I waited in anticipation for my interview with Shanell. I couldn’t wait to get in touch with her. I had so many questions like, what was going on with Young Money? Did she love weed as much as I do? I couldn’t wait to get started, but when we finally connected, it felt more like […]
I waited in anticipation for my interview with Shanell. I couldn’t wait to get in touch with her. I had so many questions like, what was going on with Young Money? Did she love weed as much as I do? I couldn’t wait to get started, but when we finally connected, it felt more like catching up on old times and almost as if we hadn’t missed a beat. I did manage to get some answers to the questions about the mystery woman with the nose ring attached to her earring.
Modest: Hello, Shanell. Thank you for taking the time to sit with Vegas Cannabis Magazine.
Shanell: So, weed is legal here? You can just smoke wherever you want?
Modest: Yes, cannabis use is legal in Vegas but we can’t really smoke in public or while we are driving. It’s pretty much up to the police officer, if they catch you. It’s pretty kool, though. There’s a whole “cannabis culture”, here. So, I know your name is Shanell Lynn but what does “SNL” stand for? Shanell: When I first started the mainstream portion of my career (I’ve always been an artist, I’ve been known in the industry for writing records, creating choreography and forming careers) when my name first started getting out there and in a bigger light, there were a lot of rumors. I hated rumors and the people talking shit.
When you see your picture on the biggest blog site, people just have so many negative things to say. I’m just like, why is everybody focused on a vein in my forehead or what I have on? People were asking who I was sleeping with and I just wanted them to shut up and listen. So, SNL stands for Shutup N Listen.
Modest: Didn’t you have a song or a mixtape called “Shut up and Listen”?
Shanell: Yea and when I put out my mixtape, “Shut up And Listen”, the main rumor was that I was pregnant. So, I made the mixtape cover a baby carriage…
Modest: (laughs) Shanell: … because music is my baby. I create this every day. These are my offspring. My songs are my offspring. I made a baby carriage and put a bunch of CDs in there with headphones. That was my first release of a full project.
Modest: I love that. I looked you up online and I found a lot of “Gypsies”. Is that your team? Kinda like Beyoncé’s Beyhive?
Shanell: Mmm Hmm. I have my “Gypsies”.
Modest: How did you get the nickname, “Gypsy”? Did it come from moving around?
Shanell: Before music, I was traveling as a dancer and literally, since high school, I’ve been on the road my entire life. I felt like I was learning so much more than my peers and friends. Once you see parts of the world and you learn things, your tastebuds change. My taste for music changed. I started to expand. There were a lot of things that I felt like people didn’t get. Gypsies have a bad reputation but they’re not really bad people. I feel like they’re just misunderstood. I felt like the chain from my nose to my ear, my sensual mystique, mysteriousness and the word “gypsy” just went together so well. I was just like, “I’m a fucking gypsy.”
Modest: I always felt you being referred to as a gypsy had to do with you being a nomad. I also see it in your style. How do you express your “Gypsy” moniker, through fashion?
Shanell: I’m a mash-up. I would wear a chain from my nose to my ear. That’s just something I feel like I relate to, from Indian culture. I was still a whole (nga) at the same time, so I would rock some bamboo earrings, 6 inch heels (back to Springfield, Massachusetts) with the designs and shit on them. I would have a torn up, ripped up t-shirt (because I love Rock and Roll) and some baggy ass sweatpants.
Modest: How do those “Gypsies” make you feel? What’s it like having their support? How does that push you? I see them online blogging about you. Your “Gypsies” love you. I’m just letting you know…
Shanell: What I learned about myself was that the types of people I was attracting were based on what I was putting out there. I love the girls/the people I’m attracting, period. I’m attracting deeper thinkers. When I went on tour, I created a contest where I met a “gypsy” in every city. I would say, “Whoever is the first person who can tell me the best restaurant in the city, I will take you out to eat, before the show.” So, I was meeting a lot of these people who were “just names online”.
Modest: That is so cool.
Shanell: It was all girls who either didn’t have a lot of friends or they were really close with their mothers. Some of them were studying science but they weren’t saying that they wanted to be artists or entertainers. They weren’t regular kids. They were more. They were different than who I was as an entertainer but more like me on the inside. I’m friends with a good handful of them to this day. Some of them were in ninth grade when I met them and I’m still communicating with them, now that they’ve gone to college and moved on to their careers. I think it’s so kool that I got to help them through their transition in life.
