Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

Running with Shunda K

Written by Rebecca Berger
SHUNDAK22.jpgShunda K, of the innovative hip-hop group Yo! Majesty, has ventured out on her own. The woman of multiple identities, some of which you might not expect to see mentioned in the same sentence—black, lesbian, Christian, rapper—has collaborated with Peaches, Killola, BlaqStar, Kotchy, and Tha Pumpsta. In her new album, The Most Wanted, Shunda raps over intense back beats created by electronic musicians, such as the Australian Lady Lash, DJ Yung Rome from Germany, and WeHaveLove from Sweden.

Shunda K, of the innovative hip-hop group Yo! Majesty, has ventured out on her own. The woman of multiple identities, some of which you might not expect to see mentioned in the same sentence—black, lesbian, Christian, rapper—has collaborated with PeachesKillolaBlaqStarKotchy, and Tha Pumpsta. In her new album, The Most Wanted, Shunda raps over intense back beats created by electronic musicians, such as the Australian Lady LashDJ Yung Rome from Germany, and WeHaveLove from Sweden.

Her music spreads a message against hate, and incorporates her strong sense of personal spirituality. Over the years, Shunda K has had her fair share of music-related obstacles, but after talking to her, it is clear that she intends to come out all the stronger.

Rebecca: Where does your personal motivation to make music come from? How has it changed over the years?

Shunda K: My personal motivation to make music comes from wanting the people to be free like I am, where they can really live their lives to the fullest. I have learned how to appeal to the total man: man, woman, and child, and not be biased in my message. God is love and so am I. Now, I completely represent Christ.
 
Rebecca:  How has the experience of making music solo differed from your experiences with a group? Do you prefer one over the other; and why?
 
Shunda K: As a solo artist, I'm responsible for telling the entire story, so it's more hard work for sure. I love Yo! Majesty and I love Shunda K just the same. We are one in the same. That's why it has been reunited. Yo! Majesty and Shunda K forever!!!
 
Rebecca: I read somewhere that the philosophy of Yo! Majesty is “church in the morning, club at night.” How would you describe your philosophy as a solo artist?

Shunda K: That's not the philosophy per se. However, we are winning souls from the church to the club and in between with our testimony and by professing the name of Jesus Christ. We're not afraid to let the Lord use us wherever and however He sees fit. People are hurting everywhere and the most important thing for us is to spread the truth in order for the people to find that knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the true and living God, which empowers one to conquer their destiny. Full throttle baby.

Rebecca: Tell me more about your lifestyle as a Christian rap artist. Do the two aspects of your lifestyle conflict?

Shunda K: I'm really not into titles. But, I will say that I believe in Jesus Christ, wholeheartedly, without the religion. We are spiritual beings and so I have a spiritual relationship with the Lord, which enables me to live by faith and not by sight. God is love and I have received my confirmation from Him that He loves me, so forget what the hatas have to say about me and what they believe. Take it to the Lord in prayer if you have any issues with Shunda K and Yo! Majesty and how we get down. I'm a God-fearing woman who is in love with a woman that I prayed and asked God for. He's a good God to me, so what else is there to say? We got each other's back. We run this!!!

Rebecca: You have been credited with “coining a female equivalent of macho.” When I read this, I wondered why women needed a female equivalent. Why couldn’t a woman just be macho?

Shunda K: Well, with how we have been raised, that women are inferior to men, that's the reason why women feel they always have to be justified by a man or whatever. I'm justified by Christ (my man) and I'm Shunda K: the best to eva came, grande dame; the most wanted cause so many niggas fronted, etc., etc.
 
A man didn't get me where I am today. Me, with all faith and belief in God, and confidence in myself that I'm the best, is how I have become all that I am: an ideal female. Hell, men wanna be me.
 
Rebecca: Do you feel that female rappers are put in a category apart from the idea of “rappers in general,” just like “macho women” have to be in a category separate from the idea of macho in general?

