Interview: Shakk | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Middlesbrough rapper Shakk has dropped his latest single Toxic Rick. The track is a follow up to his single Pickle Rick (released on the I AM YOU EP) and is filled with the energy and charm (as well as some kick-ass visuals) that is expected from one of the region’s finest spitter of words.

We catch up with Shakk to find out more…

How are you? Have you been productive during lockdown?
Without getting too deep, I feel the best I have in a long time! The lockdown has been an opportunity for me to put things into perspective. I think some of the greatest music and art has been created in some form of isolation. Prior to lockdown I was already living in similar conditions, which might sound a little crazy but I have completely dedicated myself to creating music over the last few years and the lockdown has given me a chance to double down on everything! You could say I’m a little bit obsessed in reaching my goals!  

How would you describe your sound and style?
This one is interesting for me as I feel like my sound and style is constantly changing and evolving on every track. I think Eve Conway might have generally summed this up best when we had a chat about the topic on her Instagram Live. Eve said that there’s two sides to my music. There is a laid back side and also a very aggressive side too.  Which is a good way to sum it up. We are all quite complex human beings that go through a range of emotions on a day to day basis and I like my music to reflect that. I also believe that if you want to be a great artist, you need to be able to adapt to many styles and sounds. I can go from consciously and emotionally potent to braggadocious and egotistical in about 2 seconds flat. I think this can also derive from what I think are the two sides of rap music, a more musical side and also a competitive side. I pride myself in being one of the best in both and to do that you need to keep your pen as sharp as the mind! It’s like what Bruce Lee said “Be like Water”. 

What inspires your lyrical content?
My lyrical content is fuelled by my burning desire to become the best possible version of myself. If you can’t tell by now, I want to succeed real bad! That being said I’ve always believed that an artist should use their platforms to positively contribute to society. Highlighting social and political injustices is something I’m really passionate about, so this naturally inspires a lot of my lyrics. In addition, I’ve been through a lot in my short time on earth so my inspiration comes from all of my personal feelings and experiences too. I think that’s why I can write songs like ‘Young Pablo’ which is in ways a fun and fast love song in comparison to a politically charged 64 bar lyrical free verse like ‘Pickle Rick’. In short my biggest inspirations are topics which are close to my heart and/or events that have taken place in my own life! 

What’s your new single, Toxic Rick, about?
Toxic Rick is inspired by an Episode of Rick and Morty titled ‘Rest and Ricklaxation’. I could explain the full episode but that would be longer than the rest of my answers combined. On the surface Toxic Rick represents the worst parts of me, egotistical, rude and braggadocious however under the surface it also represents some of my best qualities. Ultimately the track is about finding the right balance between the two sides. I think that’s the formula to not only be true to yourself but also to become the best version of yourself as well. It’s about knowing yourself, conquering your fears and giving it your all and most of all not giving in to other people’s expectations of you. 

Where was it recorded and who produced it?
I record everything in my little home studio now which has been massive for my productivity. The beat is produced by PremiseOnTheBeat. He’s an unbelievable producer from New Jersey. I hope to work again with him soon. 

And tell us more about the artwork to the single?
I wanted to keep the Rick and Morty theme with the artwork so I figured I’d take it a step further and actually turn myself into a Rick and Morty style character. Without overcomplicating it I also wanted the artwork to represent both sides of the story. To keep it simple we created the divide in the middle so we could visually show the split between purity and toxicity. It turned out pretty cool so I had a few T-shirts made and gave them as gifts to some loyal supporters! I wish I kept one for myself now haha. 

What’s next?
A lot more singles, music videos and hopefully live performances. I want to be a part of a massive festival or headline something big. I’m ready to seize these types of opportunities. I love to entertain and I want to do it on the biggest stages.

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