Anthony Shears
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Anthony Shears


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The best kept secret in music


"The Growth: My ENDtroduction"

October 2006
The Growth: My ENDtroduction
By Bayer L. Mack

I’m sitting in a parking lot trying to make sense of the scribbled notes in my lap. They’re from an interview I did earlier with some “new” artist from the Shears Music Group. It’s one of those interviews you do for a “friend” in order to get a big favor later. Don’t get me wrong; he was a real cool brotha. Our conversation was broad. It shifted from his desire to be recognized outside Seattle, to his views on Hip Hop, and “all this talk of the streets.” As I sift through the chicken scratch, a song begins playing in the stereo. Instinctively, I begin to nod to the track’s infectious hook and hard driving beat. I like it. Then it dawns on me. The song that was playing is by this same guy. I think to myself, “This could be big.”
That was August 22, 2004. The song was “U Can’t Hurt Me Anymore.” The artist was Anthony Shears. The rest is history.
Six months, four days and over 5,000 mixtapes later, the self-proclaimed “Artist’s Artist” is calling again, only now he’s getting the acceptance and recognition he desires. However, true to the immortal words of the Notorious B.I.G., mo’ money brings mo’ problems, jealousy and envy. In October of this year, Shears found himself in the middle of a conflict with people he once considered friends. It was during this time that another Seattle rapper (who will not be mentioned by name in this article) reportedly began “bad mouthing” him over his claims to be “that dude” around their way. In Seattle this launched a much-publicized feud that has yet to be officially squashed.
Still, through it all Anthony Shears has been hustling. The entrepreneur continued to record new material and release hit single after hit single. That’s what you call being on the grind. The saga will continue in late March with the release of The Growth Mixtape: My ENDtroduction, Anthony’s much-anticipated follow up to Welcome 2 Seattle. Haters better mark that date on their calendar because the Shears Music Group is coming for that a**.
Okay, let’s get these hardball questions out of the way first. You’re beef with certain people has been well publicized in Seattle earlier this year. What’s the current situation?
You tell me (laughing). You keep up with that stuff, not me. I’m enjoying myself right now man. I heard their little tape. I thought it was cute. Niggas know where to find me though if it’s really an issue. Do you feel like people intentionally try to come at you sideways to start something?
I think it’s about insecurity and a need for attention – part of it’s also about trying to portray an image. These dudes aren’t really involved in the streets. Most of these dudes know me from back before music. They know I’m not putting street shit on tapes. I mean really, who gets on tape while there are still investigations pending? That’s not gangster. They also know if they say something about me, and I really have a problem with it, I’ll make sure they feel it. I’m not really into saying names, so if they’re looking for free publicity, they’re barking up the wrong tree. Why did their comments get you so upset?
I mean… these guys were supposed to be my dudes. I know these cats personally. I leave for a while, come back, and now they’re supposed to be some real street characters? If they’re really in streets, I don’t understand why they waited until I left to speak on me and my guy (Phonetic). I had just run into these guys, and they were approaching me on some “Seattle-should-stick-together” shit, asking to do a song together. It’s all a publicity stunt. Real talk, I don’t need beef to move units no disrespect to 50 cent. Besides, if it were really a problem, why put it on tape? Well, you dropped a lethal response on them so hopefully it’s water under the bridge. Let’s switch gears. What’s on the horizon for the Shears Music Group?
First, let me clear that up (laughing), I didn’t drop a response on them. I didn’t mention any names on the tape. These dudes aren’t even on my radar. It’s not beef. If it were, it wouldn’t be on tape. Their comparisons are petty to me. They ATTEMPT to make rap music. SMG makes life music. It’s not an issue for me right now. I guess that could change at any point though (laughing).
As far as the Shears Music Group - We’re looking forward to the release of The Growth. We’re also looking into expanding our artist roster. We’re coming out with a new line of SMG Clothing again too. Phonetic felt like it was his time to do his fashion thing so we’re adding “Verbal” Fashions to the mix. When did you record The Growth Mixtape?
Yesterday (laughing). It was a few months ago. We knocked it out in about 8 hours. I had a lot of time to think with having been away, so I went in real prepared. I had so much to say. The challenge this time was trying to fit it all in without over killing it.
Sixshot.c -

