Incorporating Hip Hop is something I now see. Corporations sell products made from ideas, from stolen mass assets that traffic through leechy hands. They fiendishly operate with masking tape to acetate sounds into profits. We ought not to corporatize when our ideas were taken from old products, the last facets of soul in our needy hands. That we’d originally incorporate with a tasking scape that would wheel ideas anew with the great break of old. So in this business of disaster tracks, the prophet is preachy so the profit is preached, the diluted is sought so the oppressed are mistaught. My brothers are incorporated via corporal punishment for their unwanted ideas as the core of unwanted people operating beyond repressing machines, incorporated. ‘I never see’ is the trademark and ‘I now see’ is an incorporated trade secret. So a music scoring a forgotten fight saying, ‘I never corporatized’ must become reincorporated with one great Shake I now C.
Shake C is an escapement incorporating his times past into a tragic present with creative verses that chronicle life as a new idea. Shake C verses are an awakening in our greatest escape, the music, with songs that reveal incorporated truisms ain’t true. America Inc., Shake C’s debut LP, tells us life as we refuse to see it. A Black man of the world, dominantly seated in navigating chair, to see outside his and many hells, Shake C is multi-tooled MC, a tactician of technique in all its parameters, who has more and more to share. In my build with Shake, I found more than a great artist but one of the most sincere, humblest and diligent brothers I’ve ever met. These words of Shake are in a moment he will never escape for they are of an artist that is always in the living of perfecting his perfection…from merely magnificent music to all life itself.
SUNEZ: The America Inc album is an album I’d absolutely buy if it came out in the 90’s all in the flow of all the other great works coming out.
SHAKE C: Me and Chainz had this conversation before. There were times you went to get an album but it was sold out and you couldn’t get it. Because it was sold out. You don’t have those problems anymore because of ITunes and digital media. You don’t run into those type of problems and people aren’t trying to make albums. I love listening to albums. I listen to all 90’s Hip Hop because albums were being made not 99 cent singles. Instead of 99 cent singles put together you had to sit down and listen from beginning to end. That’s my goal almost to a flaw every time I sit down and think about doing a project I want to do a complete project. I want to give someone sixty minutes that they can love and pick back up—not just today but hopefully a year from now, five years from now. Someone can still pick this up and be relevant. I know any artist you ask, they think their music to be timeless but that’s what I want to make. Timeless projects that you can’t pinpoint a particular time.
SUNEZ: How’d you come with the name Shake C?
SHAKE C: It was a condensed version of Shakespeare Corleone. It was a little bit—everybody had a certain streetness to them and that was the crowd that I was in. And Shakespeare because I loved telling stories. I love grabbing at those emotions and storytelling rhymers like Nas, Slick Rick. I loved it. I was always drawn to the stories in Hip Hop music. I grew up trying to emulate that. The name was actually given to me by my little cousin. He said, ‘Shake, you just always know what to say!’
SHAKE C: Now, I’ve lived here for the last nine years. I’m actually from Louisville, Kentucky. I’m an Army brat so I’ve lived everywhere. Virginia Beach, D.C. area.
SUNEZ: In this life living everywhere, how did you get your firm grasp of Hip Hop? Where were you when you realized this is incredible music? Where were you when you realized you wanted to write your own rhymes?
SHAKE C: I was nine years old at a wedding when I found out I wanted to be an entertainer. I’m sitting there with my little suit, my Dwayne Wayne glasses and my box. I got my Gumby going on. I’m jumping everywhere trying to get my MC Hammer on. I was trying to be Hammer. And just the crowd’s reaction and everyone egging me on. It’s weird because at the family reunion they were playing videos of that. And they were, ‘Boy, I know you still do something with music.’ And they haven’t seen me in ten or fifteen years and still remember that. I tell them, ‘actually, I am doing music.’ I knew I wanted to be an entertainer from that point on.
SUNEZ: I have always heard MCs tell me they wanted to write but few tell me they want to be an entertainer. Is there a difference?
