As Shystie’s latest single Stop takes radio by storm, she takes time to talk to GIITTV about being a triple threat, iCloud leaks and not pandering to the streets.
Shystie is in a good mood and who can blame her. UK rappers can usually only hope for their releases to create ripples on mainstream radio, but her new track Stop is making waves big enough to surf on.
The Deanyboy produced number with its break beat, 90s feel that samples The Supremes classic of the same name creates the perfect backdrop for Shystie to weave her magic over.
“I wanted to try something different and it worked. I’m like ‘flip sake I should have done this years ago,’” says Shystie.
The truth is, years ago Shystie was busy laying the foundations for a music career that has earned her the title of being one of the UK’s most respected female MC’s.
It was back in the 2003 when her white label response to Dizzee Rascal’s I Luv U grabbed the attention of music heads and ultimately a record deal with Polydore. Tours with 50 Cent, Basement Jaxx and UK hip hoppers The Streets followed, as did a loyal legion of fans.
Flash-forward a decade, and the east London rapper is still able to get people to pay attention when she commands.
If being the First Lady of UK rap isn’t a big enough brag, Shystie has extended her reach successfully into other arenas.
Shystie has clocked up acting credits that include Channel 4’s innovative TV series Dubplate Drama, acclaimed UK flick Adulthood and Short film Illegal Activity.
Not content with being in the studio and on screen, Shystie became a triple threat when she added modeling as another string to her bow after walking at London Fashion Week and featuring in Vogue magazine twice.
With the world seemingly her oyster, I wonder if she had to pick one lane to stay in which it would be. It’s an agonising choice, but not relishing the prospect of “being an old ass rapper still trying to make it” Shystie says: “Acting, because you can be 60 years old and act. You can’t be 60 and rapping, you can’t even be 40 and rapping!”
“You have people like Jay Z who have built up a crazy legacy and have remained consistent. But if you haven’t made it by about 33, you should forget it and try something else,” she says when asked what an appropriate cut off point would be for people trying to make it.
While, Shystie hasn’t built up a “crazy legacy” like Jay Z, she does have an impressive innings. Joking the reason for her longevity is “’Cause I’m down with the kids,” she does admit having younger siblings definitely keeps her finger on the pulse.
“If I get a thumbs up from them, I know I am on the right track,” she tells me.
A good team, hard work and undeniable talent has kept her in the forefront, but her use of social media has definitely helped too.
“I’m really social networky,” Shystie tells me and laughs when we reminisce about old skool sites like Blackchat, Facepic, MSN and Myspace.
“I have been using these kind of sites since I was about 17, so I haven’t had to make the hard transition into the digital age like some artists that have been doing it for as long as me have.”
Considering the recent leaks of celeb pictures, I can’t resist asking what her iCloud settings are like. “When all of those pictures came out, I went straight to my iCloud settings and turned off all my pictures off. Not saying I’ve got nudes or anything, but I am not getting caught out with anything,” she laughs before adding: “I won’t be getting Kim Kardashianed.”
While the aforementioned celebrity made it big from a home movie, Shystie luckily has catchy track and EP due to be released that could propel her career forward.
Stop and the EP it was taken from, Exhalation, is a slight deviation from the music she is known for, but Shystie definitely does not feel the pressure to put out music that will satisfy the “streets”.
“The thing about artists is: when we start out, we all want to be signed and be successful and get plaques and a platform for our music to be heard. We all want to move our mums out of the areas we came from. So I don’t understand why when it works, artists start going back to the same hood stuff they have been trying to get away from,” Shystie says.
Another east London artist who crossed over and initially suffered backlash from fans is Dizzee Rascal, but Shystie says: “Look at Dizzee, Dizzee is living in Miami or somewhere making music in big ass studios with amazing artists. I’m sure his mum is very happy with him. To me that is more important than someone I don’t even know exists tweeting that I’m not keeping it real. Mate, to me keeping it real is making sure my mum’s bills are paid, I have a roof over my head and my family and friends are all sorted.”
This is a subject Shystie is obviously passionate about, and at the end of her heartfelt rant, she comments: “Oh my God, I think you just reached inside my soul.”
With Stop released the beginning of October and Exhalation following in the New Year, here’s to hoping that everyone reaches inside their wallets and supports the UK talent that is, Shystie.