I remember first getting on Twitter and realizing how powerful my voice was. I took note of how many different kinds of people are in the world and who I was talking to. I was talking to thousands of people, from 12 year olds to 45 year olds, all in the same conversation. That’s wild to me. I was able to find my audience through that. I didn’t tell them to name themselves “Gypsy Florida”, “Gypsy NY”, etc.
When I realized that I was talking my grown up shit and 12 year olds were listening, I was thinking, “I would not be saying the same things if I knew you were listening.”
I also have my grown women whom relate to the things I’m going through. So, I had to find a way to let people know to be themselves and to let these 12 year olds know that they can’t be 24 until they get there. I feel like God showed me that I’m a leader.
Modest: I could definitely see how much you inspired people, when I Googled you.
Shanell: I know. On the flip side, I get people telling me to take my nose ring out and asking, “Why are your nails are so long?” or “What are you wearing?” I think that’s why I attract the ones I attract. We are all individuals. These individuals are knowing that I’m going to stand up for us. We are going to do whatever we want to do. If we want to wear polka dots with stripes, we want to do that. I was there to say it’s ok and fuck what people say.
Modest: I love that you’re just you. You seem to live with purpose. Is purpose important to you?
Shanell: Purpose, health and just being. I just did 20 days of all fruits and vegetables. Raw diet. Dr. Sebi style and all that. The closer we can get to starving these cancer cells… because everything is killing us… We have to find a way to get less of that shit. As I got closer to the end of my thirty days. I was looking for recipes for vegetables, sauces and purees. It was hard because everything had to be cold.
Modest: The way you’re living, a purposeful, healthy lifestyle, falls right in line with the cannabis culture. Peace, love, health and green. Do you love cannabis as much as I do?
Shanell: I don’t really smoke as much weed as the other girls in my group. I definitely work better with Sativa weed. I only know this because I was in LA, at this 2 Chainz party and they were giving away little joints. They had different kinds. So, this one was sativa and I was able to do that. I felt relaxed. My heart didn’t feel like it was pounding out of my chest. I didn’t start questioning whether people were talking about me.
Modest: Okay, so we are kind of opposites, in this case. When I smoke sativa, if I’m home, I can clean the house. If I’m away from home I have to get to my kids ASAP because I start thinking very deeply about life and what’s important. I start getting real deep.
Shanell: I would probably do the same thing. My boyfriend smokes. I’ve been cutting back on cigarettes and I’d like to cut them out, completely. I’d like to be able to smoke weed. I feel like I’ve been smoking cigarettes forever. I was thinking, “If I could smoke some weed at night time, so I can sleep” So, I’m starting to play with sativa at home.
Modest: You can go to sleep after smoking sativa? Sativa makes me hype.
Shanell: I can go to sleep but I don’t have that super… Indica knocks me out! Dudes like that…
Modest: Yea, because you’re so relaxed and you don’t care about a ting.
Shanell: That’s why they like the Xanax and promethazine, the sleepy shit. Why would they want to do that?
Modest: They are probably trying to be up all day and night. When they finally get home, they want to wind down. They really have to take it easy with that up and down. Do you feel like weed makes friends? When people go off and bond and smoke together, do you ever feel left out?
Shanell: Definitely. Because I’ve been a part of Young Money, people just swear that I smoke like that.
Modest: (laughs) That makes sense. I would’ve sworn you were a stoner, too.
Shanell: Right. So, if a blunt gets lit in the room, I watch what happens. It goes around and then somebody passes it to me and if I don’t hit it, everyone is like, “what?!” and I’m like, “I’ll have a jack and coke.” So, yea, it’s a shocker all the time.
Modest: Well, what inspired you to write the song “High for the First Time”?
Shanell: This was when I was really in my girly girl mode and there was somebody that I liked. I wanted to share time and the kinds of things that he did with him. I’m all, “You smoke? Okay. Let me hit it. Go ahead. Roll it up.” When I tell you, I damn near… I was on the floor, laid out. I was like, “my heart… is beating so fucking fast. Where am I? What’s going on?” He was like, “Don’t ever hit this weed again”.
Modest: (laughing) He must’ve had some good shit. Shanell: He did but I wanted to do something for him. He would come to these weird, eclectic shows with me and I really appreciated that so I was like, “I can smoke with you and it will be just with you.” He ended up being like, “Nah, never mind. I don’t even like how you look on this shit.”
Modest: (laughing) So, were you high when you wrote “High for the First Time.” Shanell: I wasn’t. I actually reflected back. When I heard the music it was so floaty and mysterious. I couldn’t be like, (rapping) “Back here smokin on an L…” but I could say, “I got high for the first time and I was high as hell.”
