Sha Money XL is a case study in hustle and dedication. The accomplished A&R is one of the last members of that fraternity of label executives who got their start actually making music. Realizing early on that rapping was not his calling, the Queens, NY native used his piano skills from childhood to become one of the most sought after producers in the game, having worked with Royal Flush, Tragedy, Onyx, Mobb Deep and many more.
Sha Money, aka “The Chain On The Bike” is also one of the key people who helped propel 50 Cent from mixtape phenom to GQ Cover model and mogul. As President of G-Unit Records he oversaw releases like the double-platinum group debut, Beg For Mercy.
These days, Sha Money XL holds the title of Sr. Vice President of A&R for Island Def Jam and has his sights set on blasting off newcomer Big K.R.I.T.’s career. But even in the midst of working various projects, he still finds time to give back by mentoring and motivating young artists to become future leaders and innovators in hip-hop. In 2005 he established an annual conference for Hip-Hop producers called The One Stop where the beatmakers of tomorrow are discovered.
Here he shared why Big K.R.I.T. is about to be the next biggest rapper to touch a mic and how Jam Master Jay inspired him to help encourage the next generation of b-boys and girls.
TUD: What’s one of your favorite moments in hip-hop that you were actually involved in?
Sha Money XL: It was my first trip to California. I went to this thing called “Rap Olympics” and that was the day that Eminem got discovered by Dr. Dre. And that’s where I saw Eminem in a battle where I knew he would win but because there was mad Crips in the building they didn’t let him win. But he beat that motherf*cker! That was an ill day! This was before Internet and before people could tape it and everyone could see it. That was my first trip to Cali and I hung out with Eminem. I didn’t really pay attention to the fact that it’s this white kid rapping but then when we turned around he became this ill dude and it was like, “You remember that kid that was with us that day and he was waiting to go upstairs to freestyle and he did that ill freestyle? It was like wow, we were with him! We were cool with Em before he blew up. That was one of my historical moments and then there was Jam Master Jay⎯the day I met him. That changed my life.
It’s your first five minutes to talk to someone famous but you don’t wanna sound stupid. I made my conversation right with him. He’s the one that introduced me to 50 Cent, so he kind of opened my whole world. He was my first mentor. He was actually someone that took the time to take care and show you something. Everybody in this industry be too busy, so they don’t be passing no words, they don’t plant no seeds so no one can go on and continue and here Jay was⎯he was ready to lend his whole soul. So he opened it up to the kid. That’s what made me want to produce a conference and do all the mentoring and the talk back. Look at how far I got with it. I do that sh*t just because he did it for me and it helped me. And I know it only takes one person, that’s a lot alone.
Where do you see what your impact has been made on the culture?
My influence has an impact on producers. With me dealing with hip-hop, with producers, they’re the seed planters in hip-hop. They’re the ones that add hype to new artists that get excited. They’re the ones that are at the storefronts to buy the CDs and buying albums continuously. With artists, they’re all critics so they don’t go buy another artist’s album or they don’t want to hear who’s hot so I planted the seeds with producers with my conference to the point that when I see people now they’re like “Yo man, I got a job from coming to your conference,” or “I sold a beat from coming to your conference,” or “I did ‘Power’ for Kanye West from f*cking with your conference.” There’s all these stories that come from there and it’s like, I love producers because they’re just creative beings that are just fans of music. There’s no hate, it’s no bullsh*t, it’s that they just want to hear the best music out there possible because producers are musicians. So I think my contribution is more like quality music and actually to giving back to the search for new talent and I’m still on the hunt and I’m still looking. I just found Big K.R.I.T. Big K.R.I.T. is a special artist to me because he’s one of those rare artists that are so amazing. Like how I believed in 50 when motherf*ckers said he was done and I knew that it wasn’t that.
Why do you feel that Big K.R.I.T is so amazing?
Big K.R.I.T has the best message to send in hip-hop. His words sit in your soul unlike any other rapper out there. I’ve memorized his songs and used it as poetry because he’s speaking sh*t that mother f*ckers are afraid to talk about, don’t want to talk about, he knows how to make it sound cool. It’s not trap rap, it’s not sit down and be a Buddhist either. It’s real hip-hop soul. It’s just indescribable. There’s no one like it. Big K.R.I.T is gonna be a Grammy nominated award winner. When I told you that I knew 50 was gonna be hot, this dude is the hottest rapper in the next 10 years.
Speaking of Big K.R.I.T what’s the state of hip-hop today?
It’s back to the youth. Before, it was a part where the 18-year-old and 19-year-olds had no say. It’s young again. The rappers that were popping were like 30 and over but now the new ones are back in their teenage years and early 20s. It’s back to where it needs to be. When LL was hot sh*t and Run DMC were first hot, they were teenagers but then it got to where the new rappers had to be 30 or older because they were grinding so hard but now it’s back to the youth. It’s back to the kids on skateboards that tell you that this is fashion, not that bullsh*t you’re wearing. Not that Louis sh*t and all that sh*t that you need a whole fucking check on that’s good for one night and can’t even wear it in the next three months. It’s back to that and that’s the best form of hip-hop to me. The youth really determine what’s hot and they ignite all the other kids toward that and that’s when you start to see sales, because older motherf*ckers aren’t buying music because they’re not really used to it.
What’s the future of Black music in general?
It’s just gonna continue to grow and continue to elevate. Have you seen that Beyonce performance at the Billboard Awards? That’s growth! You’re gonna see more growth.
What do you want your legacy to be 100 years form now?
What I want my legacy to be is to reach back for people to continue to elevate themselves, but [showing them how[ to give back so that other people can grow as well.
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