SHAKE C: I was a b-boy, breakdanced and tagged. I tried to do it all. I am an engineer by trade but I always wanted to entertain. The MC portion came later. I was actually trying to write stories and not even entertain. Then I got a drum machine and that was the end of it. After I got a drum machine and my buddy’s dad was a DJ and we’d go over there. We’d drop a tape, get a song done. Then, next thing we’re up at the parking lot trying to get everyone to listen to it. It might seem shallow but I seen the attention that it brought and I thought, ‘I could do this.’ I’m the youngest of eleven siblings. Everyone was always better than me at something. MCing, I was the best at it. So I took that and ran with it….my older cousin, we shared a room, because when we moved to Virginia Beach at five years old, I knew the whole Short Dog’s in the House album. I remember him being in so much trouble because I got into it. From then on the NWA’s and then started to grow going from sneaking out all his tapes and then collecting my own collection that I’m into. It was so well rounded because my Mom’s younger sister was into Heavy D and the Boyz and Pebbles and he was into Troop so there was so much around me to take in. My Mom played the violin for twenty years and never told me until about five years ago. From the time she could hold it but never pushed me to play music. She couldn’t keep me from doing music even though she tried.
SUNEZ: Why do you think that’s so?
SHAKE C: I don’t know. I’m an engineer by trade so I have a degree in architectural design. That’s what she wanted me to do. She knew that I had an artistic ability and she wanted me to sharpen that blade. But every chance I got and every penny that I could hold on to went into music. Every extra time I could scrounge up went into music.
SUNEZ: It’s easier to get it out today with the Indy capabilities. But why do this music?
SHAKE C: There aren’t a whole bunch of people making music that I want to hear. And that’s where it started from. Woodenchainz put me on to Wu-Tang. I was actually late on the whole Wu-Tang movement. I’m almost ashamed to say it. [laughs]
SHAKE C: Then when he turned me on to Bronze, Kevlaar and the Wisemen, I was like, ‘there’s people out here making this music?!’ No one besides a handful of people was making music that I wanted to hear so I kept doing music. And I gotta lotta music too. I’m probably sitting on four full length albums. I really do that much music and love it to that extent. Anytime I can when I’m not with my kids or my family I’m doing music.
SUNEZ: You’re in La Porte, Indiana. Woodenchainz [PREMIERE ARCHIVE] gave me an incredible history of that area. Tell me about your history leading you there.
SHAKE C: He’s a lot of the reason I’m here. My college roommate is from La Porte. So I would come up here periodically and mingle and meet people. Louisville was getting off the chain. A lot of the people I grew up with were going to jail, getting killed so I was looking for a change of venue. Any change. I didn’t really care that La Porte was slower than I’m used to. That’s what I was looking for. I was looking for a place where I could be a regular person and still do my music. For the first two years I was here and didn’t meet Chainz I didn’t do any music, didn’t tell anybody I did music. Only way you knew is if you knew me before I actually moved here. Once I met him—I met him in a bar, he told me he’s a producer, I said I’m an MC. We’re in his car and I’m rapping over his beats. Next thing you know it’s last call and we exchange numbers saying, ‘we gotta stay in touch.’ I actually moved away for a month and realized I gotta go back. We were making good music. I know with the internet we could make music on opposite sides of the world. But it wouldn’t be the music that we’re making now. You need that rough shit, that extra iron in the air. You need all of that to make this music. It’s authentic. You have to be here to make it. That’s how I look at it.
SUNEZ: Before we go into America Inc. We have the Classified EP as a prelude to America Inc. Before that you had the 100 Dayz, 100 Degreez.
SHAKE C: I moved here from Houston Texas. From the hot, hot humid to the cold, snow La Porte. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
SUNEZ: Most of 100 Dayz production is Woodenchainz. That was done here or in Texas then?
SHAKE C: A lot of it was done here in La Porte. 100 Dayz, 100 Degreez—that’s a Houston term. Summer starts in April there. Some of those songs were written and never saw the light of day. I’m fortunate to have a catalog where I can pick and choose. I can write this song today but it don’t have to come out for five years. I wrote a song today and I was proud of the way it came about. I knew you were calling today so I just found something to dedicate my mind to so I wasn’t just running rampant all day. So I’m probably about a half a bar from writing a really good song.
