Something incredible started happening to Chicago’s musical identity in 2006: It branched beyond Kanye. Seemingly overnight, artists like Kid Sister, Flosstradamus, The Cool Kids, Mano, Mic Terror and many more came to the forefront to show their middle fingers to that “second city” complex and blew up without hesitation. Some called it New Chicago, some called it juke, but Shala called it the movement. One of the city’s leaders then and even more so now is Olusola Akintunde a.k.a. Shala, whose Movement collective helped to jump-start the careers of at least a few of these new players (Hollywood Holt and Mano most notably). While Shala spent most of his time back in those days hyping up his city and focusing on the others, he’s finally grown some sense and honed in on his own music — which just so happens to be a ear-pleasing merging of brilliantly penned Southside rap, soul, funk and hands-down unapologetic attitude. Peep “Getty”: As Africans we own thangs, we don’t know no better / You say we live on HUD, Your crib be Rent-A-Center / Never get it f’ed up, Africans we hustlas / Everything for sale, we chargin’ you to give a f***
Make sure you check the link at the end of the interview and get yourself some new tunes.
What makes Shala. unique?
I’m Nigerian so I’ve always had a musical world view that’s influenced by everything around me — ignorant, intelligent, classical. I’m definitely a leader and know I’m supposed to do something really big with this music, something beyond attention from girls and getting in trouble all the time.
Describe your sound in one or two phrases.
Electro rock with funky soul Nigerian pop. They’d come see that motherfucker wouldn’t they?
How do you feel about rap music right now?
Now more than ever it’s a movement of underdogs and that’s what hip-hop has always really represented. I live in Chicago and it’s an underdog city, so you’ve got the underdogs in the underdog city winning.? Right now, Chicago has a need to express itself and a unification of that need gathers into a voice so loud no one can ignore it.
How would you describe your city?
Chicago is in the middle so all the influences came from all over the place. It’s the flower that’s growing out of that concrete and is amazing because No. 1, it grew out of concrete and No. 2, it’s gonna be beautiful because everybody that walked past it watered it. People call it a little brother to New York but there’s more to the story. It’s that little brother that thinks he’s lame because his big brother is so great, but ends up being super great after he gets past himself. Lupe [Fiasco] showed us we can make it from just being who we are. Kanye still shows us you can be player and make it. Look at Hollywood Holt – he looks eclectic and very rock and roll. He doesn’t look like the kind of cat that would beat your ass, but people know. We surprise you out here.
For the last several years, Chicago has been a bit about the juke. What’s juke music?
Juke means move. Someone asks you, ’How’s the party?’ You say, ’It’s juking’. When you see black people juking in the 1940s, they’re having a good time ain’t they? Jumping around, flipping each other around, having an amazing time. Chicago juke is just fast dance-party rap.
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