Seemingly coming out of nowhere, yet making a strong case for why he is going to be one of the need to know artists of next year, Nigerian born young gun Shane Chubbz has been back and forth between the U.K and the U.S; his hard work and hunger is now paying dividends.We caught up with the U.K up and comer to discuss his next move, his video collaboration with Maybach Music Group's chief videographer Jon J and starting his journey at one of England's most prestigious boarding schools. You can see stream Shane's brand new track(s) "Holiday/Where I'm From" below, which Shane has also made available as a free – yes, free – download. Alternatively, if you're feeling generous, you can also choose to support the track on his iTunes.
Earmilk: First and foremost, how did you get into rapping?
Shane Chubbz: Well, a lot of my friends were rappers; there’s like a mini industry, if you wanna call it that, in Nigeria – loads of Nigerians who live over here (England) but rap. People used to throw full on concerts and we’d all have chance to perform. But I’d say I properly started rapping when I got to Harrow. I was in a group called StayFly with my boys DAP, Aife, Nate and Joel. We were shit, but yeah *laughs*. That's where it started!
EM: Who would you say have been your main influences up until now?
SC: Definitely Jay-Z, he’s definitely a big influence – personally and music wise. Biggie –obviously, I pick up a lot of influences as I’m listening too; Drake to a large extent, in terms of writing hooks I’d say 50 cent because I think he’s the best at that. Like, until Drake’s has come now I don’t think anyone has come close to writing hooks like 50 Cent. Rapping-wise that’s definitely it, but going to Harrow I was exposed to a lot of different genres; I’m really into SBTRKT at the moment and I’m a big fan of The xx, they’re my favourite band. Big fan of Florence and the Machine too.
EM: The new track(s) ”Holiday/Where I’m From” are huge – Why did you choose to combine these two tracks in particular for the video?
SC: Erm, the funny thing is it’s actually one track – we didn’t make them separately. DAP, who’s the producer and my best mate, goes to college in America at Brown. He’ll come to London now and then, so when he came obviously we’d catch up on music: he’d play me his stuff and I’d play him my stuff. I hadn't recorded “Where I’m From" so I just rapped it to him on the beat I had from Hannibal King – who I think EARMILK are quite familiar with – so I rapped on that and DAP was like ‘Fuck, this is unbeleivable’. We joked that it was too dark to drop in the summer so thought we should make an interlude and like, contrast it. He’s like a musical genius, so whips out his keyboard and started playing notes, I ended up going home at like 4am and by midday when I woke up I had “Holiday” in my email. We’ve grown up together so know how each other work if you know what I mean.
EM: The calibre of the tracks is certainly reflected in the quality of the video, how one earth did the collaboration with director and Maybach Music Group videographer Jon J come about?
SC: Well,i know quite a lot of people in the American industry – if you wanna call it that. More on like a friendship level than a musical one. It’s a long story, but I’m close to the Carter’s (Jay-Z and Beyonce) through our family so there’s a connection there – but they didn’t know I rap like that. We have a good friend Carlene who used to be Jay’s assistant and I played her “Holiday” and “Where I’m From” when I went to Miami for the first time this summer. She was like ‘This is crazy’ then said I needed to push it, she put me in contact with Jon J, we spoke and then that was it. It was the first time he’s done anything for an aspiring artist, but we both wanted to do the tracks justice.
EM: There’s a heavy use of subtitles in the video (the writing on cards and words on the screen etc.) Is this so nothing is lost in translation/confused with your English accent?
SC: That to an extent, but the funny thing about that video is it was actually going to be a lyric video. But then it just sort of took off into a proper video. I was pretty adamant at having the cards in the second half because when I made the song that was what was going through my head in terms of the video, then for the first half we thought the lyrics would be a cool vibe too. We were thinking of just having a massive party in the first half, but then thought contrast may have been too big to really grasp, especially with the second half being so deep. So we thought okay, we’ll make it jiggy – but not too crazy. We just wanted people to appreciate both pieces y'know!
EM: It’s always positive to see such a far-flung connection when both the U.K/U.S scenes come together; seeing as you've had a foot in both camps now, what do you think about the present state of both scenes, respectively?
SC: To be honest, I don’t think the U.K’s doing enough at the moment, at all. In terms of bridging the gap between here and the U.S….it’s like in Football; you know in Football when smaller teams play bigger teams they give them too much respect? I feel that’s our situation. Like, how can only reasonably well known U.S artists come to England and have our biggest artists open for them? That’s why I was happy to see Tinie Tempah announce his new tour and have someone as big as Big Sean opening for him– that’s how it should be.In terms of rap it’s only really been Tinie and Dizzee Rascal who have done it over there. There’s so much talent in the U.K, especially in my age group, that isn’t being seen; like Creative Elevation, BEV Gang and Last Night In Paris. I know it’s such a cliché to say it’s politics, but I think it really is the politics of the industry.I feel the people in the spotlight aren’t making good enough music as well though. I think Jay-Z said it best; ‘Truthfully I wanna rhyme like Common sense/ But I did 5mil’ – I ain’t been rhyming like Common since’. He realised he had to bridge the gap between rap and the mainstream and the U.K needs to do the same with the U.S. I think this year was one of the strongest years the American scene’s had in a very long time; with Jay-Z dropping Magna Carta Holy Grail as well as KanyeWest, Pusha T, J Cole's albums – then Drake aswell. Chance The Rapper’s was one of my favourite albums of the year, I follow Vic Mensa really closely too, him and his management are really cool guys.
EM: Now on your track “Where I’m From”, you say ‘I’m turning down deals…word to EMI, Universal and Roc Nation’…Care to elaborate?
SC: Yeah, there’s been a lot of confusion with that bar. Basically, the Roc Nation part I was saying that if I ever were to get offered a deal by Roc Nation, I would definitely have to question what it is I want to do. In terms of the other two, I was in heavy contact with EMI’s Africa branch like 2 years ago; sending tracks and demos back and forth. They were longing the process out so I thought – actually, I don’t need this. But at the time I was like 15 and just thought, ‘This is so cool, I’m talking to a record label!’ They said to send my mixtape when I finished it – I finished it but never sent it *laughs*. In terms of Universal, that was just me addressing rumours. I suppose if I would say the EMI thing was a deal, in my opinion it was there for me to take if I wanted to act on it. But I meant management deals as well; like people asking to manage me, but I’d rather do my own shit at the moment.
EM: There's a picture of you and the image completely blurs your face, any particular reason you’ve chosen not to show your face?
SC: I just thought in this new TMZ /Daily Mail celebrity era, you can have a ready-made opinion on someone before you even heard their stuff. I’d rather people know as little as possible before they hear my music, I'd like to let it do the talking.
EM: You’ve got your upcoming project 95&Forever set for release before the end of the year, what else have you got in store for late 2013/early2014?
SC: If I’m being completely honest, the mixtape won’t come out this year…at first it was meant to be a mixtape but now it’s turning into more of an album, if I could call it that. I think it’s going to be out in February. Before the end of the year we’re going to do a “Holiday” remix, which I’ll be trying to sort out over the next few weeks. I’ve been spending loads of time on those two tracks over the past few months so now I can get back to making less politically aware shit – more of what I do on a regular basis. That was the point in “Where I’m From”; we never really think about where we came from and when we do it’s only for a split second. I may be doing a few small shows in October and November and then I’ve got a gig in Nigeria on the 23rd of December which I'm really excited about. It’s an Afro Beats group called DRB Las Gidi, they’re really good mates of mine so I’m looking forward to performing with them, DAP and Stan.