Shanell
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Shanell

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR

New York City, New York, United States | MAJOR
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"Shanell Adds Some Fusion Flavor"

Young Money’s newest princess hits our eardrums with something different as her mixtape leaves her in a class of her own.

-Ariana Gordon

Turning heads and taking names, this talented songstress can’t be missed, from the kick-butt vocals she provides on tracks such as Lil Wayne’s latest “Running,” to the dramatic visual picture she produces with her unique nose/ear piercing.

Now, with her mixtape Shutup and Listen blasting on internet airwaves, Shanell, aka SnL, is really getting the recognition she’s been working towards for a long time.
“It sounds like an album. I’m really proud of it,” she told S2S. Based on the positive—make that enthusiastic—response that her current single “Other Side” has been getting via the web, we think she has ever right to be proud. ??


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Talent runs in this sweet singer’s family though; her sister is former Danity Kane-member D. Woods. Shanell says there has always been some sibling rivalry, but says it’s definitely the “positive” kind. ??
“We’ve always competed, but it’s been healthy competition,” she said. “It’s made us stronger.”

Shanell’s also a songwriter behind the scenes, putting pen to paper for big names such as Lil Wayne (naturally), Pink, Ne-Yo (who’s featured on “Other Side”), Kelis and Jennifer Hudson. So the transition, we’re sure, has been a smooth one!

This girl has a little bit of rebel in her, as she refuses to have anyone put her in a certain musical category or genre. “I consider myself like a ‘fusion artist,’” she explained. “I never listened to one thing, so my music is not just one genre.”

Her favorite song on her 12-song mixtape? “This song called ‘It’s the Beat’!” she said with a laugh. “I just like the way it feels. It’s an up-tempo song.”

Curious? Check out her sound here. ?? - S2S Magazine


"Interview with Shanell"

by Colleen Seidel

If Lil’ Wayne tells a burgeoning artist to stop giving their songs to other people and start recording them for their own sake, that is advice you would do best to heed.

Shanell, aka SNL, can testify as such. First a former backup dancer for NeYo, then a steady collaborator with Lil’ Wayne, and now a female vocalist for Young Money, the songstress stands ready and willing to break out on her own with her first release, Shut Up ‘N Listen. She says it was a chat with Lil’ Wayne in a hotel room one night that served as the early catalyst for her decision.

“I was a dancer on a tour that he was a part of,” Shanell remembers. “I was in my hotel room recording music, trying to grow as a writer, and Lil’ Wayne was like ‘Why are you giving your songs to other people?’”

“I was so in love with being a dancer, I didn’t take it seriously at the time,” she adds. “But I stayed in touch with Lil’ Wayne and we worked on Tha Carter III together, and that’s when I decided to become a recording artist.”

A year and a half removed from that decision, Shanell is now promoting her mixtape, Shut Up ‘N Listen. Featuring many of the heavyweights she has written for in the past, the recording is heavy on the beats and high on Shanell’s vocal stylings. The eclectic mix of R&B, rap, hip-hop, dance and even a little techno on the release was intentional, the Atlanta-based singer insists.

“Hair Down My Back” pulses with the low bass dub sounds of a underground dance club while the singer goes into her higher octaves for the verses. The chorus – “I got hair down my back, b***ch, hair down my back” – while not the most original of lyrics is certainly an entertaining way to express the female bravado Shanell possesses throughout the entire mixtape. Not to mention, it’s catchy as hell. “Otherside” offers a twist of sorts for Shanell in that it features two of the biggest names in the hip-hop industry, the aforementioned Mr. Wayne and Ne-Yo, on the track instead of the other way around.

A seasoned veteran at collaborating with other artists on their work, Shanell admittedly says it was a struggle sometimes to focus on her own work. “You think too hard when you’re doing something for yourself,” she explains. “It flows freer and a lot easier when you’re creating for other people. The pressure of having a successful album… it makes the process a little harder.” But so far, the reception to her solo work has been positive. “I haven’t seen or heard anything negative, which is just amazing to me,” she says.

