Baltimore rapper, singer and songwriter SHDW found music at a young age and was engulfed in creativity. Writing provided an escape from many life encounters such as financial, lack of self-worth and confidence struggles, and SHDW found rap was an outlet for him to show that he believes in creating music that is honest, true to his character and perspective. SHDW uses a variety of genres to compile his unique sound mixed with heavy dashes of Hip-Hop.
“Way Up” has a subtle start to the song followed by beats that get your head bobbing along, and rapping that is clean and flows with the different accompanying sounds with style. SHDW has written lyrics that are catchy and a style that reminds me of artists like Drake, and Lil Wayne along with lyrical speed that is phenomenal. The tones that can be found in “Way Up” have an almost haunting and eerie vibe to them, yet mixed with an intense power that helps emphasize lyrics like “I know I get tough on the way up” and after listening to the track a couple times, I also get a Childish Gambino vibe from the song. I personally love the technique of repeating specific lines to signify that they are an important part of the meaning behind the song. SHDW has a tone of voice that is low and he is able to deliver each lyric with his own emotion and passion, with the accompaniment of subtle harmonic lines that can be found scattered throughout “Way Up”. Keep your eyes peeled for SHDW as he is bringing flare and style to the rap game that is fresh.
Check out "Way Up" here and keep scrolling for an exclusive interview with SHDW.
Hey SHDW! Love your creative sound! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Hey, I appreciate you taking the time out to listen. Sure. I’m an artist out of Baltimore, MD. I rap primarily, but I like to try my hand at writing different styles/genres. I’m also really into comics, some sci-fi, and mildly into anime. I hate to sometimes say I’m a “nerd” because now that’s the wave, but I am.
What first drew you to music and when did you know music was your passion?
I grew up in a super religious family. Great grandparents had a church, and everyone actively participated, from having cousins on guitar and organ; to my mom and aunts in the choir. I had always been surrounded by musically inclined people. For as long as I’ve been on earth music has always been a part of my life. I couldn’t pick a single moment that made me realize that I wanted to actively pursue music, but I do remember 3 things in particular that helped steer me in this direction, all of which happened not long after each other.
Back in like 04, I was graduating elementary school and my teacher then had a daughter who wrote songs, so she wrote us a song to perform at graduation. It was a remix to an old Kanye song, but I can never remember the title, anyway they asked for a few students to do rap solos and I got one and that was the first time I had ever rapped in front of people. I just remember the rush and feeling so happy.
The second was that summer. At the church my family had there was a lil side store where people could get snowballs, candy, chips, and on the right day Jordan’s, “designer bags” that kind of stuff. One of my older uncles ran it and one day I was up there, and he was sitting in his car, this old dark green Infiniti and he asked me out of nowhere if I could freestyle and we just sat there trying to rap.
The last was when I started middle school and we had the wooden lunch tables and making beats on them and what have you. Some of us used to try and battle each other and I mean we all sucked, but it was fun. We ended up making a lil rap group. When I’d get off the bus and walk home after school I found myself rapping, sometimes it was fun stupid stuff and other times I’d rap about: how I hated the way I got treated by people at school, not having the girls and what have you. It was really all of that, that showed me exactly how much value music had in my life to that point.
Tell us the meaning behind “Way Up”.
“Way Up” stemmed from conversation I had with one of my bros where he just randomly hit me up asking how I was and it was during a time where I was in a bit of a rough head space and he was offering his 2 cents and literally said what I say in the hook, to keep my head up and that the journey comes with some difficult times.
I used that conversation and fleshed out the idea with some of the things that were bothering me at the time (being upset over a failed situationship, struggles with organized religion and so on). I ended up writing the middle of the song first, then the hook, and that quasi-breakdown/verse where the beat switches a bit. From that point, I wanted to write the rest to feel like I’m big upping myself, so it comes off as “yea things aren’t all that great right now, but I’m still that guy”—almost like a pep talk.
Are there any artists who have helped inspire your sound?
Of course. I think that my sound and style ebb and flows and that’s a direct result of the artists I admire. I could give you maybe 30 artists that inspire me, but Childish Gambino and Drake are artists who come to mind quickly. Those are guys that earlier on in their careers were viewed as different and maybe a bit against the grain because they were making the music they wanted to make and that’s been the biggest inspiration to me, seeing artists feel comfortable speaking their truths even when it’s not necessarily what’s “hot”. Although I must say, I messed around and made entirely too many songs that sounded like poor attempts at being drake. Like I mentioned before there’s plenty of other folks who have inspired my sound, beat selection, writing approach all that. Hov, Ray Charles, Sade, outkast (both big boi and 3stacks. People gotta stop sleeping on big boi) XV, schoolboy q, slick Rick, snoop, Alicia Keys. Plenty of artists.
What can we expect to see from you in 2019?
Content for sure! In the past I’ve been entirely too inconsistent with regular content for a bevy of reasons. This year I will be dropping a new EP; ’Earthtones & Greyscale’. So, I’m very excited about that. I’m looking forward to getting over my camera shyness and getting a music video (or few) out there. Beyond that I’ll just be working on new tunes. I’ve got this r&b itch I have to scratch so we’ll see, maybe some of that stuff will see the light of day.