It is said that Dallas hip-hop has always played in the shadows of Houston’s more popular hip-hop scene, but for Dallas rapper SHIIK, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Born Dominique Deshun Harris, the 26-year-old rapper recently released his latest project, “Kartoonz & Hood Movies” in April and as he prepares for the birth of his new son, he sat down with me and shared his musical influences, his plans for 2018 and why he feels the current music scene is “like Sheep as long as its ignorant“.
Who do you credit as the influence behind your music?
My influences in music have a very wide range. I was raised under 6 Brothers & Sisters so my music taste is wise beyond my years. Not in any specific order but, my Pops, He used to be a DJ when he got out the military and kept us on everything since birth from the 50’s to the early 2000’s. Because of my old man, I am never out of tune at any function no matter the age. I can vibe with anyone on anything cause of my dad.
My mother is a major influence on me, she’s from Louisiana and has an ear and voice for music. But beyond that, she is the real reason I started rapping. It may have been around my 18th birthday and was having trouble understanding a few things and controlling my frustrations; so she bought me a [writing] pad and told me started writing and from there she planted a seed that helped me grow into the artist I am today. My Brother Damien, who is also a rapper, showed me early on how to be a lyricist and paint pictures in my music. My wife Dionna I write the best music when we have our growing pains, and she keeps me motivated to stick to my music and never change up!
What hip-hop albums would you consider pivotal to your career?
Man, That is tough. I grew up on it all, but ones that really made an imprint on me as a kid had to be; Dr. Dre’s Chronic Album, Geto Boys’ My Mind Playing Tricks On Me, Chamillionaire’s Mix Tape Messiah, LL Cool J’s Bad Album, Lil Wayne’s Carter 1-3,
Kanye West’s Graduation, Wiz Khalifa’s Kush & Orange Juice, Kid Cudi’s Man On The Moon, Big Sean’s Finally Famous 3, and so many more. I could go all day, but this is just a few albums that really had a major impact on me coming up! But I like pretty much everything, I am from the south so like all of SUC ( Srewed Up Click) music I was raised on all the of the 3rd music. I’m going just say [Houston] as an album too, from the 90s to the early 2000s I kept them on repeat every day. When I was coming up I couldn’t you the name of some albums, people use to “bootlegs” of a lot of my fave artist albums and I could never go off what the seller marked it as I just knew one of my favorite artists has some new soul out and I need it!
When did you write your first song and what was it about?
Shoot, I started rapping at 9 years old and back then it was all just a lot of long verses, no context, hook or anything just a paper with “Babylon” type verses. (Laugh) So technically I started rapping in August of 2017 and It was after a real break up with my wife, Dionna. I had just moved back to Dallas from Alpine, Tx ( Shout out Alpine & Sul Ross State, Those my people) and we had a really bad break up. It seemed like there was no coming back from it. Everything around me stopped making sense, my basketball career had become stagnated and to be honest I was looking for love in all the wrong places. On top of that, I was also coming out of a group I was in called “2 Doms R Better Than 1”, but that’s another story. So it just seemed like nothing was working, and the entire time I kept trying to hide my love and ability in music. But as more situations hit me, the better the lyrics in my head were and then one day I couldn’t hide it anymore. I sat down threw on R.Kelly’s “When a Woman’s Fed Up,” rolled a few packs of Blue Optimos and came up with the track, “VICTIM”.
Who do you see yourself working with as an artist and producer?
Out the gate I have to say, Lyfe Jennings, Miguel, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Kevin Gates, Erykah Badu, India Arie, Wiz [Khalifa], Curren$y, Mo3, Yella Beezy, & Post Malone are some of the artists would love to collab with. However, I can’t leave out Chris Brown, K Camp or Drake. As for producers, I would have to say The Dream, Metro Booming, Sledgron, Skee Beats, Zaytoven, T-Pain, No ID, and Kanye West. I would lose my absolute mind in the dojo with these guys. Just to hear some of the knowledge and stories of how this industry can make and break you is a privilege in itself.
Tell me about your latest project, “Kartoonz & Hood Movies”, and what inspired it?