One of the best tracks on the mixtape, “Tell Me”, highlights a trend seen throughout the entire record: remakes of older songs. This one, featuring Young Money’s Jae Millz, is a remake of the 1995 track from Groove Theory, and it stays true to the slower groove of the original song while simultaneously revamping it for the 21st Century. “It wasn’t even my idea,” Shanell confesses about the song. “It was Jae Millz’s. He sent it to me first and said ‘It would be really cool to remake this.’ I just kept the first verse and the essence of the way it was sung, but I played around with the bridge. That was more my character coming out.”

With the mixtape released back in April – at Shanell’s own tongue-in-cheek “baby shower” playing off rumors of the singer being pregnant – Shanell has done nothing but promoting, touring and playing her material. “The fun part is putting together the shows and the choreography,” she admits, spoken like a true dancer and entertainer. “But it’s a lot, a lot of work… just running around, having to tell different people the same things over and over.”

Fingers crossed, soon enough those same people will come running to her. Her debut album will be released next summer. - Obscure Sound


"Young Money's Next Big Thing: Shanell"

INTERVIEW BY RICHARD “TREATS” DRYDEN

So big things do come in small packages. Shanell, the next lady of Young Money stands at an average height somewhere around five-foot-five, this was before I noticed her heels. She was easily noticeable at the Chelsea eatery, The Park, her hair beaming with purple and blue streaks, she stands out. Amongst her Young Money compatriots consisting of Drake, Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda, Nicki Minaj, Tyga and of course Lil Wayne, her talent is the diamond in the rough.

It’s time to discover Shanell, not just for her killer looks that’s often pictured with one of those nose ring-to-ear accessories. The name of her signature piece of jewelry escapes me but her angelic voice bumping over her booming David Guetta-produced single, “The Other Side” has more of a sticky factor. When we sat down to talk about her new mixtape, Shut Up and Listen, we talked about being a part of Atlanta’s prominent high school alumni, getting discovered by Lil Wayne, and her loyal gay following.

INTERVIEW BY RICHARD “TREATS” DRYDEN

I read you’re from Atlanta. Given the famous community of folks from there, did you go to school with any celebrities?

Shanell: The name of the high school is called Tri-Cities. I didn’t go to school with them, they graduated before I got there. Andre [3000] or Big Boi went there, Kandi from Xscape, Bangledesh, Keenan [Thompson] from Saturday Night Live, D Woods— my sister. My parents split up, my mother moved to Atlanta. She found this high school for me and my sister to attend.

Wait, D. Woods is your sister? Like blood relative?

Shanell: Yeah, “big” little sister.

Has she schooled you to the game, as an artist?

Shanell: Yeah, I learned a lot from her whole experience. Tri-Cities was a performing arts high school, we both did a lot of theater, and like concert dance, like modern ballet, so when she got into the music business, the whole mentality of talent is different. It’s not about talent, it’s about business. So seeing her go through those changes and having to realize that it was like, “Whoaaa” I’ve been singing and dancing and writing for a long time, but not on that level. She kind of opened to my eyes to what it really is.

Did you always want to be in the music business, after seeing her go through her ups and downs?

Shanell: I was already kind of in it. I wasn’t performing in mass arenas or signed to a Puffy at this time. I was still writing records for other people, dancing for other artists. that didn’t stop me, I was just ready for whatever.

Who were you writing for?

Shanell: Everybody. Like any other writer, just trying to get different placements on different albums. I got some stuff on their album, Danity Kane’s album, on Kelis Was Here. I wrote “Aww Shit!”

What’s the scope of your solo album?

Shanell: I wanna do a little bit of everything. I want my album to be a fusion of music like, I don’t listen to one thing, and I don’t want my album to be one thing because I’ll feel like I’m selling myself short. That mixtape [Shut Up and Listen] has a lot of R&B sounding stuff, and stuff that sounds like “The Other Side”—a mixture. We’re pushing it out now. The response from it so far has been really good. I hear a lot of people say it’s different, it’s fresh and that’s important to me because I don’t want my music to sound like any other R&B or pop or rock chick could have done that. It sounds like that’s Shanell. So it’s got a lot of good responses.

I see you’ve got a Salaam Remi record on here.


