Shyan is a fresh and innovative lyricist pushing through the undergrowth of a UK rap renaissance. Hailing from Peterborough, his recent mixtape and live performances stem from ten years of educating himself in the game, from being a bedroom writer to a fully-fledged performer at 22. With a growing reputation among circles of those in the know, we got talking to SH about his experiences and his visions for the future.
Speaking out to those who don’t know you, how would you describe your music?
My music is basically a mix between real-life emotions, expressive feelings and talking about different relative subjects in rhyme format. My brother, Cam, is the producer behind the music. Together as one unit, the music is a clash between hip-hop, soul, jazz and many other musical influences.
Are the musical influences about you and Cam pooling your musical interests together, or does a lot rest on your shoulders?
I think it’s more of a 50/50 thing, like a tag team. His ideas towards beats, production and sampling is unlike anyone else in the UK for me and the influence I bring to the table adds all sorts of different emotions to each track. One track can be about family, another about the streets, one about a girl, so there’s all sorts of angles that inspire both of ourselves as artists to create different types of music. It’s all for the audience to capture and listen to.
You’ve been writing bars for over a decade now. What inspired you in the beginning to pick up the pen? Are them experiences still relevant now?
What inspired me then was just the feeling of yourself escaping from the world, even for a couple of minutes. You can get lost within the pages. The same thing inspires me now, I started writing lyrics at 11-12 and now I’m 22. Sometimes, I can’t hold it in and bottle It up – if something’s in my head or I feel a certain way, I’ll have to put it down on paper. Everything inspires me to write as well, from hearing samples, certain music, conversations, different views of scenery and even reading. My experience now is that the songs are a lot more mature and grown up, more real life instead of kid talk and that.
How does Shyan as an artist compare to Shyan as a person?
Good question. As an artist I’m very determined. Determined to get my point across to the listeners. Definitely wear my heart on my sleeve when I rhyme and I’m on the mic. You can feel it in my voice, tone and especially the lyrics. As a person, I’m quite chilled out. I just enjoy spending time with family and friends. Sometimes, it’s like a Jekyll and Hyde sort of thing. When I rap, I’m a different person, in the zone, in another world. People who know me as a person know me for my music and my emceeing. So it comes into one, not just a separate combination.
You have a real blend of influences in the rap game. How have they shaped the style you deliver as an artist?
The artists I grew up listening to have definitely shaped me into a better emcee and even as a person. I was always listening to 2Pac, Skinnyman, Klashnekoff and Wu Tang – artists that had a message and were rapping with meaning and not just for the fun of it. It’s conscience music, life-changing lyrics and beats. These influences inspired me to become the artist I am today, but I also let people know ‘this is Shyan’. I’m not them and they are certainly not me. We’re all one, going in the same direction but all take different individual roads and paths.
With that in mind, what are three of the most influential albums for you and why?
It’s tricky as there are many to choose from. I’ll have to say Skinnyman – Council Estate Of Mind, Nas – Stillmatic and Eminem – Marshall Mathers L.P. A lot more albums were playing in my childhood such as Wu Tang Clan – 36 Chambers, Big L – Ebonics etc. Those albums there where lyrically genius. The rhyme schemes, emotion, and just how it touched real life. It influenced me growing up because I could relate to it so much. Even when I listen back to the artists and albums, they take me back to when I was in the park with my friends, messing up and acting wild. Music in the 90’s and early 2000’s were the best for me.
How has that late 90’s/early 2000’s influence shaped your own style?
It’s more lyrical than anything else I think. Making sure if you speak on a track it has to be from within and not dilated or diluted, it needs to be pure. Most music now is not pure, back then it was, but now it’s changed a lot. So, as long as I got that factor, my style will always be pure and heartfelt. If it’s not, it’s not worth doing.
Having racked up some shows in 2013, what can you tell us about the experience of plying your trade live?
It’s the best feeling. Playing and performing our own stuff live for an audience is the reason why I do what I do. To share our music and life with others hits the spot. Even still, I love recording in the studio, when it’s live, the buzz is indescribable and irreplaceable. Still looking to do more live shows and venues though. Hopefully next year, we can have another busy calendar.
You released the mixtape entitled The Author this year. How do you feel about this release?
The Author was not planned for long. Me and Cam have been making music together for the last 3-4 years. I felt instead of keeping it shelved and indoors, we’ll put the songs out there to let people into our music. Most of the songs are new but a handful of them I recorded about 3-4 years ago, and I felt they were still good enough to put out there. The feedback was good; I gave it to some known artists such as Jean Grae and Skinnyman who are artists I look up to in the music game. Also got over a 1000+ downloads on Mixtape Madness, so its been positive. We’ve also got a whole lot more songs and material to put out as well, so the future’s looking exciting for me, Cam and our team.
If your listeners could only catch three tracks on the mixtape, what would you tell them to listen to and why?
I Don’t Know. It’s a deep story about relationships and certain feelings that come with it. Jezebel, which was about making something positive out of a negative. It has an old school jazz feel; the lyrics and chorus is up lifting but also hard-hitting. Going Out Of My Head is all about having a good time, spending it with friends and family and making the best out of your night.
Finally, can we expect another release anytime soon?
Hopefully we will bring out maybe another mixtape or an EP with 6-7 songs on but there are a lot of artists we’re looking to work with which is exciting, with a lot more music me and Cam are working with at the moment. So there’s activity in the pipeline. We’re just enjoying our music and trying to spread the message. Keep posted and watch this space. Peace.
You can grab The Author for free here on Mixtape Madness.