Shunda K: I believe that women put themselves in their own categories cuz, just like with any other artist, they always want to compete instead of being unique. Our uniqueness and ability to keep it real to ourselves, in spite of the gravitational pull of "faking it to make it" or trying to be like someone else, is an element that has contributed to both Yo! Majesty's and Shunda K's success. We're gonna do it our way and, with everyone else, when it comes to your destiny, do it your way cuz it's YOUR destiny, not the record label's, the manager's, or anybody else's.

Rebecca: I read that your video for “I’m Da Best" is an attack on the Westboro Baptist Church. I go to Brandeis University and the Westboro Baptist Church actually protested at my school last Fall. After personally hearing their hateful message, I applaud your choice to speak against this group. Yet the WBC appears to jump at any opportunity to spread their message of hate. Have they acted in retaliation against your video?

Shunda K: Thanks for the support, and no they haven't come at me yet. I'll be ready if they decide to though.

Rebecca: What kind of reactions have you had to your music in general, and to your “I’m Da Best” video in particular? Which of these reactions have been most meaningful to you?

Shunda K: People tell me that they love the record. They understand my story in being the minority of the minority in this game (a black, gay, female) and super-ceding even my own expectations. The "Im Da Best" video is inspiring to those that have been counted out and treated as if they were nothing. It is a call to all the low-esteemed, suicidal, and wretched at heart, that life goes on and it's a beautiful thing to preserve. Life is what you make it, and all excuses were nailed to the cross. So, if you don't have what you want in life, blame yourself and get up off ya ass and make it happen. Don't cut yourself short and stop drowning in self-pity.

Rebecca: Your first album was co-produced with the house duo Basement Jaxx and your former group member Jwl B is said to have “gospel raised vocals.” How did you come to collaborate with so many diverse sounds in your music?
 
Shunda K: Being persistent in this business and pursuing a knowledge of the business has contributed to many collaborations. Shunda K/Yo! Majesty handle our business, professionally, and we have a team of people who believe in the vision and what we're doing, all with the right contacts. We have a solid team and the experience under our belts, so expect more of the good stuff.
 
Our talents are undeniable, as well, and really no one I've heard can make a track pop like Yo! Majesty. It's ridiculous, and the beat makers love us. It's all a blessing and I thank God for all my talents and the opportunities.

Rebecca: When Jwl B was incarcerated, this must have been a big setback to your band. How did you respond to this abrupt change in your life and career?

Shunda K: I just recruited a DJ, two dancers, and three bands (Josh Bloom, Rosetta Stoned, and Supa Hero GoGo Starz) to finish the tour with me. I wanted to give the people their money's worth, and felt like bringing in a variety of talent would give the people a festival-like experience at the Yo! Majesty shows, and I was right. The fans had a blast and I was able to expose other talents to the world. That's what its all about, keeping it moving, making it happen, and giving others an opportunity. Even with all that was going on with Jwl, I still couldn't present any excuses to the people as to why Yo! Majesty wasn't in the building.

Rebecca: Why did you leave Yo! Majesty and start your solo career? Was Jwl B’s incarceration the impetus for your departure, or was there another reason?

Shunda K: I didn't leave Yo! Majesty; I just refused to deal with Jwl's BS any longer. And, yes, her jail stint was the final straw. Things had gotten out of control and everybody was treating me like I was the one going to jail and acting out and making things difficult for the band, when it was Jwl the whole time.

I guess the label felt like the success of Yo! Majesty rested on Jwl taking off her shirt cuz they refused to let me do the UK tour alone, which followed the US tour I had just finished, virtually alone, aside from the other bands, dancers, and DJ. Members of the team told me that if I didn't do the UK tour with Jwl (which by this time had been bailed out of jail) that I was making the biggest mistake of my life and that I wouldn't be shit without Yo! Majesty. Well, they didn't know their history in that I am Yo! Majesty. I created that all by myself, as a solo artist.

So, to make a long story short, I had to show 'em better than tell 'em, and with my solo record on deck, they now know wassup. In addition, Shon B and I are reuniting the Majestys' and keepin it movin on all the hatas BIG TIME.
 
Rebecca: How do you feel about the fact that Jwl B remains touring under the name Yo! Majesty even though you originally came up with the name?