Young Money's Next Big Thing: Shanell

* story admin

snl-shanell

So big things do come in small packages. Shanell, the next lady of Young Money stands at an average height somewhere around five-foot-five, this was before I noticed her heels. She was easily noticeable at the Chelsea eatery, The Park, her hair beaming with purple and blue streaks, she stands out. Amongst her Young Money compatriots consisting of Drake, Jae Millz, Gudda Gudda, Nicki Minaj, Tyga and of course Lil Wayne, her talent is the diamond in the rough.

It’s time to discover Shanell, not just for her killer looks that’s often pictured with one of those nose ring-to-ear accessories. The name of her signature piece of jewelry escapes me but her angelic voice bumping over her booming David Guetta-produced single, “The Other Side” has more of a sticky factor. When we sat down to talk about her new mixtape, Shut Up and Listen, we talked about being a part of Atlanta’s prominent high school alumni, getting discovered by Lil Wayne, and her loyal gay following.

I read you’re from Atlanta. Given the famous community of folks from there, did you go to school with any celebrities?

Shanell: The name of the high school is called Tri-Cities. I didn’t go to school with them, they graduated before I got there. Andre [3000] or Big Boi went there, Kandi from Xscape, Bangledesh, Keenan [Thompson] from Saturday Night Live, D Woods— my sister. My parents split up, my mother moved to Atlanta. She found this high school for me and my sister to attend.

Wait, D. Woods is your sister? Like blood relative?

Shanell: Yeah, “big” little sister.

Has she schooled you to the game, as an artist?

Shanell: Yeah, I learned a lot from her whole experience. Tri-Cities was a performing arts high school, we both did a lot of theater, and like concert dance, like modern ballet, so when she got into the music business, the whole mentality of talent is different. It’s not about talent, it’s about business. So seeing her go through those changes and having to realize that it was like, “Whoaaa” I’ve been singing and dancing and writing for a long time, but not on that level. She kind of opened to my eyes to what it really is.

Did you always want to be in the music business, after seeing her go through her ups and downs?

Shanell: I was already kind of in it. I wasn’t performing in mass arenas or signed to a Puffy at this time. I was still writing records for other people, dancing for other artists. that didn’t stop me, I was just ready for whatever.

Who were you writing for?

Shanell: Everybody. Like any other writer, just trying to get different placements on different albums. I got some stuff on their album, Danity Kane’s album, on Kelis Was Here. I wrote “Aww Shit!”

What’s the scope of your solo album?

Shanell: I wanna do a little bit of everything. I want my album to be a fusion of music like, I don’t listen to one thing, and I don’t want my album to be one thing because I’ll feel like I’m selling myself short. That mixtape [Shut Up and Listen] has a lot of R&B sounding stuff, and stuff that sounds like “The Other Side”—a mixture. We’re pushing it out now. The response from it so far has been really good. I hear a lot of people say it’s different, it’s fresh and that’s important to me because I don’t want my music to sound like any other R&B or pop or rock chick could have done that. It sounds like that’s Shanell. So it’s got a lot of good responses.

I see you’ve got a Salaam Remi record on here.

shanell-shutup-listen-art

Shanell: Yeah I don’t know him at all. Haha. I only talked to him one time, he was working on the Sex and the City soundtrack, and I was trying to get on it. I called him up, and he was like, ‘sorry we’re already finished with the soundtrack.’ Actually he did that song with Eve and I just jumped on it.

So you’re one of two ladies of Young Money, what’s that like?

Shanell: I don’t think about what it’s like, I don’t know (laughs). The guys are like brothers to both me and Nicki. Wayne structured Young Money to be like a family not just artists, artists, artists. So it’s like I got a bunch of guys that will beat a boy up that tries to do me wrong.

How did he approach you to be a part of Young Money?

Shanell: He heard my music, and at the time I was shopping it and selling it to other people. We were on the same tour together, so he saw me perform. He was just like basically, “Why are you giving your music away? If you really wanna do it professionally, you can do it over here.”

Do you have any shows coming up we should know about?

Shanell: Actually yes, I don’t know if you’d want to go.

