Sha Stimuli from Brooklyn has been acknowledged for his rhymes and delicacy in creating a distinguished sound of his own, which has been accredited by receiving the "Best Male Rapper Of The Year" award at the 2008 UMA's, the second win after 2007's "Best Lyricist" award. Read on to find out what he had to say when Nikhil Sharma caught up with him.
Nikhil Sharma: How did you get involved with Hip-Hop?
Sha Stimuli: When I was like nine or ten my brother Lord Digga came from living back and forth from Florida to permanently stay in NY and when he did he played me a mixtape of the most popular rap at the time. Prior to that I liked Run DMC and Eric B. and Rakim, but this was the tape that got me to take my Michael Jackson posters down and start imagining myself as an artist. I was amazed at how these dudes could paint pictures with words and at the time it wasn't so much of a fad as it is now. I didn't really want to rap at the time, but I was a fan and I made it my business to learn all the words of any song I liked. Music was my life, but hip-hop took over.
Nikhil Sharma: You were born in Brooklyn; does that influence your music?
Sha Stimuli: Yea being from Brooklyn influences everything I do. I grew up in an environment where I was fortunate enough to be exposed to different cultures and nationalities, observe violence and learn how to dodge it and everything I went through goes into my music. I can’t say what it is about Brooklyn or emcees from the borough, but we have a bunch of different flows from here. It's grimy and it's pleasant at the same time. I'm glad my mother moved to BK from down South.
Nikhil Sharma: When your brother Lord Digga was producing tracks for the Notorious BIG's "Ready To Die", you were present in the studio, how was that?
Sha Stimuli: It was a wonderful experience just seeing Biggie pick out joints for his demo. I didn't know I was listening to the next rap superstar. There was a distinct quality about Big though that stood out. He was comedic and focused on his craft. I was content being a fan at that time in my life. After hearing the song "Ready To Die" I went home and wrote a whole chapter of rhymes.
Nikhil Sharma: Tell me about your first rhyme that you wrote at the young age of eleven.
Sha Stimuli: It wasn't really on purpose, the first one I wrote was the summer I turned eleven for a talent show at summer camp. My cousin Dre Knight and I entered it and I never wrote those verses down so they didn't count. But we won the show with a song called "We're Fresh". It sucked, but we were friendly and had a good stage show. When I got back to school Dre was telling everyone that I was nice, but I really just got lucky. So on the bus everyone was asking me to spit something. At the time I didn't have anything so I remembered something from Big Daddy Kane's verse on The Symphony. My brother had an early copy so I memorized the whole thing before it came out. I spit like eight bars of Kane's verse and everyone went crazy. The next thing I know I had a reputation for being nice and then I had to go home and write like thirty verses that night. And so it began…
Nikhil Sharma: You've worked with great artists like Joel Ortiz, Memphis Bleek and Peedi, are there any underground artists you'd like to work with?
Sha Stimuli: I don't even know who's underground anymore, I don't really have too many folks I want or don't want to work with. I like some cats out there that I think would complement my style, but it doesn't really matter to me. I really want to work with someone like Ceelo or Andre Benjamin or Eminem. That's about it.
Nikhil Sharma: What are your views on the Hip-Hop world at this moment?
Sha Stimuli: I don't really have a view on the Hip-hop world right now. I think it's very far from the glory days when it was all about being different and having something to say. It turned into a business where it became all about making money and the focus shifted to artist's region, image, street cred, affiliation and everything else other than music. I mean its just my view though. I don't really care about it. I think it's interesting. I do think it's a cycle that's returning to the days when it wasn't as lucrative so maybe everyone and their mother won't think there's a quick buck in it and music won't be as watered down. Honestly though, either way I’ll be ok. I do miss having that crazy love and excitement for hip-hop. No other genre seems to have these issues, but then again I wouldn’t know. I'll tell you one thing, I do want to add to changing things, but not just in music, but overall in people's lives.
Nikhil Sharma: Is there a difference the way a New York MC raps compared to artists in different states?
Sha Stimuli: I think so, our slang is different and we approach the game with sort of like a birthright attitude like we created this and we're the best lyricists. I think other regions have caught up when it comes to sales and some artists now focus on what they're saying which is why you see Wayne and TI gaining so much popularity. But New York rappers even being the underdog now still feel like we should be on top. The DJs say we still care about saying to much instead of entertaining and making hits. I think we just still care about the wonderment of lyricism.
Nikhil Sharma: You appeared on Mater Ace's "Slaughter House LP" when you were fourtee, how did that feel?
Sha Stimuli: Can you imagine going to school with a tape that's in stores that you're on? No one believed me until it came out, I was crazy hype. I don't think I got any girls off of it, but I did feel like the man in my school for awhile. Ace really knew I had something special with my voice and that I wasn't afraid to get in the booth. He even called me on stage one time at a show, he had no idea he was a part of my grooming process. I had a verse on Crazy Drunken Style,, but they took it off. It was hot though, I used one of those punch lines recently.
Nikhil Sharma: "Hotter than July" is based on tracks from Stevie Wonder, how did you come up with a mixtape based around an amazing artist like that?
Sha Stimuli: I had the idea to do a Stevie CD last year, but it just wasn't coming together really. A very dear friend of mine called me in May and said I should try it again and call it "Hotter Than July". I was sceptical because I didn't think I could get the music right. I hit a few producers to send some joints and Victorious and I tried to find some people to do some beats. I was coming up blank until Clams Casino started coming thru with joints right as we were sending him the Stevie songs. It was crazy because as he sent the beats back I was so inspired I was just writing them in ten minutes. The whole CD was recorded in two sessions. I dug deep to really capture the essence of Stevie Wonder's music. I hoped it could have gotten a lot further and maybe even reached him, but it’s not over. It’s the only CD of mine that I can listen to and not be mad at.
Nikhil Sharma: What does the name Sha Stimuli stand for?
Sha Stimuli: It really came from the word "Stimuli's" actual definition. I wanted to choose a name that would provoke thought, emotion and a response. It came to me in a rap cipher and I stuck with it. Nowadays if you ask me I think it stood for a part of my life where my focus was on saying things to get people to pay attention. I always focused on making music and saying words that would get listeners to react. I don't think I'm as into rap as much as I was, but I still want to touch people and say stuff that they can relate to. That's really the only reason I'm still going after being signed and getting out of my deal and all that. I've been through a lot and Sha Stimuli stands for believing in a dream and not giving up more than anything else.
By: Nikhil Sharma