"Hip hop virtuoso Shears '06 to release latest album in March"

Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Dartmouth College Paper-
Hip hop virtuoso Shears '06 to release latest album in March
By Meredith Fraser

Anthony Shears seems like the average Dartmouth junior: he wears a giant jacket, wool cap, backpack and carries his laptop under one arm. But when he opens up his iTunes, it's not just famous artists' music -- Shears' own rhythms and harmonies flow out.
Few are aware of the soft-spoken Shears' talent, maybe because he exudes modesty and graciousness that one does not usually associate with hip-hop artists. He has released several records and is known as a rising star in the underground rap scene. His newest album, "The Growth," is scheduled to hit stores in late-March.
Although he recently transferred from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Shears hails originally from Seattle. He came to Dartmouth for the New England college experience as well as the Economics program. He makes the ten-hour trip home approximately eight times per term to work on his music with collaborator Zack Gannes, a.k.a. DJ Phonetic.
Influenced by family and a natural drive for music, Shears began writing songs and producing recordings at age nine. Music came naturally to Shears, who grew up listening to Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G. and L.L. Cool J. The L.L. Cool J. single, "Can't Live Without My Radio," inspired a young Shears to follow his love for making music.
"I was always encouraged by my mom and family to try stuff out … I could always rely on their support and approval," said Shears.
His hometown of Seattle -- which gave rise to music greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain and other innovators -- influenced Shears's interest. In eighth grade, Shears won a national K-Swiss music contest, collecting $450,000 for his school and more for his own musical endeavors.
By tenth grade Shears's fascination with the music business blossomed and he formed the Shears Music Group, a company to finance his music. Shears wrote lyrics and performed them, backed by the music of DJ Phonetic. The combination of Shears' hip-hop lyrics and Phonetic's rock-heavy piano and guitar background tracks create a truly original beat. Phonetic brought samples into the mix to add a whole new dimension to the pair's rhythms.
While Shears spits lyrics reminiscent of L.L. Cool J or Jay-Z, the music is a hip-hop base with hints of Nirvana and Hendrix. Original, catchy and hard to categorize, it's so professionally done it's hard to believe two full-time college juniors are wholly responsible for it.
"Essentially, for me it's not about putting my music into a box. Hardcore rap, gangster rap, pop rap, commercial … whatever. I'm not into that. I make music. I try to make music that everyone can relate to, even if you haven't had the same experiences," said Shears about his music's style.
Even with DJ Phonetic at Western Washington University and Shears at Dartmouth, the pair's collaboration remains strong. Their recent collaborative effort, "Welcome 2 Seattle," has sold well under an independent label, mostly due to underground buzz and a strong Seattle fan-base. Performing at a Seattle youth center called "The Mission" and at colleges such as Bryn Mawr has only strengthened their following. Shows at Smith and Dartmouth are in the near future.

With his quiet personality, it is easy to sense Shears' discomfort at the prospect of performing live. He admits he is more of an in-studio type of musician; however, he is willing to perform, if only to broaden his audience.
"We want to spread our music like rock groups used to do it -- build a fan base and then gradually make it big; not like the big acts do it now, with just one big song and then they're huge for a short while. We want to be working for awhile," said Shears.
With his obvious talent and already impressive resume, it is dumbfounding how mellow and modest Shears appears in person. While praising his collaborators and influences, he plays down his own image with humility.
However, finishing their newest album "The Growth" has been a tumultuous process for Shears and Phonetic.
"Basically, the 'Growth Mixtape' is a soundtrack to the last nine months of my life. I've had a lot of stuff happen … some stuff I don't talk about, but I did do a lot of venting on this project. This mixtape is about growing up, which over the last eight to nine months, I did a lot of," said Shears.
By March, "The Growth" should be readily available to the public. Lead by the single "Mea Culpa," it promises to bring Shears and Phonetic to a new level of fame. Guest vocalists, guitarists and other musicians grace the songs written by Shears and mixed by DJ Phonetic. The project is immensely important to Shears, who has dedicated the recording to his late father, who passed away during its recording.
"Everybody hurts, everybody cries. I don't use a stage name, because I'm speaking to my audience - Dartmouth College Paper - The D

"Anthony Shears: Hooked on phonetic"

Chaim Eliyah - Staff Writer

Local and national hip hop artist Anthony Shears was at Shoreline Community College Thursday for an interview. Shears has been working to promote his latest CD, “Welcome to Seattle,” which was completed two years ago. The CD, Shears said, was completed in a fragmented fashion, song by song – as if each song were its own project.

