Signing Story: Shawn Smith

Date Signed: April 2023

Label: Roc Nation

Type of Music: Rap/Hip-Hop

Management: Cordeiro Henry / Nathaniel Smith - [email protected]

Booking: Cordeiro Henry / Nathaniel Smith 

Legal: Jason C. Berger - Margolis Edelstein

Publicity: [email protected]

Web: instagram.com/shawnsmithstory

A&R: Earl Johnson, [email protected]

Philadelphia rapper Shawn Smith signed with Roc Nation in April and recently celebrated by releasing the “Chain Gang” single. The track, the label states, "pays homage to state property in his hometown of Southwest Philly and features him at various landmarks, including underneath artist Miguel Horn's latest alleyway sculptural project ContraFuerte.”

That connection to his hometown is very much a part of who Smith is, having started rapping and writing at about 9 or 10 years old and performing at 15. 

“It was serious for me ever since I was 9,” Smith says. “I started out being inspired to write verses because my big brother used to rap. So, I got turned on because I liked everything he liked.”

Smith describes his sound and style as urban art, and culture and lyricism. “My style is storytelling, but fun at the same time,” he says.

 “In 2018, I dropped a mixtape called Sink or Swim, which featured a song called ‘Heaven’ that was featured on the Joe Budden Podcast and began gaining a lot of traction,” Smith recalls. “From there I started doing a lot of freestyles, including at the BET Hip Hop Awards Cypher. I then met with Roc Nation and they believed in the vision and I signed.”

“Chain Gang” wasn’t Smith’s first release for Roc Nation, but it is a song that sums up his life and career quite beautifully. “’Chain Gang’ is about the streets of Philly, crafted into audio artwork,” he says. “This particular song pays homage to state property and featured Don Cannon as well.”

“The ‘Chain Gang’ video is a soft launch to what I'm kicking off this year,” he said earlier in a statement. “The mixtape era is my direct inspiration to pick up a pen in the first place. This record is all of those moments wrapped into a new musical mural—an appreciation to hip-hop and what this feel has done for the streets of Philly.” 

Smith has opened for rap icons such as Rick Ross, Jeezy, DMX, Juelz Santana and Ice Cube, and he’s planning on having a big 2023. “I plan to dominate 2023 with music, videos, content, fashion, film and culture,” Smith says. “My new EP Hope Dealer is coming soon and there’s an album on the way.”

Renaissance man Smith writes lyrics about his admiration for Michelle Obama, while questioning Congress for not passing laws against lynching, and expressing his love for his hometown. He’s his own man and he’s going to play this rap game his own way. – Brett Callwood