SUNEZ: Just today?!
SHAKE C: Today. I love music to that extent. I love writing and I love reading. I was meant to do this. When they say, ‘I didn’t choose this life, the life chose me.’ I could see where that saying originated. I really feel like this is what I was meant to do. My mother says I was meant to be a youth minister. I say possibly but if I grow into the man she expects me to be then I will take that challenge.
SUNEZ: Was 100 Dayz always free?
SHAKE C: I was supposed to put out an album last year. We did everything but push the button to let it go. It didn’t feel like it was done. “Made In America,” the track with me and Kevlaar 7 [PREMIERE ARCHIVE], was made for that album. It just didn’t seem right so I held it and I put out the mixtape. When the election was brewing I was disgusted with people. I was starting to lose faith in people. And about three days later, America Inc. was born. I wrote a bulk of that album—a 14 track album—ten of those tracks in three days.
SUNEZ: Wow. That’s abnormally incredible.
SHAKE C: That was just the way that I was feeling. I was so disgusted. I was working on another project at the time and I had to stop. I was so disgusted I wanted to put something out. I said to Chainz I want to put this out on Election Day. Then the opportunity to get the Bronze verse came. So I waited to get that but he was busy. The man’s got things he has to do. So I held off until I got that verse. Then I wrote one more song. So we were like Inauguration Day and then it just kept getting pushed back. So if it doesn’t get put out by this day it ain’t coming out. So Chainz put a date on it and it came out.
SUNEZ: That scrapped album, was it supposed to be called Red Summer?
SHAKE C: Yes. It was supposed to be called Red Summer [but before that] it was called Blood Summer. It was hot for everyone to be Bloods so I didn’t want anyone to get it confused. I know you’re well read. Blood Summer was when African Americans started to fight back during the Civil Rights movement. It was after Emmit Till and African Americans actually started to become more of an aggressor in the movement. So I changed it to Red Summer. I never captured the feeling that I wanted to get. I didn’t want it to have a powerful name and not have the meat and potatoes to back it.
SUNEZ: On America, Inc., there are countless flows and techniques here that make songs of the same subject matter vary wildly? Is this all consciously done?
SHAKE C: I do believe so. I know there are songs that are similar and I wanted them to be different. When me and Chainz sit down to lay out an album, I’m always thinking like a record label would. You need a song like this, like that? But, at the same aspect, not trying to compromise my artistic integrity. I don’t have a label telling me I can’t put out a song or a song like this so why restrain myself. But I’m still a fan of music and make music I want to hear before anything else.
SUNEZ: I also found it interesting there is production with so many changes, pitch and tempo changes. When I then hear “Bruce Lee” I realize you just are showing out letting listeners know all your skills.
SHAKE C: For real. That’s pretty much the mindset. When someone hears this I want them to hear that I can do this. I hate to even say his name but Lil’ Wayne back in 2000/2001. When he was making all of his Squad mixtapes. At that point in time, I was trying to be like that. I’m not a New Yorker but if a New Yorker hears this they want to see the proof in the pudding. I wanted to prove I was versatile.
SUNEZ: Going song by song, it takes me to “The Soundtrack.” I really think Woodenchainz is one of the best arrangers among Hip Hop producers today. That song is a specific story of yours but I understand the joy of it all—word bond. But why those choices of great songs among so many?
SHAKE C: I picked those because they were the songs that I remember listening to. I remember when I got my cassette tape Walkman. I remember having the tape Me Against the World. I remember sneaking my Walkman to school and putting the wire shoved down my coat, going through my sleeve. It went everywhere with me. I was always on my feet walking. I was thirteen years old. I remember walking home listening to Pac feeling like I could take on the world. Like you can’t tell me nothing, bopping all the way home. I remember taking that ride home cause it was a sketchy situation. I didn’t even have a license but I had to drive home. I could barely keep in between the lines trying to drive my homeboy’s car. We used to call his car Baby Cuz. And Atliens, my favorite album ever, was always in one of the slots. With Bronze, The Great Migration, “Hear What I Say” is one of my favorite songs when he says, ‘I’ll probably never be as famous as Slim Shady or Jay-Z even though I write vivid like Homer the Greek.’ I remember that being one of the hardest lines I’ve ever heard. And I remember driving with Woodenchainz from La Porte to Chicago to see one of our buddies. It all was so vivid I could see it when I wrote the song like they were writing itself.
