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Shake-A-Vel’s tracks are designed to get people out of the their seats and their heads nodding. The longtime rapper out of Dodge City, a small part of the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, is known for his bravado and New York flare.

His career started in the early 2000’s with the formation of his own record label, Drilann Entertainment, which he formed with his longtime friend, Buddha Monk. Since then, Shake-A-Vel has produced several singles and three albums starting with his first solo EP titled “No Fear” in 2003, which featured on his debut album O.P.N. released later that year. He followed O.P.N. up with his second studio album Bring It Home with album titled track “Bring It Home” and “The Wolves,” a gritty Brooklyn banger that let’s it be known Shake-A-Vel and his team never back down. In 2018, Shake-A-Vel release his latest album Scale Universe, a 17-track piece, featuring club anthem “Throw Dat Money” and “Scale,” a track that has the artist weighing his lyrical repertoire versus everyone in the game and calling game, set, match.

Recently, JEMBE sat down with Shake-A-Vel to discuss his journey in the music business, his career goals and current projects he is working on, and how rap turned his life around after a tough upbringing in Brooklyn’s notorious Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood.

Tell us more about your early years and how you were introduced to music?

Growing up in Brooklyn during my era, music was all around me. So, at a young age I started listening to hip-hop and got into writing lyrics. I purchased a black and white notepad, and I would spend hours writing stuff down in the back room of my apartment. I knew I had a story to tell because of my childhood and street life involvement, which unfortunately led to me being incarcerated for a brief stint. I also had my first born at 16, which really shaped my life and forced me to grow up quickly. 

My boy, Buddha Monk aka Brooklyn Zoo, really taught me how to count bars and make records. So, with his help, I was really able to take my abilities to the next level and launch my own record label, Drilann Entertainment.

Growing up, who were some of the artists that influenced you?

GZA and Inspectah Deck were big influences for me. In fact, the whole Wu-Tang collective were influential. These guys are master lyricists and, for me, lyricism is really what rap is all about. Also, I really respect Nas and Master P.

What about today? Who are some artists you vibe with?

Drake, Da Baby, J Cole and Kendrick to name a few. I think they’re all at the top of their games. Also, Pop Smoke from Brooklyn is doing it right now.

What makes you different from other rapper?

Authenticity and versatility. I like to write and spend time with my beats instead of saying what just comes to me. I think this allows for me to perfect my tracks and be a dynamic artist.

Also, I enjoy live performing. I think it takes skill in terms of the preparation required to perform your music without supporting vocals.

Tell us about “Bring It Home,” what inspired it?

Bring It Home is about bringing the spotlight back to Brooklyn. It’s an album I really love because it pays homage to my home — Brooklyn — and where it all began.

What about your latest album “Scale Universe,” what was the inspiration there?

Scale Universe is all about stepping up and showing what I’m about. It’s about measuring myself versus the competition and making it known that I’m here. Like I said, I’m a lyricist. So, this album I’m very proud of because I put a lot of work into making it happen.


What are you looking forward to in 2019/20?

Right now, I am planning a Scale Universe Tour for the beginning of 2020. So, be on the lookout for that. Also, I have a couple of tracks I’ll be dropping… 2020 is shaping up to be a BIG year!


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