Thursday, May 9, 2013

Anthony J Shears - Town Bizness

Royalty Magazine: What's good? How's life treating you?

Anthony J. Shears: First let me say thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. It’s a blessing to have your ear, even if just for a moment.  Life is great!  I’m doing worse than a few, but better than most. I still find each day too short to do everything I want to do, so I try not to waste any moments. Life’s path is long, so I do what I can to try to stay balanced.

Royalty Magazine:  Before we talk about the New Year, let's reflect back a little on 2012.  What do you think you will remember most about 2012 as an artist?  What were some of your greatest moments or accomplishments?

Anthony J. Shears2012 will go down as one of the most revolutionary and tumultuous years in human history.  Newton, Connecticut, North Korea launching range rockets, heightened conflict between Israel and Gaza, the U.S. Ambassador killed in Libya, Rover Curiosity landing on Mars, the gunman at the Batman movie premier, Obama’s reelection, the Syrian/Turkish conflict, Quran burnings, the international embargo against Iran, the legalization of gay marriage, and even Whitney Houston dying.  This all, in addition to all the  different natural disasters we've suffered through. There were so many events happening, each changing our way of life a little more.        

Not even so much as an artist, but as a human being - I think what I’ll remember most about 2012 is the pain and suffering. By no means do I think there was any more pain in 2012 than other times in history. I think the pain and suffering of 2012 was much more visible, and that this visibility impacted people substantially.

My greatest accomplishment in 2012 was the repairing of my family. We've had a lot of death and diversion in my family over the last seven years. We all needed a lot of healing, and as the leader of this group, I took it upon myself to begin that process in 2012. It hasn't been an easy or comfortable undertaking, but still a very, very necessary one.

Royalty Magazine: What will you remember most about the world in 2012?  As a country, how do  you think we can prevent some of the same mistakes that happened in 2012 from happening again?  What will you do as an individual or artist to help with that change or stand up for what you believe in?

Anthony J. Shears: Looking back, the most significant moment of my 2012 was rediscovering music. For a while, I had lost my passion for music, both making it and listening to it. It was two separate conversations that helped me find my way back to music. The first was with my mother who told me she missed the revolution in my music. I guess it wasn't really a conversation so much, as it was a proclamation on her part. It was one of those moments when you’re in the middle of something else, and someone makes a statement that totally unhinges you. I don’t even know if I responded to her. But that statement was easily the most important moment for me last year.

The second conversation was with a dear friend named Jeffrey Love. He told me that my gift, the gift of music, was not my own. That I did not own it. That the world did. And that I had responsibility to the world to make sure I was delivering the message. He said we all had our destiny and that mine was that of a messenger. He then posed the question, “What’s a messenger without a message?” That brought me back to what I loved about music. Why I got into it in the first place. It was never about acquiring or amassing things. It was about telling a story. My story. In a lot of ways, the ghetto’s story. The guys from my neighborhood. The people going through what I was going through. 

On a larger scale, 2012 help me recognize that the world needs love right now. It all comes back to love.  A lack of love ends up with us forgetting that in the end, we belong to each other.  The world felt very adversarial last year. More so last year than ever for me personally.  I read somewhere that the best way to kill an adversary is to make that person a friend. It may seem ideological, but in the end it all comes back to love.  As an artist, I only have one goal. And it has nothing to do with money or record sales. My only goal is for people to be together. I learned that from the great Bob Marley. People of all races, orientations, religions, and backgrounds being together.

Royalty Magazine: Speaking of the world, a lot of people are lost, making bad decisions, going crazy, hooked on drugs and just confused about what's right & what's wrong.  If you had a chance to speak with someone who was on the verge of snapping or just being consumed by the wicked ways of the world, what would you say?  How would you use your voice to try to breakthrough?

Anthony J. ShearsJust last night, G-d as my witness, I was speaking with a young woman dealing with some very real struggles. She started as a fan, and has grown into someone I would consider a friend. What’s crazy is, as much as social media is aimed at selling things and marketing, I've noticed that the people who listen to my music use my social media outlets to express themselves - what they love, hate, need, or hope for.  This young woman is a single mother of four. She recently had a son with young man who has yet to tell his family that he has a child. Their family time consists of driving around in a car, listening to music for a few hours a couple of times per week. As a man, it’s hard for me to understand that. I don’t have any kids, but I can’t imagine having a little version of me, and not wanting to spend every moment with him. This young lady has been so sad and struggling so much, that she cut herself.

