Bianca Shaw Talks Lawndale, Bow Wow, and New EP “Exhale”
Written by Vocalo Radio on January 6, 2020
Bianca Shaw is a drummer, singer and rapper representing North Lawndale on the west side of Chicago.
Vocalo’s new midday host Bekoe spoke with Bianca about her recent EP titled “Exhale,” her new Single “Seat Back,” and what she would like to do for the North Lawndale community.
How did you get your start at being a singer?
My singing started with my Mom. She’s always been an inspiration of mine. My sisters, my brothers and I were always singing in the church. And we would go downstairs and put on concerts for my parents when they got home from work. We’d be dancing to like Spice Girls or the Cheetah Girls, or we’d make up songs. And that’s how it got started – at home and at church.
And when did the rapping come from?
The rapping came from me always listening to my brother. He would listen to NAS, Mos Def, MF Doom, all the greats. And it just kind of came from there. But what really made me start rapping is when I saw Bow Wow rapping on TV. I thought, you know what, maybe if he can do it, I can do it. So I wrote my first rap because I saw him. I performed it in front of the kids in my summer camp, and they went crazy. Then I was like, maybe this is something that I could do. So I just kept going.
You went on tour with Taylor Bennett, and in 2018 you hit the Lollapalooza stage. How was that?
That might have been the dopest experience! There were so many people! My goal is to get in front of more people and seeing that Lollapalooza stage and everybody going crazy, that was really incredible! I was on there with Twista and Taylor, it was just a lot of energy and I fed off the energy. It was like a rush. So now I want more of it.
Let’s talk about your EP “Exhale.” Tell me about the title.
So Exhale was a project that I did just about this kind of sense of letting go. I get anxiety a lot. I don’t know if people know that but I get it before I go on stage, you know, just worrying about what could happen or what if. So it’s just telling myself, just do it, just be in the moment. It’s just taking that deep breath, that’s exactly what it means. A lot of what we go through like is really just breathing, so you have to breathe, you have to let it go, you have to just put it in God’s hands or whatever you do to kind of calm you down. So that’s what I made that project based on.
For new listeners who might want to check out the project, what would you consider your most passionate record on Exhale?
I’m gonna pick “Bipolar“. At the time, I was really going through something and I didn’t know how to express those emotions. A lot of the time, even growing up, I didn’t really have anybody to talk to. My parents really didn’t talk to us. They just kind of made sure we survived. So that’s what I’m trying to do differently with my kids and just talk to them, see how their day is going. I ask them every day, you know, what’s something that made you happy, what’s something that made you angry or sad, or something that they wanna talk about that might be hard to talk about. And I just want to open that gate, create a safe place as a way to get out of that dark place. And that’s what I also try to do in my music.
Let’s talk about you new Single “Seat Back”
This song and video is for my day-one fans. People kept asking me when am I gonna put out something like a cypher, so I put something out like the cipher, something that I really don’t have a story behind it. You know, one of my friends was like, where’s the story behind Seat Back? But what if I didn’t want to write a story this time? What if I just want to talk stuff? I feel like, as artists, we should be able to express how we feel with any song we choose, without being judged from the public. This is just how I feel right now. I want to do something happy. Nobody likes the happy artists. They just want to hear depressing music.
Why do you think it’s that way?
I feel like it’s just the society where people want to feel like they need to connect with somebody that feels the same way but when you’re happy, I guess you don’t really look for that connection. But that’s wrong too.
Watching the video for Seat Back, you’re about your community. Talk about where you’re from.
I’m from North Lawndale, the west side of Chicago, holding it down. It’s a beautiful garden. We get grass everywhere. (Laughs). I mean, this is what I would like it to be in my mind but we ain’t got no grass. When I was younger we had to get back into the house when the street lights came on. If you see somebody running, you gonna run. It was just dangerous. But that environment shaped me. It made me who I am.
If you got an opportunity to do something for your community, what would that be?
I want to get rid of so many liquor stores and just change the scenery because you are what you’re around. And it’s depressing looking outside, you know, it’s trash, it’s dirty, the billboards only got like 1-800 HURT NOW, and it’s only just McDonald’s around. Like, is this what you all think of us as a people? So I just want to change some of the billboards. That would definitely be an initiative of mine. Maybe just put some healthy eating or info on how to learn about like the stock market or financial literacy. Just things that might help us.
Listen to the full interview:
Audio producer: Fyodor Sakhnovski
Photos Courtesy of the Artist