out the way, whats up with Virgin, all the label politricks, whats gwanin with that?

Man I have been advised to tone it down because I had stopped giving political answers for a while and I was just saying what it was. But the truth is I messed up my deal. I listened to people that told me I was going to be straight by leaving a label that believed in me. I didn't have records to take me to the next level at the time, well I did but we pushed the wrong ones and I wasn't with a team that was ready for fame and money. Some may call what I went through an obstacle but I see it as an opportunity for growth. I could be delusional though. Some may have seen me online saying Shawn Carter ruined my life or Def Jam stalled on me, but the reality is when you place yourself in a situation whatever happens is on you. I have to thank Virgin for believing enough in the beginning but I'm straight with being on a major. If it happens again I'll be ready.

Now, you've been going in hardbody in the streets, your buzz is banoodles right now, but do you feel that, honestly shit is where it's supposed to be? What's missing in your career right now?

I think I'm missing the kind of exposure where I'm more recognized by the fans of real music. I want to say that hip-hop for the unsigned emcee has turned into a popularity and buzz contest. It's about who can get hotter in the streets without even being hot on record. So with all that said, I am so grateful for the level I'm on but I don't think I'll ever be satisfied since I'm a big dreamer. If I can do music free of pressure and then jump in a few movies I will be more than happy. Right now I have to watch Joel Osteen on Sundays to tell myself I'll be ok. I'm joking, but for real I get this question a lot in different forms, when are you gonna be on tv? Why aren't you further? Why didn't you quit? I guess i'm just a dreamer that will not give up. I don't have an answer as to why I'm not a household name but the fact that i get questioned on it means that there are people that believe I am destined to do something special.

12 Mixtapes in 12 months, at the bare minimum, thats 120 new songs at least, in one year. You still moving forward with the idea, or what?

Yea when I started it seemed like it was going to be tough idealistically to come up with the music but the issue became keeping everyone around me motivated after knocking out some hot shit. Then once the Stevie CD got so much love I had to let it breathe. I stopped at 6 and did a little halftime and now i'm closing out with 6 more. I'm dropping Vs. The World and March on Washington (Election Edition) then I have 4 more that will come out in the next 2 months then I'm done with the mixtape game forever... I hope. Music is my release so I must say that this has been fun to do and a lot of work. I wish I had the resources to do 5,000 copies every month but online I've gotten great responses and people are enjoying what I have to say. I don't think any other artists on my level can do what i'm doing this year. I'm not just releasing old songs, I'm recording time sensitive relevant music and people can identify with it.

I can make all of Lil Waynes fans disappear like Lil Zane" - How do you feel about Wayne winning Lyricist of the year at the BET awards?

I didn't watch the awards so I didnt know he won. I will say this, there was a time when the most devout hip-hop fans and people in the industry would tell me to dumb my lyrics down and that the day of the emcee was dead. A bunch of folks said that noone cares about what rappers say anymore and that its all about the beat and they're image. Wayne put 10 yrs in the game making records before getting his just due and 90% of the reason listeners took notice is because his pen game stepped up. Do I think southern rappers are graded on a curve? Maybe. Do I believe that he thinks he can say whatever he wants now and get away with it? Perhaps. But the truth of the matter is he spits and its genuine and he works hard at his craft and no matter what region you're from when that happens it will be respected. I am happy for Wayne, especially with him selling all those albums showing the world that the recession will not stop good music.

I'm east coast born, east coast raised, and to this day my mp3s are pre dominantly east coast played. With NY pumping out brothers like Sha Stimuli, Skyzoo, Joell Ortiz, Corey Gunz, Saigon, Aasim, you know, is there any competition, any egos clashing?

I think there is always friendly competition between emcees that want to reach the top and claim the spot as the next to emerge from hood celeb to worldwide fame, but I think it's healthy. I don't believe egos are involved because we will all get on songs with each other and it will be no problem at all. For me personally, I dont try to be better than anyone else, I strive to be better than myself. If I was good last week, I want to evolve and find a new way to approach music that will inspire someone else.

You've collaborated with all of the above, do you have personal favourite record? In the same breath, is there any one who is out of the question in terms of working with?

I dont have too many records of mine that I like after I record 'em. I always hear things that could've been better. I like what Joell and I did on "Countdown," I like the collabs Sky and I have done. At this point, I would like to work with Andre 3000, Ceelo or Eminem. As far as people I wouldn't work with...I dont know. I could say a name and then meet that person or get in the studio with them and it be a whole different vibe. And this isn't a political answer I really just dont hear enough of these dudes to know who I wouldn't work with.