Originally from Brooklyn, Shears is personable and down-to-earth with a great sense of humor. He is well dressed and has an amazing passion for life and his work through music. He showed up to the interview looking clean cut yet casual, and he showed me his Star of David after seeing the one that I always wear, indicating a part of his diverse cultural background.

Shears’ music is reminiscent of his influences – Jay Z, LL Cool J, Tupac, Biggie, Jada Kiss, T.I., Little Wayne, Ray Charles, and Michael Jackson, as well as old Motown influences. They can all be heard on the album. Shears and long-time friend and high-school companion D.J. Phonetic take an eclectic approach to their music, often inserting diverse quotes where you might not expect them and ending flows abruptly as soon as a point has been made. Phonetic makes his own beats. Shears described Phonetic as a multi-talented character who plays guitar, violin, bass, piano, and possibly a couple of other instruments. He’s not like your average, run-of-the-mill D.J said Shears. Phonetic will sit for hours to perfect a beat, with an ear to the melody and harmony, and really knows how to cater beats to feeling. “If he’s depressed, the beats will sound depressing. When he’s happy, the music is uplifting,” said Shears. Phonetic also produces the albums.

Shears wanted a distinct sound for his music that would rival the genius of other Seattle artists in the past such as Quincy Jones, Kenny G, the distinctive grunge-movement artists, and others. With that idea in mind, Shears recorded “Welcome to Seattle” and then went to the east coast to demonstrate the CD. The response from Atlanta was, “like, wow, hot,” said Shears, and he had a chance to play with Jada Kiss and Fabolous at Homecoming. Shears also quickly procured radio-play status in New Hampshire, Boston, and New York and performed live at a variety of venues.

“It’s real music,” said Shears, indicating the quality of his music in comparison to what he believes is a very emotionally lacking hip-hop scene. “The songs are a glimpse into my diary. People that aren’t feeling [the music] can hurt [me] for that reason, but that’s the yin and the yang of producing great music,” he said. “When you’re writing a song you’re trying to capture an emotion. I make music I feel and it markets itself. There’s no question of credibility. That’s what makes a two-year-old project still relevant today – everybody’s dealt with being hungry and alone, and [they’ve also felt] the sun shining. I don’t just want all the little thugs at the shows. I want to see everybody there, I think there’s something for everyone.”

Shears’ lyrics are indeed diverse and hard-hitting. Not only does he have a mind for what music fans might identify with, such as infectious clauses and pop-musical references, but he has an eye for what is going on socially within major urban areas. “Even Harlem is gentrified now,” he said of New York, showing a sociological prowess many youth don’t possess. “I grew up when Jane’s addiction wasn’t no rock band,” says Shears lyrically in a song, “but who’s to blame Jane for putting that needle in her vein, when she herself came out the womb addicted to cocaine?”

Look for posters of Anthony Shears’ upcoming show on campus in mid-November. He will also be playing locally Dec. 3 at the Recreational Center in Shoreline.
- Shoreline Community College Paper – Ebbtide A&E

"Seattle--born MC returns to the UW"

Seattle--born MC returns to the UW
Jacob Casey / Contributing writer

With more bombast than Blue Scholars, and a considerable amount more savoir-faire than Sir Mix-a-Lot, Anthony Shears, a recent transfer to the UW and a Seattle native, is an MC whose talent compares with Seattle's best. His music has been played on KUBE 93.3, and he has played shows across the country and in Europe. In person, Shears is an unassuming UW senior whose reserved smile and easy confidence belies the experience of an explosive and seasoned MC.

Shears' life has been full of hardship -- sincerity and pain are evident in Shears' earnest rhymes in his latest mixtape The Growth. He said the title is meant to reflect his growth as a result of the experiences and difficulties he's faced since his last release, including the death of his father. The as yet unreleased mixtape includes a catchy sample from Maroon 5, as well more traditional rap tracks.

