How did “the first rapper out of Arizona to sign a major record deal” rise to fame? Who is this unique artist? If you’re not acquainted with the poignant lyrics of Shug Jackson, it’s time to be enlightened.
A lifelong resident of Tuscon, Arizona Shug was like most teenagers in the emergent era of rap. He looked up to all of the new MCs that were exploding onto the international music scene, and he wanted to become a rapper himself. Around this time, Jackson’s uncle donned him with the nickname that has become his stage name. In his teen years, Shug was beginning to live a troubled life. After getting himself back on track, Shug decided incorporate his experiences into his music, using them as a warning example to others.
Soon, Shug’s dreams of becoming a famous rapper began to blossom into reality. A recurring issue during performances spring boarded his career from being a local favorite to a nationally known artist. As one of the only rappers in the southwestern United States at the time, he would often be hired as an opening act when acts such as Run DMC came to the region.
Even in his early year’s Shugs’s stage presence was astounding. On one occasion, a few rappers he was opening for had their security team pull the wire from his mike because they thought he was taking too long and upstaging them. Shug explained that the incident “let me know I was on the right track and I was doing something right.” These opening gigs led to being noticed by another rapper’s manager and eventually being signed by Def Jam records.
Aside from being talented, Shug tackles significant topics through his music. “I like to touch on a lot of topics that people are afraid to touch on. I really bring everyday life into my music, which I think music, especially rap music today, is suffering from. Somebody’s got to be the one to jump out there and not be afraid to discuss those topics,” He remarks.
His single Congratulations represents his current style. In a witty yet effective manner, the song sarcastically “congratulates” people who kill innocent bystanders in the crossfire of violence. Shug explained that he was inspired to write the song after seeing a news report about a five-year-old who was shot and killed in a drive by shooting. He hopes that his raw lyrics will cause people to stop and think about the impact on not only themselves, but all of their loved ones and their potential victim’s loved ones before committing senseless acts of violence.
On his creative process, Shug says, “I write from my soul and I write from my gut. If it doesn’t feel right to me, then I throw it away. It has to be something that I think is going to touch somebody either make you laugh…cry…something. You’re going to get something out of it.”
Shug says that the one of his main concerns for communities across America is a lack of resources in neighborhoods. As Shug explains, the problem is compounded because “It’s not like the olden days when everybody kind of policed the neighborhood and everybody kind of helped each other out. Now, you got people afraid to do that, and that makes the neighborhood suffer.” Can we expect a rap about that?
You can find out more about Shug and his socially conscious lyrics at www.shugjackson.com