What inspired Shehyee to ‘resurrect’ music career
In 2013, hip-hop artist and emcee Shehyee released his first single, “Trip Lang,” which topped different charts and earned millions of views on YouTube at a time when the platform was just starting to become a barometer of commercial success.
Along with his contemporaries like Abra, Loonie and Smuglazz, Shehyee helped bring the FlipTop rap battle league—in which he was two-division champion—to the mainstream scene. He continued to churn out hits like “Inspirasyon” and “Isang Umaga.” He won the Spotify Emerge program in 2015 and bagged an Awit Award trophy three years later.
But somewhere along the way, Shehyee lost his drive; the things that once excited him no longer did. “At some point, I became like a tambay in a way because I stagnated and wasn’t making a lot of progress. However, I was happy and content,” he said in a recent virtual conference for his latest single, “Kuntento” (Viva Records).
“Things were steady and fine. I wasn’t lacking in anything, but there were no more challenges. And at some point, I became bored … One day, I realized that I didn’t have the same motivation to do the things that I love, like video games … I stopped checking for new releases from my favorite artists,” he added. “The passion waned.”
Ironically, he said, it was in his lack of inspiration that he found inspiration for his latest single, “Kuntento.”
“I was in the bathroom— on the ‘thinking chair’—trying to reflect on my situation. That’s when I found the lyrics to the song,” he said of the song, part of which goes: “Yo, pa’no ba sipagin/Bruh, pwede ba ituro n’yo sa akin/Ang hirap hanapin/Gan’to ba talaga ‘pag natupad na ang iyong dalangin?’
The 1980s Japanese City Pop-inspired tune is a melodic confessional of sorts about being at the crossroads and trying to strike a balance between contentment and the desire to achieve more. But then, he realized that “pursuing our passions is what keeps the world turning.”
“If you think that you’re not in a position yet to achieve more, then be happy and appreciate what you currently have. It’s OK to rest if you’re feeling tired. If for instance, you have already climbed 50 steps and feel like you can’t go any further, stop, rest—appreciate the fact that you have made 50 steps,” he said.
“And perhaps, tomorrow, when you’re ready, you can go at it again,” the 30-year-old rapper said.
That’s exactly what’s happening with Shehyee, who now plans to be more active in music hereon. “Before writing ‘Kuntento,’ before deciding to resurrect my career, I had never much thought where I would be in music in 10 years. But now, I think I can be a great rapper if I keep up this pace. Let’s manifest that!” he said, laughing.
“I’m also trying to learn how to produce songs, so I bought books on how to play the guitar and piano. I also read about music theory,” related Shehyee, who’s happy to see all the progress the local hip-hop scene has made over the years. “Their structures and the rhyme patterns are better than ever. More artists are using multisyllabic rhymes, figures of speech … They seem more poetic.”
Asked what piece of advice he can give to aspiring rappers, Shehyee said: “Stay hungry. And you can never grow wrong speaking your truth … All my music is personal—a culmination of all my emotions and experiences.”
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