If you transmit any kind of message to the world, it should be pure and authentic first and foremost. This is the message that defines singer songwriter Shirazee.
With a few years in the industry under his belt, Shirazee built an impressive catalog as a songwriter, penning songs for the likes of Sting, Ty Dolla $ign, Kiesza, and so many more. In late 2014, a palpable and powerful restlessness started stirring inside of him.
“I had this amazing year, but everything wasn’t what it was cracked up to be,” he admits. “I looked around, and I felt like I was hearing the same thing in music over and over again. I was frustrated, wondering if our generation wouldn’t be remembered for real music. The vibe is so important to protect. I wanted to push the envelope. I wanted to make sure I had my own voice. I wanted to take people on a journey.”
He begins that journey with his debut single “Different,” making good on this personal promise and introducing a singular style. Musically, the instrumentation whisks from warm intonation and a dreamy tribal harmony into a lithe acoustic guitar strum and finally his unshakable plea—“Show me something different.”
“Once ‘Different’ was born, the spark to follow his true artistic path was instantly re-ignited,” he goes on. “I couldn’t give it to another artist; it was mine. Everybody wants something different. It’s the song that put me on this path.”
The seeds for this “new perspective on pop,” as he likes to call it, became planted during Shirazee’s childhood in Benin, West Africa. His mother filled their home with the sounds of The Eagles, Michael Jackson, Otis Redding, Bob Marley, and other legends.
Intriguingly, only singles made it onto radio in Benin.
“Being that we were so far away, we rarely got full albums,” he recalls. “So, we only heard the biggest song from each respective artist at the time. Without consciously understanding it, my mind functioned in terms of radio-style melodies. The pockets I choose are distinctively melodic. That’s what this period did to me. Really, it made me the artist I am today.”
It’s been an unbelievable ride up to this point. Leaving Benin, Shirazee went to school in Ghana, embracing a passion for hip-hop during high school. It’s there he discovered OutKast and knew what he wanted to do with his life. He headed to the UK for college and got a little too wild, but “mom saved me and brought me back.” Back in South Africa, the family would face a chilling tragedy before he headed to Paris for a spell. His next chapter began in Atlanta where he recalls, “making connections by freestyling outside of Guitar Center.” He set his sights on the Big Apple with a little cash in his pocket and beat homelessness when a kindly landlady agreed to let him live rent free for eight months as he pursued his dream. The next month, he signed his first publishing deal.
“I’ve always had certain people who believed in me that looked out for me, when I needed it the most,” he smiles. “I’ll be thankful for that forever.”
With the creation of “Different,” Shirazee signed to Lokal Legend/Island records in 2016 and stands poised to makes his greatest artistic leap yet.
“I want to be a voice for the people,” he leaves off. “I want everyone to connect with my music. There’s always a central message. For now, it’s that at some point of our lives, we all want something to change. This message will evolve, but I promise you’re going to feel it either way. I didn’t realize it while I was grinding. Nobody told me—the fact that I’m different was my power all along. It’s the coolest thing of all, and I’m going to use it.”