As I’m reading her message about crying on her knees, bleeding with her son in her arms, I broke down myself. What do you say to someone in that position? I've been there before. Exactly where she was last night, so I tried to remember what helped me.  The entire situation brought me back to a book that I read a few years ago - Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It might be my favorite book of all time.  There’s a quote in the book that says, Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”  I didn't know what to say or do so I sent her that quote. She asked me if I had ever felt sad or depressed enough to take that kind of action, and I had to be honest. On The Growth: My ENDtroduction there’s a song called, “Art of Survival” ( It’s probably my favorite song I've recorded.  Ironically, it wasn't supposed to make the project’s final cut.  I recorded that song the night I found out my stepfather had been murdered.  I cried my way through the entire song.  There was a moment I had while recording that song where I felt like I was done. I was so overcome with pain and grief that I debated giving up altogether. She asked me to send her the song and so I did. 

I've never been in that situation before and I’m not sure if I responded appropriately.  All I could tell her is you’re special and important to the world. You deserve much better than your current situation, but giving up isn't an option. Your kids are innocent in this, and need their mother.  She said the song touched her. Helped her get past what she was feeling.  That song was able to help her,

Royalty Magazine: Have you yourself ever struggled with  any of these issues?  If so, what was the end result and/or what was your breakthrough point?

Anthony J. ShearsIn a lot of ways, I've accepted that my life will always have what my dear friend Whitney calls, “a great sadness.”  I've struggled with depression at times.  I had a three year period after my Nana passed, my best friend at Dartmouth College was killed, and my stepfather was murdered, where I was abusing alcohol pretty seriously.  I've never spoken to anyone outside of my family about that. It feels a little uncomfortable putting it out there. But I’m not perfect, and would never want to falsely portray that.     

Unfortunately, it took some pretty traumatic and expensive situations for me to snap out of it. My breakthrough came talking to a man named Edward Whittington, who’s currently serving a life sentence at a Washington State prison.  Edward, who is a friend and also like a pen pal to me, told me that since his incarceration he had been praying to G-d for a second chance. And that his prayers were answered when got in contact with me. That even despite the fact that he was never coming home, that G-d had answered his prayers for a second chance by giving me a second chance. And that I owed it to him to take advantage of it.  He told me to remember him every time I felt like giving up or that I couldn't do it.  At that moment, I finally understood what was at stake. That was an important breakthrough moment for me.

Royalty Magazine:  In your opinion, how did the world become so dark?  How did a country that is supposedly about freedom, become prisoners of wicked ways, confusion and a bad economy?  Do you think we as a country will ever bounce back and implement this so called change that everybody is screaming about?

Anthony J. ShearsYou’re not holding back with these questions! I appreciate your bravery in asking the tough questions though.  The world has always had a dark element to it, in my opinion.  These days, bad news travels much quicker. I think that's where the term "viral" comes from. Subsequently,  our exposure to these viruses has grown. And as our exposure has grown,  so too has our susceptibility to being infected by these viruses. At least some part of what we need is a return to the fundamental principles that this country was founded upon.

We, as Americans, are historically outliers. What I mean by this is that we have historically existed on the fringes of things until we are able to redefine things in the way we want. There is no doubt in my mind that we will bounce back and implement the changes we need to continue to thrive. I know there’s a lot of talk about other countries catching America academically and in the business world. And there may even be some truth to that. But at the end of the day, there is a reason we are seeing companies like Google, Youtube, Facebook, and others continue to find their beginnings here in America. We are still the best, most fertile country in the world for growing ideas.  And one of the most popular ideas of our day is “social justice”.  People are looking at how trying these times are, and how to best change those circumstances for the better.  In just the last three years, we’ve seen the people of the world overthrow three different governments in protest.  Change is one of the few things we can count as truly inevitable.

Royalty Magazine: On a lighter note, what can we expect to hear or see from you in 2013?  Any upcoming projects, tours or tracks that we should be checking for?