SUNEZ: These albums you chose I love because I had great experiences with them. Those records, just talking about them here in New York was memorable. Noting how great Pac was on Me Against The World among all the Biggie heads here in BK. And I put RZA greatest producer all time but I think Atliens is one of the rare albums that could rank with any of his best works.
SHAKE C: [laughs] I was down south and late on RZA. In high school everything was UGK, Master P and I had a couple of homeboys from Chicago and they was on Wu. But in the South they were like, ‘what you messing with these Wu cats?!’ And actually this music is pretty dope.
SUNEZ: I always find that interesting. Here, for me in New York, the holy trinity was RZA, Primo and Pete Rock.
SHAKE C: And it still is. People are still trying to create the sound that they made. They must have been doing something right.
SUNEZ: I even used to then and still do, make the case that Atliens is better than Hell on Earth. Because those beats are so rare and unique even Outkast never had them again. With Mobb, greats like Large Pro, Pete Rock, Primo with Gang Starr and Group Home and Jeru gave us something on that wavelength. Those first 3 Outkast albums are classic but that Atliens was just special, different from anything out then and still so.
SHAKE C: There’s something about it that made it timeless. My Pops lived in Atlanta the last twenty five years and my brothers and sisters still do. And I know that they still will go to that. Even when we name the top five we don’t need to name Outkast because they are in a league of their own. [laughs]
SHAKE C: Without that bias I always love it. Even though UGK was gangsta rap I always loved Bun B. Always loved UGK and somewhat biased cause I can’t remember not listening to Riding Dirty or Super Tight. It doesn’t have the same nourishment as an Atliens or as a Capital Punishment but it still has it. Maybe it’s the nostalgia but I hold it close to me.
SUNEZ: That’s peace. I love hearing the way certain records hit with brothers. Now, producing “Bruce Lee” so different it exemplifies the flows. What are you doing to perfect the breath control?
SHAKE C: I was in the choir from about 13, 14, 15. I learned breath control then and didn’t realize how important it was then. Now, I realize you gotta have breath control.
SUNEZ: A lot of your songs aren’t going traditional 16.
SHAKE C: And that’s Woodenchainz. I love structure. Structure and discipline. It’s the Army brat in me. He would have to push me saying you have to have a song where you’re just going in. You need that song. That one was just different. I needed something that sounded completely different. And me and Chainz are good at that. Me and him could chop the same samples and come with two completely different beats. Our drums are always different. I’m more drum heavy or drum happy than he is.
SUNEZ: Tell me about the sequencing. The album theme is stated in the first song immediately but then the next few songs venture away into topics outside of that and aren’t too political.
SHAKE C: And that was hit or miss. Either it’s going to be the reason that it failed or it’s going to be enough to distract people from what the theme was. That’s almost to a flaw. I love making themed albums. I love people to follow a concept. It’s almost where what’s the point if it doesn’t.
SUNEZ: America Inc. is a workout training militant album but your persona is intimate, relatable and also balanced. Out of the album, these songs to me compose the core, “American P.O.W.s” putting the whole macro-reality—all of the shit we’re dealing with—to the micro—the average person. Then “Home of the Brave” where the content covers the same issues yet the flow is dramatically different. It’s chopped up, cut and the flow is following those old bouncing balls. These two songs had similar themes to “American Horror Story” and “America Inc.” Talk about these songs and the concept of being lost and that America was always fucked up. We just didn’t realize it. If we were always lost why is it more important for us to see it now? How is it worse?
