Shawn Chrystopher Garrett, possesses both California’s shadow and sunshine. The rapper/producer, who actually reads music and plays multiple instruments has an appreciation for creativity. As a child, Shawn Chrystopher, became the artistic apprentice to this paternal grandmother, a published poet. After discovering Kriss Kross, the burgeoning talent would utilize his creative cache transforming sonnets into sixteens. Even though the diligent wordsmith earned a four and half year academic scholarship to the, University of Southern California, Hip-Hop harnessed his heart.
This unyielding passion encouraged Shawn Chrys to fully commit to fulfilling his artistic endeavors. His natural gift, his unwavering determination, and his tested faith are among the tools that he’s honed to create fruitful endorsement campaigns, growing musical partnerships, and an enduring catalog of art. Withinn this exclusive interview where SC delivers his truth on Timbaland, The Lovestory LP, and the ladies.
AllHipHop: You have your hands in everything. How are you learning to delegate that responsibility?
Shawn Chrystopher: It’s funny. Honestly, I tell them all the time that they just have to do it. It just has to be done. If I’m there—if they’re waiting on me to tell them—I won’t tell anybody because I’ll just end up doing it. Nobody knows how to do it like I want it. I’d rather people just do it and I just tweak it.
I have great people around me who understand me; so, they just go ahead and take the initiative. Like, ‘Hey, do you like this?’ Rather me having to start from scratch. Within the last 48 hours I’ve been in the studio for 12 hours. I’ve edited this new web series…I’ve been on Photoshop working on some photos and these tour posters. Always being on social media, talking to my fans on Facebook and Twitter, and everything like that.
So, that’s actually you operating your Facebook and Twitter?
Yeah, I’m always on there. If you want to be a star then you have to work harder than the person that’s already in the game. If the person that’s already in the game hasn’t slept for 36 [hours] then I can can’t sleep for 42, 48, 52 [hours]. Whatever the case may be, it has to be more than them.
So, the people that I look up to—I’ve watched Timbaland and he don’t sleep. I’ll be damned if I’m sleeping. He’s rich as sh*t. If he’s not sleeping and he’s worried about, you know, breaking more records and getting more checks—and I’m trying to break a record, and get a check. I can’t be sleep! I just got to work hard.
You say, “…I’m out here trying to find what’s missing / and money making is still the mission…” What steps are you taking to help ensure that the future legacy of your label, Honour Role, is reinforced with financial and creative success?
We’re in an era, especially in this country, to where we can get paid off our talents. Even just going around out here in New York, you see so many people get paid just by standing on the street or playing the guitar. They’re not just giving you money. They aren’t the people who just sit there and beg for money. These are people who apply some sort of service to get dollars. Their service is entertainment.
So I think that if you have the ability to entertain then you should have the ability to feed yourself off that. With this Honour Role, me and my people we’ve grouped together because we all believe in each other. We feel like we have a story to be told. In some way, shape, form or fashion, whether it be through films, music, through photography, through anything—we can use that to financially secure us in ways that people that was only through [completing] school.
Ever since the whole Bill Gates, Steve Jobs era—the internet age and the computer age—we realized that we don’t need school. You saw even more rich and succesful icons do it without college. I just want to make sure that we can be the same—as financially successful so we don’t have to worry about anything. That’s the worst thing in the world is to have to worry. Stress isn’t good. A lot of relationships end because of money. I want to be able to have a woman and know that it’s going to work out or not based off of our interactions with each other. But never to fight over money, because that’s how a lot of relationships end—a lot of people should be together but just can’t because they’re both broke. You know what I’m saying, so I don’t ever want that to be a problem for me. With my family, and whenever I have kids, I don’t want that to be a problem for them.
Given your profession females may come at you because they perceive you as being on. Do you have trust issues; is there a list of things that a female must do to solidly earn your trust?
It’s all time; with time all relationships will show you where they are. I’ve never had a girlfriend that I just met off the bat. All of my girlfriends have been friends of friends. We all hung out for a little bit and we got to know each other. Seeing a girl and talking to her, and out of the blue we just became girlfriend/boyfriend. Sometime down the line, her friends became my friends—it was always someone close to me. I think that’s because I know that person’s intentions.
You don’t ever really know what another’s intentions is—you can have the intention to change the world—they can derail you from that. Man, it’s not worth it. I was put here for a bigger purpose than to be in a relationship. I don’t want that to change or to alter what I’m really here for. I guess it’s trust issues, but it’s really me just protecting my gift more than it is protecting what I got material-wise.
From listening to your album I came to appreciate the positive undercurrent. You share gems without preaching. You say, “…The key to life is working harder than your situation.” Plus you share, “…out with the ignorance and supersede your sorrows…” Who and or what helped to cultivate your positive perspective on life?
