Updated: Mar 1, 2022
All photos are courtesy of ShySpeaks
Generally, I don't listen to Hip-Hop music because so many of today's rap music talks about things that I am morally opposed to, but ShySpeaks music I love! ShySpeaks lyrics are powerful and meaningful! She uses her God given, Poetic gift to inspire and that's what drew me into her world. Not only is she a beautiful person both in and out but a college educated woman of God, full of wisdom and focus! I had the opportunity. I had the opportunity to interview this proud Texan Jewel and here's what she told me.
First of all, thank you very much for allowing me to do this interview.
No problem. Thank you.
You're welcome. So, ShySpeaks, where are you from, and how did you got started in poetry?
I am born and raised in Dallas, TX and I'm a super proud Dallas native. I got my start in poetry, spoken word, and rap music in two ways. I got it through my family. I come from a musical family. My grandfather was a pastor, so we all had to prepare Easter speeches and sing in the choir. Because of the speeches, I recited in church, at an early age, my family recognized that I had a natural knack for reciting poetry and learning monologues. In fact, because I remember those pieces with such accuracy, they entered me into my schools' oratorical contest. There I would deliver Michael King’s speeches and Maya Angelou's poems. I became so good at it that I could recite entire pieces is with enthusiasm and precision. Not only that but, I would perform them with the same emotions as the original deliverance. That's where it all began for me and that's how I developed my voice.
How did your love for poetry transition into your becoming a rap artist?
Although I enjoy written poetry, my heart was for, “spoken word.” I love the dynamics of speaking it and how it lands on an audience and communicates. Also, I loved the words and how I could weave them together in such a way that creates a lightbulb experience for those who listen.
Do you have any childhood memories of rapping that you want to share?
When I was in elementary school, during recess, my friends would gather around just to hear me sing a rap song. Keep in mind, because of my natural knack for remembering lyrics, I was able to sing any song that was playing on the radio the exact same way as the original writer and performer. Because the children were so intrigued by what I was doing, they would put in requests for me to perform certain songs they wanted to hear as if I were a DJ. Consequently, I would draw a large crowd of my schoolmates around me.
When the teachers became aware of the large crowd surrounding me, they joined the crowd as well. They wanted to know who this little girl was drawing such a large crowd of interest. Next thing I knew they were putting their request in as well.
Oh yes, they knew talent when they saw it!
I remember telling them if I knew it, I could perform it. So, I thought to myself if I was able to mimic these other rappers, then I can really rap. I also thought to myself if I was able to mimic them so well, then maybe I can write my own lyrics. At that time, for me, writing was therapeutic. Especially trying to write my own poems, I realized that all I had to do was to take my poetry, put it in rhythm, add emotion behind it, and boom, I have a rap song!
What Is your motivation behind the style you know a wrap that you do?
Good question. For me, I want to be the balance that I hope to see in the world. Rap and hip-hop music's origins primarily come out of an urban context. rap music is artists telling their story but in a unique way. What concerns me Is that if we're not careful, we can give the public perception that all rap music is hardcore, and that’s not the case in every situation. Everyone doesn't choose the hardcore lifestyle. Nevertheless, mainstream media loves to focus on hardcore rap as opposed to the other styles of rap. Consequently, because of this, many people become closed off to rap music and take the position that all rap music is the same, but that's not true.
Then you have people like me, an inner-city kid raised in an urban community. It doesn't get any more urban than me because I came from that community. I developed my soul from the culture of my community. But still, I chose a different path. I believe that It's important that you show balance in the story that you represent.
Sure, some of them wind up being trap rappers and rap stars, but some of us go to college, some develop their businesses, some raise families and live a crime-free life and others give back to our community. I want to be clear, I'm not here to bash someone else’s truth. I think there's space for everyone’s story. But what I do know is that what's being presented in the mainstream does not reflect the entire story of the urban rap community. If there's darkness, there has to light, right?
