Jasmin Bain, aka Lady Shakespeare, 20

Last time we met was in 2008 at Jerry Duncan's North York studio. What have you been up to since? I've been kind of doing stuff on my own, like trying to record as (many) songs as I can for my new mix tape. It took me, like, almost two years. I was still trying to, like, focus on school. I ended up with a job . . . so it was kind of hard for me to juggle both of those with music. I kind of had to take time off of music. Around spring and summer whenever I finish up with my semester, I go back into . . . recording.

Where were you taking classes? I was taking classes at (Harrisburg Area Community College) for English and music. Music is . . . my No. 1 priority because I fell like that's the only thing I'm good at.

How did Lady Shakespeare evolve? One time, I was in high school. I attended York Suburban (Senior High School). At the time, I wasn't paying attention in class. I was writing poetry and rhymes while the teacher was talking. We were talking about "Macbeth" and "Romeo and Juliet." All of sudden I wrote, "with dope rhymes, dope lyrics you can call me Lady Shakespeare."

How does your style set you apart from other rappers? When I first started writing, I was 10 years old. To be honest, around that age I wasn't taking anything (seriously) . . . until I reached 15. That's when I was still living in Baltimore. I would write every day (about what was) going on in the world until I moved to York. (On) March 10, 2007 . . . my house burned down. My Nike shoebox of lyrics was burnt up. I almost felt suicidal . . . until my cousin (told me), "if you feel that bad (and) feel a lot of pain and anger, don't do it out of hurting yourself - put it into writing." That got me into music . . . all over again.

Was writing those feelings down like therapy? My mom's a therapist and sometimes she gets upset because some of the things I explain in my music, I don't tell her. Sometimes, I'm afraid to tell people how I feel - even my closest friends. I will always hold things into myself and write it in notebooks. I have about . . . six or seven notebooks full of writing.

Do you write everyday or when inspiration strikes? It kind of happens both (ways). Sometimes, I push myself to write because you want to set yourself toward the goal you want to do. I don't try to push myself too much because . . . I will end up being stressed out. It's not pretty when I'm stressed out when it comes to music. And also, if something happens to me, like I have to deal with an argument with someone, I will write it down. I think about the person or how I think about the way we should have handled the situation . . . and I'll just write it down. Sometimes, I will type it into my cellphone so I can save it.

Do you want to talk about your mix tape and where you are in the recording process? I'm still in the process. I was planning on releasing it (in June). I had to push it (to) July. In April . . . my mother ended up having to get surgery done, so I had to take time off of music to take care of her and make sure she was OK. Another reason I had to take time off of music . . . was because my grades were low. I promised (my mother) and my dying grandmother that even though I love music, school comes first. In June, (I'll) make sure I have most of the songs done and in early July, I'll make sure the songs are mastered, so I can release the mix tape . . . later in July.

Are you working with any producers in particular? I'm working with one producer (who) a lot of people . . . know in York. He goes by the name of Sweet P . . . because he's sweet at producing music. I'm with this guy named Ecko (Ray Harris), and he runs Xclusive Entertainment. He's helping me get known (and) helping me let me know when shows are out there. He also represents the rapper Phene, so I met Phene . . . twice. I also (know) another local artist name Young Vishis. I'm going to be working with both of them for my mix tape.

- Erin McCracken, FlipSide staff


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