March On Washington, amazing mixtape. Given the current state of the union, do you think it's like Nas said? "trendy to be, the conscious MC"?

Nas said that? That bastard! Nah I dont think so. What people have to understand is that art imitates life. If we are in a state of emergency and popping bottles is not what folks want to hear then why would you put it out? At the same time why would you do what everyone else is doin? It may seem trendy but if you follow my track record I've never been too far to any one side. I speak about real things and if conscious means aware then I am aware, but I cannot be boxed in. And if you really think about it, that trend wouldn't be so bad for our youth and our music and our people as a whole. Saying something is how rap has lasted this long. Now the radio is filled with songs about nothing and we wonder why the kids know nothing.

I gotta song called "The N Word", and I personally try to say, ahk more, or brotha, but nigga always seems to re-enter the vernacular. Why do you feel that is? Why is does nigga ... come out with ease?

Its because its a part of our vocabulary and we may have disempowered it in the sense of taking away its negative connotation but it is still a word. Words are powerful no matter what we say or what context. They can wage wars, people die over them, and "nigga" is one of the most hateful words there is. We are surrounded by the word so much that we have taken on its characterstics and made it a separate species from Black people. It comes out easy because we allow it to. White people don't call themselves "Crackers" and even if they did it would take years for it to catch up to the same feeling of hatred. And without years of oppression and lynching and death added to it, there will be no other word in history to match the pain felt when one is called a "nigga." Is there a solution to it? Well in order to have Black people stop saying "nigga" we would have to simply stop saying "nigga". It starts with me, you, every public figure, every rapper everyone has to make a conscious decision to remove it from our vocabulary. As long as we feel like it may be ok or it's not bad if Jay-Z says it or Chris Rock makes it funny then it will remain there. Maybe in 40 years it will be a distant memory. I recorded that song with the hopes I would stop saying it and it almost worked. When I write rhymes now I try to exclude it unless i'm addressing it. In everyday life, I have more of a struggle because its like a smoking habit or something. But pay attention, things will change.

Just to make things interesting. Hypothetically speaking, if Obama happened to really fuck up in office, how would you feel? Do you think the hip hop community would completely loose hope in politics? Or would we make a truck load of excuses for dude?

I don't know what people expect, getting troops out of Iraq, cutting taxes, telling parents to focus on raising their kids, giving anyone with a dream hope are all things that are attainable and are already in motion in my eyes. I don't think anyone should start out putting hope in politics. That's like paying tithes at church and thinking your lights are gonna miraculously stay on. Faith in God and yourself is what we need. Barack is a representative for change in a country that needs it. He's part of a bigger process and a continuation started by a man that envisioned this and broke barriers 40 years ago. If he doesn't do what he promised right away or the country gets worse financially then I wouldn't blame him, the same way I dont blame George Bush for anything.

As MC's we all under go a certain, metamorphosis. On Joell's CD you say "I used to run in labels like, yo you should fuck with me I'm hot". How have you grown up in the game, and to what do you owe the, "coming of age" of sorts?

When I made that statement I was thinking about my days of taking meetings and searching for a record deal. That was the end all be all to get a deal and be able to live and do what I love doing. It worked out that way for a certain amount of time but I didn't capitalize off of it the way I could have. That alone has taught me a lot about life and music altogether. When team members come and go and when people depend on you to make it to a certain level and then you don't it can wake you up really. I always imagined getting to the top with the people I started out with and as your dream changes it doesn't fade, but it does alter a little bit. Nowadays I don't have the same desires I had in the beginning to be some rap superstar. I'm not focused on just being hot and selling a bunch of records. I've grown as a human with more to say and more folks to touch.

At one point in the game, it looked like, a lot of dudes were too nice for their own good. Even now, some of the illest dudes aren't securing good deals, not getting any promo, shitty album budgets, do you still think that's the case today?

Yea but it's a part of the game, sometimes the less talented will get the spoils, sometimes the best will get nothing. Then it may switch around again. There is no formula or sure fire way to make it in this biz. There is, a way to remain sane and be able to look at yourself in the mirror. The hip-hop audience we once knew is growing up and its a new generation of adults that grew up at the same time hip-hop did. These people still want to hear good music and will support it so that these artists we grew up on will become Ojay and Temptation type legends. The fast buck may not be the best thing right now, so artists may have to revamp and think about what will not only work for now but what will keep them around for years to come.

Look at the game now, and what's coming up; who's about to release albums, who are you really excited about?

Andre 3000 and maybe Kanye if he doesnt T-pain every song. Other than that I dont know.

The Ayatollah has spoken