– by Maxwell Cavaseno (as published on www.nojumper.com)
Maxwell recently had the chance to conduct an interview with Brooklyn-bred MC, Sha Stimuli. In the following interview they touched on a multitude of topics, from Sha’s work with a teenaged Clams Casino to being typecast as another Joe Budden by those misinformed. They also go into detail about Sha’s major-label woes and introspective lyricism. Read the full interview after the jump!
Okay for those who are unaware of who you are, tell us a little bit about yourself, and how long you’ve been rhyming?
I don’t know who I am… oh wait, I’m Sha Stimuli. I used to be a rapper, now I’m a human and an artist that says things that make sense and tells stories about life that rhyme over beats. I’ve been doing that since the early 90′s and I attacked the music business in 2003. I haven’t looked back; well, sometimes I look back, but I try not to go backwards.
Your music is very involved and introspective; you’re obviously a great story-teller (“Lately” and “Have You Seen Him?” stick out to me in particular), but occasionally you like to show off your ‘punchline’ game, which you demonstrate on the recent “Unsung Vol. 1″ project. Is one kind of rap song easier/more fun for you?
I’m glad you asked me that. I don’t know which is more fun or easier. I think I love story telling, and being introspective, it’s groundbreaking and refreshing. But I feel like I don’t get credit until I throw some bragging lines at people and tell them how great I am. I think I do that with the best of ‘em. So maybe someone can help me determine which Sha is the better artist. I like both but punchlines get boring. I’m currently done with that style of rap…but some days it comes back when I feel slighted…like today.
Your story of major-labels mishandling and eventually abandoning you is sadly no longer a unique story; it seems every other month, there’s a new artist who’s openly talking about being left behind in the dust in favor of ‘the next new thing’ by their former labels, and having to rebuild their buzz from scratch. Is it challenging to continue working after events like that?
It can be a little tough because at that time a record deal was the goal. It’s like I was caught in between 2 eras. One was the old school, get industry buzz and sign a deal then come out with videos, songs on radio and a major release and sell records and tour. The other was gain fans not only on the street but on the internet and right when it was tough to determine how many of the internet buzz rap guys were hot, the downloads, views and listens became the measuring stick. So I had the old blueprint and had to start over. It was challenging because I didn’t have the same team that helped me in the beginning. They had all moved on and rightfully so. I wasn’t even left for the next new thing, I was coveted by Virgin records and Def Jam was interested but at the time I was just music, I had no selling point that made me a commodity outside of good songs. The labels had no urgency to make any major moves or risk job security for Sha Stimuli. I don’t blame them at all.
Furthermore, you had a rather prolific mixtape period with DJ Victorious with the 12-monthly-mixtape project you two got involved in. Obviously this is something that few signed artists can entertain, so in a way, do you feel blessed to be unrestricted by the responsibilities and demands major labels put on rappers?
Yeah, I do, that was a crazy run that we did and sometimes I feel like doing it again just to show people that I have the ability to do it but I won’t. Yes, we are totally unrestricted and it feels great to just be able to put songs out when I feel like it.
How has life been treating you on Chambermusik?
I don’t judge life by the label I sign to. They gave me a wonderful opportunity to have my music in stores physically and I can’t say that anyone ever did that for me. It was a blessing that will stay with me for life. We worked hard together on that album and I think it had a lot of jewels that people will get years down the line. I’m just appreciative for what they did.
You’ve worked with producers like M-Phazes, J. Cardim and Just Blaze who’ve worked with a fairly ‘traditional’ rap crowd. However, I learned that you also worked with Clams Casino, a producer whose become better known for working with rappers like Lil’ B and Soulja Boy. Do you have anything else in development with him?
Well, Clams and I worked way before any of that Soulja Boy stuff. His music is insane, he did the majority of Hotter Than July and he was a teenager at the time. I have some of his music on The Break Up part 2 which is coming out soon, I hit him up all the time asking for beats. He’s special.
By that same right, there’s something to be said; you don’t have much in common with those guys, so people tend to put you with artists like Joe Budden, Torae and Skyzoo. No disrespect to those artists, but I think you’re cut from a different sort of cloth than them. Are there rappers out right now that you see walking a similar sort of ‘musical path’?
No. I don’t think I sound like those people but it’s easy to place me there. I don’t think I know anyone that would do Blasphemy or “Smelly Cat” or “The Milf Song” or “Heaven” or “Good Day”. I just don’t hear it out there. And I’m not even doing what I hear in my head. I have a ways to go. I need singing and guitar lessons and a band to achieve what I desire. Truthfully I only like about 18% of what I’ve put out. I’m trying to improve.
Whether it’s romance or semi-political, you’ve developed an incredibly introspective persona in your rhymes and stories. Obviously, this is a big contrast with the more extroverted talk of average rappers, which you’ve even gone out of your way to parody on “Unsung”. Is it good-natured, or do you find yourself wishing you could be in the spot certain other rappers are?
I don’t wish to be in anyone else’s spot. Maybe monetarily. No, actually I would like to have the same amount of fans as a Joe Budden so that I could go to different towns and spread the word and make a dollar but I don’t want his spot or any other artists’. I was making a song that fit that beat, it just so happened I was listening to a lot of Rick Ross and that’s how it came out. It was funny but people took it seriously. I’m deep but I’m not serious a lot. I think people need to understand that..or maybe they don’t.
At the moment, what new projects to you have prepared for the future?
The Break Up part 2, The Trueman Show, Thee Emotion Picture and maybe a mini-documentary surrounding my song Wake Up and Go. Then I’m out, thanks for having me…I think.