Shaun B: From the military to the stage
The singer talks transitioning into an artist, being inspired by women’s stories, protesting in America, and current R&B.
The key to realizing any dream is to listen to your calling and go with your gut. Shaun B’s transition from the military to the stage is one that’s abnormal, but inspiring. Following his passion for music has led him down a path meant for him in the very first place.
His newest project, Songs for Women, is an ode to women and the appreciation we should have for them. It’s an interesting perspective in a time where misogyny and rape culture are being forced to the forefront of public awareness. REVOLT TV spoke to the young crooner about his approach to songwriting, his thoughts on the NFL protests, and how several interviews with women around the country led to this body of work.
How did you make the transition from the military to music? For a time period, I was trying to do both. I was literally leaving gun ranges or PT [physical training] test and headed to photoshoots and the studio right after. I would tell Lokey, my engineer, after we would leave a session at 4 a.m., like, I’m just about to take a shower and head to base for a PT test at 0630. No sleep. The last interference that stuck with me was when I got offered a show in Texas. A week before the show I asked for leave, [but] my command never approved it. That was really the point when I knew putting 50% into both wouldn’t lead to anything but failure so I prayed about it and here we are.
Was music really what you wanted to do the entire time? I always had a passion for it, but I didn’t think it was possible for a guy like me to make a living from it. I loved my time in the Army, but thank God for Cam Kirk. He brought me around nothing but pure creatives who did what they loved for work. I would tell him all the time when we’d be around and people would thank me for my service [that] I thought people like him and his friends were heroes too because they actually had the courage to go for exactly what they wanted without thinking about back-up plans. No ‘plan Bs.’
What is the significance of, and creative process behind, this mixtape? This was the first project I did [when] completely focus[ed] on music, no more other careers. And SlowKings, the producers of the record, had just moved to Atlanta. I was able to travel and speak to a lot of women I knew around the country, and the common feeling they all had about the people around them were [that] they felt underappreciated. With that inside knowledge, I decided to approach this EP with appreciation as the priority and all other emotions [as] secondary. I tried to make it about the women who listen to my music, thus the album artwork—done by Ideapathy and Cam Kirk—is all women who sent their favorite selfies to me.
What’s your perspective on the NFL protests? I fucking love it! Peaceful protest is a part of this country and change for the equality of all, not just the ones who feel like their voice is the only one that should be heard because that’s the way things are. It was unheard-of previously for black people to have the same liberties granted to others in this country. The same can be said about women. And with protest, conversations, and reasoning, look how far we’ve come. But we still have further to go.
What are your thoughts on people who claim that their opposition to NFL protests is out of respect for the military? That they’re entitled to their opinion. I can’t expect you to hear mine if I undermine yours. As a veteran that sacrificed a lot for this country and for the right for all opinions, not just the ones I agree with. [But] if that’s what you do, [if you] just care about the opinion and not the cause that players are doing this to help shed light on the injustices of minorities in this country, [then], bottom line, the injustices that are happening to minorities in this country are completely wrong and un-American if you ask me. The protest is what America and her flag represent: freedom and equality for all.
How do you approach songwriting? Through pure experiences. I try to be vulnerable to the words because that’s exactly what keeps me human. What I say and how I present it is all I really have so I gotta make sure it’s coming from a real place because it’s all I got and that’s exactly how I treat it.
Do you rely on personal experiences or are you able to witness others’ to put them into songs? I do both for sure. Mainly it’s my experiences, but if I witness something that inspires me I definitely act on it through my music. I remember watching this couple argue outside a QuikTrip here in Atlanta and it was freezing, like, thirty-something degrees, but shawty didn’t care. She was crying to the point where her tears were freezing on her face. I had to document that, it was only right.
What’s your opinion on the current landscape of R&B? I think it’s in a great space. You got some really dope artists in this genre, whether I feel like the world gives them the credit they deserve or not. It doesn’t stop them from being dope and extremely talented. The sky is the limit right now.
Which song off this project is your favorite and why? I really love the song ‘”Tonight.” That’s just me in a song, I think. I love singing about taboo moments and situations and that record is just that. All real, all me, you know. When it’s real, it can never be anything other than fire.
What should we expect from you in the next six months? Slowkings, Lokey and I are currently working on “Cocaine at Midnight.” It’s the final chapter in that composition of music series. Art Basel is around the corner and I will definitely be there. I’ll also be doing performances leading up to attending SXSW. That’s really the focus my team and I have, connecting with people through the music and performances. Other than that, you’ll probably catch me at a happy hour celebrating that I’m here. That’s a blessing considering my previous profession, what I did and the friends I’ve lost that can’t be here with me but will never be forgotten and will always be with me in spirit.
Check out Songs About Women below.