Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

MASTER SHORTIE: SHORTIE cut to success

Master Shortie
Master Shortie Master Shortie Master Shortie

Master Shortie is a well-mannered, articulate and energetic artist whose music skilfully combines pop/indie/hip hop/electro and grime.

His rap style comes from UK grime, leading to comparisons such as that of The Guardian to Dizzee Rascal. Their rap style and diction are similar, however he has his own distinctive techniques mixing rap and singing, and is delighted to be compared to the likes of Dizzee. He is unashamed of his influences citing Prince, Mos Def, Tracy Chapman, Talib Kweli. I could even hear a little 'Busta vibrato' in his vocals, and the odd echo of a 'Kanye' delivery! His singing voice is surprisingly soulful and mature.

His visual styling echoes Hip Hop legends such as Slick Rick and Run DMC and slips nicely into the recognised 'crunk' styling...bar the 'straight leg' jeans. He is keen to draw attention to his break away from the recognised extra baggy jeans that rappers/rap fans wear. It would be easy to accuse Master Shortie of straddling too many musical/street fashion/social groups in order to maximise his potential audience, however his image makes perfect sense to me, and his music isn't 'like' anything, it's original.

His determination to maintain control over his creative work is striking. He has a conviction that defines his music and image in equal measure. His decision to work independently arose after a succession of soul destroying run-ins with major labels, leaving him unwilling to have his career dictated by middle-aged out of touch industry bosses who are merely looking to put money behind what they are 'told' will be the next 'big thing'.

Master Shortie's dream and mission are one and the same: to have a life long career in music, particularly as a black artist. He is all too aware of the lion's market share held by Hip Hop & RnB as a genre worldwide, and intends to capitalise on his talent. However his undeniable cross-genre styles enable a wide listenership far outside his idiom.

He has built up his fan base impressively through vigorous use of the internet , and his album 'ADHD' out this month contains a range of his signature electro indie hip hop with witty lyrics and varying themes. He really doesn't care about his lack of affiliation with a major, he appreciates that he could rap over harder beats and sell to a grime or UK Hip Hop crowd, but is far more interested in staying true to his music, and recognises that this is how to achieve real longevity.

His response to the 'get rich or die trying' ethos nurtured by those such as 50 Cent is that only a fool would have such a priority in life: he enjoys materialistic things, and needs money, but is aware that in order to achieve his dream he will need to continue his self promotion tactics alongside a healthy amount of blagging to fund his projects! Equally he is nobody's fool and sees the popular accusation that rap is somehow responsible for gun & knife crime for the scapegoat that it is.

He works alongside Lab, who engineers, plays several instruments and arranges the tracks. Master Shortie brings songs, lyrics and ideas to the table, and between them they have come up with a music that is refreshingly, well, musical ('Dead End' features live instruments).

Despite his young age, he imaginatively samples the likes of Adam Ant dropping it over electro beats Ë a shamelessly battered device of today's hip hop/RnB induustry, however, he happens to have done it more out of love for 80.s styles than a desire to make a quick buck. The forty-something industry bosses may well find themselves tapping their fingers to samples they dimly recall from their own teenage years! Psyche!

Following the interview I was treated to a live performance at the MTV studios, and the energy in his music is as evident on stage as it was in his intellect as I interviewed him. The album will have you dancing round the kitchen, boosting the bass in your car stereo, or frowning just that bit harder as you re-apply your black nail varnish. It truly cannot be categorised, cannot be deemed 'bland', and cuts through strict boundaries of several youth music scenes shaping our cities as we speak. By his own definition he is the ultimate non-conformist and has no other intention than to live life very much to the full!
Words DJ RAGGS

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