|© The Wu-Tang Corp.- 2004-03-12
As the youngest affiliate of the Wu-Tang Clan, Shyheim "The Rugged Child" hit the scene at the age of 14. He was lyrically impressive and dropped 1996ís The Lost Generation way before Lilí Bow Wow and Romeo would hit the scene. He came up as a native of Staten Island and even lived with Ghostface Killah for a period of time. The young future of saw his popularity swell as he appeared in movies, videos like TLCís "Waterfalls", and eventually released a follow-up ; 1999ís Man Child.
But there was another Shyheim emerging as time passed, one that was pulled into the allure of the streets. The young man was facing serious gun charges for an armed robbery gone horribly wrong from the start. He skipped bail and ran from authorities for a year and a half before turning himself in. He did a two-year bid, but has emerged a wiser man of 26-years-old.
AllHipHop.com: So whatís been up, man? You told me that you had did a little jail bid or whatever. We talked about you rhyming with DJ Quik [on Under The Influence - ďThe PoemĒ] so what up?
Shyheim: Iím 40 days in the street, you know what Iím saying? Iím about to turn it up. Quickís a real dude. And Iímma explain to you how I met Quik. See thatís why I believe that if you can think it, you can live it. I was actually on the run, you know what Iím saying? Iím in New York running around, Iím wanted for two fugitive felonies. So Iím like, ĎDamn, where the f*ck am I gonna go? I done ran, so I loss my house. They took that paper. So, Iím like, ĎDamn, what the f*ck am I gonna do?
Yo, you wanna go to Cali?í I said nigga letís go. Before I want out there, I said ĎYo, you know who I like? Who I dig? I dig DJ Quik. I wanna do a song with Quik.í Iím driving in the whip, I ainít got a license, but f*ck it. Iím driving in the whip, nigga in front of me on a motorcycle, man. Nigga dropped his phone. So I stops, take his phone to him. ĎOh sh*t, thatís Quik. Heís like, ĎCome to the studio tonight.í Nothing. I came to the studio, laid some shit. Now, the area I was living it, wasnít too far from him.
I have a mother and I respect my elders. So every time I would go to the supermarket, I would bump into this lady. Sheís an older lady, mad bags. ĎExcuse me miss, let me help you.í Bags, bags, bags. I didnít know who she was, itís just a thing I do. You black, Iím black, I support my peoples. So what winds up happening is, Quik calls me, ĎYo, Shy come over my house.í All along, she telling him, ĎOh, I met this boy, he comes to the store and helps me with my bags.í So then I come in his house, Iím sitting on his couch. We chillin'. We blowing, drinking. She comes in. She like, ĎYou know him? Thatís the boy that helps me.í And it was like that pulled are bond so close [and] tight. Because I didnít know that was his mother. She didnít know I knew him. It wasnít that type of thing. It was just out of love, loyalty, respect, trust, and honor. I recorded some songs he put on his albums why I was away. That was a good look. And how we roll, I didnít get a dime. Homie, thatís you, nigga. Do that. Thatís just the type of character that I have instilled [in me].
AllHipHop.com: So what were you in for?
Shyheim: I was in for violation of probation. I got caught with a copís gun. Then on top of that, I had an armed robbery in the first degree. It started off on some beefing shit. But once you I take it to that level and itís popping, everything goes, homie. Itís like, you fronting on me and you got some shines, nigga. Iímma give it to you, Iímma shoot the sh*t out of you, and Iímma take your shine. Thatís just the way the Ďhood goes. Iím not just gonna do it to you and leave and you laying on the floor iced out. Nah, gimmie that. So, thatís what turned it into an armed robbery with a deadly weapon. I served two-and-a-half years; I owe Ďem three years on parole. But itís nothing, I learned a lesson from that. That was Allahís way of telling me, ĎLook, slow down.í Because I never had the chance to separate business from real life. I grew up in this sh*t young. So every stumble, every fall I make, is in the public eye. I didnít have the luxury of growing up, then getting on. Itís a difference, because your mind state is different. Itís Allahís way of saying, ĎSit down and evaluate your life. Evaluate what you wanna do. Evaluate the people thatís in your circle. Learn how to separate. And now you know what? Here you go, go back to the world. Succeed. Because now you know and understand your purpose.í Thatís the reality.
AllHipHop.com: How old are you right now?
