Shome is a Charlotte area based rapper who is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. After attending UNC-Charlotte and having spent the last few years in Charlotte, Shome has gained notoriety in hip hop as a hard hitting and vocal lyricist. Shome has been featured in industry heavyweight publications MTV, Complex, The Source Magazine and World Star Hip Hop. Shome continues to be active in the Charlotte area, most recently headlining an event on September 26th with rapper Big Pooh. Follow Shome on twitter @Shome504, on Instagram @Shome504 as well as on SoundCloud and Facebook.
Who is Shome, what is your sound, your appeal?
My name is Shome I'm from NOLA and of course I reside in Charlotte now. I’m a hip hop artist who was once really conscious with his music and still is subliminally, but still for the most part I’m trying to find that middle ground between conscious underground and mainstream hip hop. That is, I think, the goal for most artists. I wouldn't say that hip hop is something that a lot of people turn to for political views or consciousness, nowadays but rather for its glorified violence. But then, it has always has been glorified for violence. I always say it's 80-20. 80% of the music that is out is to glorify negativity and 20% is there and you dibble and dabble in some positivity. You have some people like J. Cole or Kendrick [Lamar], you know, these are like the few people, nowadays, that can reach the masses but on a positive note, but then you have a bunch of filler. My goal is to get to that 20%. I want longevity. I don't want quick fame or any of that. I want to be able to relate to people, tell my story, touch people.
My parents are from India and I’m first generation in my family in the U.S. so I come from a background of a bunch of culture, you know, and coming from New Orleans, which I would say is the most cultured city in the U.S. But I’m trying to [bring] that here to Charlotte. Because now, you know, we're all trying to build the culture, we are the culture. This is what represents Charlotte, and this is what Charlotte represents. I want to not only bridge these two cities together but also bring my story out here and have people relate to it.
What does your music represent, your message and how does it relate to your latest project, Kinda Sorta?
So I’ve technically released 3 mixtapes. In 2010 I released my first project, Habitat For Humanity, which did pretty well, but again that was when i first started out, so I’m really young, didn't really know the ropes. It took about 3 and a half years to get my next project out which was the Balancing Act, and this year I dropped Kinda Sorta. And Balancing Act kind of plays off that 20% (see above), because to me everything is a balance, from trying to balance your relationship, to your work life, social life, family, you want to balance everything. So the Balancing Act is kind of like, me balancing out stability and a job, where Kinda Sorta is like me taking that leap of faith. My next project is going to be something like “I’m all in”. Like I mentioned before off the record, I recently quit my job ago, that is kind of a stepping stone for me to just completely take that leap of faith. I’ve graduated from that Kinda Sorta phase of my career.
So you’re from New Orleans, which some people could consider one of the world’s great cities and one of the hubs of Hip Hop in the South (like Atlanta or New York). How do you cope with Charlotte being a growing city but not necessarily being “there” yet?
It all depends on how you look at it. New Orleans is such a music city you know; music and food is all it's known for. But I grew up in New Orleans listening to NC hip hop, so when I moved here, it's kind of ironic, I went from listening to little brother, 9th Wonder, and J. Cole, now I’ve got to the point where now these are people I’ve met and people I’ve had conversations with and are really supportive of people that are doing music and coming up, so you know it gives you that sense of, at first it's kind of scary because there's not too many people here but at the same time it gives you a sense of excitement because it's like “okay, let's start that now, let's be those people”. I feel like we’re in the front running of getting a lot going on here, like we’ve got the NBA All-Star game coming in 2017 and it's one of fastest growing cities in the US. It's a challenge but it's an honorable challenge and something I look forward to. I’ve seen the up and up and we want to be among the people that start the movement towards a definitive culture.
How does it affect you going forward, as far as taking the next step?
Oh, it's tough. You’re taking a leap of faith, you don't really have a plan B. My plan A was never worry about a plan B. I feel like I need to be completely committed within the music aspect but one thing that's tough about it is that there's no guarantee in this business or any entertainment business. [My progress] gives me that sense in the back of my head like “okay keep going, you’ve come this far so why would you stop?”, it definitely can be stressful and frustrating because a lot of times you don't really have any direction, you’re just kind of going off just faith.
You recently did a show here in Charlotte with other local artists. Is that what inspires you and keeps you hopeful that you’re going in the right direction?
