Sheck Wes: Artist to watch

The Harlem-born rapper releases first project teaser: Sheck Wes’ rise to success

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Sheck Wes: Artist to watch

(Courtesy of Sheck Wes' Official Facebook Page).

(Courtesy of Sheck Wes' Official Facebook Page).

(Courtesy of Sheck Wes' Official Facebook Page).

(Courtesy of Sheck Wes' Official Facebook Page).

By Eden Bekele, Collegian Correspondent

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This week’s artist to watch is Sheck Wes, the 20-year-old Harlem-born rapper who is taking the music industry by storm. In a matter of a year, his single “Mo Bamba” has become one of the hottest songs to play almost anywhere, and a sure fire way to get a party going.

“Mo Bamba” has become one of the most explosive rap songs to come out of 2018. With its deep bass and over the top vocals, it has become akin to a club anthem. The song was named after Wes’ neighborhood friend — and now NBA player — Mo Bamba, and emphasizes the success of both the rapper and his friend. The song was a one-take freestyle recorded on a whim that Wes has pushed for almost a year to get it to where it is now. The rapper said he created the song out of pure frustration. He raps, “I got hoes calling, a young n—- phone/Where’s Ali with the motherf—ing dope” which actually is referring to recruiters calling him, not women, and his irritation leading him to find his friend to smoke. Wes says that he had finally committed to a label, Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. Music and Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Records, specifically under Interscope Records, and was fed up with producers, labels and managers blowing up his phone.

Wes has become something of a star in the heat of “Mo Bamba,” and an artist that everyone wants to get close to. He has done lots of different interviews where he has talked about his background and how he has gotten to this point, and it is definitely not by chance. The artist talks about knowing that he was chosen for greatness. He talks about gaining insight and spirituality after being sent to Senegal by his mother and forced to stay there. He also talks about growing up in Harlem and seeing opportunities in different forms come his way. Before he was a rapper, he was a top performing basketball player throughout high school and even a very successful model. He was first featured in a Birkenstock ad and was most known for his appearance in Yeezy Season 3.

What truly makes Wes an artist to watch is the fact that he has been consistent and fast in his rollout so far. He recently released his full album, “MUDBOY”, this year on all streaming services and it is doing incredibly well. The album is a testament to the fact that the artist came from the dirt, hence “MUDBOY,” and is now extremely successful. While not all of the songs are as viscerally explosive as “Mo Bamba,” there is a collective rawness to the entire tape.

The project opens with the track “Mindf—er,” which sets the mood for the album. He raps about his own mentality in the game and how successful he has already become. This track is followed by “Live Sheck Wes” which is another high-energy song, and my personal favorite, but it actually carries a darker message. Wes raps, “Everybody grew up tough, buncha diamonds in the rough/Police ain’t never give a f—, they just want us in them cuffs.” He’s pointing to the hardened lifestyle that he lived, growing up as a first generation Senegalese boy, living in the projects of Harlem. Through his lyrics, Wes owns and reclaims who he is, and reaffirms that he plans on dying by it as well.

The energy of the overall album is high but there are some songs with more eerie production. The beat on the single, “Chippi Chippi,” sounds like it comes from the part of a scary movie where the climax is building, and in a sense this is sort of true. Wes is rapping about wanting to leave wherever one is at and to go get high, and is actually a shout out to another one of Sheck’s friends, Ali Ba. The track is a fantasy of escaping a reality, which is something that is very real when living in a tough environment. Meanwhile the track “Danimals” is a slower song on the album that basically talks about how much Wes doesn’t care about opinions, and refuses to be put into a box.

While lyrically the album is not all that dense, the album is incredibly successful in getting across Sheck Wes’ point of view and creating an energy. Frustratingly enough for the rapper, his listeners probably weren’t extremely interested in his lyrics in the first place, but were more interested in how the songs make them feel, which is on top of the world.

Eden Bekele can be reached at [email protected]