My latest release project “Kartoonz & Hood Movies”, was released on April 20th. This tape is one for everyday things we see and have to deal with. I am a proper 90’s baby, I was raised on good classic movies about us like, “Colors”, “Menace II Society”, “Boyz N Da Hood”, “Juice,” etc., and by looking at this list and reading my title “Hood Movies” you can see a lot of these are blockbusters and far from “Hood or Low Budget” Movies. I was iterating to the subject and content of those movies about being from the “hood”. It also shows how your circumstance isn’t always forever, it can always be better and as “Man Of your Word” stand on what you believe in! The “Kartoonz” part is self-explanatory, unlike nowadays coming up our cartoons back then had a message every episode, showed you how you can be an everyday hero and believe in you. Little things like that, so that had a major impact on what raised me. “Kartoonz & Hood Movies” is just that giving you who I am in eighteen songs. Just taking you back to the good old days without all the “B**ches & H*es”. But real music! The producers for this one varied from B. Young, Kil’Lab Music, Fly Boi_DBone, RealNDaFields, Jia Beats and Mingo Gomez. I wanted to work with a solid foundation of producers that work just as hard in the craft like me.
Well, as of right now, I am currently in the works of releasing three tapes at the end of July. “Summer Of 65‘” produced By Lu.B Music, “91 Made Me” by produced By YB Beats and “Digital Dope” produced by Mingo Gomez. Each tape has its own producer. The three tapes are collaboration tapes between me and my producers with all original beats that they make themselves. I have no set release dates but they all will be available by the end of July 2018 on all digital platforms.
How important is the idea of connecting with other musicians to you? And how do you believe someone should utilize their connects?
Networking is the key to everything, cause, unfortunately, you can be GREAT at something and never get a chance. But to know someone that knows someone who can pull strings and make life for you a walk in the park or take you to the next level is great. Utilizing the connections is crucial and lucrative in becoming someone in the industry. You have to keep that connection alive. Most people will get a number and never use it or wait until they need something. NO NO NO! You hit them on the regular and see if you can help them or even just ask how things are going. Connections can take you around the world twice, without spending a dime. Just gotta know how to maneuver.
How would you describe your writing process?
I am a machine! I never stop writing and my process is unorthodox, spontaneous and just downright SMOKING FIRE! I am into writing as far as poems, plans or notes so writing isn’t the hard part, but what I found difficult was learning how to control my thoughts, how to make them tell a story and stay on beat.. can be absolutely BRUTAL! But I am a workhorse, and once my heart is made up, in my mind I am unstoppable. I BECAME A MONSTER. Now my process consists of creating the hook and making a song. I also use Instagram as an open gym for practice.
What is your thought about the current state of the Hip-hop game?
It’s absolute bullshit for those that would enjoy my kind of music. If you aren’t talking about guns, jewelry, women, drugs, and ignorant stuff, your music gets pushed away or skipped. I ain’t knocking any of those artists out there that rap about it, that’s them, it’s what they know and I support it. But I can’t cap that to catch a wave or make a fan. I was raised around real gangsters, and I was brought up as a gentleman. In my line of business, those lyrics are for the FEDS and people you don’t need knowing your business, and besides, I want to rap about me, life, love, memories and occasionally weed. But today’s music scene is like “Sheep,” as long as it’s ignorant and they see someone else liking it they will all run to it. But that’s all the way gravy, it’s a process and the longer the drive, the longer the run will be. I’m quiet, patient and supportive. Hating will get you nowhere.
What would you like for the readers to know about you?
I’m human, I can only give it to you how I see it and believe it. I’m old school and really laid back. I was raised a winner and I’ am a man before ANYTHING. My music is me standing in front of a mirror revealing me just as much as its reflecting.
What advice would you give to young musicians in the game?
Enjoy being unknown, because as soon as you become hot, they [record label execs] will be quick to label you with a style, or a sound without fully given you a chance to blossom and be versatile. BE YOURSELF IN YOUR MUSIC because as soon as you lose who you are, your music will become typical. Going unnoticed doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t or won’t make it. Timing is everything, just stay ready, keep working and believe that your days are coming. FUCK THE OPINIONS OF OTHERS. YOU ARE HARDER TO IGNORE WHEN YOU DONT ASK FOR PERMISSION.
What are your plans as a musician for 2018?
Since I am still a new artist I want to make that a strong point of my path to being signed. I plan on building a HUGE catalog of QUALITY MUSIC towards potential radio singles, visuals and eventually put a real album together before the end of 2018. I also plan on making the Freshman XXL list by the summer, having a 1000 youtube subscribers, and at least 2 Hit singles. I want a lot but I’ve learned pace & patience can take you far if you really want it! So I’m deep in the process and enjoying the ups and downs of the learning process to make it in this industry. My son will also be born Sept 12, 2018, so I am really enjoying that next step of my life. I’m excited! He’s gonna be a Jr! Our Little Baby Shiik, well his mom calls him Biscuit, make sure I add that or she liable to punch me. (Laughs) To sum it up really create a wave, and open doors for my family, my team, and I to exceed expectations in life while we can!