Born and raised in Chicago, IL., Content & Social Media Editor of Karen Civil/Live Civil – Shawn Grant – has always had a passion for music. What started as a hobby, Grant was able to turn into a full-fledged career, creating his own brand ‘ShawnGranted‘ where he quickly garnered up attention landing interviews with Marlon Wayans, Terrance J., Joe Budden, Amber Rose, Angela Rye, and more. Shawn Grant has even started his own podcast, ‘StayLo Podcast‘ alongside his co-host Els, and new addition, Bria J’nae.
Starting only four years ago, it’s safe to say that this journalist is on his way to becoming a ‘household name.’
“Continous positive impact of hip-hop and R&B through print and digital media along with marketing and event effort,” Grant says when asked about his end goal.
For this interview (and what you’ll see with most interviews for these series), Shawn tells us his favorite mixtape of all time, whether or not the mixtape game is a dying art, it’s influence on his career and more. Check it out below.
What’s your favorite mixtape of all time and why?
This is hard for me. I could go to the streets and say Gucci Mane’s The Movie, was with Kendrick for years so I could say, O.D. The Chicago connection could make me say Acid Rap, but my favorite has to go to J. Cole’s The Warm Up. I heard about him as this guy that Hov signed. As a Roc stan, I had to listen.
From there, being a freshman in college, it served as, like my soundtrack. It was a coming of age story for both Cole and me. Hearing the freshness of “Lights Please,” the tackle of Kanye produced cuts like, “Just to Get By,” Cole really had everything.
How has the mixtape game inspired your career in journalism?
The mixtape game just gave me a new method of releases; it always kept me with something to listen to. If nothing more the releases made me seek out more information, read about the artists who were releasing them, I’m talking peak 2DopeBoys days. As a kid going to college in the middle of Missouri, the best journalism school there is, I’m looking at it like I could write about them and those to come too.
How do you think the mixtape culture shaped hip-hop?
The culture showed that you didn’t need a label to get music out to your fans. It created a bond between artist and fan that kept the latter fed with new releases. On top of that, mixtapes made stars and introduced new artists. But two things that people may or may not realize is that mixtapes created to the now ‘indie wave’ and also helped with the surprise drop of music.
When artists drop mixtapes nowadays, it’s usually over original beats versus someone else’s. Do you think the mixtape culture is becoming a dying art?
I don’t think its dying due to the beat choice. Gucci was giving us mixtape after mixtape of original music, Jeezy’s Can’t Ban the Snowman and others was all original. I think what is hurting the mixtape culture now is the blending of lines to what is a mixtape and what is an album in the sense of a rollout. You ask a fan about Chance the Rapper’s Coloring Book and they consider it an album, [but] Chance will state it as a mixtape. With technology these days, you physically don’t have to possess a tape, CD, or download a file. Everything is going to a digital streaming service, which is cutting out those hubs like LiveMixtapes and Datpiff, not to mention the DJs. It’s just a different game.
What’s your view on the industry trying to profit off mixtapes versus selling it for free?
I don’t have a problem with it. Everybody has to eat at the end of the day. What I think helps the fan and the artist is with everything going to streaming sites and the fans already paying for that service it’s kind of a blind financial support. I pay $9 a month for Apple Music and then for TIDAL as well, so if a Meek Mill drops another Dreamchasers on there, in my eyes it appears I’m getting it for free cause I’m not giving out money beyond what I already paid, but the artist is getting paid in some form off my spin.
Do you think mixtapes are still a source of discovering new artists?
This depends on who the artist and the listener is. Case in point, if you were to hand me a Lil Pump tape and I had no urge to listen to it or know nothing about him, I wouldn’t be eager to play it at all. But let me hear a single like, “Gucci Gang,” and I may be more inclined to hear more. If “Bodak Yellow” wasn’t fire would we look to hear Cardi’s album? That saying of “put your best foot forward” is true here. Give me a fire single and I’ll hear your tape.
Does a lane for mixtapes and its DJs still exist?
There is a lane for it. There are plenty of people I think about now like, Damn, I would love to hear this person get a Gangsta Grillz with Drama or this person from Atlanta. It would be great to have that DJ Scream voice bringing it in for that culture of their city. It’s a cultural thing, almost nostalgic, more than anything else now.
Shawn’s Miix Pick: Gangsta Grillz: The Movie – Gucci Mane