Yeah, definitely, the headliner was Big Pooh, who was a part of Little Brother, and what's crazy is I admire Little Brother. You know they’ve been on songs with Kanye West and 9th Wonder and I grew up listening to them. I think the coolest part about it is not only is Little Brother now kind of like a mentor but I’ve also shared a stage with them. But what’s better than that is seeing people actually come out and genuinely wanting to listen to the music and get to know the artists out here. Now, I’ve done a lot of shows in Charlotte and it's cool to see how the culture is growing. I think my first actual show in Charlotte was in 2011 and now it's 2015 and doing shows, it's cool to see how the love and engagement from people. It's definitely going up.
As a UNC-Charlotte graduate, did you choose UNC-Charlotte as a hub to launch your rap career? Did your mass communication a major help facilitate that?
I wanted to pursue music and sports and stuff like that, and mass media was new to me and it's big in our generation for millennials. Mass media is a broad topic. It’s vague and you can get into a lot of fields and at the same time. Yeah, I wanted to go to college for the experience, but at the same time to learn how to network, learn how to be socially normal and learn to engage. You know, as an artist you want to not only be able to engage people with music, but these are people who listen to your music because they like what you’re saying and they agree with what you’re saying, so you want to be able to talk to people normally and just gain a network.
In terms of networking, how do you reach out to or connect with artists for the sake of collaboration?
Social media is huge. Social media nowadays is, I would say, the biggest thing because it allows us to not have to be in front of that other person's face. I would say, Soundcloud, Instagram, Twitter mentions and comments. Ironically, today I got a message on Soundcloud and it was from this producer and he's pretty dope and he reached out he said “you know I’ve heard some of your music, I googled you and found a few things, so lets work”. And that’s kind of how it happens. Of course locally I know a lot of people but as far as like really reaching out, social media is really number one and I want to say it's really the only thing that we have, it's definitely the biggest thing. And there have been times where I’ll reach out to someone and they won't reach back. Whats crazy is that I’ve reached out to people and not gotten a response and then like a year later, they’ll actually reach out to me. I’ll meet them and they’ll tell me that they’ve heard such and such and then we have an organic connection. If you reach out to someone in an email, whether it be music or whether it be anything, you put that bug in their ear you put that “aye yo it's me over here” and then eventually it kind of comes full circle. At least that’s how it worked for me.
So what do you think is the next step for you in the evolution of your career? Is something coming up?
I wouldn’t say anything specifically that's going on right now. I’m working on music right now and I’m full time with it. I’ve built up a lot of connections over these last couple of years. At the same time that I’ve been working, people that are in the journalism industry, people that are bloggers, have turned into A&R’s, they themselves have evolved, and it's cool because a lot of these same people are willing to help. I’m doing shows of course. The next couple of things planned is to release some music with some visuals behind them. I just recently talked to some PR people and management people to get that stuff situated.
To be honest with you, I’m one of these people that works off of signs. I told you I was working my job for a while and then in May I released that project. When June came around, I was approached by one of my friends, who also does music, and he was like “you know, you should come out with me to Raleigh” and at the time I didn’t know the reason for it, but I walked into a studio and it was J. Cole. We spent maybe eight hours that night, and it wasn’t like a big crowd of people. It was probably like seven of us in total, mostly people from Dreamville. We just talked with these guys for a while and it got to the point where I was talking to Cole for a long time one on one. At first I was star struck, so I didn’t really make any eye contact, I didn’t talk, I was really awkward but eventually I realized these people are human beings and that's when it really clicked like “you’re here for a reason, anybody could have been there, this doesn’t just happen”. “You’re here with someone you look up to and they’re telling you stories of people that are HUGE in the industry, people that have made the culture of hip hop what it is”. And it kind of put things into perspective like “man you’ve been working for so long” because a lot of things sometimes feel like they’re not really paying off, you know? You definitely get disheartened and you feel like you know you’re not as encouraged by other people sometimes. I took a step back and I assessed everything that was going on and I took these signs that the universe was sending me and I was like let's run with it. After I met him, when he came to Charlotte in August, we were able to go and hang out with those guys and chop it with everyone.
I really just put myself in that environment and realized that this is not far. This lifestyle and this sense of success and gratitude that I want is really not that far. It just showed me that you got to keep working and you can't stop. As artists, you’re living off of faith but it's deeper than that. This is who we are.
-Interview by Kenneth Gallo