The bro Jason Pollak recently interviewed Shanell over the phone for an interview about her forthcoming mixtape, Nobody’s Bitch. They discussed when the mixtape would be released, the recording process behind it, what type of songs we can expect on the tape, the “My Button” music video, how the collaboration with Lil Wayne and Drake for “So Good” came about, the visual for “So Good“, and more!
You can read the full interview below:
Shanell: Hey! How are you?
Jason: Great, how are you doing? Hope your day hasn’t been too stressful thus far.
Shanell: Haha, nope. This is what I was born to do. All in a days work.
Jason: Yea, so we got to speak about a year ago. I think you were still in the process of picking tracks for your upcoming mixtape, “Nobody’s Bitch”.
Shanell: Yea, we probably spoke when I was in the middle of it. A lot has changed over a year. I had to stop because I was on the road a lot. From there, I kinda revamped the whole thing. There were some songs where I wanted to try something different. I was paying a lot of attention to everyone that was following myself and Young Money. I really wanted to deliver something special. Now we are up and ready to go. Songs are done. We are just getting the little nooks and crannies filled in. The mixtape will be out the second week of July and should be dope.
Jason: Yea, we have all been waiting. We thought we were gettin it in June.
Shanell: It was, but I’m such a creative person. Ya know, I’ll get on Twitter and be like it’s coming out in June, then I’ll go to myself “Wait a second, there is still, this, this and this that needs to get done.” So it took a little longer than I originally planned, but it will definitely be out in July.
Jason: So what was the process like creating this album. You must have recorded a ton of songs over the year. You guys just keep recording over there at Young Money.
Shanell: Yea, but that can be bad sometimes because I’m a real feeling type of person. So I felt like I had to go and live a little. I was stuck in the studio for months and months and months, trying to create this album. So I wanted to go out, party, get drunk, have a hangover, experience life a little; then write some music. That helped out a lot, just getting out of the studio for a little bit.
Jason: That’s understandable. What do you think you gathered from those life experiences? How do you think it affected the material on the album?
Shanell: Well, a great a deal because I’m a song-writer at heart. I’ve been writing songs for years. In the period before I started working on the album, the work intensity died down a little. Ya know, I had time to go live and then go to work. But normally the intensity is so high, I started getting away from having fun. I forgot that I do music because I love it. It’s an expression of who I am. So now, I’m back to myself and how I use to write because I need to write from experience. Whether it’s from talking to friends about relationships or their crazy dates, it helps to get out of the four walls of the studio. It can get kind of draining.
Jason: Yea, I hear you. So what kind of tracks can we expect on Nobody’s Bitch? We already got a taste with the song “So Good”.
Shanell: Yea, “So Good” is actually going to be on the album…the album process kind of kicked in while I was recording “Nobody’s Bitch”. So I look at it like this, the album is going to be more of Shanell…before the club. “Nobody’s Bitch” is Shanell at the club. Ya know? So you got a taste of what the album is gonna be like, but the mixtape is kind of exposing a bit of the darker, more aggressive side to Shanell. Which is what a mixtape is really for. An artist can kind of do and say whatever. An album is kinda controlled by the label. But here’s what I mean by the title of “Nobody’s Bitch”. It’s more of a saying. It’s like, take me seriously, take me as a professional, take me as who I am and don’t pass judgement on me. So the music you will hear on the mixtape is going to be some of the most honest music you’ve ever heard from a female singer. I think that’s needed right now. Right now, the only honesty you get, is in rap. Women that are singing these songs today are all cry babies, “Oh he left me…Oh I love him.” Yet, there is a whole other side to the relationship that isn’t talked about from a women’s perspective. You only hear a man’s perspective. You never hear what women think and say. Ya know, those are the conversations I’m having with my homegirls. That’s what I’m bringing to light on “Nobody’s Bitch”.
