Here at Getdownnn we continually try to step our game up. So we've finally dove head first into the interview department as well. The people we choose to interview, you may not find on the cover of the latest Source, but we guarantee you that they are some of the illest at what they do and have lived full lives. Trying to give you the full spectrum. Besides they said, "yes". Please excuse us if the questions may seem elementary at times, but that's the point of view we are taking, what we know best, representing the bedroom heads out there who's first love is music.
For our first interview, we couldn't have asked for more. Shingo Annen, Shing02, is a man of the world and has been holding it down both as a producer and MC in Japan and the U.S. since the early 90's. He's put in the time, working with everyone from Del Tha Funkee Homosapien to the Nujabes (Samurai Champloo). And still finding time to invent the faderboard. Welcome inside the mind of Shing02.
-When did you know that music is what you wanted to do? My mom was surprised when I started recording and putting out music, because I was more of an art-head, plus I went to college for an engineering degree thinking I might work on AI or something. In fact, I never knew I would become a full-time musician, initially I just kept making music because it was fun. After a while though, I had to make a conscious decision to be a real MC and make music my mission. The reason being, I felt compelled enough that I could apply my ideas to be a voice for people that need the message, and after meeting so many great musicians I knew that I had to be dedicated to make anything happen. So my progression has been really slow, but I'm glad I was able to go through the growing pains in the public eye.
-Who are your musical influences? All genres, I like hip-hop but really dig jazz, reggae, dub, funk, soul, you name it.
I guess when you start off as a hip-hop fan you only care about learning all the hip-hop records but when you become a musician you can't help but appreciate everything. Like when you're a bassist you listen to all bass parts by default, when you become an engineer, you're listening to the mixes more than the lyrics.
-Top 5 albums or songs all-time (soundtrack to your life)?
Like everybody else, I have to say way too many to list but here are the first top five that randomly popped into my mind.
-I love listening to that Augustus Pablo when I visit family on the islands.Throughout your life you have lived in many different places, do you feel like it has had any impact on you as an artist? If so, how?
Most definitely. Like when I grew up in Tanzania, I saw UFOs. One time an eagle dropped a chicken head from the sky and I almost got hit by it. I saw starvation and theft first hand when I was three. My best friend was a German Shepherd till I was six. People eating locusts off lamp posts. A humongous lizard came into our backyard to steal eggs from our neighbor's chicken. The villagers killed it with spears and a rock and ate it! A lot of beauty too. Solar eclipse. A cloud of yellow butterflies in the Serengeti. You know, I remember it all like yesterday. I can't say how exactly it impacted me, it's all a part of who I am.
-That's crazy interesting. I wish I could travel more, but it's a trip when you actual live in there and call it home. Being bilingual, do you think in English or Japanese first when you write lyrics? Is there any difference or changes you have to make when using one language over the other, especially with using rhyme schemes?
I usually listen to a beat with the song in mind so it depends on the song. I used to think very differently between the two, but now I just kind of listen to the beat and try to match the vibe.
-With your experiences, do you see any major differences between the hip-hop culture in Japan and the U.S.? If so, what?
Definitely, I'd say the biggest difference is the way society interprets what hip hop is. You said "culture", which i still think is key. Most people immediately point to the rap music industry, or hip-hop clothing. The cultural movement needs people that follow the criteria. Hip-hop in Japan is really diverse and strong but for the most part the general audience only sees the pop interpretations of it.
-Nujabes has really caught quite a following here in the U.S., do you have any theories why?
I think people kinda missed that sound for a while, the early 90's sound. The whole "jazzy" movement is cool, but personally the music has to be really unique to speak to me, whether it's a sample or not.
-Any chance of more to come with Samurai Champloo? The music, animation, stories, everything was dope!
I'm not involved with the production, I know some people wanted to make a real-life version of it, we'll see about that!
-Ahhhh, that would be cool. Taking from Inside the Actors Studio, what is your favorite sound or noise? Least favorite? Why?
Oh I like that show. My favorite sound (or environment) is being inside a hot spring (onsen). That's the real reason I go to Japan a lot. Least favorite has to be scratching a blackboard.
-Onsen iiyone!I'll do my best James Lipton...What is your favorite word? Least favorite word? Why?
I don't know about a word, but I have a favorite AND least favorite phrase because lately, I've been trying very hard to avoid telling people "I know I might have told you this, but..."It's just a gesture to say "I want to reiterate this point although I do recall our previous conversation", because if they think you're retelling the story without realizing it's kinda rude, and at the same time if you keep saying that phrase it gets annoying. You know what I'm saying?
-Word. I say that all the time, but I'll stop now. Working with legends like Del and DJ Krush, who else do you want to work with?
I really don't know at this point, I've been really blessed so far (knock 2x on wood). Last time I saw DJ Krush I asked him for another beat for a concept I had.
-What's next for Shing02?
Hopefully I get to release more songs, and maybe my *first* English album on the horizon.
-Any advice to anyone who wants to be an MC?
Be true, original, fearless, and confident.
-The truth. One last thing, the Faderboard is nasty! Hook me up with one :) How did you come up with it?
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