SHAKE C: Like I said, I’m an Army brat. Both my parents were in the military, grandfathers and so on and so on. Me and maybe like three other males in my family went to the military. We’re a military family, period. My fiancé just lost her father to Agent Orange about six months ago. And a lot of that was helping shape all of this also. I would try to tell them things and it always seemed like I was going too hard. Why don’t you realize this? That they’re poisoning us? My fiancé is a white chick so I was kind of like educating her too. Racism existed as far back as Looney Tunes. You just never noticed it because you weren’t with me. And different things like that. Things were always like this. You just didn’t notice it. My mom was in the military and I’d tell her, ‘you know what I’m saying is the truth.’ And my girl’s father—me and him would have those conversations. You were subjected to Agent Orange when you were in Vietnam. You know that America is fucked up and as soon as everyone realizes America is a business first then we will conduct ourselves accordingly. My mom always wanted me to do youth ministry. So what would I say to them? I‘d say that God doesn’t exist in the media. The media is given to you to just self-indulge and do everything wrong. And it’s put out there like that purposefully. None of this is by accident. All of this is by design. So what can I do about it? My mom used to say to me, ‘I know you do music but what do you have to say? What do you say to people?’ I had to think about that. What do I have to say to people? When I had what I was going to say, I thought then, what is the best way to say it to them where they’re going to listen? I’m a thinker. If they had things like this when I was a kid? I wanted to be a history teacher up to like five years ago. I don’t want to be that anymore because I would be restricted to teaching the upcoming test. I could only do it as an activist or get my masters and go to a university and teach. That is if they would let me teach the way I wanted to there. I just sat down one day when I started to have kids and thought what do I want to teach my kids? And I was like, ‘this is what I would teach my kids.’ Things like “American Horror Story” or “Mortal Kombat” as I really do think everyone really is a victim of multiple personality disorder because you do have to create multiple personalities to handle different things. Since we live in a trauma-based society how do you deal with trauma? They create another—I’m even guilty of it—I created the persona Shake C to handle things I couldn’t handle [under my given name]. We’re taught to do that.
SUNEZ: And they’ll call it code switching.
SHAKE C: [laughs] For real. They don’t call it programming for nothing.
SUNEZ: You wrote this for your kids to hear. And let’s say a brother hears all this from GMOs to brainwashing media, how do they deal with all this?
SHAKE C: Right, cause you grow up with all of this. You become callous to it and might even feed into it because you think this is what is supposed to be done. We’re programmed to act like that. I have an eleven year old, a four year old and a six month old—all girls—so I gotta raise them right. I tell them that they’re smart, beautiful. I give them what they need, what they want so that when some nigga come around and tell them they’re beautiful they’ll say ‘my Daddy tells me that every day.’ If they get offered something, they’ll say, ‘well, I don’t need that because my Daddy gets me that.’ They won’t be impressed by those things. That’s my reasoning. That’s my hope as to how they’ll take it.
SUNEZ: Now the subtitle to the “Religion and Nutrition” song is The Resistance. Why?
SHAKE C: These are things you’re putting in your body. Religion I use loosely because it’s man made. Faith and religion are two different things to me. I feel like religion was created by man to sell you on faith. Religion is a tool to control the masses. Nutrition is a tool to control the masses. You put both of them in your body and you gotta watch what you put into your body. I’m doing it now. I try to be knowledgeable on everything. I been reading up on 5 Percenters because I want to know. I want to know. People ask me, ‘are you religious?’ I say, ‘I’m in between theologies right now.’ I don’t want to be led astray because the devil got tricks. And I know the devil exists. For the devil to exist then God has to exist. That’s my take on that. I’ve changed my diet. I’m doing the vegetarian thing. I’m only like a few weeks to a month doing it. I’m trying. I been reading into the knowledge of self. Supreme Wisdom. Baby steps.
SUNEZ: I gotta get you a copy of the book I co-edited, Knowledge of Self.
SHAKE C: I’d love to check it out. I’m definitely gonna pick that up. I like to go into things with an open mind and be prepared.
