Exclusives Interviews 16 September 2022

GRM Exclusive: ShaSimone talks debut EP, poetry beginnings, working with Dave & more

16 September 2022

Tipped as One to Watch by the likes of Complex, No Signal and many more, ShaSimone has quickly become of the most exciting new names to emerge from the UK rap scene. A top tier pen game, effortless cadence & flair in abundance – the East Londoner first made early waves with social media freestyles before being spurred back into the booth to create drops like “Belly” and “No Chaser”. ShaSimone embodies the term quality over quantity, despite only having eight official singles out in the world, the past year has seen her tick off bucket list level accolades within music and with her debut EP finally out, we thought now was the best time to catch up with her.

When did you first get into music & what influenced you?

“I used to listen to a lot of old school American Hip Hop, that really gritty raw real rap era. I started writing poems when was in school and then when I got to secondary that’s when I started tapping into the rap side of things[…]I realised oh I’m actually good at this, and then my friends always used tell me I was really good at it. We went to the studio around 2015 and started recording. Then it wasn’t until lockdown, which was so transformational for me, that’s when I thought I have nothing to lose let me just go for it and things have been rolling since then”.

Lockdown a catalyst for many creatives, the past 2 years have given life to a flurry of new exciting music careers. With overnight success more tangible than ever, it’s interesting to see how artists who prefer the long game feel as they progress.

In terms of you, your career and artistry; do you have a trajectory you see yourself going on in terms of how you build, experiment & release?

“I’m trying to be with the elites, the Daves, the Stormzys. I’m trying to be up there releasing quality music, music that’s going to be timeless. This year I’m just going to be dropping more and more music. The goal right now is to stay true to myself, release incredible music & just give it my all”.

Would you say being able to create good music and content for people is one of your main driving forces?

“100% and a lot of music is to do with what I’m going through, its very personal to me. Everything that you hear is from personal experience and how I’m feeling. I feel like music allows me to be vulnerable and that’s how I connect with people. People like vulnerability, as much as we like the hard & the pretty stuff, people go through things behind closed doors and sometimes they just wanna know that you’re human too. Don’t have to put on this hard exterior, its really important for me to connect to people and let people emotionally tap into something whilst listening to my music”.

You started off doing freestyles. A lot of female rappers tend to have freestyles as a starting point, even if you look at a lot of big names like Meg, Steff, they show that side of them early on. Do you feel like it’s something you chose to do consciously?

“I love freestyling, I love the flamboyancy of it all and showcasing myself so that’s why I did it. I can freestyle all day long, I love it! The first freestyle I done, I posted it after a show & I thought let me just release it on twitter, no real intentions. I just uploaded it for the sake of uploading it and it literally just went crazy! Things like that, you can’t really calculate, on the internet you can’t really pinpoint when something is going to go off so I randomly posted it & my phone was going crazy. Within a week or two it went up to 100K, it was just mad. So freestyles are something I’m always going to do. I’ve dropped so many freestyles on my Instagram, its just part of my package & people love it from me. Its something not a lot of people can do as well, like things like a cypher, you have to be a real rapper, one take, just come on the mic, real rap shit and not a lot of people can do that”.

Do you feel like having done freestyles and done them so successfully, that it put you in box – how was it transitioning into official singles?

“For me, the transition wasn’t hard, even right after my first freestyle that went crazy I was dropping music, so its just been the foundation for me. People have been supporting me from the beginning of time til now. So I feel like people have just supported me because they like good music, not because of the freestyles or anything else, I think they just like me and I’m grateful for it to be honest”.

Several successful features to already brag, ShaSimone appeared last year on the remix of Two Face’s “Again”, recent times seeing her link up with OG Suspect for single “SCHWEET”.

Moving onto the Suspect single, we wouldn’t have initially put you guys together for a collab but now its happened, its make a lot of sense. How did that come about?