Why not? Why wouldn’t I?

Publicist interrupts: It’s for Gay Pride, June 26th.

Really?

Shanell: Wanna come?

Yeah, totally, I’m always out during Gay Pride. Um, not in that way.

Shanell: (laughs)

Just for that day I’m out (kidding!). The city is great during Gay Pride, it’s like so much energy and fun, if you’re into that whether or not you’re gay.

Shanell: I love that fan base. It’s so loyal and so supportive. Those kind of shows for me are the fun shows because they want to have fun with you whereas other shows they just stare at you and just wait for you to mess up and have something to say about you.

How did that come about?

Shanell: Before Young Money, my fan base in Atlanta was gay. I just came from that, so when we were talking about doing shows outside of—when I say we, I say my management—Wayne, I was like, “I gotta go back to where I came from because they’re so supportive and they’ve followed me on my journey to success,” so it was only so right.

So what about your show that draws that so much attention, aside from the uptempo sound?

Shanell: It’s uptempo, it’s trance, it’s sexy and it’s fun.

Is it just you dancing?

Shanell: I have a band, I have dancers.

Um, guy or girl dancers?

Shanell: Right now, girls. So I guess you’ll like that.






- The Fader


"Young Money's Shanell Says Street Single Is For 'Boss' Chicks"

'The way I write my love songs comes out different,' R&B upstart says of penning Nicki Minaj-assisted 'Cupid's Got a Gun.'

By Jayson Rodriguez

Young Money's Shanell has a voice as sweet as red velvet cake, but the singer/songwriter isn't your average R&B pop tart. On her new single "Cupid's Got a Gun" featuring Nicki Minaj, she's as sharp with her lyrics as her boss Lil Wayne is with his rhymes. Shanell says the song represents the "tough skin" type of girls.

"Me and my homegirl Mika Means were actually in the studio and we were coming up with stuff and we started that song, "Cupid's Got a Gun,' " Shanell told MTV News this week. "It's a love song, but it's a love song told in a different way. I'm not really a mushy person, so I express my emotions, it's like, instead of saying I love you, it's I f---ing love you. So the way I write my love songs comes out different. And it's this energy that I felt that it needed, 'cause I consider myself a boss type of chick and I got a tough skin. I thought Nicki would be perfect to be on this record to exemplify that boss type of energy. I played it for her and she jumped right on it."

The song is the first effort from her forthcoming debut album. According to Shanell, "Cupid's Got a Gun" wasn't slated to be the first single but after it leaked to the Web earlier this month it drew a strong response. As a result, she and her team are prepping to work the song as a street single to tease the upcoming LP. She hopes to drop that full-length for the masses next summer. Meanwhile, she has her hand in other projects like her gig as the face of clothing line Married to the Mob's fall collection.

The singer has also written a video treatment for "Cupid's" that she described as a combination of "Smooth Criminal" and the movies "Sin City" and "Kill Bill."

"As a writer, there's a picture in my head and I'm basically writing a story to the pictures that flash in my head," Shanell explained. "So I always had the visual for the video in my head. But once we got Nicki on it, I thought, Oh, [those three as a mix would work]. I've written it out and I'm looking for a director now." - MTV News


"High Five: Young Money’s Shanell On Her Favorite ’80s Songs & Working With Lil’ Wayne"

With Lil’ Wayne currently incarcerated, it’s on his Young Money crew to carry the torch for Weezy. While Drake and Nicki Minaj are busy prepping their major label debuts, Shanell is another Young Money artist whose creepin’ on a come-up. The singer/rapper/rocker best known for penning Wayne’s “Prom Queen” and making out with him in the subsequent video, and for her showcase track “Play In My Band” on the We Are Young Money album, is getting ready to make a name for herself. Her new mixtape, Shut Up And Listen offers listeners a taste of her Rock & B-pop fusion style that’s heavily influenced by the ’80s. Complex caught up the Young Money Princess who once covered Eddie Murphy’s “Party All The Time” to talk about her favorite ’80s records…
BONUS QUESTIONS:

Complex: How did you first get started and break into the business?

