Shy’An G started rapping at 9, performing at 13, and put out her first mixtape at 18. She recently hosted a viewing of Bridging Emcees, a documentary about rappers in the Bay Area–who happen to be women. Shy’An, who goes by Shy, was included in the documentary even thought at the time it was filmed she was still in high school! Shy isn’t new to the game. At 22, she’s been rapping for over a decade, going from scribbling rhymes in a notepad to deflect bullying at school, to releasing mixtapes on Soundcloud and producing her own beats. Her song “Submission” is currently featured in OMCA’s listening station at the “Respect: Hip-Hop Style and Wisdom” exhibit, which runs through August 12. She also recently collaborated on “No Reason,” which was featured on KQED Arts.
Shy is humble and soft-spoken in person, honest to a fault, and quietly friendly. She is a huge fan of other Oakland artists like the Hieroglyphics, and when she recently met Pep Love at a Wax Poetic event, she couldn’t stop smiling. The path she’s taken in life hasn’t always been easy, but she’s always been able to find inspiration in the lyrics of hip hop artists that she loves. Shy grew up listening to Tupac, and you can hear his influence in her music.
Shy is also a huge fan of Rapsody, and performed with her recently.
Listening to Shy’s music makes it clear that she is a hip hop prodigy. Her flow is smooth, with a comfortable rhythm that speaks to her preparation. As a writer, her rhymes are clever, and she has an understated sense of humor. Her recent single, “Once Upon a Rhyme” is a good listen, sonically enjoyable, her flawless rap carrying itself over the beat like the waves of the Bay that is prominently featured in the video. The song also carries an important message of resilience in the face of adversity.
Can’t find my way out if I stuck with Leave it to Beaver/
Like old soul, like oh no, was she bout to preach about her foes/
don’t worry bout it I just dilute it into my flows/
Young Osmosis Jones under her own control/never again to be exposed
Shy’s Soundcloud is prolific, with three mixtapes, from 2013’s Rejuvenated to Fragile Branches in 2015, to the recent I Just Need a Minute, her growth as an emcee is evident. Her flow sounds as if it’s always had that quick addictive cadence that pulls listeners into the rhythm.
Shy’s voice sounds young but professional on Rejuvenated, and by Fragile Branches, the smooth confidence is still there, but she’s steadier, and she sounds–if anything–more like herself, her excellence as a rapper honed and matured from her years of practice. Fragile Branches is a lush musical experience, with samples and beats that build a mood that feels like a throwback. It even includes a nod to Bobby Bland’s much-sampled 1974 hit “Ain’t No Love In The Heart of the City,” with Shy’an’s whip-smart flow, lyrics balancing on the beat with deceptive ease.
Her most recent EP, I Just Need a Minute, has a more subdued sound. It opens with her cousin speaking, and then segues into the music, a sped-up instrumental of the opening chords of Major Harris’ 1975 hit “Love Won’t Let me Wait.” The mixtape ends with “Once Upon a Rhyme,” the track that also inspired a music video (below). Shy’an was very involved in the creation of the music video, from the storyline to the other artists that she tapped to work on it. The result is a journey through struggle with iconic Bay Area imagery, that is as enjoyable to watch as the song is to listen to. Shy’An G has talent, and she is going places. Literally. Hit the link to support her trip to London this summer and check out the video for “One Upon a Rhyme” below.