Shanii22 discusses the Halifax hip-hop scene, his come up & more
In Halifax’s growing hip-hop scene, one artist has captured the hearts of a new generation. Shanii22, a Lebanese-Syrian artist, has been turning heads with a steady barrage of hit tracks and stunning visuals.
During my last visit to Halifax (covering Hopscotch 2019 for HipHopCanada), I judged an MC competition for local artists. Shanii22 had a massive following and when he performed he brought down the roof. It was easy to see that he was an artist to look out for.
Since then, I’ve stayed in contact with Shanii22 through Instagram, a platform that he uses effectively to promote his music and connect with fans. His latest release is “Like Dijon,” which was released on Sept. 11. The song follows his tracks “Scars” and the Just Chase-assisted “You, is.” “Like Dijon” is Shanii’s sixth official track of 2020.
I sat down with Shanii22 to get the down low on what he’s been up to this year. Check out the Q&A below along with the recently released “You, is” visualizer.
HipHopCanada: How long have you been rapping?
Shanii22: I’ve been into the culture of hip-hop for quite some time now; since almost 2005. I started beatboxing when I was younger, kept getting better but I was always in love with the hype that a rapper could bring to a crowd when I used to beatbox for freestyle battles.
So I decided to jump into it about 10 years ago, started like, freestyling in my bedroom, writing raps on my walls. A lot of my friends thought that I was gifted, and the rest is history.
HipHopCanada: Who are some of your influences?
S22: My first hip-hop influence ever, was 50 Cent, specifically the song “Hate it or Love it,” a classic. The vibe, the trumpets, the drums, the heavy vocals and chorus, I was like, “Damn.” Fast forward to now and I’ll say that my top influences would be Kanye West, Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Madlib and DJ Premiere. But I have to also show respect to the newer generation with people like XXXtentacion and Ski Mask the Slump God.
HipHopCanada: What was the name of your first song and what was it about?
S22: My first official release dropped around two years ago. It was called “A Message.” An apology letter to a past partner, talking about the things I had learned from my experience with her. Going through different mental viewpoints like depression, heartbreak and therapy. It was almost like a moment of self care for me, I put it out with no mix no master, nothing. I woke up the next day with 1,000 views, by the end of that day I was up to 2,000 with like 1$ of Instagram ads. Then we did, “Habibi.”
HipHopCanada: What are your thoughts about the hip-hop scene in Halifax?
S22: The hip-hop scene in Halifax is quite interesting. We have so much talent here but the general public doesn’t pay much attention because of the “isms” that you get when you hear of a Nova Scotian or Maritime rapper.
But, if we look at the facts, we have people knee deep in the game that have been given the deserved recognition. People like Ghettosocks, Pat Stay, Quake Matthews, and the most popular being Classified. These people are appreciated a lot more outside the city, even internationally, doing shows out in Europe and being listened to religiously.
Nonetheless, I feel as though the emerging artist (especially the good ones) should be pulled up by such artists, further pushing our scene and our city up.
HipHopCanada: What’s it like being a Lebabnese-Syrian rapper in the Maritimes? Have you faced any adversity?
S22: At the beginning it was something that I hadn’t noticed, but with North America we found that there was a very sharp split. Like, it was either you are a black artist or a white artist, there was no international. There was no room for an international artist, but that’s what we were here to do. We are that international movement.
I found out that there were a very large community of Lebanese people in the city, which was definitely exciting for me. Even Quake was Lebanese, which was an immediate connection.
I just want people to see that when I put on, I put on for Syria, Lebanon and Kuwait, but there is no doubt in the fact that Halifax has been my home, and is the place that brought me up to where I am now. Something not very achievable where I was.
HipHopCanada: What is your dream collabo?
S22: My dream collab would be with Drake. Honestly, Drake has consistently made new waves with his music and has raised the bar continuously with the sound of the genre.
He is an artist that pays attention to every single detail on a record. From directing to creating the music, he has always been very multifaceted in my eyes, working with different cultures and not being afraid to dip into a new audiences. He has an impressive roster of classic albums and singles that are undoubtedly on everybody’s playlists. He brought an out-of-the-box take on a whole industry, creating that brand, creating the empire, having that legacy. You can’t not recognize Drake almost as the ‘Michael Jackson’ of our era in the way that the next generation will hear about our music.
HipHopCanada: Any final thoughts or shout outs?
S22: Shout out to my family, shout out my team, stit9. Mad love for all the people checking in and showing support. I also want to say الحمدلله for all the blessings that I have received on the road so far, and many more to come.
Major shout out to Fortunato and HipHopCanada for making this happen. We wouldn’t go nowhere without people like you.
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