Krystal Wilson a.k.a The Gem Of Shaolin video chatted with M.Whise The ShoGun from his apartment living-room as Kid Cudi Man On The Moon plays in the background.
Q : So something I've wondered about is your two names. Shogun and Whise. Explain who they are to you.
A : Whise is the artist, the musician. I separated the two because I spent my rap career trying to be a lyrical bully to other artists and I found out that wasn't the move. Now Shogun the moniker/ title was created before I started battle rapping. It shows my love for Japanese culture. Now most people won't take the time to look it up but a Shogun is a leader and also the lawmaker of the land or province that they sit over. I chose Chicago as my land to sit over. Shogun became my battle rap name but it's also my title.
Q : Would you say more people know you as Whise the Artist or Shogun the Battle Rapper ?
A : I feel like people more so know me as Whise. But with Shogun being the title they make the connection faster. Whise definitely definitely gets more love than Shogun because Battle rap is a dark world.
Q : We always hear how writing songs even as a hiphop artist and battle rapping are two different worlds and skill sets. Have you always done both ? And have you always done both at the level you are now ?
A : Yes they are very different. No, I didn't always do both. I was more in love with music than I was with battle rap. I also have a love hate relationship with competition. But in hiphop music competition isn't appreciated as much.
Q : So this is something I'm really curious about myself. Tell me about your first official battle. What did that feel like ?
A : I got my ass kicked. The reason why is because I thought the dynamics of being an artist would carry me over into battle rap gracefully and they didn't. I had butterflies in my stomach like when I was doing my first show I had nervous body tension worrying if people would like me. Because it's easy to stand on stage and rap a song because you can hide behind the beat or instrumentation. There's no hiding in battle rap. Because there's no beat there's just a room full of people waiting on you to say something important and they're ready to let you know if it's not.
Q : What are you working on currently music wise ?
A : The only thing I'm working on and it's on hold right now is my latest project Drawn. It's a mixture of hiphop hard rock and metal. Because of the beat selection and instrumentation I used. A bunch of bars and guitar riffs.
Q : So this is a serious one. How do you feel the pandemic has affected you as an artist ?
A : Personally I feel like it affected everybody but it was also an opportunity in disguise. Basically if you didn't use this opportunity with everyone at home on social media and streaming platforms to either perfect your craft or promote your artistry then you wasted time.
Q : In the time of BLM Say Her Name and Me Too. What do you feel your response is as a Black Male artist ?
A : Well I want it to be known that I deeply have a hatred for politics. For the simple fact that no matter how much rallying and promoting for the cause we do we still come up short. If I could give a valid response. They don't care about us but that's not an excuse to give up on what's right no matter how much we come up short. Hope builds dreams and dreams become reality especially as artists we have to set the best example of that.
Q : What do you think about the state of battle rap in Chicago and in general ?
A : A bunch of Divas. And I say that with love. But to be serious it is literally over saturated with a lot of people that spend more time trolling online than actually rapping. Not to mention how unforgiving the community is. You can have two great battles and literally win with no debate but once you have a bad battle you will be considered trash for 6mos to a year. And it becomes creatively taxing. It is not for the weak. It is not for the emotional. You will literally quit.
Q : What are your thoughts on the indie underground hiphop scene in Chicago and Chicagoland ?
A : Complete and utter arrogance on everybody's part. I broke it down into three sections; you have your artists that are so arrogant that they don't want to work with anybody, you have your artists that aren't that good and they are too arrogant to accept help from anybody, and then you have your artists like me whose confidence sometimes turns into arrogance and it scares people away. One of the reasons why I joined battle rap because everybody thinks they're better than everybody and when you first join everyone is going to think you're trash because you just got there. It's humbling.
Q : What are your favorite parts about being an artist? Give me your top 3 things.
A : Lyricism, I love lyrics I love when somebody has something to say. Flow, the rhythm is something we're all born with but as an artist I feel like it gets amplified. There are so many songs that are great because an artist was in a certain pocket. Creativity, because you create the person that the world is going to see. Creativity is my favorite one because you create that person and you separate from it and create the life you want to live its like taking that first step as a child and no one can take that away from you.
Q : What and or who has helped or inspired you the most as an artist ?
A : My peers, people that I actually consider great artists. Every artist has, not to be funny, but a superpower or something that they are completely great at that no one else can do. And it's inspiring to watch people do things you would have to train or teach yourself to do. It becomes a reason to get better.
Q : What's the one thing that makes you keep creating ?
A : I love music. I don't think it gets any simpler than that. I have a very strong love for music. And that's not limited to rap or hiphop. I love all music.
Q : Do you see yourself dabbling in any other mediums as an artist or are you completely music centered ?
A : Yes I actually have a love of film as well. It seeps into my music from lines that I use to how I set up songs. I have a very theatrical dynamic to how I set up songs. I would love to direct someone's videos with the right equipment but that's for the future only time will tell if I'll get back into it.
Q : What's your overall goal with your music ? What are you looking to accomplish..
A : The same goal I've had when I first started taking it seriously back in 2018 to have an emotional reaction for whoever the fan is. It doesn't matter if it's happy, sad, excited as long as I gave you an emotional reaction and brought you emotional value then I've done my job. And that's not to confuse my stance on the benefits that come with making it. I do want them. But the main goal is to give people a reason to keep going no matter how hard it is. For me too
Q : Ok, last question. If you could say anything to a child or young teen looking to do music or battle or both like you what would you say ?
A : Do what you believe in. because they not gon’ care if you believe in it or not. So you gotta do it for you.