Still Shadey: The Croydon Baby
Still Shadey, known to many as the ‘Croydon baby ‘ put on an incredible show on Wednesday the 6th of April, where the rapper expressed he was ‘Alive’ and ‘Feeling the energy. The concert showcased a variety of incredibly talented London-based artists and ultimately highlighted the sheer expanse of Croydon community support. Shadey, a rapper and co-founder of KB records, released his debut album ‘Croydon baby’ and gained popularity in the centre of Croydon, quoting ‘Where there’s shade, there is light... My story serves my future”. His rise to fame was not only a testament to his immense talent but his role as an active inspiration to his community. When asked about his motivations to make music, the rapper expressed his complete and utter love for creative expression, “It’s life. I think I've said it from the beginning. Sound is important. It creates mood, it creates emotions, which lead the soul to a certain direction.” It wasn’t until his hit single Heaven (2020) that the Nigerian artists really began to gain extraordinary notoriety and national recognition, charting number 7 in Hip Hop Charts with 'Heaven' (Drill Remix). After putting on a fantastic show on the 6th of April, bringing the likes of Jo Joey, Proph and his brother Y Shadey, there is no doubt the rapper has a fierce and unrelenting passion for music. When asked his dream venue to perform in, the artist laughed with confidence and attested to his promise to perform in every single venue available, “ I want to do them all. I am going to do them all. If there’s a capacity, we’re doing it” Backstage with the artists, back up singers and crew members, the energy of the room mirrored the energy of the fans bustling into the venue. I spoke to some of the fans, many exclaiming how inspiring it was to have such a positive role model in their community. When I sat down with Still Shadey, we spoke about the curation of his unique style, something that many say initially attracted them to the genre-bending artist. He expressed ‘[he] looked in the mirror and from there I started to find myself’, ultimately expressing his music as testament to himself, his identity and his tough journey growing up in South London.
Historically the artist has spoken candidly about his turbulent childhood in the streets of south London, though the muti-faceted artist never shies away from commending his roots and his childhood home; New Addington, while continuing to support his community through his music and community service. Projects such as the RENA are legacies the artists have created with the intention of supporting the youth in the community. His music, which has touched and inspired the hearts of many, has featured on BBC, ITV, and various other national TV platforms, with themes such as violence, injustice and criminal exploitation and more. From visiting schools, youth prisons and community centres or sitting on youth panels at the house of lords to collaborating with Rogan Productions on BBC award-winning Documentary about Knife Crime and Trauma; Stabbed: Britain's Knife crime crisis (2019), Shadey underlines the importance of supporting the community and steering the young generation away from a path of violence. From much anticipation from the fans - and myself - I quizzed the artist on his plans and projects for the future. “I’m making a piece called Mirror mirror and it's about exploring the identity of a young person. ‘Mirror mirror on the wall tells me who I’m meant to be’ is a line from it. I am going to extract that and make it into a short film. It’s going to be big, it’s going to be a single, a whole project” The project is set to explore a multitude of themes, incorporating many of the subjects the artist instils into his music. After finishing my interview with the artist, he jumped up and went on to perform an incredible show. I had thoroughly enjoyed interviewing the artist who came into every room with a cool, charismatic hold and I am extremely honoured to see a legend in the making. Words by: Wakai Muganiwah
PWR: Why do you make music?
Still Shadey: It’s life. I think I've said it from the beginning. Sound is important. It creates mood, it creates emotions, which lead the soul to a certain direction. Music is such a great element to start that. When creating and seeing what the music does, it’s amazing.
PWR: What is excellence to you?
Still Shadey: Excellence is understanding, it's seeing what is in front of you and providing that immediate need. It’s seeing what is in front of you and saying ‘this is what they need right now’. Excellence is not necessarily perfection, I think there’s a difference, I think artists and creators pursuing excellence is more about making sure you’re giving that audience their needed purpose at that moment, to the greatest quality.
PWR: Do you think you measure yourself up to that standard of excellence? Do you think you have achieved it?
Still Shadey: I think it’s a barometer that is ongoing. I think its something that will continue rising. Once you understand the intricacies of your audience's mind you realize there are more things you can do for them. There are so many more things you can do to create this utopic atmosphere in their minds. So, yeah, I think excellence is ongoing, it's maturing, but also a conviction level. I need to keep going, I need to keep setting the bar, I can never get complacent or I’m not excellent anymore. It’s constantly seeing and hitting that barometer and then when you hit it you realize you need humility and say ‘nah there’s more’ and keep going.
PWR: You implement so much political lyricism and christianity and real life experiences in your music. Where did you curate such a unique style?
Still Shadey: I looked in the mirror. I closed the windows, I turned off the music, I closed the curtains and the door, then I sat down and I looked in the mirror. I looked deeply at myself, looked into my eyes and I said ‘who is this person?’ When you do that long enough you start to get deeply rooted in certain things that make you you. You see how these things start to translate into certain forums; music, art etc…I looked in the mirror and from there I started to find myself.
PWR: You do so much with the community, from visiting schools and youth prisons to helping community centers. How has that, your upbringing and your journey helped influence your music?
Still Shadey: I’m a part of an industry that is very microwaved, very condensed. One size fits all, you have to perform like this and sound like this. And when you're in that space it starts to get very confusing for the listener, because they feel they have to be a certain way. That’s dangerous, because you are no longer looking in the mirror, looking at what makes you you; what makes you excellent. So I think going into these schools and having real conversations is where I can show a bit more of myself, so they can see I'm more than just an artist…
PWR: There are definitely a lot of stereotypes around rap and the type of music you produce.
Still Shadey: …Exactly, I think it's so inspiring when people can see that and realise there is more to me and give them more perspective on themselves. So shout out to RENA and New Addington, which is a Croydon initiative based in the place I grew up, where it’s about pulling partners from the community to do some work. That's what we go by, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
PWR: What achievement are you most proud of so far?
Still Shadey: Just the fact that a relationship is being built in the community. Too often and in this industry people work by themselves, that's not how you raise a child. Sign your deal, don’t tell anyone, work with these professionals, don’t bring your family etc… that's not how life is supposed to be. We are supposed to be a community, so seeing my community, Croydon and New Addington come together is a beautiful thing.
PWR: How does it feel to be on your first tour?
Still Shadey: It is not a tour anymore, we had to postpone due to certain events, but I feel alive. I feel strong.
PWR: Absolutely, the energy from the concert has been absolutely amazing. As you said earlier, so many people from the community are down here to support.
What is your dream venue for the future?
Still Shadey: I want to do them all. I am going to do them all. If there’s a capacity, we’re doing it.
PWR: Are there any big projects we should be excited for?
Still Shadey: Yes, talking about your earlier question, I’m making a piece called Mirror mirror and it's about exploring the identity of a young person. ‘Mirror mirror on the wall tells me who I’m meant to be’ is a line from it. I am going to extract that and make it into a short film. It’s going to be big, it’s going to be a single, a whole project.
PWR: Lastly, what advice would you give to your younger self?
Still Shadey: Don’t stop. Even now, don’t stop. Be present and in the hardest moments keep looking up.
Interview by: Wakai Muganiwah