Shunda K: Jwl's not touring with the name now. She tried. But Shunda K can never be duplicated. It was a pathetic try. I really can't believe she tried to roll out like that, calling herself that, replacing me. But, envy is a bad, bad thing and it can make people do the strangest things.
 
Rebecca: I read an interview in Wheel Me Out magazine with Jwl B where she said some negative things about you and your experiences with Yo! Majesty. How do you feel about Jwl B’s words?

Shunda K: I know Jwl for who she really is and one of the reasons we didn't line up anymore, when it was all said and done, is that she stopped exemplifying the love of God that Yo! Majesty is all about. Yeah, she has mad talent, but her morals and principles weren't in the right place anymore. She started attacking me every chance she got, and it didn't make any sense. Ey, sticks and stones may hurt my bones, but words, they only offend me.

I've been in athletics all my life and you learn how to develop thick skin and not let everything in the world bother you. I'm blessed of the Lord and, when that's so, in a person's life, there will be many who infiltrate for the wrong reasons and try to destroy what God has blessed you with cuz they want it for themselves. All the while you (the creator) letting them share in the glory. I was never selfish with Yo! Majesty and I looked out for us. Yeah, at one point I refused to do anything with Jwl, from interviews to collaborations. I had made up in my mind, before I ever told anyone, that I was finished with Jwl and working with her as Yo! Majesty. With that I did a couple collabs where the actual requests came through on the Yo! Majesty Gmail account, which I created and I handled, as far as following up on all correspondences and basically handling the management of the group entirely, which I still am doing to this day.
 
So, one thing Jwl is upset about and running around here telling people is that I stole money from Yo! Majesty, her, by doing the two collabs as Shunda K. I told the producers I wasn't doing any Yo! Majesty collabs and why, and they agreed to do them as Shunda K. I wasn't gonna be touring with Yo! Majesty anymore if I had to do it with Jwl. I was done. As a producer/group/DJ, these producers, from a business standpoint, were more interested in working with Shunda K. I was already working on my solo stuff and was gearing up to hit the road, solo.

Anyway, she feels like I took from her cuz I did those collabs as Shunda K and didn't tell her ass anything about it. I had to eat. I had bills to pay. Why I have to just accept the bullshit and succumb to another muthafucker that don't give a damn about me, just hurting me every chance they get, and for no reason at all, sacrificing everything I had, including my relationship... I have two bank accounts still in the negative from two US tours Jwl was barely on, or was never on at all.

{mosimage}I worked just as hard as she did and she's gonna dictate how things go for me to even though I have my own destiny (cuz I'm an individual too)? Da devil is a liar. I had to buss a move so I can make some moves.

This is a business and you can't just show up to a show when you "get" ready. She wasn't ready. Hell, my credit is still all jacked up. But, guess what? I love Yo! Majesty and the people love Yo! Majesty. We gonna keep it moving (Shunda K/Shon B) and it is what it is. Shon is the fist member I recruited for Y!M. Me and her that original "Club Action." Stay tuned for what's real. Fuck dat shit!!!

Rebecca: How did it feel to resume collaborating on the “I’m Da Best” video with your former group member Shon B after touring and making music alone?
 
Shunda K: It was the bomb and it is God that's giving us this second chance. We good, just the two of us. We just had a show in Warsaw, Poland recently. We still got it! Promoters, holla back for what's real at majesty4life@gmail.com.
 
Rebecca: Since this is a ladies magazine, do you have any advice for young women who feel that they don’t exactly fit the mold?

Shunda K: You are the mold, baby girl. Learn who you are and what makes you happy as soon as you can. Now that you know who you are and what makes you happy, go get everything you dream for. Work hard and don't slack; that way you'll never have to sell yourself short, compromising your character and integrity.

Life is what you make it and God loves you so much. Women are God's second self. A woman can create life with only the assistance of God. That's power in itself. Seek knowledge, wisdom, and understanding cuz that comes from God. And, remember that God is love, so should you be.
 
Surround yourself with everything that's good and people who celebrate you, not just tolerate you.

Every woman is beautiful.

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