Getting connected with ShiGGA Shay
“It's the power of the genre to tell stories and convey emotions”
Singapore’s ShiGGa Shay has quietly become one of the most connected dudes in Asian Hip Hop. He’s that plug who has links to the region. We’ve had our eyes on him for a while now, and whether it’s hitting number one on the Singapore chart, collaborating with Jay Park, or selling out his first NFT collection, this brother is always up to something – and it’s usually making noise.
Shig is already deep in the game, having started his career at age 16 and releasing his first mixtape, ShiGGa Shay’s in the Building, in 2010. Since then he’s just kept grinding, releasing hits in Mandarin, Hokkien, and English, all the while working with serious players around the region, like Taiwan’s E.So, Japan’s JP The Wavy, or Thailand’s F. Hero.
ShiGGa Shay may rep Singapore, but he’s one of the few Asian rappers who’s been outward-looking from day one. This kid is a hustler in the truest sense of the word and we are excited to finally sit down and chop it up with him.
What’s good, ShiG? Glad we finally got the chance to connect.
What’s good LiFTED Asia! Thanks for having me.
Bro, you were kinda like a child prodigy as a youth doing your music thing. How did it all start, and when did it shift into wanting to do Hip Hop?
My journey into music started when I was like nine. I was always passionate about music. I was in the Chinese Orchestra and then the Military Band. But I’ve always felt something for Hip-hop and Rap. I guess it's the power of the genre to tell stories and convey emotions. I remember my first time rapping on stage was when I was 14 in school. I fell in love with the art form and never stopped performing since.
You released your first mixtape in 2010. What was the Singapore Hip Hop scene like back then? Were there a lot of rappers in the Lion City?
The Singapore Hip-hop scene has always had plenty of talent, even back in 2010. There were a lot of rappers posting their music on Myspace. The B-Boy crew Radikal Forze had these dance battle events where rappers, DJs, and Graffiti artists would all gather to jam and celebrate Hip Hop. It was an amazing community.
What’s the significance of the capital G’s in your name?
It represents the crew that I co-founded in 2013 called Grizzle Grind.
Did you really perform at the White House in the US? How did that happen?
I performed at the afterparty of the White House State Dinner in Washington, DC in 2016. Kirk Wager, who was the former US Ambassador to Singapore, invited me to perform at the event. It was my first time performing in the States.
You dropped a lot of singles and mixtapes in the past decade, but your 2021 EP I AM U seems like the one that really got people open, with collabs from Jay Park and OZI on it. How did you hook that up, just by networking?
I met Jay Park back in 2015 in Singapore. We became friends and always kicked it whenever he came out to Singapore. He’s always shown a lot of love and I’ve always appreciated his genuine friendship. We only started to work together in 2019.
As for OZI, I met him through E.SO back in 2019. We were connected online previously but it was E.SO that introduced us in person. These collaborations were not really strategically planned, they just happened organically over time.
Since then you’ve been on a tear, and it feels like you’re one of the true ambassadors of Asian Hip Hop around the region. Where have you performed live so far?
I’ve performed in Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Saigon, and Singapore.
Which artists have been your favorites to work with so far? Why?
Jay Park and E.SO, collaborating in the studio with them always had a type of inspiring energy.
Please let our readers around the region know what new projects you are working on, and if you have plans to tour in 2024.
I’m working on plenty of new music, and I can’t wait to share it all with you guys. I’m definitely planning to tour in 2024, so I hope to see all you readers of LiFTED in person at a show.