What would a love renaissance be without Shelley FKA DRAM and Westside Boogie? Last week, the two titans of hip-hop came together for Red Bull’s SoundClash: A Love Renaissance Special. An event inspired by the Jamaican music tradition of competing sounds, the two artists battled through multiple rounds of sounds meant to test their creativity. While the special is a tip to their relationship to the LVRN label, a renaissance is also recognized as the rebirth of something, so a love renaissance is – you get it. Both artists differ in style, but both bring the same elements of love, honesty, and transparency to music. The two sat down to discuss more.
Shelley FKA DRAM has taken some time to get back to himself, now with a new self-titled album, he’s approaching the music differently. Once known for bubbly tracks like “Broccoli” and “Cha Cha’, the Virginia native is now a sultry and seductive crooner bringing love back to his music. “I think the elements of love are more mature in my music now. The music that I came out with within 2016 was an evaluation of where I was mentally at the time”, Shelley explains. “And now, things are different”. Shelley FKA DRAM has taken the time to separate himself from his former moniker and persona, transforming into a sensuous lover with tracks like “All Pride Aside” and “The Lay Down”.
Westside Boogie may not have the silky, seductive delivery like his stage partner Shelley, but his half-sung, half-rapped delivery gives way to music that embodies the vulnerability and rawness that comes with love. “Love in my music looks like vulnerability, giving people a space to grow. It’s the rawest form of expression. It speaks your truth”, Boogie said. His 2019 album, Everythings For Sale, presented the rapper in his truest form as he opened up on topics of love, loss, and pain. His single “Silent Ride” shows his confrontation with issues that commonly plague romantic relationships.
On November 30th, the two competed in their curated soundclash dubbed A Love Renaissance Special. Both are managed by the Atlanta-based label, LVRN, but their contributions to R&B and hip-hop are symbolic of their own personal “love renaissance”. Shelley’s rebrand not only gives us a new look into the charismatic artists, but his journey back to himself is bringing some new elements to the music. ”I think I’m bringing my roots back to my music. Given my full vocal ability, on every record moving forward, there’s going to be a feeling of sureness”, Shelly expressed. “There will be playful elements, but this is grown. I’ve put down that playfulness and in return, gained insight. The music will reflect that”.
It’s been three years since the release of Everythings For Sale, but Boogie has been working. Now, with a new album set to release in the first quarter of 2022, he continues to bring those elements of realness. “I think we’re in a time now where people cannot be themselves. I’m rebirthing honesty and vulnerability in my music. There’s a lot of cap going on”, shared Boogie. The West Coast native has never been shy about discussing his battles as a father and lover. Hoping to inspire, his new project will… “The first year was tough, but I’ve finally found my rhythm".
Hip-hop and R&B have gone through a lot of changes. Many elements of the music that would once truly make you “feel” it, have gone. Both Boogie and Shelley’s latest contributions to the music are pushing back against the loss of true feeling. “I feel like there was probably a lot of cap in the music back in the day. But today, we have social media which I think glorifies the need to lie. I’ve gotta stay true to myself and my music, and that’s by being honest”, Boogie said. Shelley considers the honesty in his music to be a projection of his true self. “It’s about how it’s being said. It’s more than just saying something through a text or delivering it in some monotone voice. I feel like melodically, the feeling becomes different and intentional”, Shelley explained. While both are contributing to the music in their way, the music is getting something that it needs – purpose.
Last week kicked off the first stop on Red Bull’s SoundClash tour. Shelley and Westside Boogie came together to recreate and cover their tracks like “Skydive” and “Caretaker”. Bringing out guests 6lack and Tate, the two created an atmosphere for true artist creativity. Now that the show is over, both artists are gearing up for new music. Boogie is set to release his next album in early 2022, while Shelley FKA DRAM is preparing his Christmas album.