Anthony J. ShearsRight now, I’m working on Redemption, which should be ready to release by summer.  Working on a project like this requires a lot of research. It also requires me exposing myself to a lot of different experiences. So far, I’ve interviewed two different holy men on what Redemption means to them, and how to best achieve salvation. I’ve also interviewed a couple single mothers I know personally, as well as my own mother to try to understand their struggle and apply it to a song that I’m working on. The entire process requires a certain kind of focus that doesn’t allow room for much else. Because of this, I have to turn over the reigns of SMG’s daily operations to my business partners and advisers while I’m recording. Focusing on just being an artist is a crucial part of the process.

We just finished working on two tracks produced by our newest SMG team member Marcus the Magnificent from Dallas, Texas. Myself, the artist Deveraux and the rest of my production and writing team, Brill Building 412,  have also been working on a few tracks for some up and coming artists in both the Seattle and Los Angeles areas. I’ve found writing for other artists to be extremely fulfilling, so you should expect much more of that in 2013.

As far as touring goes, we are in negotiations to go on tour with a major artist right now. While we work out the details, we’ve been hard at work perfecting our live show. Every member of my team expressed that they wanted to take our live shows to the next level in 2013, so we’ve been rehearsing about 3 hours a day trying to figure out exactly what that’s going to look like.

Royalty Magazine: Tell us one thing that you will do differently this year than previous years before?

Anthony J. ShearsThis year, my goal is to have more fun making music. Anybody who has ever worked with me can tell you that I am very serious when it comes to making music.  This year, I want to maintain that level of intensity, but also have more fun. I am blessed and fortunate to get up everyday and do what I love in making music. And though at times making music is physically and emotionally painful, I have found the process to be quite rewarding in the end.   

Royalty Magazine: You were born in the Seattle, Washington area.  Tell us a little bit about your childhood, how you escaped the inner city life and how you got your start in the music industry?

Anthony J. Shears: My childhood was similar to a lot kids growing up in the inner city. We were poor for a time and it showed.  Yet despite the lack of resources, in my house we were always taught that poverty was a state of mind. I remember my mother saying things like “we may not have a lot of money; but we have never ever been poor”.  I played sports for a long time. Basketball and track and field. Like every kid, I found myself at a crossroads early on though. Go to school or hit the streets, that was the question I was confronted with.  And I think in being a quick study, I realized and reconciled in my mind that I could do both.  So, very early on, I saw the streets as a  type of savior from the poverty around me.

I grew up in what I would call a spiritual home where morals and ethics were practiced and preached. So the inner-conflict I felt about what I was doing in the streets kept me from totally internalizing certain elements of the game. In the hood, it’s like the blind leading the blind sometimes. The OGs are 17-24 years old, and in many cases haven’t had the luxury of any positive male role models. They gravitated towards what was in front of them, which is most inner-city scenarios, the drug game. So as a kid in the hood, you end up being guided by other kids older and more mature only in age.  From when I was very young, I always preferred to be around older people. I would listen to their conversations silently, picking up on a lot of information that most kids are protected from. I would think about these things at night, and then by the next day at school have formed my own opinions about them. What’s hard about that is when you’re young, and put in a position of leadership in your family, your mind immediately turns to survival. And the skills required to survive the hood are completely different from what it takes to succeed in the classroom. On top of that, you’re having to take care of your younger siblings.  And then go to school where a teacher who knows nothing about your day-to-day struggles is talking down to you, criticizing you for falling asleep or your lack of participation.  The memories are so vivid, I can still smell the microwaved eggs and taste the powdered milk.

Escaping the hood is first about mental liberation.  You have to be mentally aware that something else, something better exists. Once you can mentally see that there is another way, you then have to be able to spot these opportunities to take advantage of them. The first book I ever read that gave me an idea that there was more out there was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I don’t remember who gave me the book first, but it was given to me to help expose me to life’s many possibilities.  So now I am not just aware that there are other alternatives, I am able to better see them as they come.  Instead of playing the block or the park all day, I’m headed to the library to work on a group project with a friend from my class. Instead of rolling skating on Friday, I decide to go to the school play. Instead of playing video games, I am now at the University of Washington listening to a professor lecture on politics, or business. That’s how it played out for me. I was informally auditing classes all over the city. If I met anybody that might have any information that could help me, I was never timid about asking questions. This approached even applied to the drug game. Fiends seemed to me to be the most active people in that lifestyle. They knew everything, from the best spots to cop, to who was snitching, to who had the best product. Even back then I understood the benefits of positioning myself as closely as possible to the people with the most information.  This allowed me to be successful in that lifestyle in a way many others were not.  

