Seattle doesn't say hip-hop like New York City, Detroit or Los Angeles. Sure, Sir Mix-A-Lot grabbed national attention in the mid 1980s with "Baby Got Back, " but that was eons ago in hip-hop time. Now, with exciting young artists such as Blue Scholars, Unexpected Arrival, Dyme Def and Oldominion stepping onto the Emerald City's hip-hop stage, that looks set to change.
The city's new generation of hip-hop artists have something to say. And not just about back, booty and trunk junk. Take Anthony Shears, for example. With the recent release of his new CD, "The Growth: My Endtroduction," Shears takes us on a road trip. The destination? His life.
"I lost my grandmother, my father and my best friend in the last two years, but I keep fighting and working hard, " Shears told The Skanner. His father was murdered last year and his grandmother, who helped raise him, died of natural causes. Shears' best friend was tragically shot while working at a women's shelter. She and Shears were talking on the phone when the bullet hit. Shears feels that writing down his experiences and turning them into art is helping him heal. He hopes his music will do the same for others dealing with grief and loss.
Shears has been writing since he was nine, filling old shoeboxes with his work.
At age 12, he wrote a song and recorded a video with friends for a national contest. The video won more than $450,000 of K-Swiss gear for his school.
"When the principal called me in his office at 7:30am I was thinking 'I just got here, what did I do?' But a representative on the phone told me we had won." Shears was also given $10,000 to re-record the song and the video. "I remember standing on the stage at the studio thinking this is what I want to do." This was the first time he realized he could make a career out of his talent.
Growing up, Shears was influenced by some of the greats such as Tupac and LL Cool J. He is now making music that deals with matters such as insecurity, vulnerability, desperation, hope, and frustration. "I try to write my songs with the same sincerity and honesty as Tupac."
Shears said even people who don't like hip-hop, might enjoy the stories he tells. His songs themes range from the agony of domestic violence to a new Seattle anthem titled 'S.E.A.'
Shears is not only an artist, but a businessman as well, with his own record label, which he hopes will rival Def Jam, Interscope or Roc-A-Fella. He also hopes to produce more local talent.
"I want to be the best," he said, "I figure if I shoot for the stars and miss, at least I'll be airborne, heaven bound."
Tattooed across Shears' chest is his grandmother's favorite saying: 'After the tears come the cheers.' It's coming true for him, he said. "I know the harder the struggle now, the sweeter the victory.
"I wish my father and grandmother could have been here to see this."
For more information visit www.shearsmusicgroup.com.