RESPECT. Interview: Shaqeyah Talks New Single With Rico Nasty, Staying Confident, And More

Photo Credit: Rob Tinsley & Tarik Bennett

South Jersey songstress, Shaqeyah, first began to turn heads in 2016 with the release of her debut, Kev Rodgers-produced single, “Confident.” Since then, Shaqeyah has performed on stages across the East-coast and by spreading powerful messages within her music, she is on the verge of building a strong fanbase.

Though she appeared a few times on the $OUTH$IDE’s W.A.W.A mixtape, Shaqeyah has yet to release a full body of work. With Shaqeyah’s new Rico Nasty-assisted single, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” available everywhere, fans may receive her debut project sooner than later.

RESPECT. had an opportunity to speak with Shaqeyah to learn a bit more about her upbringing, remaining confident through hard times, and her latest collaboration. Read the conversation below.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a professional singer? Was there an exact moment you knew you were passionate about music?

I first realized I wanted to make a career out of being a singer/entertainer when I was really young. When I think back to my childhood, the memories that stick out to me the most are ones that have to do with music. I use to perform all the time for my family… I would sing and dance in the middle of the parties and cookouts. It’s actually funny thinking about it now. I knew for sure, for sure in about 8th grade singing in my church choir because at that point I wasn’t singing in front of people I grew up with or that knew me my entire life.

Who are some people that influence your music?

Right now my biggest musical influences would be Beyoncé and Frank Ocean. Beyoncé because I’ve always looked up to her.. she’s such a standup woman to me and I admire her hard work. And Frank.. I just feel like so connected to him through his music.. like for me to have never met this man, never even seen him I shouldn’t feel like I know him the way I think I do lol… like I aspire to connect with people through my music one day the way I have with him through his.

Though it’s early in your career, we can imagine that you have faced obstacles. What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to navigate through thus far?

I think I think too much. That has to be my biggest obstacle.. I’m pretty sure everyone close to me would agree. I’m really introverted so with social media being such a major part of the industry making sure that I’m connecting with the people outside of the stage and my lyrics is something that challenges me for sure. Another would have to be making sure that my work and my work ethic speaks louder than the fact that I’m a woman. I noticed a lot of people feel more comfortable taking chances with male artist than a female.

It’s been roughly a year since you dropped your well-received, debut single, “Confident.” Did you expect for the song to get such a strong response?

I didn’t expect for “Confident” to be received the way it was. It was such an amazing feeling.. like really a great feeling because I stopped singing for years before I got to that point …actually due to just caring about what people would think, let alone taking constructing a song serious. It felt like an introduction in so many ways.

When it comes to production, you typically work with Kev Rodgers and Kenif Muse. Talk to us a bit about how you started working with them. What’s the creative process like?

When I decided that I wanted to take music serious Kev was one of the first people I told. He was behind me 100% and was like I’m ready when you ready. But he tested me, he wouldn’t make me an original beat he kept sending me beats from other peoples songs that he’d flip a little and tell me to write a cover to see how serious I actually was. I’m happy he did that. Next thing you know we were in the studio with Kenif recording “Confident” for Kev’s series “Mr.Rodgers Monday’s”… and now we’re here. Usually when Kenif produces for me I’ll come to the studio with a song and he will create the beat when Kev produces for me he will normally send me something he feels like is me. When it comes to the final product of almost every record I always get both of their inputs before I’m like ‘okay this is done.’

You definitely have great chemistry with fellow $outh$ide artist, Ish Williams, who has featured you on two of his tracks. Have there been any discussions of a collab EP?

Ish and I definitely have great chemistry. We’ve known each other since High school, but there hasn’t been…that’s an interesting question actually.

What is it like being the $outh$ide’s first lady?

It’s love! I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’d be lying if i said I don’t get frustrated sometimes because like they obviously can’t always relate to my struggles lol, but its something that means a lot to me. It’s definitely a role I’m very proud of and it means a lot to me that they seen me fit for it, you know?

“Wednesday” is one of your most popular releases and has proven to be an anthem for the ladies. What advice do you have for women or even men that are hesitant to leave a bad relationship?

If you’re hesitant to leave a relationship that you know deep down is going no where fast I’d say ‘Don’t!’ (In my best Bryson tiller voice) Lol.. No seriously I’ve been there and when it comes down to it you’re just losing/wasting time that you can’t get back. That could’ve been used making memories that will actually be worth looking back on. You’re really not doing anything but holding yourself up.

A majority of your music boasts an empowering message. Do you feel like you have found your lane/sound?

Yea, I mean I learned that it’s really important to be your own biggest fan in anything. If you’re a law student, a doctor, an artist.. no matter what you do, you have to believe in yourself more than anyone else… otherwise it won’t work. I don’t always feel empowered and strong and when I run into those times I like to listen to records that’ll make me feel good… and I know there are people out there who go through the same thing. Hopefully one of my records can be one of those go-to songs for them.

We now have your latest single, “Can’t Tell Me Nothing,” which features Rico Nasty. What was it like working with her?

I was immediately a fan of Rico my first time hearing her. I just love how confident she is. She definitely has one of those go-to records for me when I’m having an off day.. a few records actually lol. “Can’t Tell Me Nothing” was actually pretty much finished… I was playing it back with Kev and I’m like ‘what if Rico Nasty got on this?’ I thought this is such a left field beat for her but I knew she’d kill the topic so I went for it. We didn’t get a chance to get in the studio together due to timing so they sent over the verse and she killed it.

What is GLOW? If it’s a forthcoming project, when can we expect it to drop?

“GLOW” is the title of my first project, which I am very excited about and it will be releasing this Spring!!!