Shears transferred to the UW winter quarter from Dartmouth College for family reasons. He is now an economics major in his senior year. Shears, who has lived in Yesler Terrace public housing, is an outstanding student, said Darlene Shears, his mother.

At times he can channel a young Jay-Z, both in sound and vocal ability. Though his outward calm mirrors that of a Shaolin monk of the Wu-Tang clan, his attack on the mic can be equally fierce. Producer Zach Gannis (DJ Phonetic) backs up Shears' rhymes with original beats, samplings of Motown classics and beats borrowed from East Coast rap outfits such as Dipset. Shears said Gannis is looking at transferring from Western Washington University to the UW in the spring in order to help Shears' musical efforts.

"My main concerns," DJ Phonetic says, "are the aesthetics and feel of the music. Shears will come and put the meaning behind the music." Shears describes his working relationship with DJ Phonetic. "DJ Phonetic is really into it, and I think it's a good balance. He's yin, I'm the yang. He's totally from rock, but he loves hip-hop," Shears said.

The new mixtape's centerpiece is Shears' "Mea Culpa," featuring a mournful Marvin Gaye sample. Shears plans to release the album Feb. 17 -- his brother's birthday.

Shears said he is proud to be reunited with his brother, Norris Frederick, a track scholarship athlete at the UW. "I'm his biggest fan, he's my biggest fan. We've always been best friends," said Shears. "That's been the hardest part about being away; not being able to go to all his games." Frederick holds his brother in the same high esteem. "His music is very inspirational," Frederick, said of his brother, "It has a lot of meaning and feeling behind it." Shears is considering recording a song about UW athletics in honor of his brother and the school.

Even without the issue of his much-anticipated mixtape The Growth, Shears has a well-established repertoire. His first mixtape, Welcome2Seattle, was released two years ago and has gone on to sell impressively, according to Shears.

Much of the message in Shears' music is about Shears' own personal life path, which has been a long a circuitous road that now finds the Seattle native at the UW -- a decision he doesn't regret.

"I originally started off about to go to the University of Washington, but I felt like I needed to get out," explained Shears. "I've traveled the world twice now, so I feel like coming back home, I'm ready now."
He attended Nathan Hale High School in Seattle. Despite being expelled once during his sophomore year, he was featured on the cover of The Sunday Seattle Times at his graduation for his academic accomplishments, the first person of color to achieve that honor.

Shears moved on to Morehouse College, an all black all-male college. He left the school during his sophomore year after applying and being accepted to Dartmouth on a full-ride scholarship.
"The world is not all black males, and I wanted to expose myself to the wealth and old boy networks I had heard about."

Shears said he found time while he was at Dartmouth to tour the college circuit on the East Coast to promote his music. He says he gained a lot of performance experience and learned to play up rivalries between universities. "At a Bryn Mawr show I started off with something about Smith, and at a Smith show I started off with something about Bryn Mawr. Both crowds were automatically psyched."

Despite spending so much time away, Shears has remained true to form as a Seattle-born MC.
"I've definitely held Seattle down everywhere I go from New York to Poland," said Shears. In his time at Dartmouth, Shears went on a trip to Europe to restore Jewish cemeteries. He took the opportunity to perform in Belarus and Poland. "There's not a whole lot of hip-hop in Eastern Europe, there's not a whole lot of black people period, so it's kind of like being an alien just walking around Belarus, but people were really receptive to it." He rocked a crowd of Polish teenager - University of Washington Paper – The Daily


Resume: Mixtape Millennium Series Vol. 1 & 2, Midas: Gold & Platinum Touch, Back From the Dead Mixtape, Welcome 2 Seattle, Young Kush Presents… Justice Works


Feeling a bit camera shy


Name: Anthony Shears

Birthplace/Residence: Seattle, WA

Age: 21

Musical Inspirations/Influences: Andre (Outkast), L.L. Cool J, Tupac, Biggie, Nas, Jay Z, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Jimi Hendrix, Tom Delonge, Radiohead, Rivers Cuomo, E-40, D.J. QUIK, Scarface, T.I., Jadakiss