Shyheim: Iím 26. I got about eight years in the game. Iím the youngest veteran. Iím a product of the streets, know what Iím saying? Iím everybodyís little cousin, everybodyís little brother, in they Ďhood. Thatís what it is. Iím getting a lot of love. Peoples is understanding my story. I got something to tell the world. Not only on the cool parts, cause I donít have nothing to prove. Iíll grab my rap sheet. I got it to show that I could do it. But now, itís an opposite side to that story. Dig this, you 14 hours from home, itís snowing, your moms canít get on that bus and come see you. Sheís in the mountains, niggas drive and get killed in the mountains. The police kill people in the mountains. Basically you learn life value, man. And a lot of people donít value their life. Life is not a gimmick, life is a privilege. So if you donít take it as a privilege, Allah will take it from you. But even if he take it from you, from the outside in, if one of my homies can killed, all my homies, Big L, thatís my homieóI learned a lesson within his death. So then, maybe he died to teach me something. The words of advice that he gave me, was for me to take and go on and prosper in life. Thatís what I truly believe and have faith in.
AllHipHop.com: How have you grown as an emcee from back in the days when everybody loved what you were doing, down with Wu and all that?
Shyheim: Iíve grown intelligent. Iíve learned to know, not to think. When I was growing up, I looked at other peoples life, ĎOh my man he busts his gun.í So itís evolving, I bust my gun. I do this. This is my life now. But listen, this is what Iíve learned in my travels. So I think creatively, Iíll be more effective. Because I know more, I studied everything from psychology. So the reason I studied psychology, Ďcause I wanna know how these people is thinking. So if I can capture how you think, I can capture how you move, and what you would move to.
I been in the game since I was 18, I done did movies, TV, everything. So it ainít about paper. Nigga in your Ďhood is f*cked up. You not teaching these niggas how to get a business. You not saying, ĎHere son, hereís some money.í F*ck it, if I got to live regular to help a hundred people, thatís what it is. Iíve learned how to make money work for me. Not on the block. My first advance, I got money, I said, ĎIím gon' get some crack. Iím trying to live it up.í But Iím killing my peoples at the same time. So itís now just taking it to the next level. ĎCause this a blueprint that they created. The Willie Lynch letter, if anybody knows about the Willie Lynch letter, muthaf*ckas this shit is created and we in trouble. So itís all about love, man. Thatís why I appreciate even this interview. Because this interview is gonna help me and itís gonna help people.
AllHipHop.com: Are you still down with Wu in any way or form?
Shyheim: Um, itís like this. I have personal relationships. RZA, thatís my heart forever. Meth, thatís my heart. But itís business. If you canít accepts me growing into a man, and want to create my own? Iím not a worker, I put in enough work where I donít a check, I want to sign a check. So if you canít support me on that, love is love. But it will happen and I will do it. Iím Wu-Tang forever. Iímma always shout Wu-Tang. Even if I feel personally that you donít support me, and I feel you should support me. But at the time, I was moving different. So I understand. Itís like nobody wants to work with a hardhead muthaf*cka.
AllHipHop.com: Can you talk about your new album and what people can expect?
Shyheim: Right now, I got the new album, The Greatest Story Never Told. King Just is signed to my label, as well as myself. Itís called Bottom Up Records. I got my own management company, Rock Rubber Management. We dealing with films, management, labels, all aspects. Iímma turn it up. Iím trying to outdo Jigga. Jigga retired at what? 36? Iím trying to retire at 30. I got four years. Iímma about to turn it up, man, as long as I get the support of the real hip-hop, man. Make it happen. And then I can help other youth. Itís time to raise the children, man. Itís time to really make a difference. Itís time get some land. Itís time to build some bunkers our muthaf*cking self. So when they start acting crazy, we like, ĎDrop all the bombs you wanna drop, we aight.í And we got water, and we got foods, and we done grew all our shit, and we deep. And I donít care who you are, you ainít coming on my property, Ďcause we got guns, too.í And we understand. Itís for a cause, not because.
AllHipHop.com: Public wise, how do you think people will view you as growing up from a child rapper?
Shyheim: I had space. So I had room to grow. So now that throws in somebodyís mind, ĎWhat have you learned?í And I think if that wasnít in peopleís mind they wouldnít be so attracted to me. Because I ainít drop an album. Itís love like that. Itís reality, and no one can escape reality, no matter how much you get caught in an illusion.
Written by Jigsaw for www.allhiphop.com