Modest: Do you feel like the high you were talking about was more of a love high? A sex, like erotic high? Passion? Pheromones? Shanell: I point to that. It’s a metaphor. The kind of writer I am, I’m really big on metaphors, really good writing and music that’s timeless. It’s a safe song because I can experience this with my smokers, then I can experience it with those who want to relate my song to a relationship that makes them feel as high as a kite, when they first hang out with that person.
The other day I did a show in Arkansas. I was super excited about it. I had my show all put together. I get there and meet the promoters and they’re like, “Okay, so this show is for Opioid awareness. We have a really huge problem here, in Arkansas, with Opioid abuse. I’m like, “I have a song that I might not be able to perform.” It’s called “High for the First Time.” They were like, “Well, what is it talking about?” I told them it was about smoking weed and I told them it was kind of metaphoric. To be safe, I didn’t do the record.
Modest: Hey, we know some people who have worked with CBD and THC to get off of opioids. Shanell: I would love more information about that. As an artist, seeing how much influence we have on the children. Like, whatever we say, these kids are gonna do. I feel like our parents had more influence on us, whereas to these children, the entertainers are the parents. I will get some info from you so I can school my mom first, especially on CBD.
Modest: I got you. Are you still signed to Young Money? Shanell: I’m always going to be Young Money. For life. We are a group of creative friends who gained so much power. Wayne (Lil’ Wayne) and I talked and he just wants me to do well. He’s focused on what he’s doing next. So, instead of “waiting” on Wayne, I’ve been branching off to do my own thing. Coming out of Young Money, I realized how much I was helping to support Wayne’s work and putting my own dreams on the back burner. We will always be family, though. Don’t be surprised if you see him listed as the executive producer on my next album.
It’s kind of like I’m taking a page out of the Young Money book, with my Project Girls Club. The Girls Club is a collab with super dope women who want to go to the next level. My sister, D. Woods of Danity Kane, is part of Project Girls Club. She’s my real sister, blood sister and she reached great heights going double platinum, as part of Danity Kane. She’s currently working in music, film and television. Mika Means is a super dope writer who wrote “Juicy Booty” for Chris Brown (featuring R. Kelly), amongst other hit songs for mainstream artists. She’s going to be great. I believe in these women. The common denominator is that these women aren’t going the direction that the industry is trying to force women. We don’t have to be strippers to make money. We want to show women having fun instead of being half-naked, ratchet and fighting each other. The name comes from the Girls Club we grew up attending. I learned so much at the Girls Club. That’s where I learned to dance. Project Girls Club will go on tour and speak to girls at schools and community centers, like the “Family Center” we grew up in.
Modest: I remember those days. Shanell: Project Girls Club hosted a 420 Smoke & Stroke in Atlanta. Everyone smoked on the rooftop. For $10 we gave them an easel, canvas and paints. Super fun way to tap into creativity, smoke, mix and mingle. Aside from 420 day, we were also celebrating women and their ventures. The concentration was women we support and the men who support us. There are women who are part of the Girls Club but aren’t artists. One woman is a canna chef who makes all different types of cannabis infused treats.
Modest: Yum! I would totally love that! Let’s plan another one, ASAP! Please provide us with all social media and booking information so we can stay in touch. Shanell: IamShanell.com @projectgirlsclub and @shanellyoungmoney on Instagram. Don’t forget to check out the “Nobody’s Bitch” merch on Facebook.
Modest: What’s with Nobody’s bitch? Is that because people were saying you were Lil’ Wayne’s bitch? Shanell: Yes. Lil’ Wayne’s bitch. Every kind of bitch. I was on a team full of men, and women were always bitches. I was like, “Wait a minute, I’m Nobody’s bitch!” I put out a mixtape called “Nobody’s Bitch” and the merchandise followed.
I remember putting “Nobody’s Bitch” stickers all over my suitcase and feeling embarrassed when a little old lady checked my luggage, at the airport. I ended up giving her a sticker after she exclaimed, “Yes, girl! I feel you!”
I’m like, “You like it? You want a sticker?”
I’m not for the calling me a bitch, shit. Call me something better. You don’t have to call me “Queen” but don’t disrespect me. It’s not cute and young girls need to not be okay with this.
Modest: I’m with you. I will definitely grab a “Nobody’s Bitch” hoodie. Thank you so much, Queen. I love your vision and the steps you make toward positive change. You have such a beautiful life and bright future. We will get back in touch with you and the Girls Club soon.