Music is not just a hobby for Shai Bascombe but a lifestyle.
This young musician is in the business because of the love and passion he has for the art form. Though only 19 years old, Shai already has a pretty good idea of where he wants to go musically.
Currently a student at the Barbados Community College in the Division of Computer Studies, the young exponent of hip hop started to take an interest in music at the age of 12 in the role of ghostwriter for a couple of his classmates who at the time had dreams of pursuing music.
Shai recalled there were some girls in his class who wanted to have a girl pop group and he worked closely with them, putting ideas to paper to generate original content for them.
But at that young age, Shai was not yet sure about the path he wanted to take. He just knew he was good at what he did but, as for making it his career of choice, he was not so certain.
The revelation of his talent came when he wrote a song and the persons for whom it was intended, did not perform it as he had envisioned. As a result, he attempted to try to rap his own song as he intended.
Following that session, Shai had an epiphany of sorts and, from that moment, he knew he wanted to pursue a career in music.
After that, “every talent show there was, every pageant I did”, the former Coleridge and Parry student said. He also enrolled in the after school music programme at the St Peter high school and learnt to play the trumpet — a decision that proved quite helpful.
From then until now, Shai has been working assiduously to produce high quality music. He told Bajan Vibes his interest in becoming an international recording artiste started right around that time when Justin Bieber and others were getting famous. He believed he too was good enough but, upon reflection, realized that “my lyrics were weak”.
Though Barbadian society is generally not as welcoming to hip hop artistes as traditional artistes, “my friends were always supportive and honest”, Shai said. “I didn’t have any ‘yes men’ in my squad. If it were weak, they would tell me no!”
Shai recalled his very first attempt at making an album. However, it didn’t come off as well as he would have liked because the quality wasn’t the best. “I remember when my cousin had a mic and I used to go down by him and we used to use a programme called Audacity and the quality was poor but we thought it was awesome,” he reminisced.
While his family was very supportive of his interest in a music career, Shai said his mother always cautioned and implored him to make sure he had education to fall back on.
In December 2015, Shai landed his first official studio session and used the opportunity to record his first official single My Section along with local artist YannWood$. He later joined the music group Lotus 7 which landed himself a few top notch performances.
That was just the beginning because again in February of 2016, Shai recorded his track If Only featuring Kemar Leron and Hate Being Black at The Noize Boyz Studios, where he met his producer and business partner Denzil Bovel aka diggz Da Producer.
Immediately the name of the song Hate Being Black stood out and Shai offered some explanation about the thought process behind the song. “People take the name of the song and run with it without even listening to the song,” he said.
He said the song was written at a time when there was widespread protest for Travyon Martin and Michael Brown, young American black men shot dead in a series of alleged racially motivated killings, some involving the police.
It was frustrating to him, Shai said.
“When you look online, blacks bash their own, white people help each other but we had white men in blue suits killing us and all we could do is protest, “ Shai said.
Shai said his song asked a question that nobody else was asking. “We are a talented people, so why is it that we hate ourselves?”
After the song blew up, particularly with people who just ran with the title, he was happy to see and hear how the response was before people actually listened to it and after.
The songs tell a story, Shai said. That is why Kendrick Lamar and J Cole are his favorite rappers because they are able to tell a story through their songs. His favorite one is “Sing about me I am dying of thirst”. It tells the story of a friend who died.
Shai said his favorite artiste has a way of telling his story through the rap and it is almost like a child listening to a bedtime story, hanging on to every word and that’s what he wants for his music.
However, he doesn’t want to mimic anybody’s style but is seeking to have his own identity.
Shai is now paving his own way in the hip hop industry. He not only writes and sings but is also a music producer. He has some plans for the year. “I am trying to get the music on the radio,” he said.
He noted a previous attempt was unsuccessful. He, however, is unfazed since he is producing more music and is planning to flood the air waves with his music.
Even though he is still relatively young, Shai has some advice to younger artistes now starting out. “Do not mind what people say, keeping pushing,” he said.