Shoyu ~ More Than Rap



I met rap artist Shoyu through a mutual friend. After I listened to his music, I asked him to be a featured artist. Shoyu has a very unique sound. His recordings are not traditional rap music. I hear Asian, ska and other types of musical influences behind the lyrics.

Through the miracle of modern social media, Shoyu and I had a fabulous conversation, with Shoyu in Amsterdam, Netherlands and me in Portland, Oregon. How cool is that?

Shoyu began his musical career playing viola. He writes poetry. Shoyu spent time emceeing and rapping. Combined with life experience, Shoyu sees himself as:

One of many receivers, translators of bits and pieces
Coming straight out of the universe
From the low to the most high
From the sun, the moon, the earth and the sky
I’m a fly guy, so to call myself a rapper would be a mistake.

Wow! I’d call Shoyu a fabulous poet!

Shoyu has an amazing list of influencers, all who contributed to his unique sound. He remembers the release of the first album from Public Enemy; it really sparked his interest for hip hop. In 1998, Shoyu released his first “spacey blues album.” After that, he met a producer from the United States, Mark Sexx, one of the funk and hip hop producers of Digital Underground. Soon after that, he met a producer from the UK named Mad Professor, a Massive Dub producer.  The Mad Professor introduced Shoyu to Lee “Scratch” Perry, legendary Jamaican reggae producer and musician. Shoyu performed with a Jazz band called Ears Wide Open. “I have many teachers.”

One of his biggest influences was his mother’s soul music records. He remembers listening to Lloyd Price and Teddy Pendergrass, amongst others in her record collection. To this day, most of the records in his personal collection are soul music, so “I put a lot of soul into my music.”

When he records, Shoyu works with his DJ Mr. Iceman and Achim Heine, percussionist from Twitching Eye Trio and drummer from Ears Wide Open. Shoyu records his own vocals, vocal affects and post-production, but the music is all done by separate producers. He puts the credits on every song. “Without the music, you have no color.”

Shoyu is currently working on a video that he plans to release in December. The song is about when you become a new parent. “You’re blessed. There’s no room for trouble. You want to be there for your kid. In Holland, we call it a pink cloud.”

Although he’s just getting started using Twitter, Shoyu uses social media as a vehicle to put his music out there, so people can listen to it and he can start to communicate with people who like it. He uses it to provide an opportunity for people to get to know him better.

His advice for musicians just starting out is “Don’t rush into things. Focus on what makes you a good artist. Make the product solid, pure, honest. People will appreciate that. Most of all, keep on fighting.”

What a fantastic opportunity to meet with and learn from someone so interesting who lives half way across the planet! Shoyu, keep in touch.

To watch the YouTube video interview:

Amused Now Featured Artist Series

Shoyu - first album coverShoyu

Cynthia Kahn, Founder of Amused Now

Shoyu - second album cover

Buy the music that influenced Shoyu! Just click on the album covers below: