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Meet Shawn Crysis

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shawn Crysis.

Shawn, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In high school, I was the person to make the beats for the lunch cyphers. Give me two quarters and a table and I am giving you an orchestra! So from there, I was enamored with folks rapping and it inspired me to write as well. I wanted some of that glory. So I went home and took my Sidekick LX and started to get busy! And as I was writing, I noticed that I was actually good and making sense (very important). I’ve watched enough movies in my life to draw metaphors from and as I kept writing, it became more fun with every passing song.

From there, I shared in the cyphers and I got comfortable with rapping around peers. It awoke something inside of me that I am grateful for because it was non-stop writing after that. Once I graduated high school, I went to the School of Audio Engineering (SAE) in New York for music producing and engineering. It was a dream; I was around talented people, my professor engineered for Whitney Houston, a plethora of technological resources, it was everything. It helped me stay focused with song creation and writing. However, in December I dropped out. I lost my motivation encountering new barriers and high school never developed my sense of push needed to break past difficulties. I wanted to learn how to master music and be the best but realized it took steps and my feet got weary.

After I dropped out, I basically fell into a mild depressive state. I was going to the city to give the illusion I was still attending school and mentally ease myself – but that only worked for so long. I thank God for the self-help section at Barnes and Noble and Psychology Today for helping me discover self again. But the true saving grace was poetry. The freeform, unbounded art of poetry helped express my feelings I was experiencing. It led to a stream of writing and an integration back into music writing. I then was working on my first project, “Table for One” – an expression of the dreams and ideologies of a social isolate. And being back in the studio gave me LIFE. I felt right, I felt in control, I felt capable of achieving; and nothing was better than performing.

The first time I performed was at Soul by the Pound in New Brunswick, NJ and anxiousness and scared wasn’t the words! I was so nervous, expressing myself being that vulnerable in front of strangers, so much to the point I had to sit down to perform, But when I was done, and that feeling rushed through me, and the people gave me props and love! Boy! It was over from there! I fell in love with giving my self in front of folks and having them relate. It was meant to be.

The aspect of performing and self-expression kept me writing and music-making. I fell in love with the frustration it takes to be great – something I didn’t picture happening when I dropped out. As I started to perform, it made me think about impact and how my words were affecting people. That is when I decided to put more nutrition inside of my songs and poetry pieces. Something to make people think, celebrate self, ask questions, dig deeper, something to change the world – one mp3 at a time. In that understanding, my album ‘hangOn’ was birthed in response to the injustice that was plaguing the country in 2015. I felt powerful, and that feeling hasn’t left me and continues to reside in the music I make now.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Absolutely not, and that’s the greatest part about it – mistakes and struggles made me appreciate this road. The first bump was the dropping out of school and having to find my way back to music and writing. It was mentally and spiritually trying and I battled self a lot. And from there, obstacles came in the form of transportation and finding my way to shows, missing shows, finding the money to keep paying for beats and studio time, among so many other testing moments. But I think God puts these in your path to assure your dedication to the craft.

One particular time, I had a show in Lodi, NJ and I was driving there with my friend Yanel. On our way there my car’s radiator cracked! I was devastated because one: I gotta shell out money for this car, and two: my performance was two hours away. So I got out the car, Yanel got in the driver’s seat and I started to push it up the Garden State Parkway to get it to an exit. And by the grace of God, three other men got out their cars to assist me. When I finally was able to get it to the exit. I got it to a safe place and Uber’d to a nearby Auto Zone. The most I could do was patch up the crack with the sealant. Boom! Sealant applied and we started to drive to the show – no more than 5 minutes later, it cracked AGAIN – I was HEARTBROKEN but my spirit did not break. I had Yanel Uber to the show while I dealt with this mess. I was able to putt-putt my 93 Corolla to the Auto Zone and slapped mounds of sealant on it. And VOILA! It worked! I was able to slowly cruise there, timidly watching the meter. And I gave my ALL that show, I damn near weeped on that stage. I was TRIED but with God’s grace and mercy, we made it there and put on a show. Now the ride back… that’s another story lol.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Currently I am working on a project called WNDRR (pronounced wanderer) – it is an album that is dedicated to the journey rather than the destination. It features songs I’ve made over the past 3 years while being in different spaces – physically, mentally, and spiritually. I believe it’s my most dynamic project to date. Along with this, I am in the process of shooting a video for my song ‘Hallelujah’ directed by KKimmestry (@itskfilms). Be on the heavy lookout for that! It’s truly going to be special.

Aside from music, my proudest feat is being able to teach poetry to the youth. Currently, I am a poetry instructor/educator for Revolutionary Artists, an initiative under the organization Aspire High – an organization dedicated to youth development. I have learned to bring out the hidden talent inside of students by facilitating dialogue and creating a space for expression. I found a purpose in this realm of life – it allows me to directly impact a community that will lead us into a better future. That’s powerful for me.

I think what separates me from others is my passion inside of the crafts I handle. I give my soul and spirit to ensure you get the best out of me and produce something memorable. I care with a desire to better the future, so I work towards aiding that idea. I am clear in my purpose and that gives me the spirit to take on projects and education aspects with a relentless pursuit of ‘better’. *in my Kobe voice*.

Also, I am here for the community. Community is everything and when you can contribute to a community, you truly help push the world towards a better standing. The communities that I’ve been has shaped me into the person I am today, so among entities I give myself to, there are one of them.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
By being consistent, I’ve learned to work through issues that seemed impossible to conquer, but in the constant pursuit, you chip off the ‘IM’ and you get to ‘possible’. And once you reach that level, you obtain the strength to keep on pushing every day.

By being consistent, I’ve learned to work through issues that seemed impossible to conquer. With a constant pursuit, you can break down ‘impossible’ and realize that ‘im’—‘possible’. And once you reach that level, you obtain the strength and faith to keep on pushing every day and reach your dreams. Do what’s needed in order to keep your dream alive yo.

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Image Credit:

BeezShotMe | Nafi Davis | Kash Photography | GLBL VLLG | Jocelyn Reyes

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