If you really think about it there aren’t that many significant female rappers out there. It seems it might be harder for a new female MC to earn the love her male counterparts get. Face it; Hip-hop is picky about its female side. It’s hard to find that complete package of skills, looks, charisma and of course, sincerity.
Meet Rashawnna Guy a.k.a. Shawnna, a seasoned hip-hop vixen who takes control of the mic with her sexy, aggressive rhymes. Her verses are laced with themes ranging from happiness to life’s difficulties and everything in between. The 26-year-old Southside Chicago native is taking our rap world by storm as the first female artist from Ludacris’ Disturbing Tha Peace (DTP) crew.
Although Shawnna is just releasing her first solo album on DTP/Def Jam, that doesn’t mean she hasn’t paid her dues. She’s been in the rap game a minute now and has been spitting for over 10 years. But that’s not a surprise, since music has always been in Shawnna’s Chicagoan blood. Shawnna has always been as musical as her father, Buddy Guy, a 4x Grammy- winning blues guitar player. “I’ve always been into music. I wrote my first rhyme when I heard Ice Cube’s "Back at the Beach," Shawnna tells of her beginnings. “I had already been turned on to "It Takes Two" and Salt & Pepa’s "Push it", stuff like that. But when Ice Cube dropped "Back at the Beach," it was over. From there when I was in school, I was getting referrals because I'm not doing my work. I'm writing raps. We got ciphers and they was thinking that there’s a fight and it ain’t nothing but a rap battle.”
In 1996 the determined young artist with a hunger for the stage was in the midst of deciding how much she really wanted to rap. With confidence on her side, the MC called Ticket Master to find out if her newly formed duo, Infamous Syndicate (IS), could open up for a Junior M.A.F.I.A. tour that was coming to Chicago. It just so happens that there was no show opener yet. So with their demo tape as help, Infamous Syndicate landed the gig and as Shawnna says, “That was it!” The next thing the girls knew, they were being booked to open shows, creating quite a buzz for themselves, even touring with the Lyricist Lounge. Labels soon started checking for IS and in 1997 the duo signed a deal with Relativity Records, a deal Shawnna signed while pregnant with her first child.
But after two years on the label and disappointing sales on their 1999 self-titled debut album, Relativity was swallowed-up by Loud Records who chose not to resign the Syndicate. Fortunately, the feisty rapper had created quite a few fans including Def Jam South Vice Pres and DTP executive Chaka Zulu and the label’s multi-platinum selling Mouf-of-the-South Ludacris. “She blew me away when I first saw her rap,” Chaka sums up of the attraction to Shawnna.
Hooking up with her beloved DTP wasn’t Shawnna’s main big break. She had to work to show her desire to be part of the budding click. “I’m a studio rat. I love being there and that’s where I stayed,” she explains. Major opportunities really came knocking when Luda told Shawnna he wanted her to spit on his single “What’s Your Fantasy” off his first album Back For the First Time. “To ‘Chris I was like, ‘I’m so excited,” she reminiscences. “’You probably can’t hear it in my voice because I’ve been working like crazy for three days but I need this.’” “What’s Your Fantasy” was a smash hit and heads started checking for the cutie on the song’s hook.
Shawnna’s deal with DTP, which she signed while pregnant with her second child and her small appearance on “What’s Your Fantasy” along with her Infamous Syndicate days, etched out a growing spot for the female lyricist who’s had to juggle her career and motherhood simultaneously, a feat that is actually new to the female rap world. When DTP released their group album Golden Grain, Shawnna’s spot swelled a bit bigger. She was prominently featured on the first single “Growing Pains.”
And now with two group albums under her belt, it’s time for the spotlight to shine on Shawnna. Her solo debut Worth tha Weight promises to bring more depth than just the average rhymes of Burberry, Prada and sleeping around. “I want my music to be an outlet for women who have children; who feel like they cannot reach their goals and reach their dreams,” Shawnna promises. “I want people to understand and feel what I am saying.”
And rap fans will with tracks like her first single “Shake Dat Sh*t produced by Timbaland Featuring Ludacris. Other tracks include “Super Freak” which showcases Shawnna’s sexy yet playful side, while her remake of MC Lyte’s “Kick This for My City” proves the she has the utmost respect for hip-hop’s history. The show stopper “R.P.M.” proves that not just men can flow like ‘Twista’ while many other tracks boast strong guest appearances from artists such as Ludacris, Missy Elliott, Jermaine Dupri, and others.
Is Shawnna ready for the challenge of taking on hip-hop? She knows it’s hard to gain that acceptance and prove yourself to hungry heads, but the 1st Lady of DTP is not concerned. “Hip-hop is a job. It’s always an expression for our generation so that’s why I’ve chosen it. It’s the real thing. And I know I can do it and do it well.”