South Londoner rapper Shaybo, born Shayon Brown, is the darling of the UK drill scene. Breaking through the genre’s male-dominated sphere thanks to her cutting and fresh lyricism (“I don’t wear long nails ’cos it hurts when I’m slapping a bitch/ike, look how much damage it did”) and pounding, drawn-out drums and murky synth beats.
While the 23-year-old MC only has four official releases, a quick Google search unearths a handful of homespun freestyle videos of the baby-faced rapper developing her craft. In the visuals for her breakout track Ya Dun Know, Shaybo spits the bar: “I don’t fight with a broke bitch/I’ve got too much to lose” against projections of her teen self rapping in those DIY freestyle clips.
Although she’s been “rapping since Limewire”, 2020 is shaping up to be Shaybo’s year. With a debut EP Queen of the South dropping later this year, respected tastemaker Julie Adenuga name checked her as one to watch in an interview last December, and she’s got a cosign from BBC 1Xtra Rap Show host Tiffany Calver.
In celebration of Anger, a fiery tune from Shaybo’s EP, The Face got the 100% downlow on the sultry starlet.
10%: Where were you born, where were you raised and where are you now based?
I was born in Nigeria. I came to London when I was six and was raised around the Lewisham area. I live in Woolwich now.
20%: At what point did you realise you’d be able to do what you love for a living?
I’ve been rapping on-and-off for about ten years – so since I was 13. I always wanted to do music, however I was encouraged by my family to go to uni and get an education first. So after I managed to get all of that done, I decided that music was the perfect calling for me and I just went for it.
30% What’s a piece of advice that changed your life?
I remember going to a job interview when I was working with Grenfell Tower survivors and one of the women while I was waiting to be interviewed said, “What are you doing here? You seem like you’re destined to be a star.” And it really resonated with me because I knew at my heart I really wanted to do music.
40%: What kind of emotions and experiences influence your work?
It’s a lot to do with my life. When I went into uni it made me reflect on my life and why I am the way I am. I was very hood-affiliated so I used to be very angry. I used to get in trouble a lot, so I just pull from experiences and the things I’ve been through. Whether that be my anger or my love situations, I just articulate myself through music.
50% What can you tell us about your next project?
My next project is called The Queen of the South. I called it that because I was watching a show on Netflix called The Queen of the South about a woman called Teresa Mendoza and she reminded me so much of myself. She started off naive in a very dangerous environment so she was very easily manipulated but then she grew out of it and became strong.
60%: Break down your typical day at work…
I’m not a morning person. I wake up at about 12pm because I’m always at the studio until 3am. Then chill out for a bit and as soon as I get into the studio I vibe and make loads of music. I leave at around 3 or 4am. And then my whole day begins like that, over and over again.
70% What can artists do to help save the world?
When you get to a position of influence and you have people looking up to you, I think it’s very important to give back to your community. I feel like there are so many ways the world can be saved but you have to start within your community first. You need to encourage people to do stuff for the community or bring awareness to certain situations that are happening in the world.
80% Love, Like, Hate?
Love Chinese food and movies. Like going to the arcade, I’m a very gaming type of girl. I play Halo, bowling and basketball games. I hate repeating myself.
90%: How did you celebrate your last birthday?
My managers surprised me. My birthday was in October and they booked an apartment and we celebrated our accomplishments as it was right after the Shaybo Ya Dun Know track came out. I wore a dress as well and I barely wear dresses. I’m a bit of a Tomboy. But I wore a red dress. It was really fun.
100%: No.1 holiday destination?