The mission has been revamped for the current time. Shawn Crysis, bred from New/North Brunswick, New Jersey, has had change at his core from the moment he realized the impact he can have. Passion rivets through him as he expresses all phases of his life, thoughts, dreams, questions and everything in between. This is for the bigger purpose of aligning the world with love and truth. He is #hereforthechange.
Shawn Crysis, is a writer, poet, rapper, and a performer. We got a chance to talk to him about being a multi-faceted artist in the digital age. Read on to find out what we learned!
Tell us about your journey and introduction to poetry/rap.
Before all, it was poetry. I had a crush on a girl named Tamilia in middle school and my interest sparked from there and I began to write. In total, though, I probably only wrote 4-7 poems during those times. Then it started as a love for making beats on lunch tables; I used to be the unofficial drummer for the cyphers at my high school, NBTHS. When everyone was done rapping, the crowd was just in awe; the words that flew out were tight. And in certain times, I was able to control the pace of it: how the breakdown sounded with the bars that were coming. But, the rappers were always given the love.
I wanted that kind of love and appreciation so I began to write. I broke out my Sidekick (cell phone), opened the notes, and began to write. I noticed that I made sense a lot, and I enjoyed making things connect and associate with each other. Words were fun. I then brought them to the lunch tables and my peers were feeling it. I remember practicing mad freestyles to make sure I had something to spit.
From there, I got into the studio first with my boy Marquis. He was rapping as well so we formed a group called L.S., short for Light Skins *LMFAO*. We made, probably, a total of 5 tracks and I loved every bit of it so I continued to write and flow. Actually, if you look up L.S. – One Night Freak on Youtube you’ll see the work. The rest I have archived for my own amusement *LOL*.
After writing, I began to see it was making me happier and helping me process through events and situations in my life. Writing brought me clarity and a different perspective. It was therapy after a while. My first album, Table for One, was just that – therapy for self before I ever cared to appease the ears of folks. It was about aligning my self with me.
From there came performing. My very first open mic was at Soul by the Pound in New Brunswick, NJ and I had to sit down, actually, due to my nervousness. But they (the audience) enjoyed it. They enjoyed my life, pain, questions and struggle I was dealing with. They could relate. That’s when all hell broke loose for me. I loved giving my words in any form I can, song or spoken word.
While your music is easily accessible online, you do have CD’s available for sale. Tell us about what you learned regarding selling music this way in today’s digital world.
It is more personable. You know your answer right then and there whether someone will support you rather than waiting for a follow or a comment. It’s a more genuine connection with someone, especially cause it was done face to face – breaking todays social norms of actually interacting with people and allowing an actual relationship to be formed. I remember almost every face. It is bit harder, though; especially ’cause CD’s are becoming obsolete, more especially if you don’t have a car to listen to it in. But, the aspect of going up to someone to ask them to buy something from you makes it easier for online sales to be interacted. For me, now, it’s learning the marketing behind it.
Which way do you find more popular and why?
Online. The network is endless and folks are reachable at literally anytime of the day. I can be working or on the toilet making a sale or having someone tell me about my music. It is Mr. Fantastic reaching level, from Jersey to Beijing all with the click of a button.
Which way makes you feel more “successful”?
Hand-to-hand. You see the impact that you had on someone and their willingness to support, especially if I just performed. It’s like getting paid at the end of the day when you work and not waiting for a check. Someone enjoyed me and connected so much that they will support me to keep on doing it. I love that and I pray that it helps them do what they want to do.
What was your inspiration behind your most project “nice to meet u ep (a she cursor)”?
She is. She is the women I have been in relationships with. Things I have learned, gained, took, given all while still appreciating who she is to me. It is my ode to woman. ‘nice to meet u’ is the pre-cursor, (she-cursor) to my album entitled she. which is an acronym for she’s his everything. It is the exploration also of my voice and looking into ways to bend it, pitch it and still make good sounding music while giving some bars.
In what ways do the samples used in the project help convey your message?
It helped set the tone of what the song was to be about or the feel I wanted to give. Earth, Wind and Fire was about how she was all of these natural forces all in one; in each verse, each beat breakdown/switch up I used the elements and described who she is to me. Sade eloquently provided the soul of the track and I followed suit.
Never Let Me Go was a quick run, something of an interlude but still a track, still impactful, still meaningful and pivotal. As just as quick the sample and tempo was, I wanted to match that and began to drift in between it.
You have been seen performing at various platforms across the country. How do you secure a spot at these venues?
Networking from past events, people will inquire if I want to participate at the event. If I can, I’m there. Before being reached out to, it was looking in every nook and cranny of the tri-state area to find out where there was an open mic or showcase that I can be a part of. My friends would also tell me about events happening and who to contact if they seen a flyer online or knew someone.
Tell us about your experience(s) with competitions using your art.
I have made it to California for free – flight, room and board all paid for. I was apart of Daze Summit created by Scott Morris, which is a week long run of music shows, workshops, and a panel in NYC. It’s main purpose was to generate scholarship money for high school students.
This past year was the Fly Me to LA edition in which the two winners would receive an all expense paid trip to California for the BET Awards and I was sold on it right there. Being apart of the Deans List Tour, a musical artist based tour out of NYC, helped greatly with the gearing and rearing of performing and artist development. Having been apart of that, I knew that I had to simply perform my heart out -in which I did.
In a certain case when performing solely poetry, I was in the running to be a part of the New Jeru Slam Team. It was a heavy day when it comes to the greatness that was in that room and I had no idea that there people were SPITTING. There is something about poetry that I love with every inch of my heart. It enthralls me because I appreciate the words of people and what they are saying -and they were saying some SHIT! Sadly, I did not qualify to be a part of the Slam team. But, just the experience of doing it riveted me to want to try again. I love being heard, I want my words to be heard, no beat, no melody, just me.
While also working towards growing as an artist, you volunteer your time at local schools to work with kids in exploring their own artistic identity. How have these experiences been for you?
Shawn luhh da kids! They teach me so much about the world they live and how it impacts them directly. I’ve learned about the school-to-prison pipeline working at the Dr. Marion Bolden Center in Newark. Having them (the students) explain what is so relevant to them and the sensitivity of being in the face of the dragon inspires me to help sharpen their blades. They bring me glee and hope for the future. Seeing them doing what they love to do brings me so much happiness. I want to let them know that their art, their talent, their actions are appreciated and can take them anywhere they choose to go. They explore a territory in which the process isn’t celebrated, only the creation. But it is showing them to celebrate the process of trying new things, failing, resiliency, all while trying to get what is in their mind out into the world.
Tell us how your life experiences have shaped your artistry.
They allow me to speak my truth and uncover my lies I have told myself. They make me deal with things I’m afraid of or unwilling to. They allow the passion to speak through me and come out as vividly as it came in. They teach me more about myself and the world and how to portray it to myself and others. It has been my life and while the artistry is only a part of me, it’s a major component of how life has been experienced.