A lot of that is because I always felt a certain way—people only like to put ‘classic’ titles on things that are really dark, cutting-edge and, goth. Like Kanye, I love Kanye to death, I really want him to come back to that positivity that he had with College Dropout. He was happy. Now he has this mind frame, ‘To be artistic I have to be the angriest, darkest guy of all time. And that’s not what you have to do to be artistic. I don’t want people to think that’s what it is.
So, I consider myself to be one of the most artistic people that’s coming up in my generation. It’s not because I’m trying to recreate Basquiat’s darkness, and things like that. It is because I’m an artist. And I can be positive and still be an artist. In this day and age that we’re in it takes a lot of hard work to be positive. It’s easy to give up, you know what I’m saying. It’s a lot of hard work to be positive; so, I’m actually working harder than a lot of people.
I respect it. Your delivery is subtle yet still lyrically complex—like let me rewind that again. “Minding My Business” is my favorite track. It’s something you can ride to; plus it possesses depth. With “Nobody On This Earth,” is this your ode to Hip-Hop, or a love letter to yourself?
Actually, it’s about a dream girl. And I don’t know if it’s necessarily like a woman or a dream of where I want to be in life. If you bottle up all your dreams and it was personified and became a woman, that’s who I was talking to. In the song I play on opposites. I say, ‘…I love the way you talk, but I also love the way you think…’ So, I love when you’re silent, too. ‘…I love the way you whisper and I love the way you yell…’ If it’s a whisper, if it’s a yell—everything—all across the board I’m in love with it.
That’s literally the only way that I could express that was if I showed the opposites. You know what I’m saying. In one of the times I say, ‘…I love the way you hold me / I love the way you push me…’ To hold and to push—but it’s like the push to be better. So, that’s an opposite, but it’s also just a play on that word. It’s just saying that I love everything about whatever my dream is. it can be my dream woman, my dream job, whatever, I love everything about it.
In what ways are you investing into your career without selling out yourself or compromising your personal or creative integrity?
I’m not going to lie, in the beginning that’s always very tough, because you just want to me on. You know what I’m saying. At the end of the day, you don’t want to be on when it’s not your call. If you’re not choosing what you look like and what you’re saying—whomever it is that’s choosing what you look like and what you’re saying can get a new job. When they leave you’re stuck figuring out how to continue. Psychologically, you start to think that people don’t like you, because you were being someone else. Now, you’re trying to create a whole new being by being yourself, but you’re too deep in this character.
Not even negatively, but I don’t think that B.o.B. wanted to be “Airplanes,” and wanted to be “Beautiful Girls.” Now he’s making songs that relate to the ‘hood and where we’re from. He was just so far into “Beautiful Girls,” and “Airplanes,” that we don’t even believe the real him. Because, for so long we thought that was the real him. And it really wasn’t. so now, he’s rapping extra hard and it’s like—it doesn’t have the same effect. You know, you can compromise yourself for a few number one hits on Billboard, but when all the dust is settled are you still going to like the person that you’re looking at? You have to live with you; so, I just want to do it my way and not really compromise my sound, and what I have to say, or what I look like for anybody. Whether I make it or if I don’t, I just want to say that I did it how I wanted to do it.
When you look in the mirror are you at peace with what you’ve accomplished thus far?
Never, I always think that I can do more. I know that I can do more and I will. To get to where I am, I look at myself and I’m proud of myself for a split-second. Honestly, I don’t even know where I am. I would just have to look at myself later to know where I am. Right now, if this is what I’ve wanted for so long, then it’s suppose to happen and it’s happening how I knew it would.
I still feel like I’m living my same regular life. You know what I’m saying, until I can breathe and look back like—‘Whoa, I did this and this and this and this.’ You know, there’s so much more that I want to do. Past music—I think music is just a stepping stone.
Within the corporate Rap music business there’s the Pied-Piper syndrome. It’s hard to get on unless you receive a co-sign from a major figure. Have you dealt with this?
It’s not necessarily that you won’t get on unless someone co-signs you. It’s not necessarily that you need a co-sign, because you need to stand next to somebody. But, the people who are co-signing don’t want to leave. These rappers that are 40 – 45 years old, I love them, they’re our legends; they’re still here doing it and doing it well. But, they’re not going to just leave.
So, you’ve got the choice to either wait them out. That may take five to ten years. Or, partner with them; because, your time is now. So, since there’s no passing of the torch—like in sports people retire—you’ve got people that’s going to be here for 20 years. So, what are you going to do? Are you going to wait 20 years? Or, are you going to partner up with somebody so that you can finally get your voice heard? It’s not necessarily that you need a co-sign. Sometimes that’s the only way that you’re going to get out.