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Meet Shaheed404

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shaheed404.

So, before we jump into specific questions, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’ve had raps since elementary school, but it was just something I did as a secret hobby. I may have shared with a couple of people during my middle school years, but I never put any sort of spotlight on it. I’ve always had a strong love for music. That love led me to playing trombone in my high school’s marching band while most of my peers were playing football, but my interest in rapping just wasn’t something that I was ready to share even though it seemed like everyone around me was doing it to some degree.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I started recording music. I had a small studio setup in my dorm room, but I still wasn’t really sharing my music with others. I would go to open mic events in Atlanta as a spectator, just to see what was out there and who was getting on stage. After a few visits and seeing the range of talent, it gave me the confidence to say “yeah, I can do this.” Also, no offense to the transplants, but I saw enough aspiring artists from other places coming to Atlanta to perform and promote themselves to make me feel underrepresented as a native of Atlanta in these spaces. 

I was at a poetry showcase with the intention of just watching and somehow I got into a conversation with the hostess, who was also a curator and a performer herself. For whatever reason, she was very adamant about me getting on stage. Her main point was we should not be selfish with our gifts. That was what resonated with me the most and ultimately inspired me to get on stage. 

My very first time performing, I rapped acapella among some reputable poets. Some of whom many of us would recognize from big platforms such as Def Jam Poetry. That was so awesome to me, being on the same stage with artists that I’d watched on tv. I fit right in. My acapella performance sounded like a spoken word piece because none of my newest material had been recorded over instrumentals at that time. I would go to these shows and rap over live instrumentation. I created a niche for myself that worked. People liked what I was doing enough to ask for a project. It was a long process, but eventually, I released my debut project, Everlasting in Atlanta Funk.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Frederick Douglas said, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” The journey from having no desire to rap publicly, to being okay with openly doing it and loving it was a long process, and at times, a struggle. The most rewarding part of my progression is the fun of just getting out there and doing what I enjoy unapologetically. I’ve made that the focus and that has made the process consistently easier. 

Can you give our readers some background on your music?
I always felt the best raps could be received as spoken word. Cee-Lo’s verse on the song ‘7th Floor/The Serengetti’ from Witchdoctor’s album A S.W.A.T. Healin’ Ritual is a good example. Over time, my rapping style became more like spoken word poetry. I credit the change to just becoming more comfortable with who I am and what I enjoy. I draw inspiration from southern rap innovators such as The Dungeon Family and 8-Ball & MJG, but also important voices in jazz and blues such as Gil Scott-Heron. My project, Everlasting in Atlanta Funk, is a reflection of these influences, but it’s inspired by my musical journey, my city, East Point, Georgia, my travels abroad to Africa, and all of the growth and new levels of awakening that lie between these experiences.    

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” I was prepared with verses and I took advantage of the opportunity to showcase them. This was what got the ball rolling for me, and it’s what I continue to do; staying open and staying ready.

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