Jamaican born, Miami bred Shifta of independent record label Timeless Records was in Boston this weekend promoting his new project. When I sat down with the man I was prepared for an interview about b*tches and red solo cups, but instead was met by a zen-like demeanor, a man who celebrates his multicultural background and has good reason to” live it up”.
Boston Fab: Why the name Shifta?:
Shifta: That’s my real name.
BF: Nah really that’s the name that you were given? I don’t believe you.
Shifta: It’s Ethiopian.
BF: Okay, Ima need an explanation.
Shifta: My father’s Ethiopian, my mom’s Jamaican, and it means rebel. Kinda like the guerillas in Columbia, but in Ethiopia, who fought for justice for the people, and who eventually took over and have power to this day.
BF: That’s actually really cool, now I feel bad.
Shifta: Nah it’s all good.
BF: You were born in Jamaica, what part?
Shifta: I was born in Kingston and grew up back and forth between Jamaica and Miami. It was an experience of learning both cultures, learning how things were on the island and how things were in the U.S. I moved to Miami for high school and college, and now I travel back and forth to visit family. My father and my brother still live in Jamaica.
BF: Your father was in the music industry for a really long time. How has his career in music influenced you to be in music?
Shifta: I would definitely say that I feel blessed to have grown up around music. Even being a child 3, 4, 5 years-old on tour with artists that have kinda-like paved the way for radio music I feel. Like Benie man…people like that in the 90’s. Back then I was kinda like the bag boy, holding people’s keys to the room, that kind of thing. But I felt like that experience, going to the studio after school and what not, that I was somehow destined to be involved in music.
BF: Let’s talk a little bit about your music vibe. It’s very party oriented. You’ve live in Jamaica, Miami and now you’re visiting Boston. Tell me a little bit about the difference in those party scenes.
Shifta: I would have to say more or less the people. It’s completely different from when we’re in Jamaica partying or Asia or Africa or wherever in the Caribbean you know. The way they are, their interactions, what’s trendy and what’s not trendy. Just the way of life. I’ve seen all parts of third world countries and islands, which is a whole way of looking at life than in the U.S. It kind of makes you appreciate a lot of different things that I feel like people who’ve never seen those parts of the world are not really gonna understand.
BF: We do have a large Jamaican population here in Boston, have you been able to experience it?
Shifta: Oh definitely. Not even like a large Jamaican population it seems to me to be like a large island population. It feels almost like Miami because Miami is very multi-cultural also. There are a lot of Caribbean, a lot of Hispanic people, a lot of Europeans, a lot of everybody. In other places that we travel we don’t really get to see that. So, it kinda feels like home. We’ve really appreciated all of the love that we have received from all the DJ’s, radio stations, night clubs…It’s really like a bond because people really like seeing and feeling a good vibration. People gravitate to that.
BF: What does your music represent?
Shifta: As an artist I really want to express just being you, being real. Even with my name being my real name, it’s the same thing with my music. It’s really who I represent and what I represent. Partying, having fun, enjoying life; living it to the fullest. Because you know, we’re not guaranteed or even promised tomorrow. And through my label, Timeless Records, I’m really grateful that I’ve been allowed to just be me. In the times we’re living in, I feel it’s important for people to just get out and have fun and take their mind off all the negative and think positive. When you get to the club it’s time to get your mind off work and leave the negative situations in God’s hands. The music is healing for people. It’s a way for them to let go of all their problems and just have fun.
BF: The guy sitting in front of me is very chill, relaxed, almost zen-like, but your single “Hung Ova” isn’t. How do you go from 0 to 100 when it’s time to perform?
Shifta: I would definitely say just my life day to day with family and friends is just very laid back and chill, but there’s definitely a rock star beneath all that. Today, we’re going off of like 3 hours of sleep, we’ve been in 4 states in the last 3 days. I guess to me it’s really about the people. Whether or not it’s 100 interviews a day or 2, it’s about the people. It’s the people who make us go to where we want to go. It starts with the music, but there’s a lot of music every day all day coming out from a bunch of people. What it really boils down to is the person. Show time is show time. We gonna get up in the club, we gonna live it up, we’re gonna be hung over, we’re gonna be rock stars, and then the next day we’re gonna get up, we’re gonna pack our bags, hit the phones and get back to work. At the end of the day it’s a balance.
BF: Since one of your singles is called “Hung Ova” can you tell us your remedy for being hung over?
Shifta: I would say just stay up…just go all night. Make sure you got somebody sexy in the bed with you, you know? Somebody that’s gonna make you sober up, you know what I mean?
Yup we doooo lol.