Shane hogging the spotlight

Rapper Shane Eagle during the SAMA 24 at Sun City last weekend. /Gallo Images /Lefty Shivambu
Rapper Shane Eagle during the SAMA 24 at Sun City last weekend. /Gallo Images /Lefty Shivambu

"I don't think my sound is American, I think it is universal for people from all over the world because it is my truth and real."

This is how Shane Eagle touts his award-winning music. The artist, whose real name is Shane Hughes, walked away with the coveted best hip-hop award at last weekend's SA Music Awards (Samas), beating off stiff competition from established stars.

"Everybody that is honest and real can understand it, which is the biggest blessing right now," he says.

His debut album Yellow is a personal project tackling themes such as his views on religion, his father's battle with alcoholism, hopelessness, fears and his childhood, accompanied with a melodic softness. It's a story of a biracial young man who knows both suburban and hood life.

"I am my music, so when people listen to it they understand me," he says, explaining the importance of trust and vulnerability.

"How can fans trust you if they don't know who you are?"

This deviation from popular South African rap makes it the first of its kind to be recognised in local hip-hop on a mainstream platform like the Samas, not to mention having hit over a million streams.

"At the back of my mind I always knew it would happen but this is just the beginning.

"People need to understand that we don't make music for award shows or accolades, these things just happen."

It has been a week of congratulatory messages and stamps of approval for the 21- year-old, including tweets from fellow rappers Cassper Nyovest, Da L.E.S and Reason.

Shane's claim to fame was as a contestant on Vuzu's The Hustle, and he has been compared to artists like Kendrick Lamar, Drake and J Cole throughout his career. Although he takes the comparisons as a compliment, he is determined to carve his own path.

As an independent artist signed under his company Eagle Entertainment, his goal is to bring the music to the people with various campaigns including #20K out the trunk, which sells hard copies of his music in pop-up venues and schools through social media announcements. "What's the point of having a non-conventional album that shifts the dynamic of SA hip-hop and then have a conventional way of selling it?" he laughs.

With hip-hop often being a ring for industry beef and street credibility, I ask him about his opinion on DJ Speedsta's tweets from last week about their relationship.

"There was no beef between me and Speedsta, but he actually texted me last night and apologised for what happened because he didn't realise what he was saying would cause so many people to talk about it.

"He felt like he should have rather called me to talk about it, which we did over the phone yesterday. It's all love and positive vibrations."

The rapper also serves #CouplesGoals on social media with his long term-girlfriend, who has been with him since he was in high school.

She is also one of the people in charge of his signature braids.

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