TDB: Hello everyone, my name is Maddy Agers with The Digital Breakdown and today I’m talking to Sho Baraka whose album The Narrative is going to be released on October 21st! Sho, how are you doing today?
SB: I am doing excellent, thank you for having me!
TDB: You have a pretty awesome story and you’ve had the chance to work with some pretty incredible people. Can you tell me a little bit about what got you started in music and how you got started with Humble Beast?
SB: When I was in college (I went to school in North Texas in Denton, Texas) I ran into guys like Lecrae, Trip Lee, and Tedashii, which later became 116 Reach Records. Then Andy Mineo became part of the record label, and we toured and did music. I eventually left that label after I did two albums with them. I went independent, did a third album called Talented 10th. Recently I just signed with the label Humble Beast, which is an awesome label out of Portland. I’m on that label with a group called Beautiful Eulogy, a guy Propaganda, and a young lady named Jackie-Hill. Now, I am here to talk about my new release, The Narrative, which releases Friday under Humble Beast.
TDB: Can you tell me a bit about the meaning behind The Narrative – the album itself and just the name?
SB: For me, I just love telling stories and I love the art of communication. What I wanted to do was to just tell a bunch of stories within the context of the experiences that I’ve had, not only as a black man but also as a Christian and an American. As a father as well, I talk about children I’ve raised and the woman I married. So there’s a whole collection of stories I’m telling and I’m just hoping that the listener can peer into my particular experience and get something from it that I think is quite beneficial. So that’s the idea of The Narrative, is just me telling some great stories of history. I play on this idea of antiquity, just pulling from heroes from my past and yeah, that’s really just the general idea of the album.
TDB: One thing we really love about the album is that you have some great guests with you – features like Lecrae, Jackie-Hill, and Courtney Orlando. Why did you choose to do the song “Here” with Lecrae, and what does that song mean to you?
SB: That song is probably one of the few songs on the album that has a kind of “turn-up” feel to it. *laughs* Most of the album is soul, jazzy, kind of smooth – well, not smooth. It just a very live instrumentation, jazz, soul feel. I didn’t want to be stupid and not have a song that didn’t have people get excited and happy. So I created a song, I just think there’s a certain sound that people like that gets them excited.
I started thinking of other people who could collaborate and fit well on that, and Lecrae is just a perfect artist for that sound. So he got on the song and did an amazing job. The context of the song is that we’re celebrating the things that we’re here for. It’s a popular urban term “I’m here for that”, and you know love, faith, truth, and grace – I’m here for that! I think at the end of the day it’s like, “Are you here for the love?” So it’s like “I’m here for the love!” So that’s the concept for the song.
TDB: You talk a lot about politics and going through life as an American, as you were saying. There’s a line where you say that your opinion could change in a week from now, which is rare that you’re so honest about those things on this album – truly that is how everyone is. Why do you think it was important to go deeper into those things with this album?
SB: Well, because I’m no longer in my 20’s, as one of the song communicates. (30 & Up) I think the older you get you start to think of life in different ways. Though I’m still an individual who loves to have fun and I’m still an individual who believes that life is what you make it, I also believe it would be foolish of us to just go into life ignoring the deep-sheeted tensions that we have. Whether that’s politics, relationships, religion, or race. I think that if you have strong beliefs about those things, share them in a way that’s productive and loving. But also recognize that you may be wrong in those issues. The line you mention I’m like, “I have a view but that might change next week, you know what I’m saying? Like, I don’t know!” *laughs* So yeah, and that song is “Kanye” which I love. The greater concept is like, “Can I have a Kanye Rant for a moment and say some things that may be ridiculous but at the end of the day I just gotta get off my chest?”
TDB: And you mention “2009” in the song title, which is funny.
SB: Yes, that’s the infamous snatching of the mic from Taylor Swift.
TDB: Yeah, I don’t know if he can live that down. *both laugh* You had Jackie-Hill on that song and she said some really powerful stuff, especially about women in rapping. There were two sides to that song – you and her going back and forth. Was it intended on that song to give a male/female rant on either side?
SB: Absolutely, and I also just wanted somebody dope on the song! But yeah, absolutely. I think it’s very important to have – because often times, especially in a male-dominated field, we can forget that there are talented women out there and that they have a strong perspective as well. And it would be foolish for me to have a talented woman on my label and not, you know? I gave her two songs and said, “Hey, which one do you want to be on?” It was that song and another song. She chose that song, so I’m glad she did.
TDB: Us too, it turned out great! You’ve got another song on here that came out in June called “Fathers”. There are some powerful lines in there about a father and his kids. What made you want to write a song that recognized what dads should be?
SB: Because everybody makes songs about mothers and nobody makes songs about dads. *laughs* Why don’t fathers get any love, you know what I’m saying? Somebody needs to make a song about fathers! Honestly, that’s one reason. The other reason is the guy that’s singing on the song, we were collaborating and he was like, “Man, we should make a song celebrating our kids and talking about fatherhood.” I was like, “Let’s do it. Let’s do it, man!” I wanted to stress that if I was to die, what would I want to tell my kids?” That’s what I wanted to write.
TDB: You’re so right about the father thing. Mother’s Day is such a big deal and Father’s Day is kinda like, “eh.” *both laugh* You’re about to be on tour also on the 21st. I guess you’ll be a little busy that day! Can you tell me about the Spotlight Tour and what’s going on with that?
SB: Yeah, Spotlight Tour is not going to be a musical tour, it’s going to be a tour with a guy named Propaganda who is also on Humble Beast. Awesome guy, really smart and intellectual dude. Really what it is is that we’re going to be traveling, doing a series of lectures and songs that deal with politics and race relations in America. The whole goal is to try to unify the Church and also to try to unify those who come and try to bridge the gap between some of the tensions we face in America today. So there will be some lecturing, and there will also be some performances and videos and what-not.
TDB: Is there anything else fans should be expecting from you?
SB: Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing a full-blown music tour early next year. But just go buy the album and listen to it. If you’re not a purchaser of music anymore, then you can download it for free on Humble Beast. Humble Beast gives away all their albums for free and I mean, just check out the music. Give it a chance, it’s awesome!
Purchase The Narrative:
Connect with Sho Baraka: