In 2013, Cali-power-rapper Sham Blak landed as a name to watch out for in the U.S. Hip-Hop scene with songs like "I Need Someone."
Throughout his breakout record "Money Well Spent," he jogged his way through industrious productions that showcased his affluence for outlining the expanses of his mixes with his unrivaled Emcee flow. More currently, he's branched out into more captivating territories, where he incorporates sweeping anecdotes with reimaged cryptic musical constructs. Sham Blak steers far exceeding the limits of conventional modern Hip-hop sound that initially established his reputation through the multitude of life-struggle he's experienced and the discipline he's gained in direct retaliation, landing somewhere much more captivating.
The most alluring use of his newfangled ominous texture finds him in a setting that marshals an ominous swaying track called "Bounce." On "Bounce," his latest collaboration with Legion X, he hovers over the Dark Hip-hop mix with a melodic hooking flow that settles somewhere between the sensation of terrifying and infatuating. In the verses, his lucid state raps slip through crevices in the morose synth riffs, as a buzzing array of subs and echoing ad-libs hum from left to right before dissolving back into the surfaces of the intoxicating hook.
As we slide down the carnival ride of our more obscure dreams, it's Legion X that meets us in the middle of the spin. As he croons over his introductory monologue-type measure, a slow eruption is imminent from below. Before we have a moment to prepare, the featured Rapper riffles off and explodes into a stanza of clandestine proportions, where each syllable slices wide. When he transforms, it's as if a different rapper has taken over—less askance-like, more hard-spoken, and more bar delivery-oriented.
Listen to "Bounce" here.
Hello Sham and Legion X and welcome to BuzzMusic. How did you transform yourself stylistically from what we've heard from you earlier in your artistic career, and what stands out as a crucial moment of your own self-discovery musically during that process?
SB: Stylistically I transformed myself into what I wanted to sound like. I think we are always growing and learning and if you are trying to monetize your music I think it’s important to know what’s selling. Also, it’s about staying true to you. My self-discovery was just recently actually. I had run a few tracks with my homie but then I started to hear it differently and that’s when I knew.
LX: When I first started doing music I had no direction of where I was going. I was rapping for fun without knowing the platform I was on could reach hundreds to thousands of people. After a few years, I started to realize people were actually listening to what I had to say when I got on stage and what I put on record. The angst I would feel from everyday life would in fact be heard finally. The moment that changed me was when my big homie Taps ask me back in 2013 if I considered myself to be a rapper or an artist? Never had I been asked a question that would inevitably change the way I present myself musically. Since then I have worked extremely hard to be an artist over just a rapper expressing myself visually as well as lyrically.”
What's it been like working with Legion X, and how did you two manage to collude so cohesively over the aesthetic and narrative of "bounce," with what seems like minimal laborious effort?
SB: Working with Legion X was a dope process. The guy is a professional but he’s an artist and isn’t afraid to pitch his idea. I seen him around the San Diego hip hop scene and immediately knew, we are gonna do some work. Then boom. I found a beat that I thought would compliment both of our styles and I ran with it. This is just the first swing, we have some more dope in stores! Can’t wait for you to see the video, now that’s gonna definitely solidify this collaboration as one of the greatest!
LX: I have always admired Sham Blak since meeting him at the ac lounge a year or so back doing hip hop shows. His style really stuck apart from the rest of the spooky gang to me. He has a west coast swag along with a versatile flow that I was a fan of right off bat. When it came to doing the track “Bounce” it was an easy, yes to be featured. He shot me a demo with the hook going “bouncing again my daaaarling” that got stuck in my head I couldn’t write to it if I tried. I believe we have very similar roots in what we grew up listening to so it came very natural writing to “Bounce”. Working on the visual for the song was another smooth sailing due to sham being so laid back and natural on camera. We both went in feeling and exerting everything we thought the song needed for an eye-popping and mesmerizing music video. We hope you all enjoyed it.
What's been the most critical formula for making your core sentiments and lessons clear throughout each new song you release?
Sb: My lessons are coded in the music and sometimes I feel like they are for an advanced audience. But it’s one of the feelings like, if you know me and are familiar with my energy then the messages in the song will resonate with you easier. I make messages across the spectrum. My formula is simple, take life and put it over a beat.
LX: I don’t hold back on shit! I grew up feeling I had to somehow follow what was socially accepted. I write about my angst against the world, how I feel pressured to try and fit into a frame of mind that I was not made for. I’m a ma fu***n psychoooo! Each new song I release holds that standard of not giving a damn if you like it or not. Always going against the grain, always doing what I want to do musically independent. Never short yourself for other's opinions of what you feel is right.
If you could describe yourself now in three words that resonate with the emotion, style, and texture you want your new music to exhibit, which would they be and why?
Sb: Passion, truth, hope. Passion because I’m not here as a fad or because it’s popular or cool to rap. I’ve been making music since the mid-’90s. Truth because we all can’t fuck everyone’s baby's mom lol. And we all ain’t got a f*cking Maybach. I’m mobbing in my 2014 Nissan Versa because it’s easy for me to get to LA and back to San Diego without spending $100 on gas. Hope because it’s all we have in the unique times. Since our birth, we hope, for blessings, good health, fortune, safety a bunch of shit. My music gives hope to those staying true to themselves.
LX: Surprising, extraordinary, and intimate. I want my listeners to be surprised at the songs I release in hope they notice how remarkable it can be to be free from the judgment of one's own self-expression.
What has been keeping you both inspired in 2020?
SB: The fact that anything can happen at any moment. All you gotta do is hit once and boom! Everybody winning lol. I’m a gambler. Love the craps table. Love buying scratchers. Love playing the odds. 2020 is going to show us who is really betting on themselves. Cause if you bust you don’t lose, you just learn.
LX: The political turmoil that has plagued this year has kept me inspired and full of angst for much more music to come.