Shareefa: Ready For The World

"Come wit it, need somebody that’s real gangsta/I need a pappi, somebody I call daddy"

So we have another bossy chick amongst us. Well, this one demands a boss, and she is not taking anything less. Shareefa, the New Jersey native recently signed to Disturbing the Peace, isn’t taking anything lightly within her career. Known as the soul of the DTP family, Shareefa has been stunning audiences throughout the country with her rugged, emotional sound.

Her edgy voice encompasses her personality through strong, subjective messages, and she acknowledges that her path to success was rocky - but well worth it. Shareefa recently took time out of her hectic schedule to speak with us about her career aspirations, the new album, and who the true first lady of DTP really is. Alternatives: You were once referred to as Teddy Riley’s protégé. How did he actually help and influence you in the music industry?

Shareefa: He’s a legend. He is brilliant in the studio, as well as a perfectionist. There would be many times I would want to fight him coming out the booth. But, when I would go in and record songs, he would tell me to go ahead and Julian would record me. Julian is the engineer who knows nothing about being flat or being sharp or harmony. I didn’t know anything about it either, so I was feeling like he was playing me out like he really didn’t have time to be in there.

So, what I started doing, was going to his sessions at the studio and I would watch him with each artist. I learned what was flat and what was sharp. I learned how to stack harmony. I had to fall back and be easy. It took time. If it was up to me, I thought I was ready like five years ago.

AHHA: What happen with that relationship?

Shareefa: Nothing. I was with him off and on for about three or four years, and he went his way and I went my way. It didn’t work out. I never got a deal or nothing. I was back and forth. And at the time, I was in high school.

AHHA: Considering you are originally from New Jersey and raised in North Carolina, and Disturbing the Peace being based in the South, have your styles of music conflicted or complemented one another?

Shareefa: Complemented one another. You really can’t put a place on my music. My music is universal. I really don’t make music for one type of audience - I make music for everyone to listen to. I try not to limit myself.

AHHA: Did you have any concerns about signing to Disturbing the Peace considering how slowly Shawna’s career progressed?

Shareefa: No, not at all. I never had a doubt. I love my team and I couldn’t be happier.

AHHA: “Need A Boss” was actually produced by Rodney Jerkins. Was he involved in signing of you to DTP?

Shareefa: No, not at all.

AHHA: How has it been working with him?

Shareefa: You work a lot. He is a perfectionist in the studio. He will make you read a line about a 100 times.

AHHA: What about Ludacris?

Shareefa: It’s been wonderful. We have been doing a lot of shows. I have been coming out on a lot of his shows and he has been coming to a lot of my shows. He has definitely been supportive. The support is there.

AHHA: So, do you really need a boss?

Shareefa: Of course, I think we all need bosses in our life. Everybody needs a boss. And let me clear up the meaning behind a boss... Some people think it’s about somebody bossing you around. A boss is a man, a real man that goes about his business, and handles his business and has goals and dreams in life - just as well as I do, and just as well as you do. He wants more out of life. That’s a go-getter.

AHHA: What was actually your inspiration behind the song?

Shareefa: Rodney Jerkins. He came up with the whole idea and everything.

AHHA: Do you feel like you have to live up to a certain image? A lot of women today feel like they have to be sexy and fulfill that sex image?

Shareefa: No, I just feel like I need to be myself.

AHHA: What’s the significance of your album title, Point of No Return?

Shareefa: It’s basically where I am in my life. I can’t go backwards. The only way to move is forward. There comes a time in your life when you feel like you hit rock bottom and you have to get up out that corner. You have to keep it moving. Only a fool will move backwards. This album is like a pot of gumbo. You got your steak, your chicken, your shrimp, and your fish. I don’t sugar-coat anything. It’s live and uncut.

AHHA: You are a fan of Mary J. Blige and Keyshia Cole. Would you consider them some of your influences, and would you compare your style of music to theirs?

Shareefa: Oh yes definitely. The emotion behind the music makes us similar.

AHHA: Who do you get compared to most in the industry?

Shareefa: Mary J. Blige and Lauren Hill. That’s a beautiful compliment.

AHHA: Are you concerned about the possibility of being put in the position to take the “First Lady” title from Shawna - whether by the label or the public?

Shareefa: No, she will always be the first lady because she is a rapper, and I feel like I will always be the first lady because I am the first R & B singer.

AHHA: What do you think makes an artist successful in today’s music climate?

Shareefa: I don’t know, because music is so fickle today. You can be singing about peanut butter and jelly and going platinum now. I think just being yourself and not getting caught up in these images and this fake life, well, the phony life. Stay doing what you do that is comfortable to you. Stop trying to wear all these different types of hats.

AHHA: Are there any other areas of entertainment you would like to pursue other than singing?

Shareefa: Acting. I am acting a little bit in my new video, “Cry No More,” that we just shot. Young Buck is in it, so shout out to G-Unit.

AHHA: So if you could choose any movie to remake with you in the lead role, what would it be?

Shareefa: Set It Off and I would be Vivica. Her whole attitude and the sassiness is me. That was it. But, I think I would have lived. They wouldn’t have caught me.