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24.12.13

Setting the Scene: Shane Chubbz


So here's a "little" preamble for you guys because you know I love giving context [see: a good excuse to let my fingers run wild 'n' free]...

A couple weeks back, you may remember I did a post on Shane ChubbzDAP and Stan's autumnal collaboration Holiday/Where I'm From which was pretty well-received by you guys, if I do say so myself. But a few hours before it was published, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Shane about said track. Being the self-proclaimed opportunistic fan-girl that I am, I just had to adopt my #JustDoIt philosophy and ask him for an interview, which he was nice enough to say yes to. We arranged a meet-up a week later in London.

We caught the super-early 8am coach on the agreed date to Victoria, and then spent about an hour shopping (obviously) and refuelling at McDonald's before rushing off to the meet-up spot.


Cue the slight apprehension because most of you who do know the unsigned eighteen-year-old rapper (who daylights as Government & Social Politics student in London) know that he is not big on faces... So I had no idea what he looked like. Sat in the Pret a Manger, my sister and I people-watched through the window looking out onto Buckingham Palace road, playing a game of 'Where's Shane?'. The butch guy waiting impatiently at the pedestrian crossing, the very persuasive cashier behind the counter, the old Asian lady across the street... as far as we knew, he could've been anyone. This meant that all our preconceptions surrounding the Shane enigma went out the window, so when he eventually walked in, there was no "oh I thought you'd be taller" or "I thought you'd have longer hair" or any of that, there was just... Shane.

He had an air about him that can only be described as 'breezy'; a kind of nonchalance topped with a dose of non-imposing self-confidence that made the interview a lot less nerve-wracking for me. Unfortunately we were pressed for time so I couldn't pry as much as I wanted to, #NoseyParker. Out of respect for his current pictorial limitations, I didn't take any photos of him and will refrain from referring to him with his real name, even though we have previously established my real-name preferences, particularly with Childish Gambino.

However, we did come to a bit of an exciting compromise which you can expect some time over the next couple of days. For now, just check out the interview below.

It's sort of in a conversation format because I wanted to have a more informal interview, a bit unlike the others he'd done, but because we were pressed for time (thank you, National Express for your unreasonable hours smh) it is a bit chopped up and straight-to-the-point. But hopefully you enjoy it anyway!

*

Where did the name Shane Chubbz come from?

Shane: It's a nickname my friends gave me. There's no real story behind it, it's just a nickname [laughs].


[laughs] Ah, OK. So you're a rapper and you study Government & Social Politics at university. Do you see music as a kind of back-up plan?

Shane: No, not at all. Like, you can have more than one career. So I want to go into music first of all then go into Government later. Or the other way around, whichever way it pans out.


Right, right, so what is the primary end game for you with your music then?

Shane: Just to reach out to as many people as possible, and to try and embody the movement of young Africans. I think a lot of people can relate to what I'm saying so I just want to get to as many people as possible all over the world. Drop a couple albums. Nurture young artistes. I've already started working on that actually, working with younger artistes. Maybe start my own label...


Oh, that's pretty cool. And you got into music when you were at Harrow [School], right? How did Stay Fly come about?

Shane: Actually, I got into music a bit before Harrow, but not seriously. I've read your blog so I know you're quite familiar with Fresh. We're family friends so we would always meet up and just rap. I thought it was pretty cool. I mean, we were sh*t back then but yeah [laughs]. Then I got to Harrow and I met DAP and another rapper, Aifé and we just got together and formed a little rap group.


OK, and why did you guys decide to go solo?

Shane: Aifé left Harrow. And DAP-- have you listened to his stuff?


Yeah, I have; he's good.

Shane: He only just started rapping, like, two years ago.


Really?

Shane: Yeah, before that he was just a producer. He would produce the music, Aifé and I would rap to it, that was our thing. So when Aifé left, it was just me and DAP. We made a mixtape of tribal music which wasn't released online, just to our friends and family, but that was the first tape we did... I wouldn't say we went solo though. Aifé's moving just made things a bit harder. Plus now DAP's in America...


Right, yeah, I get that. And how supportive have your friends and family been?

Shane: Oh, everyone's been super supportive. Like, when I go to the studio, I go with my friends. And I know they have different tastes and like particular types of songs, but if I think they don't like that kind of music, I'll still play it for them and ask them what they think. If they like it, they'll tell me. If they don't, they'll say something like, "Hmm, I like it but I don't like it" which to me, basically means it's sh*t [laughs]. Because, although everyone wants to be honest, they'll rarely tell a friend that a song is rubbish, they just try to soften the blow.

[laughs] Yeah. Speaking about your songs, the artwork for your tracks were done by Suleiman Shittu, right? What's the significance of the blurred-out faces?

Shane: [laughs] The funny thing about that is Suleiman Shittu is actually an alias. The artwork wasn't actually done by Sule Shittu, it was done by a fashion designer. He's very talented, but he doesn't really want to get into that line of work. Sule's talented as well, of course. But yeah, it's just an alias. I actually design the pictures myself then I send them to him and he edits them them [shows me a picture of the original cover art for Holiday/Where I'm From on his phone]. He added the palm trees and all that.