Jason: Yea, I agree with you. It’s definitely needed. Just to mention your label mate Nicki and her songs such as “Right Thru Me” or “Save Me”, it really gives a women’s perspective to the other side of the relationship like you said. I would say “So Good” and “My Button” definitely exemplify what being a strong woman is about. They take us through some of the emotions you’re experiencing. It’s nice to be able to hear what a woman is thinking during a relationship. It’s good advice for us guys.
Shanell: Exactly. I think I touched on it a bit when I released “My Button”. That concept and story in that song is what a lot of women talk about. They talk about how unsatisfied they are in their relationships or marriages. Guys run around and talk about how good they are in bed. Like “I do this…” or “I beat it up!” And its like, no you didn’t…I faked it. Ya know, but guys don’t know that’s what us women are always talking about. Ya know, this is what’s being talked about and this is what we’re saying. So I put it on record.
Jason: Yea. Can’t wait to hear all the secrets. I thought the video for “My Button” was great. The whole metaphor with the video game was a great idea.
Shanell: The metaphor was basically- We (the girls) in the TV screen are part of the game and the guys, who are playing, have to press the right buttons to win. There was the funny dude in the video that was pressing the wrong buttons and the score was going down. But when the Young Money dudes were playing, they kept winning. I have a lot of younger fans and I take into consideration that some people aren’t ready for certain things, so I didn’t want the message to be like, right out in front of your face. I wanted it to be fun for the younger kids, but at the same time I still wanted to have the meaning there for the people that are old enough to understand.
Jason: Yea, I got you. It was also awesome that everyone was able to make an appearance in the video. I don’t remember Lil Wayne’s, Short Dawg’s and Lil Twist’s score, but I think they were doing pretty good.
Shanell: Haha, yea, you know I had to make sure they looked good. And them being there was one of my biggest concerns. I remember I was just like, “You have to be there. You have to be there.” I really wanted everybody, but we are all working in different states and countries. We started off as a strong family and now everyone is doing amazing, which is of course a blessing. So I just wanted to get as many of us as I could to be a part of it. I wanted to show that everyone is still supportive even though they are doing their own thing.
Jason: Yea, definitely. In the “So Good” video as well, everyone drops by to make an appearance. Ya know, you got the synchronized Stunna pose going on, with both of you rubbing your hands.
Shanell: Haha, mhmm. Drake couldn’t actually be on set because he was on tour, but he was like, “I ain’t gonna leave you hanging”. Ya know Wayne, Baby, Mack, I was happy that they were all a part of that. I’m like the lil’ sis. I’ve been there for everyone else through the years, so for everyone to come through was dope.
Jason: Even Marley G made an appearance.
Shanell: Hahah, yea. People are always like, “Who is that?” But that’s the homie right there.
Jason: Haha, yea. So how did that collab with Wayne and Drake come about? Were they just like, “We got you on this. We’ll make this hot.”
Shanell: Yea basically. The “My Button” song was like the buzz record. That was just me doing me, being crazy. Then the official coming out moment was “So Good”. Wayne and Drake were the perfect combination. It was my introduction to the world. Wayne loved the song; I honestly thought we could have picked another song. Ya know, I liked it, but I thought there were others we could have chosen. But Wayne was just like, “Let me and Drake get you out there.” And he was right. People love the video and collaboration. Wayne makes the right decisions.
Jason: Haha, yea. He seems to have a tendency to do that. When was the song recorded? Did you have that track for a while?
Shanell: Yea, we had the track for a minute. I don’t know if you remember, but Baby and Mack were discussing the song a while back in an interview. But then we went on tour and this and that happened…and timing is really everything in this business. So right now, where the music is and where the label is, this was the time to put it out.
Jason: Yea, Wayne hasn’t been on tour over the last year, so that must have given you a lot of time to work on the mixtape and album. Did that just happen by accident or did you guys plan it like that?
