How did you get into music? My house was a musical household. My mom was really into church, and she played a lot of church music. I'd sing and learn the words. When I was young, I was in the church choir. We went to Bethel AME (Church) in York. In 2006, I was put away . . . at Hoffman Homes (for Youth - a psychiatric residential treatment program) and I got out in 2007. That really made me realize that I have to do something with my life and not sit around and just waste it away. I've always been into writing. When I got out, something just clicked, and I started writing more.
What artists inspired you? When I was young, (I liked) artists like Usher . . . Nelly . . . Jay-Z (and) 50 Cent. I was a big Common fan and (liked) Mos Def. Honestly, I inspire myself.
Describe your sound: I would tell (people who've) never heard a Shann-B record that my music is basically what everyone else's music is not. I don't want to be something I'm not. My music is me. I write R&B songs for other people who are natural singers. But me, I'm a natural rapper. I would sing and rap, obviously since I was in the choir when I was younger. It got to a point (when I was doing) less and less singing and more and more rapping.
Are you working in the studio or planning to put out a CD? Actually, currently, I have an independent deal in the works with P.U.B Entertainment. It's a York . . . record company. I'm currently . . . in the studio with G-Don . . . for a summer release of my (first) album entitled "The Genesis EP."
Does the title of the album have a special meaning? It was originally entitled "The Anti-Christ EP." I changed it because it offended a lot of people. I never meant to have a devilish approach to my music. My music is nothing like that. But the reason it was titled "The Anti-Christ EP" to begin with (was that) a lot of artists come into music and say that they're the savior of their genre. If I don't like the way someone is going about something when they're calling themselves the savior, then I'd rather be the anti of that. I'd rather combat that. But (offending people is) not what I intended to do. So I changed it to "Genesis," which brings in the beginning.
Does hip-hop need to be saved? I think hip-hop is in a state where certain types of records are OK. A lot of horrible wordplay passes . . . the bar. (Artists) can say something that's horrible in a song now that's very simplistic . . . and it passes for . . . talent. And, to me, that's not good.
Are there any other local artists that you'd like to work with? There's an artist who is from York, but now he's doing things . . . in Atlanta - Phene. I'm interested in working with him.
How do you go about writing your raps? I sit down and I listened to a beat. If I listen to the beat long enough, (it) will get in my head so I don't have to have the speakers on or anything. So then, I'll just sit in quiet and vibe back and forth with the beat. Eventually, I'll just inspire myself and I have to pick up the pen and a pad and I'll write continuously. I never stop writing. It snowballs.
Are you looking to perform anywhere out in the area? That's another thing that I've been talking to G-Don about. The last time I performed was at the York Labor Day Festival over at Kiwanis Lake. That was a while back, so I'm looking to get back into performing live.
Do you think there are going to be a lot of opportunities to perform? I can't say there (are) . . . no music opportunities at all, but I wish there (were) more. I wish there were more places that we could perform. I wish there (were) more open venues, especially for hip-hop music. (Club 19 is) more of a rock venue, and it's hard for hip-hop artists to get booked in a venue like that and be understood for (their music).
Where do you hope to be in three to five years? In three to five years, I hope to be on my first major label release (and) hopefully, doing music videos. (I want to) just be doing my music on a major scale and getting it out to everybody, because I feel as though I have something to offer the world.
Any shoutouts? I want to shout out my mother, Gloria Hawkins, because, without her, I wouldn't be able to do this.
- ERIN McCRACKEN, FLIPSIDE STAFF
On the Web
For details about Shann-B, visit www.myspace.com/shannonbrabham.
Listen to the interview at www.flipsidepa.com.
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