The edited version [source]

As for the blurred-out faces, I have this theory that people know too much about an artiste before they've even had a chance to listen to their music. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. But I just feel that with TMZ and the Daily Mail and all that, there's just too much going on. For instance, there's the TV programme, Love & Hip Hop and Peter Gunz is on it. I mean, he's not a legend but he definitely put in work. But you see people on Twitter going, "Ugh, this Peter Gunz guy" which is shocking because chances are, they actually don't even know who he is, what he's done. And recently, I heard that Ghostface Killah's gonna be on this new show, Couples Therapy. And OK, yes, he might have problems with his marriage but you know, he's a very prominent figure in the industry... and he's gonna be on reality TV.

So yeah that's the basic idea behind the artwork and the fact that I'm not in any of my videos. Obviously, I will be eventually. Nothing like Justin Bieber's videos where it's just me staring into the camera though [laughs]. I mean, I like Bieber; he's good. But that's definitely not my kind of thing [laughs].


Understandable [laughs]. So Bella's Paradise and Holiday/Where I'm From picked up some pretty significant cyber waves. You also managed to get Jon J to direct the visuals for H/WIF. Do you feel pressured now about '95 & Forever?

Shane: I'm actually releasing an EP before '95 & Forever called Chubbziano.


Oh, are you?

Shane: Yeah, it's gonna be out on my birthday, February 19th. Since Bella's Paradise, which was back in 2012, I've been working towards an album. But to me, after everything I've been working on up until it was released, H/WIF was the first truly great track as a whole. And I didn't want it stand out on the album, I wanted it to be among its peers. I want every track to have that same creative blend. So everything that I've been working on until now is going on the EP.

As for Bella's Paradise making cyber waves, not to sound humble or anything, I actually think Hulkshare might have fixed it. I mean, I believe it did those numbers [15000 downloads in 24 hours], but not in such a short amount of time... Maybe it was 15000 plays, not downloads but still, it's cool. I'm thinking of rerecording it and putting it on the EP because people really seemed to like it.

As for Holiday, to be honest, I expected it to have that kind of reaction. Even when we were recording it, DAP, Stan and I, we were like, "This is crazy." I don't really read the articles that much but I could see that it had actually invoked reactions, like yours [see H/WIF post here], White Oreo and so on. I mean, I dropped Where I've Been on June 29th, which was a hard-hitting track -- basically me bragging for about 3 minutes [laughs] -- and it did well, it got my buzz up, but all the articles appeared to be the same: "a dope track from a young rapper", as opposed to the "sitting on beach, sipping pina coladas" reaction that Holiday got [laughs].

However, I don't want people to think I'm going to make an album of Where I'm From's. Because I'm not. I mean, no one is like that. No one just sits around thinking, "Oh my God, what's wrong with my country?" [laughs] It's just passing thoughts, you know, and that's basically what Where I'm From is. And I'm glad Jon J was able to represent that in the video. We're actually working on a new video at the moment for a '95 & Forever single.


Oh, nice! I'll keep an eye out for that... You were actually pretty adamant, weren't you, about the concept for the Where I'm From visuals. What inspired that?

Shane: The hostage scene was exactly what I was thinking when I wrote Where I'm From. The car scene was the first thing I thought of, and I made the WIF track a good 3, 4 months before we made Holiday but it just felt so dark and so random -- like, out of nowhere I was dropping this deep track [laughs] so it was good to contrast that with the beach scenes for Holiday.


Ah, yeah, good call [laughs]. And in WIF, you touched on commercial artistes' reluctance to host free concerts. Is that something you would consider doing?

Shane: The thing with that line is, without saying any names, a lot of artistes, particularly in Nigeria, could do more. But every rapper is a bit oxymoronic [laughs]. That's something I believe today but then tomorrow, I could completely change my mind. Honestly speaking, that line 'Host a free concert / No way' was actually directed at a young artiste who's not entirely Nigerian but he's in the Nigerian music industry and who I didn't know personally at the time. Then I got to know him and he was actually a really nice guy and we got to talking.

Thinking about artistes like Kendrick and the guys from Odd Future, when they drop their album, they always go back to their hometown and do something big, like a free concert... But at the end day, Nigeria is just so different from everywhere else. They only really support 'home-grown' talent. I mean, a young artiste could come in and do really well but at the end of the day, they only support 'home-grown' talent. And in my opinion, I don't think Nigerians count people like me or Davido for instance, as 'home-grown.' To them, we're from the UK and we're just coming back for the holidays so they would never truly accept us. So you do start to think, "well, why should I break my bank trying to give back?"


On the topic of Nigerians' perceptions, I read a tweet of yours where you were basically having a go at blogs [laughs] particularly a political blog that did a post on your music, which I couldn't find anywhere. What was that about?

Shane: [laughs] yeah, to be fair, half the time, I'm just joking around on Twitter. Yes, I was angry but I was just joking [laughs].