Shanell: It was just a coincidence, which worked out perfectly. It felt weird at first because we weren’t traveling as much. I’m so used to moving around and being on the road. Now, I can sit and think. I remember I kept thinking over and over again, “Wow, I have so much time.” It kinda threw me off. But it was good because now I’m finishing up the album and I’m linking up with a lot of producers and writers. And as I mentioned before, I’m a songwriter first, so I was a little hesitant to let anyone else write anything for me. As a true artist, having someone else’s experiences in someone else’s song, it just wasn’t something I believed in doing. I’m used to being the person that comes in to help someone else. However, through having so much time and being able to sit down with different writers and producers, I’ve gotten more comfortable with it. They always told me, “We are here for you. What do you want to sing and talk about? What does the music sound like to you? What do you want me to change?” So through all of that, it’s been a dope experience. It’s a little different for me because now I have help. I usually never have help. So, even though I thought since the time I was born that I was gonna be the only person writing on my album, it’s been a dope little journey getting to meet these other writers. I’m used to teaching, now I’m learning. It’s cool.
Jason: Yea, now you kinda put on the directors’ hat and run your own show.
Shanell: Yea and if you talk to anyone that has come in to work with me, they’ll tell you I’m extremely picky. I think the main thing was that I’m not used to other people helping me out as much as they did. I always believed in the saying “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” That’s how I pretty much have done everything up until now, but the momentum is moving so fast, I’ve realized I do need to open up and attach other peoples ideas to my ideas. You know, two heads are better than one.
Jason: Yea, most definitely. So I know you mentioned last time that you directed Wayne’s video for “Runnin”. Did you play any part in the developmental process of “So Good” and “My Button”.
Shanell: Yea I actually wrote the video treatment for both of those. I’m not that much of a film person, but I do see a vision when I write or record a song. So I wrote up the treatment for “So Good” and passed it along to Director X who took it the same way Colin Tilley did for “My Button”. He was like this is dope, lets do it. Some directors are hesitant to do that, but they were both cool and open about it. They took the idea and just finessed it. So he did his thing and worked with me on it. I brought in a dope choreographer named Binky. She’s done a lot of amazing work. It’s hard to pass the hat, because I’m used to doing the choreography the same way I was used to doing the writing. But she understood. She knew this was my baby and creation and she worked very well with me. Like I passed her the hat, but kept pulling it away from her, but she got it. She knew what I was going through. She was just like, “I’m only here to help you” and she really did. I’m so used to being around the dancers the whole shoot, but when I had to go to meetings or whatever, she was there to hold it down for me. And she just did a great job like I said.
Jason: True, I got you. I also thought the transition from Wayne’s verse into your chorus was well planned and thought out. He goes “And I unveil, Ms. Shanell…” and then you pop out the trunk. Haha, I thought that was great.
Shanell: Definitely!! I’m fun and I want to have fun. Most girls just want to be sexy. My theory on that is, if you’re sexy, you’re gonna be sexy no matter what. You don’t have to try, lets just have fun. My inspiration for the idea came from when I was in high school and we would go to the drive in movie theaters. They had a couple in Atlanta. And ya know, in high school, we all don’t have a lot of money, so we had to sneak in by hiding in the trunk. So we would go in and once the movie would start, we’d pop out and open up the trunk. That was the whole idea I came up with based on some experiences back in the day.
Jason: Haha, that is really funny. Aright, so just my last question so you can get out of here, I was just curious if you were gonna have any cool features on your mixtape you could let go. You had Eve, Mika Means, Lil Wayne last time on your mixtape. If you can’t let them go, that’s cool too.
Shanell: There are a couple, but I didn’t really reach out and do the whole “I need to get these people on the record”. It just kinda happened in the studio. If I was working and had an idea and they were walking by, I’d ask them if they wanted to hop on the track. So there are four features on it and they are all male features. I thought that would be a nice combination on “Nobody’s Bitch”. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m a feminist in any type of way, but I’m goin in hard on men. So I thought those features would kind off-set the female dominance on there. But I don’t hate men, it’s nothing like that. I love men, there are just some things they need to know.
Jason: Haha yea, there are definitely plenty of things we could learn. Thank you so much for taking the time. I really appreciate it.
Shanell: No problem! Those were some very knowledgeable questions. Thank you!