“I’ve known Suspect for a minute now and he’s always been supporting me, just been amazing. Literally before that song we were coming back from Potter Payper’s event, he had a premiere for his documentary that was in conjunction of the album he dropped, so we just linked up there, spoke about life, what we want to do in 2022 and then just said F it, do you wanna go studio? And “SCHWEET” is what we came up with.

“The way it came about was so funny, so natural, I would go in and do an 8 and then he would go in & just be back & forth. Energy, having fun, nothing too serious but came out as a slapper so I’m grateful for that. And we’ve got more things in the pipeline too, I won’t say too much but I love working with Suspect, shout out to him. What you see with Suspect is what you get, he is lit 24/7, he is a mood”.

2021 seeing chart-topping heavyweight Dave release his highly anticipated sophomore album We’re All Alone In This Together, fans were pleased to hear ShaSimone come through on “Both Sides Of A Smile”. And for those who were yet to discover Sha, it was a monumental introduction.

Continuing on the topic of collaborations, you had the Dave & James Blake track last year which was huge. That was such a powerful track, how was working with both musicians?

“It was just so surreal and I’m just grateful for the opportunity to do it so early on in my career, it was very humbling and very eye opening, the fact that Dave just heard me and said yeah this is the one, he didn’t care about how many followers I had, or no hype, he just saw me as an artist which I’m very grateful for. It was amazing”.

Are there any other collabs you’re working on that you can let us know about?

“I can’t spill the beans just yet but with me I’m just open to work with anyone that’s actually hard, I don’t follow the hype, I don’t care about who’s doing what. If you’re hard and I fuck with you, I’ll work with you, that’s how I operate, don’t really care about all the external stuff, you cant just be floating about doing everything but you know what I mean”.

Moving onto live shows, you came out for Gabzy’s show, killed it and then you have a couple big festivals locked, how do you find performing?

“I love It you know, I done a tour with The Compozers back in December, it was electrifying, just lit. It reminds me of freestyling because I’m performing, I don’t know how to explain it but it’s a very surreal experience. When I’m up there, I just zone out, let the spirit lead me to smash it really. I love it, its lit! I didn’t even know I knew how to interact with a crowd until I actually did it.”

So chat to us about the EP?

“Theres a song for every mood, I know it’s going to show my versatility and set me apart from whatever is out there. A Lot of effort and production and work has gone into it, its my first project, I had to make sure that its top tip and immaculate, been working with some amazing producers like 4Play, TKproducer, and PBtheplug. Those are 3 main producers I’ve been working with so you already know its going to be fantastic so its very exciting”.  

Being a female rapper in a more of male dominated space, although it’s a great time for women in music, do you feel any pressure or held to certain standards being a woman?

“I’m not bothered, I don’t think about all that type of stuff. I feel like people put female rap artists in a box because there’s not that many of them, like not many that are actually good. There are far more guys than girls so its easier to generalise. Because female rappers are on the rise right now, we’re going to be able to separate the elites from the gimmicks and its going to be easier to gauge who’s sick. Other than that, I don’t really care for all that stuff, I just do what I came to do. I don’t watch anything else, I’m definitely going to do something different, I’m trying to be relatable and show different sides”.

Who have you been listening to recently, can you put us onto anyone?

“Currently I’ve been listening to a lot of French music, theres an artist called Tay C. I started listening to him in January and just been obsessed with his album, his voice, his music, everything is just fantastic, I love it. I don’t actually understand what he’s saying because I don’t speak French, but I’m sure its still good. He’s incredible. Shout out to him.

“Someone who I think everyone should know about is a rapper called Cristale, she’s absolutely incredible, she was on the Tiffany Calver cypher as well so shout out to her, we’ve even got a song together that we’ve been sitting on, letting it roast but its going to come out soon. But shout out to her, I love what she’s doing, I can’t wait to see her do even more incredible things”.

Dream collab, Dead Or Alive?

“J Hus, I love him. I say it all the time, I love love love love J Hus, I want him to come out of hiding. I just think sonically we’d make so much sense”.

The world is ShaSimone’s oyster and with an amazing foundation already built, we can only expect to see more great things from the buzzing MC. Check out the debut EP below right now!