Shawnna isn’t much of a controversial female MC. She’s never been tangled in public beef, worn multi-gradient wigs, or dealt with ghostwriter accusations. Shawnna’s only ever been Ludacris‘ potty-lipped right-hand misses. But her 10-year ride with Disturbing Tha Peace hit a sudden crash in October 2009 after the 27-year-old abruptly abandoned what could’ve been her proudest—and most profitable—project to date, the collaborative album Battle Of The Sexes. Since then, Shawnna has never spoken a word on the real reason behind her sudden departure from DTP. But after a year of tip-toeing, T-Pain’s first lady of Nappy Boy Entertainment is ready to confess, apologize and move on. —Tracy Garraud
VIBE: As we end this year and start a new one, looking back how did 2010 treat you?
Shawnna: This year was really good for me. I got to really spend time with my family which I haven’t been able to do in so long. I took a breather and just kinda looked at the game and where it’s going… where I can fit in and really make an impact. Not just putting out loads of mixtapes and not making any noise. So, it’s given me a chance to find out what lane nobody’s riding, so I can jump in and just go. That’s exactly what I needed too. You really can’t see what’s going on until you stand outside and analyze.
What’s the lane you discovered that hasn’t been driven down yet?
As far as females are concerned, just to be more personal, speak from real life experiences because females always get the low end. And me sitting back and listening to other albums and other artists and saying to myself, ‘Wow, what they should have done that… that would’ve made me feel them even more.’ Give me something I can relate to. Help me get some direction. There are so many young girls like that in the world that don’t have anybody to mentor them. And I’ve just noticed over the years that the music they’re most receptive to is where I get really personal. That’s why I think some of the major artists have been so successful like Eminem.
You’re right. The only thing is that 95% of hip-hop fans know you for your sexual lyrics rather than personal.
Yeah, it’s so tough because you go into the studio with that mindset [of making relatable music], but once the label gets a hold of you, they’re all about the dollar. They don’t wanna take risks; they trash your personal records and say, ‘Nah. We need a club cut. We need something where we can shoot a video with a whole bunch of hoes’ and at the end of the day, you gotta pay your bills. That’s another reason for why I had to just say hold up—my life wasn’t in my own control. I [realized] this as the point where some decide to go into cocaine and other drugs to handle it the stress. And I would never do that to myself or my family. So I thought before I allow this industry to turn me into another statistic, I’m backing out gracefully and quietly.
So it’s safe to say you felt a lot of pressure to make a shit load of “Gettin’ Some” type records.
Of course. All my other records have never had as much success as “Gettin’ Some,” but I didn’t want that to be my claim to fame. I’m such an intellect, so I need to let that be known. I feel like I’m well-educated and can speak on many different issues.
What’s a topic you’d like to rap about that would surprise people?
I’m heavy in the hair industry so I’m exposed to the drag queens and they have a whole different thing going on. It’s incredible to me! I need a record that’s gonna bang out and have them going crazy, going nuts! I’m so going that route.
Yeah people are cashing on the “gay market.” How do you feel about female artists pretending to be bisexual or into women?
I think it’s phony. Once the gay community made their presence felt and they saw how much of a following Lady Gaga got, people wanted to jump the bandwagon. ‘Look at me! I’m kissing a girl, buy my album.’ I don’t respect that at all because once they buy your CD then you’re llke, ‘I never said that… ew.’