SUNEZ: I will say, as one part of the Nation of God and Earth, I tell my students I don’t teach any of them to be a citizen of anything. For them to make up their own mind and show and prove things with the same care of scientific study that I gave to present it. We memorize the 120 Lessons that Allah, the Father, received from the Nation of Islam they call Supreme Wisdom. What’s so interesting is that “Religion and Nutrition” is essentially the theme of the 1 to 36 [set within 120 Lessons] expressing the concept of the wrong foods. The older Gods always taught me that those were the mental and physical foods used to disable us. A powerful thought in that song there.
SHAKE C: Yes. For real. I told you I had a family reunion about two weeks ago. My grandfather was a mason for about 55 years. All these books that were supposed to be given to me at fifteen, my Mom just took them and never gave them to me. She told me that she went back and forth with the pastor and decided against giving it to me. She finally gave me all these things a few weeks ago. I thought if you had given me these things when I was fifteen where would I be? Would I have taken it for granted? Some of the things are things I read now. Some of these books are ones I’ve stumbled across the past five years, so would I have respected it or just been another book of words then? I’m kind of glad she didn’t give it to me. And plus, they got their own thing and I’m digging into the Supreme Wisdom and I put those books down for that for about two weeks now. I like to be knowledgeable about all things and not go into anything blind folded.
SUNEZ: I see that. Now I have to ask about the last track, “Wounded Notebooks.” Tell me about the development of that song and just writing.
SHAKE C: I come from an abused childhood no one should have to go through. Pedophiles and shit should be put to death on the spot. And “Wounded Notebooks” is unfinished. It’s actually supposed to be three verses and I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t find it in me to spit the last verse. I just came up with the hook and I hope you’re entertained with it because I’m not going any further. I actually cut my trip short because my mother told me I wasn’t the only one. That’s it’s been going on for generations. I have a problem with that! For real, I had to cut my trip short. I packed my family up and left straight to home. I was disgusted because it had to—I had the thought that I wasn’t the only one. It’s actually fucked up because this motherfucker has my number and had the nerve to call me the last year, trying to be cool on some ‘you didn’t tell nobody did you?’ And I’m a grown ass man and there’s still certain things that I can’t face. I didn’t think the interview was going to go this far.
SUNEZ: I will tell you from experience teaching that too many of my young brothers and sisters have gone through this. See, I’m not doing an interview to make other people know about you. It’s also to show them that someone else is like you, look how talented they are, look how achieved they are in their skill–
SHAKE C: Real talk! That’s the truth. It had to come out. I want people to know. Since I never finished the song I was not wanting to go into detail. It took me days after I wrote the song to spit it. I could never get through the third verse so it never got recorded. I was just emotional where emotions got the best of me. I’ve written many songs I’d never spit because I don’t know how my mother would feel or my sister would feel to have these issues aired out because they witnessed these things with me. Like alcoholism. Alcoholism and drugs do bad things to people. I’m a witness to that and I know the devil exists because of this. Because of my own experience I know the devil is real. That’s heavy but it is what it is. I wish I could’ve been stronger and delved further in to that because that’s a part of America Inc. That’s a part of American indoctrination just as much as slavery. None of these things never disappeared. People just don’t see it or they rather not recognize it so they don’t have to deal with it. A lot of the things on the album people would just rather not. They might listen to “American POWs” and say I know this food is bad but I just don’t want to think about it. I can’t tell you how many times I hear when you talk about GMOs and things they say, ‘I know but I’d rather not think about it.’ Why? You’re putting it in your body and giving it to your kids. I’ll be damned if I give fruits and vegetables sprayed with Agent Orange to my kids after their grandfather just passed away from it. I’ll be damned. Can’t do it. Won’t do it.
SUNEZ: And yet my brother, when I hear America Inc. I finish every time and think and feel that this is truly a positive album for me. Why?
SHAKE C: Even though all of these things are going on people are still able to thrive in this environment. They are still able to smile in this environment. People are still willing to voice their opinions about what is going on. We’re not going away quietly.
SUNEZ: My brother, you’re an incredible talent and an inspiring thinker. You doing great work and the world ought to know. Peace.