Music  gave me an outlet for everything I was going through.  I said it best in the song “Used to” where I said, “I know you know the outcome/But how about the ‘How come’/What could make Detroit Red turn from a Malcolm?”  That process of being exposed, and choosing an alternative you don’t necessarily agree with out of survival.  What help me escape, where many of my friends weren't able to, was pure luck and my reluctance to accept that lifestyle as the only option.  I took what I could from it and left the rest. I've applied that mentality to everything I do now.  Back then, writing was something I did for me. When I started sharing these words with my friends and family, I immediately recognized that these were experiences a lot of the people around me were going  through. People started asking me for new lyrics every time they saw me. This was before I was putting my words to music.  I think that’s when I realized that my words were actually helping people.  Music was the naturally the next step in that process.  

Royalty Magazine: How do you feel about the Northwest hiphop scene? Why do you think its so slept on up here talent wise? In your opinion, what will it take to finally put the Northwest on the map?  
Honestly, I have a love/hate relationship with the hip hop scene in the Northwest. I’ve struggled with this since I began rapping professionally in the 6th grade.  There are so many talented artists in Seattle. So, so many. But, and I can say this from personal experience, there seems to be a very concentrated effort to filter a lot of what is given “mainstream” acceptance.  Seattle is such a diverse place that part of what has always amazed me is the heavy focus placed on the hipster culture.  With all of the different military and naval bases, and so many different urban neighborhoods, Seattle is overflowing with an extremely vibrant urban culture. Yet when you look at the average hip hop show lineup, you see very little representation on these bills. This has led many people outside of Seattle to think we only make one type of music here when there are so many other dope sounds coming out of the Northwest. Artists like D. Black, Fatal Luciano, the Parker Brothers, Freddie Fingers, Clemm Rishad, and Jugga Hill have all put out quality projects and not gotten the recognition I think they deserve. 

I can’t say definitively what it will take to put the the NW on. I think the NW is already largely on with guys like the Blue Scholars and Macklemore getting national exposure. I think to reach our full potential and the type of mainstream notoriety that other cities have had, we will have to do a better job offering some of these fringe voices access to the machine and exposure.  It’s only a matter of time before these acts either take matters into their own hands and either relocate or kick down the doors of the gatekeepers and force their way in.  

Royalty Magazine: How will you broadcast your message and let the world know about Anthony J. Shears?  If you had the world's attention at this very moment, what would you want them to know about you?  Why should they check you out and support your music?  Why should they support Northwest hiphop?

Anthony J. ShearsExposing the world to my music has been a major point of contention within SMG. While I understand the absolute necessity to utilize social media, sometimes I feel like it cheapens the music. I guess I’m a little old school in that regard. The hip hop game I grew up in was so much about an artist’s reputation as a writer and an MC, that the songs people came out with were an extension of that. I wish I could simply say, “I just want to make dope music” and leave it at that. The reality is, that in order for me to be able to reach people, I have to meet them where they are consuming music the most - which in these days is on the computer via social media.  A lot of today’s music seems to be aimed at getting the attention of the hype machine. As a result, music is less about timelessness and more about riding a trend to get on.  

If I had the world’s attention right now, I would want to tell the world not to give up. That there’s always hope. And that as long as there’s hope, there’s a way. That message might seem simple, but I think it all starts there.  When we look back on these times, people will make the distinction between opportunists, and men and women willing to risk their lives to standing up for what is right. I hope to be remembered as one of the latter. 

Royalty Magazine: If you had a chance to appear in the BET Cypha, what artists would you team up with? What beat would you want to rock to?

Anthony J. ShearsIf I had a chance to appear in the BET Cypha, which in my heart I know I probably will one day, I would like to appear with Eminem, Mos Def, Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Andre 3000. These guys are some of my favorite writers and I would want to know for sure that I have what it takes to stack up against the best.  I would want to rock to either Notorious B.I.G.’s “Who Shot Ya” or Kanye West’s “Mercy”. These are two of my favorite beats of all time, and beats I know the rest of the Cypha would black out on.