[laughs] I thought as much, but I couldn't find the post anywhere so I wasn't quite sure what was going on.

Shane: Oh we've had it taken down now [laughs] yeah, we sorted that out. It was just a bit puerile, saying I was just an eighteen-year-old kid at one of the best schools making music in my spare time, rapping about Nigeria-- but the thing is, it was a political blog and still they had nothing better to write about. I mean, it actually said 'Breaking News' [shows me screenshot of the blog's Facebook update]. Even the comments on it were along the lines of, 'Who cares?' so I know that, thankfully, not all Nigerians are that ridiculous [laughs].


[laughs] I see... In your interview with Ear Milk, you said the Brits aren't doing enough to bridge the gap between the UK and the US in terms of music. With a primary focus on rap, what are your thoughts on the Nigerian music industry in this regard?

Shane: To be honest, it's really coming up. Ice Prince dropped a really good album recently; I listened to it last week, he's really good. Olamide, even though I don't really understand what he's saying most of the time [laughs] I think that, no joke, he's the Tupac out there. When I was in Lagos once, he actually had a concert in the streets -- no mic. It was crazy! Obviously, DRB as well. Teni, Fresh, they are crazy rappers. Even the Afrobeats they make is influenced by rap at the end of the day. All the people who do Afrobeats now, I'm pretty sure they rapped at one point. Even Davido raps.

No way!

Shane: [laughs] Yeah, when he does UK shows, he usually does a 20-minute hip-hop segment covering other artistes' songs... I'm sure hip-hop will make a comeback in Nigeria, but honestly, people don't care. It's all about entertainment there and rap is just a tertiary thought; it's just not that important there. So yeah, the rap scene is cool but... it's not where you wanna be [laughs].


[laughs] Interesting. I was also going to ask about how you're coping with the pressures of the industry in general, but do you think not being signed to a label makes your career feel more relaxed and personal?

Shane: To be honest, there are a lot of great labels that allow you to do your own thing nowadays. Labels are changing. You can get signed to Noisy which is actually a media company, and there are a lot of good upcoming labels as well, like Black Butter Records here in the UK. But I wouldn't really count myself as being part of the industry anyway. Like, I am in no way part of the Nigerian music industry, and I'm not part of the British industry because I don't go to perform at shows. I'm going to start doing shows in the new year but to be honest, it's not really my thing. I'd rather just drop the music and see what happens [laughs].


Makes sense. And are there any future 'notable' collaborations that we can expect on Chubbziano and '95 & Forever?

Shane: Yeah, I've got a few major features lined up after Chubbziano drops. Obviously I don't really want to say any names now because I don't want to jinx it but yeah, there are some features I'm really looking forward to. As an artiste, I've never featured anyone I don't know personally so I'm looking forward to working with new people. There was meant to be a Holiday remix with Vic Mensa. We were in contact with his people and we talked numbers and all that, then his mixtape dropped, and we haven't really heard back from them since which is understandable. After Innane, Vic seemed to blow up over night so they've got a lot going on. I wouldn't be surprised if they got back to us next September [laughs]. But it is what it is. Anyway, yeah, there are still a few other collaborations I'm really looking forward to.


Just as an aside, in your other interviews with Ear Milk and the IMC, there was talk about your relationship with the Carters. Is there any possibility of a collaboration with either of them?

Shane: Yeah, I don't really like how the blogs phrased that.


Yeah, I assumed as much. I read somewhere that, for you, that was a more of a personal relationship and you didn't want to cross those boundaries.

Shane: Yeah, I just don't like how they focused on my relationship with them. That's personal. If they were to ask me a question about their music, like Beyoncé's new album, for instance, that would be fine. But anything other than that is personal.

*

Unfortunately that's all we had time for. On the record, anyway. I was quite tempted to pick his brains a little more, particularly about his thoughts on Olamide, the near-prejudice Afro-Brits face in the motherland and if we had any possible mutual contacts in Lagos as I have a theory that the "youths" in that state (or at least on the islands) all seem to know or have at least heard of one other.

But instead we settled for a humorous conversation about Beyoncé's new album (which had dropped the morning before we met up), his performance at the DRB Concert and the Waffles & Cream show on the 26th, and music in general. Not to mention a rather surreal phone call with regards to something pretty exciting that I must withhold from you guys for now; you know how much I hate spoilers.

I do feel a bit like one of the lucky people who know the eleven secret spices used in Colonel Sanders' original recipe, now that I have met the real Shane Chubbz (if The Real Slim Shady popped into your head, I have mad love for you right now).

Below you'll find H/WIF for your listening and viewing pleasure. You can hear more of Shane's sounds on his SoundCloud page. For more Shane Chubbz news you can also check out his Tumblr. That's all for today though. For the Lagosian readers, hope you lot had a kick-ass time at the DRB Concert. I have been keeping up with those of you tweeting with the #DRBConcert hashtag, and it sounds like it was mad real!

To the rest of you, here are the H/WIF visuals, on the house (haha).




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