The 411:

If there's one edge the Shears Music Group has over all other Seattle Hip Hop, it's their marquee player, Anthony Shears. His incalculable innovation and creativity make for an awesome musical experience... Sheezy the playboy, Anthony the workhorse, Mr. Shears the company head... many personalities, One Man. There's no doubt this kid wants the throne. What distinguishes Anthony, the newest star to rise from Seattle’s Hip Hop scene is his unique approach to tackling real life issues, while offering the youthful bravado and street sensibility that characterize urban black life. Shears neither boastfully brags about his troublesome days, nor does he dogmatically preach at his listeners while lecturing them to live righteously. Instead, his lyrics are laced with ghetto-weary “been there, done that” sentiment that implies there is life beyond the block. Call him whatever you’d like, but Shears takes pride in being “every hood niggas hope.” He’s a living testimonial that even with the odds stacked against you, with the right mind frame and determination, anything is possible.

Shears has been slowly building up a reputation of innovation and originality. Welcome 2 Seattle is an appetizer for what’s to come. It has d.j. Phonetic exclusives like 'Old Cliché' and 'U Can't Hurt Me Anymore', previously slept-on tracks, throwback and newly dipped freestyles and remixes interspersed with Anthony’s Lebron-like youth and finesse. The freestyles are hot little diatribes setting the stage for what many consider the future of Seattle Hip Hop... "Be careful with that nonsense Mr…/I carry a chip bigger than three Shaquile O'Neal's and the Suge Knight nigga." On one of the last tracks Shears rhymes, "Damn, I'm so stylish/Please! I murder tracks like a Compton hair stylist/…I burn it down like Waco/I came for the cake though/I'm David Koresh/Nigga, I'm so Fresh." Lyrically, there aren’t many MC’s who can match Anthony’s dexterity, versatility, and ability to articulate everyday scenarios with such insight and understanding.

“Niggas feel the music because it’s real shit that happens everyday in the streets. With me, if it’s in a song, it really happened. Period,” Shears says. “But at the same time, it’s a different look at what’s going on. It’s not just guns, drugs, and words matching for the sake of rapping street shit. I tackle issues that niggas really grapple with. Real recognizes real. I guess that’s why everybody from Ivy League students to niggas doing twenty-five-to-life feel my songs.”

With the new project near completion, you can feel the anticipation building. My ENDtroduction is about growth, about growing as a person. Phonetic has grown musically, and I’ve grown as an artist” Shears says. “We believe in our hearts the Shears Music Group is a movement. For us, The Growth symbolizes the beginning of a movement. The music we make isn’t just music, it’s a lifestyle. On the flipside, the ENDtroduction also symbolizes the end of Seattle’s being the most slept on city as far as hip hop goes. We’re no longer trying to create our own sound or our own identity. We have a voice, and you will hear it. My ENDtroduction symbolizes the end of obscurity, both for myself and for the city of Seattle.”

Packed with high-octane beats produced by d.j. Phonetic, Shears crafted both Welcome 2 Seattle and The Growth: My ENDtroduction as if he were throwing out a lifeline to the many people trapped in seemingly hopeless situations. “Anthony Shears is for anyone who’s ever been through any kind of shit. It’s for anyone who’s ever been on the bottom and hustled to realize their dreams,” Phonetic says. One of the album’s many highlights is “Mea Culpa”, which Shears penned as an open letter to all the loved ones and friends that he’s hurt. “Mea culpa literally means an acknowledgment of a personal error or fault. I have many flaws, but that’s a part of who I am. This song looks at both sides of individual failings and mistakes – both what causes them and their long-term effects,” Shears says.

“I grew up in the same kind of neighborhood, doing a lot of the same things niggas work to escape or overcome”, he explains. “I’ve seen some ill shit in my life and lost a lot of people close to me. Since I’m not really the kind of nigga to sit down and explain or talk about my feelings, this song was an attempt at articulating what’s been going on.” When asked what exactly happened, Anthony replies, “Too much man, too much.” At the end of the last verse in “Mea Culpa” Shears raps, “…its more than just incest when family fucks family,” leading one to believe that there has been some major turmoil in the Shears family.