Royalty Magazine:  Which era of music (past or present) has affected and/or has had the most impact on you as an artist?  What are some positive and negative changes that you have witnessed over the years in the world of hiphop?  If you could change one thing about the industry what would it be?  Where do you see hiphop going in the futu

Anthony J. ShearsI grew up during what I call the golden age of hip hop. Where my youngest brother has grown up listening to Soulja Boy, Whiz Khalifa and Chief Keef, I grew up during the era of LL Cool J, 2pac, DMX, Jay-Z, Outkast, and Lauren Hill back when she was still rapping. I also grew up listening to Kris Kross, Black Starr and Snoop Dogg, so I was getting a little bit of everything.  Songwriters who had the ability to touch your soul, and make music you could dance to have had the biggest impact on me as an artist. With Pac, you got records like “Brenda’s Got a Baby” “Keep Your Head up” and “California Love”.  With artist like Lauren Hill, you got “Fugee-La” and “Killing Me Softly”.  The market was just a more diverse place musically.  

This allowed me to expose myself to more potential influences, which in turn, made me a more complete writer and artists.  One of the biggest flaws in today’s industry is the lack of original content. I think it’s showing in record sales and show attendance.  There are so many artists coming out with the same types of songs. Fans are now much more likely to illegally download music because it doesn’t make any sense to keep purchasing the same song over and over again.  It’s crazy to think about CDs selling for $20 and movie tickets selling for $1.  The entire game has changed.  Now movies are $20 and music is $1.  I think people are seeking more from the artists they listen to.  I think a lot of these A&Rs, worried about paying mortgages and job safety, are pressed with shrinking budgets to follow certain trends that have proven successful for others rather than risking their jobs and livelihood on something unheard of before.  This doesn't leave a lot of room for artist development in the traditional sense.  Because these new songs are based on trends, when those trends are over so to is the artist’s career. Labels are now investing in singles, rather than in artists.

Royalty Magazine: Speaking of the industry, there is a lot of controversy behind Free Masons & artists being affiliated or products of the Illuminati?  How do you feel about this and do you believe that the Illuminati exists?
Anthony J. Shears: Well... I’ve heard bits and pieces about Freemasonry and the Illuminati.  It seems we’ve always had a fascination with secret societies, though it is my understanding the the Freemasons are more a society with secrets.  I don’t think I’m rich enough or important enough to have access to these organizations yet if they do exist. I’m sure there are rich and powerful people out there making global decisions somewhere.  My guess is as good as yours regarding their organization as one group.  I pray that if they are out there, they are listening to us. Sir Francis Bacon, who was a Freemason, wrote that “Silence is the virtue of fools”.  If this is true, we have done our part then. We are no longer silent.   

Royalty Magazine: Any last words, comments or shot outs? Anything you want to touch basis on that we haven't already?  Any misconceptions that you would like to clear up?

Anthony J. ShearsI would like to thank G-d for his continued blessings and love. I would like to shout out my SMG team, Shirin, Deveraux, Norris, Jay, Bernard, and Marcus. I want to send out an extra special shout out to my guardian angel, Shirin. No one has embraced me or believed in me the way she has since my Nana passed. I’m not the easiest guy to get along with.  Her patience, support, diligence is a testament to her character and the importance of the job we have undertaken.

I want to thank Seattle for continuing to support our music.  I want to thank Los Angeles for accepting us with open arms and giving us a new place to call home. We promise to keep making honest music. I also want to thank Royalty Magazine for the opportunity. There are fewer and fewer publications willing to do the hard interviews and ask the hard questions. 
As far as misconceptions go, this entire process of writing and recording Redemption has taught me a lot about myself and certain mistakes I have made. Most importantly, its taught me that most people lack the perspective to judge a man by anything more than the popular trends and sentiments of the day or by sins of his past.  I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt that I am utterly flawed. That I have made mistakes in my past, and will make more mistakes in the future. The one mistake I promise to never make is being dishonest in my music. You can always count on the fact that you will get all my heart and soul every time you hear a song from me.

Royalty Magazine: How can people keep up with you and/or check out your music? What sites or radio stations can people catch you on?

Anthony J. ShearsCheck out my music at:

For Sale on iTunes @

And on radio stations:

Kube 93.3
Wutz Hood Radio

Royalty Magazine: Much Love & Respect.  Thank you for your time!

Anthony J. Shears: Thank you.  The pleasure is all mine.

written by
TazDatMC for Royalty Magazine

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