Is uploading a few freestyle videos on Facebook all it takes for someone to be considered a legitimate rapper nowadays? Newcastle’s Simba Shore doesn’t think so. For a few years Simba has been popping up with videos on Facebook, spitting some bars, collecting a healthy 100+ likes and lots of positive feedback. But, he never really took it seriously.
That all changed in April 2019 when Simba stepped into the studio to create a full track. Simba first uploaded a 1 minute freestyle called “Exposing Me” to Facebook. Standard procedure, but this wasn’t a standard freestyle… and people quickly let the part-time spitter know. 100+ likes turned to 3.5k likes, “Exposing Me” was an online sensation. Simba quickly jumped in the studio to create a full version. The track’s hauntingly atmospheric beat clashing with Simba’s baritone delivery and mesmerising flow to create something that demands replays.
With the track gaining so much traction and attention from fans and industry types alike, it was time for this reluctantly gifted rapper to take things seriously. We sat down with Simba after his recent trip to London, having had meetings with some of the biggest record labels in the world, all off the back of this one track. Who the f**k is Simba Shore?
RIDE Music: How long have you been making music then?
Simba Shore: “Since I was 15. If you go on Soundcloud and type in Simba Shore, I brought out a track and It got like 20k listens when I was 15 and it’s still there. I’ve been doing little freestyles since then and I only started to take it seriously with ‘Exposing Me’ last year.”
RM: Is that the first time you thought ‘shit, this music thing could really work’?
SS: “Yeah, it was thinking what the fuck, where’s all this love coming from. I didn’t know anyone commenting, there was like 4K shares, it was just crazy. I’m not really that active on social media at all, so when I posted it I was thinking yeah, 100 likes or whatever.”
RM: Did you feel then like you’d found your sound with ‘Exposing Me’?
SS: “I don’t think so you know. I think it’s went too well too fast – do you know what I mean? It peaked too early and now I’m thinking shit I actually haven’t got my own sound. And now I’ve got to try and find myself while I’ve got my prime chance, which is so bad because I could absolutely fluff it.”
RM: What can you tell us about the ‘Exposing Me’ video dropping this month?
SS: “It was a mazza, mazzaline! It cost enough so you lot better enjoy it! You know, this stuff costs so much bro. You know what it is, it costs so much and someone could watch it for 10 seconds and go ‘meh, it’s alright’ and then click off it. You know what I mean? It’s all filmed around Newcastle, I wouldn’t do it anywhere else. The label were trying to say do it in London, I said no, it has to be in Newcastle.”
RM: You’ve had a few meetings down London recently with some big labels, record companies ect, ect, what can you tell us about that – how did it all go?
SS: “I can’t say the intricacies, ‘cause I signed stuff. But, I can say that I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. The crazy story I tell everyone is, I went to Warner and they took me down the stairs to the basement, to a place called ‘The Firepit’. Like fucking 007 bro, I swear to god. He put a code in to go through these vault doors, then you walk through and there’s like 20 studios all down the hallway. In each one there’s artists, I went in one of ‘em and I met Juice Menace. It was crazy, just like a sick artist in every one. Different level stuff.”
RM: How did these meetings even come about? There’s people in the region with two albums that haven’t got as far as you’ve got with one track.
SS: “Do you know what it is, I think it’s because people in the North East are too self contained. If anything, I wanna be the bridge in-between. Then everyone can just walk over me and go over – do you know what I mean? See if you look at Aitch bro, he’s still kinda Londony. I’m kinda Londony too, so they can take me in different. They can’t take in something that’s completely alien to them, you need that link. That’s what I could be. They just fuck with me, I don’t know man.”
RM: Have you experienced anything like that before then, in terms of being in studios of that quality?
SS: “The studio we’ve got here in Newcastle is amazing, but that was just on another level. What surprised me was, just how much they’re harvesting these artists. So they’re expecting like 1-2 songs a day, like you have to just go and make a song like no questions asked.”
RM: So, were you asked to sign anything like that?
SS: “Nah I’m not on that, but it was eye opening hearing that expectation. I was thinking I can’t even do one song in six months. I made ‘Exposing Me’ this time [January] last year , released it on Facebook in March, it was banging by June, by August released the full thing on Soundcloud. Then did the video in November. It’s only now we’re getting round to releasing the video. And to me, I’m such a perfectionist I just couldn’t do one song a day. I hate rushing things.”
RM: Do you feel confident when you step into the booth, does it come naturally to you?
SS: “Yeah, I mean I’m just telling you about my life. Every single bar on ‘Exposing Me’ was just my life at the time, bars about losing so much money I could have cried but I didn’t want to look back at it. Every single line you can pick it out, say it back to me and I can tell you a story behind it.”
RM: ‘Ducking and diving from girls at the club’, yeah?
SS: “Hahaha, that’s big facts! Johno can confirm it! It happens! 30th of January we’re doing it all over again at Jungle, House of Smith, for the ‘Exposing Me’ launch party!”
RM: Have you got any plans to get into the studio again soon?
SS: “I’ve set up a few studio sessions in February with a guy that worked with Fredo on ‘Netflix & Chill’, he’s called Kirk Beats, from Manchester. He’s sick, the third beat he ever made was that Fredo track.”
RM: So, have you got some sort of masterplan for 2020 or are you just taking things as they come?
SS: “I’m a strong believer in ‘if you fail to plan then you’re planning to fail’, so there is a masterplan. Last year there was no plan, now we’ve got one. There are targets and we’ve hit about half of them so far and the year hasn’t even really started… I’ve got more lined up. One of them is to do my first live performance, that’s getting hit at the end of the month. To release ‘Exposing Me’… yeah, every month there’s targets and success metrics to make sure we’re on track. If we can go above and beyond, even better.”
RM: You’ve touched on this a little before, but why do you think no-one has ‘made it’ out of the North East yet?
SS: “There are people who have made it, but I don’t think you’d know who they are because they work behind the scenes. Producers, mixing, songwriting, and these people are sick as well. I think these kinda people need to come out of the woodwork and tell the youths what’s really going on. ‘Cause they know the industry more than us. But I think the biggest thing, artist-wise, is relatability. The biggest scene is in London, and that’s where the biggest consumer market is. If they can’t relate to you, who is outside, you’re not gonna get in.”
Interview: Johno Ramsay // Photos: Matt Pearson