The Freedom of Music with Shle Berry
Making it off the sidelines isn’t easy, even J. Cole raps about wishing someone made guidelines. But, rapper Shle Berry has made her way from the background into the spotlight and did it without the toxic ego some artists may accumulate while trying to fight their way to the top.
“Every year has gotten more serious,” Shle says about her drive to become a successful rapper. “I genuinely, genuinely think about it every day.”
Music has been Shle’s gateway to freedom. She remembers heavily getting into rap when 50 Cent came on the scene, but it was Drake that solidified her love for the genre. Music gave her the platform to accept herself, especially around her peers.
Shle is an openly gay rapper, which isn’t common, especially in a heterosexual male-driven industry, but, honestly, none of that matters when you have talent.
“A lot of my insecurities came from men. You always feel like you have to prove something…It’s hard, dude” but she’s proven herself through her lyrics.
Shle says her success mainly comes from chasing her passion and not the money.
“I’m not looking to be rich, I’m looking to be great,” she said.” All the money is going to come later.”
Whenever Shle can’t write, she just takes a break. She puts on a few her favorite albums or watches a movie that inspires her to ease her mind.
People may look at Shle as an artist who has it all, but she said this success they may see “comes from a lot of fucking up.” Shle keeps going because she knows that are fuck ups don’t define us, if we don’t let them.
Shle played basketball for 12 years and spent three years at Alverno. During her senior year in college, her team lost by three points at their championship game. The way she felt that day, she promised herself to never let herself get that low, so she doesn’t take no for an answer because she’ll always find her way.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get over it,” she said about losing the game. “That burning sensation…I can’t feel this way again,” and that feeling eventually translated into her music.
To be a successful rapper it’s more than just making quality music. Shle said it’s about being marketable and you can’t just be anyone performing. Anyone can get on stage, but not everyone can command a stage and the crowd. Success also comes when people come out and support artists. Shle says support matters the most and that means more than just a retweet on Twitter.
Coming to shows matters as well, but so does making genuine connections. Social media has separated us, but music could be are way of coming back to one another. Shle said she wanted to get more involved in the scene so she went to shows and introduced herself to artists, photographers and DJs.
She didn’t go to these shows looking for anything in return, but she always left with more than she came in with.
“Networking is huge. It’s [about] meeting people and seeing where they’re at,” she said. “I wanted to understand the city more.”
According to Shle, we’re stronger together than we are apart.
Music has a way of taking us out of the real world and into a different realm where we’re able to express our true feelings and selves. Shle is a perfect example of what it means to grow into someone who no longer wants societal approval.
Shle understands who she is, so she no longer let’s others make her feel less then. She let the music take over her life and she’s never been happier.
“It’s freedom for me.”