In this interview, we discussed Shaw Calhoune's new EP: "Fly Langston," which is a homage to the Harlem Renaissance and is set to release on all platforms on 2/10. Shaw Calhoune is a rapper based in Silver Springs, Maryland, and has a sound reminiscent of 90s rap blended with attention-grabbing samples.
Layla Brodbeck: When is your next release date for music?
Shaw Calhoune: I just had a release yesterday. My new EP, "Fly Langston." It's seven tracks. It's exclusively on Bandcamp. It'll jump onto the major streaming platforms in a couple of weeks.
Layla Brodbeck: I believe that you mentioned that it was kind of inspired by the Harlem Renaissance.
Shaw Calhoune: Yes, yes. It was inspired by the Harlem Renaissance, you know what I mean? During the 1920 days. We even broke it down into the track listing. It's pretty much just the making of a zoot suit, pretty much it's like a button-up. It's a button-up shirt. "Killer-Diller Coat" is the type of coat, like the blazer. "Full Hunter" is the watch. "Scarlet Stain Leathers" is (the type of) the shoe. Basically, each track was leading up to it, but by a zoot suit during that time.
Layla Brodbeck: Was that kind of any sort of symbolism? Was that kind of, like, almost like a hidden meaning behind something else in the songs?
Shaw Calhoune: Nah, it's pretty much just our ode to the Harlem Renaissance. That definitely has affected me because I do consider myself a rapper/poet, so I definitely wanna give credit to the ones who did it before I did. And Langston Hughes is definitely one of those guys.
Layla Brodbeck: What are your goals with this release?
Shaw Calhoune: My goals with the release is that (I'm) hoping that it'll inspire a lot of young people. Not necessarily into what I do, but like the spark in their brain that pretty much could change the world. They pretty much are the fortune tellers of the future. So I hope this album will help them to understand that. I hope it influences them into whatever they're doing to kind of inspire them in whatever way.
Layla Brodbeck: What would you say was different from the recording of this release versus other stuff you've recorded?
Shaw Calhoune: The only difference was no profanity. It was a challenge that I took upon that I definitely wanted to do. You could do a whole full project without profanity. So that was like a cool thing. A cool challenge to accept.
Layla Brodbeck: Did you go into it knowing that you didn't want any profanity or not?
Shaw Calhoune: Yes, yes. Yes.
Layla Brodbeck: And I know obviously numbers aren't usually what people are worried about, but do you have any sort of goals with it?
Shaw Calhoune: No, I didn't really compare the numbers. I mean, hopefully, it'll get to a good amount, but I don't have like an exact number right off the bat. I just hope it just does well and just keep it. It's all about just pushing positivity. So if that happens, that's like a goal for me.
Layla Brodbeck: Who would you say inspires you the most when it comes to music?
Shaw Calhoune: My favorite rapper of all time is Nas.
Layla Brodbeck: Did you go into it knowing that that was what you wanted to do, or did it kind of just develop over time?
Shaw Calhoune: No, I knew I wanted to go in there and that's what I wanted to do. Before I even (got to) write it, I got with my guys and we talked about like, which path I wanna go. I always come up with the plan, but they kind of make it a little bit more clear. Then when I went back to write, I knew exactly what I wanted to talk about. So, going into the recording, our mix was already ready to go.
Layla Brodbeck: Is this kind of going in a different direction from your other stuff?
Shaw Calhoune: Yes, I would say so. I mean, all of my projects are different. None of 'em are the same, but this one has definitely stood out the most in terms of a creative standpoint because it was definitely community-based. All of my other projects are just basically me. I was focused on the lyrical side of it. I still was being lyrical on "Fly Langston," but I was more carrying a message.
Layla Brodbeck: Do you have any dream collaborations when it comes to making music?
Shaw Calhoune: Oh, yes, yes, yes. I would like to work with Alchemist, the producer. I definitely would like to work with him. Another producer I would say I'd like to work with is Chuck Strangers. I don't know if you're aware of him. He's in the pro era with Joey Badass. He's a dope producer. Definitely would like to work with him. As far as musicians, I'll say, I definitely want to do a song with Anita Bacon.
Layla Brodbeck: Have you played any live shows, or are you hoping to get to with the new album/release?
Shaw Calhoune: Yeah. Before the new release, I have done a few, but after the release, I plan on doing more. I have one next weekend in Lancaster (PA) on the 10th, so be a lookout for that; and then I have another one that's the following weekend, still within the same area.
Layla Brodbeck: Very busy. That's good. Yeah. Have you just been mainly on Instagram and stuff to promote, or have you been using any other sort of platform to try and gain any traction?
Shaw Calhoune: Just only using social media. That's Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, to be exact. Did a little bit of physical promotion as well. Go to record stores, let them know you to open mic spots, you know, shake hands, kiss babies, that kinda stuff.
Layla Brodbeck: Do you kind of have a group that you kind of roll with or is it kind of just you?
Shaw Calhoune: Just me on my own. Just me and, my manager, Danny Nono, and the two guys who I work with, Ben Ross and John Smith. I got a couple of guys who I rap with: Lord Cyn, Goldie the Natural, Tyrone... But right now, we are all separate 'cuz we've all got our heads down focused on our own things. We gotta link up from time to time.
Layla Brodbeck: How did music come into your life? Have you grown up around it or was there kind of a moment when you got into music?
Shaw Calhoune: I pretty much was born into it, to be honest with you. Music was always a part of my life, even when I was a kid. My father and my mother were big music fans. It's a key ingredient to how I create. It's pretty much what I grew up with. Like my father, he was more like a 70s fan, like Earth, Wind and Fire, Commodores, Barques... And then my mom was a little more current at the time. You know, this was like the 90s, so Boys II Men, Black Street, Brownstone... Both of those influences definitely impacted me and became an influence on me.
Layla Brodbeck: It almost comes intuitively, probably. So many different influences, it sounds like.
Shaw Calhoune: Yeah, and then also myself too, as well. I pretty much had an old soul. That's what my family always told me. They said I was always an old soul. So I always had a thirst for, like, you know, old adventure stuff. Whether it was sports ('cause I'm a big sports guy too as well) or music.
Layla Brodbeck: Do you have a favorite lyric off of the new release?
Shaw Calhoune: Yeah: “I'm speaking for the soul, but the boss is all factual.” That's nice, strong, and has a flow to it.
Layla Brodbeck: Is there anything that you kind of want to advertise or promote while you're on here?
Shaw Calhoune: Always strive and prosper. You have nothing wrong with chasing perfection, but also you're human. Always push positivity and do everything a hundred percent. You really just hope to inspire people. Hopefully, that happens with this release.
Listen or watch the full interview below.