Here it is! Our fresh, new feature for the month of October!! Zinzabell.com & The Creative$ bring you Penny Shaw.
Location: Queens, NY
1. Tell us what is behind your name?
I wanted something to represent myself and the people where I come from. More often than not we feel overlooked, tossed around, and somewhat worthless similar to a penny. So I wanted to take that name and use it as fuel because everything has it's worth, even a penny. You need a penny before you can get to a $100 bill, so it's the foundation. A penny is the only brown coin amongst silver, so it stands out compared to the others. Also if you break down the spelling, P-E-N, I express myself through the "PEN" and N-Y, everything I write about is from my experience growing up in NY. So I took that and fused it with my last name, which is Shaw.
2. Who were your musical influences growing up?
Growing up I had a lot of different musical influences. Reggae music was a big thing in my house. My pops had a pretty big vinyl and cd collection so he was always playing music (mostly reggae) throughout the house. I could probably sing a whole Bob Marley song before I even knew that was his name, I just knew the melodies. So without me realizing it, those sounds I was hearing helped to shape the artist I am today.
As far as hip hop, the first rapper that really got me hooked to music was Snoop Dogg. I probably didn't even know half the things he was saying, but he just made it look so cool. So I was always intrigued by hip hop and the culture. When I decided to try writing my own raps was when things started to change for me. I soon become a music junkie. I was going back and want to hear every freestyle, every battle, and everything people considered a "classic". Jay-Z, Nas and Kanye were probably some my biggest influences, but there's a long list of others.
3. When did you realize you wanted to create music?
I would say around 12 I knew I wanted to write music, but I just liked doing it. I wasn't really thinking into the future. I just had a genuine love for the culture and craft so I guess it was a hobby then. Around 15 when I started writing about heavier topics and showing people my work, I started gaining more confidence and realized I could be a voice for the people in my city.
4. You grew up in Queens I see. Being that I'm from the Bronx; we could of easily been a product of our environment. What advice do you have for that inner city youth waiting for their big break?
It's tough. It's easily getting lost in a city as big as NYC, but one of my favorite quotes is "trust the process". This music business is a marathon and it's not going to happen overnight. Trust the work that you put in. You're going to get discouraged, you're going to have people put you down, and you're going to make mistakes. You need to be able to overcome all of those things if you want to be a great artist. Just keep getting better and stick it out during the hard times if you really want it.
5. How do you come up with the concepts for your music and videos?
My music is based off feelings and experiences. Usually it's a situation myself or someone around me has gone through. Writing music was therapeutic for growing up. It was my way to express myself whether it was happy, sad or angry. So when I make a record I'm easily able to tap into those same emotions to tell a story.
As far as videos, it's a pretty organic process. Usually when I write a song I'm already getting visions of things in my mind. I also have people around me who help bring my ideas to life, Mike Spits and OluDamo. We put all of our ideas on the table and just try to build the best product.
6. What's your favorite song off Ill City Blues? Why?
This really changes on what type of mood I'm in. But I usually tell people "Questions" because it's one of the most personal and vulnerable songs I have ever made. Usually artists, especially rappers, are scared to show insecurity on a song. On this track I wanted to embrace it because I know there are a million people feeling the same way that I do. Shout out to Contraband for producing the entire project! (Mike Spits, Los Hendrix, and Mike Mulah)
7. What's next for Penny Shaw?
We just finished doing multiple shows in NYC, BOS, and DC promoting the project. Moving forward, I'm working on bringing in more live instruments into my sets. I want to give people that "MTV Unplugged" feeling for my next batch of shows. I have also been teasing people with new merchandise for the past few weeks, but we will officially be releasing our "____ for thought." shirts in the next few weeks.
Besides that, we have multiple videos about to release for "Ill City Blues". The first video we will be releasing is for "Questions". My main goal when I made this project was to promote it just as long as it took me to make it. I want to tell a story and these visuals will help bring you closer into my world.