Posted On 13 Nov 2014
Missy Elliott’s protege Sharaya J will be the next femcee to rule hip-hop. As a rapper, dancer and fashionista she takes pride on standing out from the crowd and her music reflects that. With her Banji movement, she’s making sure when you rock with her you’re being authentic and never jeopardizing your individuality.
Learn more about this promising rapper in the following interview:
Since your father was a member of the 90’s hip hop group, Double X Posse, you must have always been surrounded by music. How do you that upbringing affected you as a performer?
I would definitely say growing up in a musical home had an affect on me as a performer. There was always some form of music circulating thru the house so it really became second nature to me. I remember the cyphers in my living room, and my pops locking himself in the bathroom for hours to write, my mom blasting Aretha and Sam Cook while I ran around the house dancing, singing and writing raps. I think that genuine connection and love for music makes me an authentic performer.
Can you remember the moment that you decided you wanted to make music for a living?
I don’t think there was ever a deciding moment to do music for a living because it’s always been apart of my life.
How do you think your career in the dance world and working with artists like Diddy, Rihanna, Alicia Keys and more helped prepare you for a solo career?
I definitely think my career as a dancer made me a better solo performer. I would say my experience on stage made the transition easier.
How did you get connected with Missy Elliot? How has that relationship been?
Missy and I met thru a mutual friend at a gathering. She asked if I was an artist and once I told her yes, she offered to take me under her wing and mentor me because she thought I had something special. First, I gagged (lol) and then I took her up on the offer! But from the door she let me know it was gonna be hard work, and she was gonna push to make me GREAT… Booooooy she wasn’t lying.( lol) I always say God was looking out for me by putting me with Missy. She really has been a outstanding boss, mentor, and friend.
You just released the single and video for your song, “Takin It No More/Shut It Down”. What does that feel like?
I feel BLESSED. It’s feels beyond Great. I’m very proud of that piece of work and excited for the world to see what else I been cookin’ up.
Let’s talk about the music video for your song, “Takin It No More/Shut It Down”.
I wrote the treatment for the video, Missy directed it, and myself along with Tricia Miranda choreographed it. I was inspired by the film, Lil Shop of Horrors and Janet Jackson’s “Alright” video.
BANJI is an acronym for Be Authentic Never Jeopardize Individuality. It came about after some record execs told me that I had star power BUT I was going to have to change my whole image if I wanted a career in this business. Of course I disagreed with that because I didn’t want to just fit in, I wanted to be me, an individual. That day the Banji Movement was birthed and we been rockin’ ever since then.
What was it like working with Faith Evans and Missy Elliot for the song, “I Deserve It”?
Working with Missy and Faith was like a dream come true! Two legendary artists that I use to watch on TV actually trusting and respecting me enough to let me rock with them… It was epic!
Thus far, what’s a favorite memory or something quirky that’s taken place with you and your band (in-studio, onstage, or elsewhere)?
Me and my Banji Team are all clowns so we are always joking around. There are always funny or memorable moments happening! Oh man the freestyle sessions are insaane!
More times than not, influences tend to bleed through. What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
I’m still heavily inspired by groups from the 90’s. Missy still inspires me, TLC, Lil Kim, Aaliyah, Onyx and Wu-Tang still got my ears!
Biggie and Janet Jackson because they are both PERFECT.(lol) My two faves!
What do you think of the other female rappers out there today? Is there anyone who you truly look up and are inspired by?
I always show love and mad respect for all the femcees out here! Being in this business is hard work especially as a female so I say SALUTE! As for me, I spend most of my time focused on making sure I’m on point so my fans won’t ever be disappointed.
Is there anything in particular that you’d like people to take away from listening to your music?
I want them to be inspired by it. I want them to have fun, dance and feel good!!!! I put my entire self in my work so I hope that shines thru!