If there's negativity, there has to be s positivity. So, I’m motivated to bring positivity, light, spirituality, and hope to the world through my music and poetry.
That's great because a lot of people are turned off by rap music because of the lyrical content. mainstream media has made a load of money from the lyrical content of the pain of the despairing urban community. They want to present all rap music as,” gangster and sexual.” And as you stated earlier that's not fair because it does not reflect the entire urban community. For example, I came out of Inglewood and central LA. I too grew up around gangsters, gun violence, drug-infested communities, and plenty of darkness within my community, but I didn't choose to go in that direction. So, you are correct, it's all about the choices that you make but there are a lot of great people that come out of the so-called hood! There are so many more stories to be told.
Yes, there are more stories to be told and there are different perspectives. Not everybody has that same perspective that comes from this context. Nowadays, you basically only have two choices, gangster or gospel. but there's what about. But what if someone is not a believer, but not into gangster rap either. What do they listen to if they enjoy the art form? I think hip-hop is brilliant because it infuses multiple styles of art. Poetry, R& and Soul music, and the literary devices that are often seen in great monologues and poetry. That's all enclosed into rap music. So, if you like the art form here is something to consume but this is my expression of it.
Awesome. You have quite an extensive list of well-established gospel recording artists that you have performed with can you name a few of them? Yes, I’ve performed with, Kierra Sheard, Tye Tribbett, Le'Andria Johnson, Jonathan McReynolds, and Mali Music (He’s doing both gospel and R&B music). Although I've never performed live with him on the stage, I'm on the Kirk Franklin album. So, I did a record with him in the studio while recording the album.
What was the name of the song?
Losing My Religion.
We won a Grammy with that song.
Wonderful! Congratulations! I'm sure that must have been an amazing experience for you.
Yes, Thank you.
You're welcome! So, as a Christian woman in this business how do you stay grounded in your faith when the devil wants to offer you the entire world?
For me, I live with the mission. In fact, I keep my mission always at the forefront of my mind. I think it's very important for people to develop a mission.
If somebody is presenting me something that is not going to give me an opportunity to present positivity or spirituality, then it's not for me, because it doesn't coincide with my vision. It has to have some type of positivity and some type of good. If nothing good is going to come from it, and it’s only for gain, then I would decline that offer also. That's not my mission. That's not where I have my mind. That's not where my focus is. In my opinion, when your mission is clearly defined, it's easy to make the right choices.
What is your favorite Poetic piece that you've written to date?
I have two. One is called “P Versus R”. It stands for, “pursue versus retreating”. The song is about relationships, love, and how they sometimes go back and forth. You know, it's when a guy pursues you and wants to be with you and then he changes his mind. He says something like, let’s be together, but then he changes his mind and says, I think we need some space, and then he ends it.
Or he’ll tell you he wants to marry you, then he says, let’s hold on and wait. This type of instability leaves us as a woman in a state of confusion because of this man's instability and inability to make a definitive choice. So, in this song, I approach it from a female perspective. I speak about what it feels like to be in this type of relationship, a seesaw of emotions. As women, when a man approaches us, we need his leadership to be present because this is our future. Otherwise, don't come around us if you're not ready. So, I believe that this song echoes the hearts of so many women and so many relationships that's why I chose to write a song about this issue. Additionally, it shows men what this type of relationship looks like. There's also a music video out that ties together the visual and lyrical content.
My second favorite recorded in 2020 is called, " A King From A Queen's View”. Like P versus R this song is also written from a female perspective but it if different in the sense that I speak life and hope into men who don't always feel like kings at the moment. It talks about men feeling discouraged because of being gunned down and dealing with all the injustices that happen daily, especially if you're a black or brown person from an urban community. So, because of this, it's easy for our men to feel the weight of feeling inadequate. So, in that poem, I speak of life as a mother, as a wife, and as a grandmother. I wrote this song for men of every age group, young and old. The primary goal of this song is to speak life and to encourage our men. My hope is, after listening to this song, they will be encouraged to put their crowns back on.
Absolutely! Now I have to mention you have a master's, degree in supply chain management. That's amazing!
Yes, I have a master's degree in, supply chain, and I have a master of the MBA.
I'm so proud of you!
You’re welcome. So, is your music career full-time, or are you juggling them simultaneously?
I work full-time as an artist and creative entrepreneur. I see artists as founders. As an artist, when you release a product, that becomes your business. You are now considered a creative entrepreneur. Now, there are those who approach music as a hobby, but for those who take music seriously, you can have a successful business surrounded by your artistry. So, in a sense, I use my MBA all the time. Not in the area of the supply chain, but as it relates to logistics and operations management. I can use those same principles as it relates to operating my music.
I applaud you. Listening to you speak is going to be extremely encouraging for our readers. Especially younger musicians and artists who are seeking the same direction in which you have chosen. A lot of young people coming into the industry are unaware of the wisdom behind having a fallback career.
It's always possible to make it in this business however you should have something else to fall back on. Education is extremely important. We never saw the pandemic coming. It literally shut down the whole industry. But when you have a professional degree or a professional skill to fall back on you can always pay your bills. I would even take this a step further and say, that one should have some type of career and place before even seeking out the artistic community. I say this because once you get caught up in your artistry, it becomes like an alluring vortex, and once you dive deep into your right brain self, it's hard to transition back into the left. Although left brain work may not be your ideal dream job, in a desperate situation, it can put food on your table.
Hopefully, after reading this interview, young artists and entrepreneurs can be inspired to have a fallback career as a nest. If you never have to use it, and you make it in this business, wonderful! But, if something happens where you don't make it in this business, you can provide for both yourself and your family. I think that's wise. How do you feel about that?
Absolutely! during the pandemic, although I did events within the virtual artistic world, I didn't have the problems, stress, and pressure that a lot of my peers had because I knew at any given moment, I could temporarily pick up a contract position at a high earning wage because I had the skills to do that. For example, during the eye of the pandemic, at one point, I was able to utilize my professional degree and training in supply chain and logistics to temporarily provide a living for myself. I did contract work for Samsung.
Being a creative artistic entrepreneur is interesting in the sense that I would go from taking a contract at Samsung, closing it out, and then getting booked at a large event for Capital One.
That's the life of a musician. Challenging but exciting! Although being in the entertainment business can be extremely unstable at times, when you're a creative person, it's extremely hard to break out of that creative mode into the real world so to speak. It's a part of who you are. It's just like your arm. You cannot function without it, and you cannot function mentally, as a creative person, without your artistry.
So true. What’s funny is that I can literally show up to a Capitol One event as a booked artist, at the same time, I can forge a business relationship with them and say, “if you ever need me to work for you in another compacity, here’s my card, call me. I'm able to show them the work that I've done and present the skills that I have. My degree gives me the ability to work a job that will be financially advantageous for me. It safeguards me against having to work a job that will not be financially lucrative.
Well said, do you have any new projects coming up?
My most recent project is called free lunch Friday Vol 3. You'll be hearing more about that in days to come.
Tell me about that project?
Free lunch Fridays are the rap seasons I put out online and on social media.
After that, I take those songs and turn them into original tunes with original music. Then it is turned into a music project. Then that project becomes season four free lunch Friday Vol 4.
When is the next one coming out?
The next one will come out in the next free lunch Friday season. It will be the rap series which is a series of music videos. The project will come out in March.
OK, awesome! So, I hear you have a big event coming up in June, can you tell our readers about that?
Yes, this event is going to take place in the Dallas TX area, and it is an annual event. Last year it was just a concert, but this year it will be a festival.
What is the festival called?
it's called “The Civilized Community Festival.”
Yes, and it will be an annual event. But what's so good about it is that I get a chance to host it. So, I'm extremely excited about it! I’ll be hosting this event in conjunction with sponsors and partners right here in Texas.