Shanell: I started off dancing at Tri City High School [In Atlanta]. Then I went to Columbia College for a year. I was studying dance there. Dropped out of that to go on the road, started touring as a dancer. The tour that I meet Wayne on was the “Up Close and Personal” tour. I was dancing for Ne-Yo. We saw each other back and forth backstage and on-stage. When we did the “Leather So Soft” video, that’s when we actually sat and had a conversation about signing to Young Money.

Complex: I read that you and Bangladesh had made “A Milli” together and you brought that to Wayne. Can you tell that story?

Shanell: Actually Bangladesh went to school with me. When he started working with Ludacris, he heard that I was doing music. When I wasn’t on the road, we would be in Atlanta working on music. We ended up writing songs for Kelis. We did “Oh Shit” on Kelis Was Here. And then the writing got to different people and one of the people ended up being Wayne. “A Milli” was a beat that Bangladesh made. And me, I was working with him while I was working on Wayne’s Carter’s III. I’m working with this dope producer and Wayne is putting this dope album together, so I was like, “Give me some of these tracks. Gimme the ‘A Milli’ track.” I brought it to Wayne and he got on it. I remember hearing him say, “Man, ‘A Milli’ is going to just be a buzz record.” I think he expected it to be like that.

Complex: You’ve known Maestro [who produced Lil Wayne's "3 Peat"] for a long time, too. How did you meet him?

Shanell: I was recording and needed a place to record. I just remember I was working with TLC. This is right after Left Eye passed, because I was still dancing and doing music at the same time. I remember going to his studio wearing my outfit from the video for “Girl Talk”. He looked at me like I was stupid. It was big baggy sweat suits with the Left Eye patch on every side. He was just like, Wow. But we started working.

Complex: So how did “3 Peat” come about?

Shanell: Oh, I made that with him.

Complex: You co-produced that beat?

Shanell: He won’t say that. [Laughs.] But I sat in there with him in the studio and he had started off. And he was kinda like, “I don’t know what to do next.” I was like, “Do this.” And I was telling him what changes I think he should make. And it came out dope. I was like, “Let me get that real quick.”

Complex: So after you signed you guys started working on the Young Money album and Rebirth. You’re not really on the Young Money album, why is that?

Shanell: It’s a rap-based album. And my music isn’t that. So it was like, let’s just do rap, let’s do what Young Money/Cash Money is known for doing and Rebirth will be your introduction to the world. So that’s why you see a lot more of me on Rebirth.

Complex: You’re definitely a singer but you occasionally kinda dabble on the mic, not rapping but kind of rapping…

Shanell: I used to be a rapper before I was singing. [Laughs.] My sister D. Woods [formerly of Danity Kane] was the singer in the family. She was the Whitney Houston, Mary J Blige singer. I was more of the…I don’t sound nothing like her but Erykah Badu, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna-type. I liked Lil Kim and Lauryn Hill back when she was rapping. That’s what I used to run around the house saying, “I used to be scared of the…now I throw lips to the” as a young’n. And my sister would be in the room singing Whitney Houston songs. But I realized that I had a distinct little sound that was different. Bangladesh being a different type of producer helped me develop my sound and my style. It started off rapping even with him, it was more rap singing but it became more singing, singing, singing until I was screaming on the tracks like “Runnin.”

Complex: What was your rap name?

Shanell: Oh my gosh. [Laughs.] Okay so I’m 4’11. And this was a long time ago. I didn’t give myself this name… Midget. The name came from people calling me Midget in high school. But I wasn’t never really stuck on it. I never really used it but other people would. So when I’m in Atlanta and I hear somebody say, “Midget,” I don’t even have to turn around. I know what time in my life I met this person.

Complex: Since you’re in New York, have you had a chance to visit Wayne?

Shanell: I was supposed to but I think his mom came. I’ll be back up here. I think we’re all going to get our days.

Complex: Have you talked to him on the phone or anything like that?

Shanell: He’s good. Well, he makes it seem like he’s straight. I don’t think he wants any of us to think that he’s not so…

Complex: He’s only been away three weeks but it feels like a lot longer to me. Does it feel like that way to you?

Shanell: Yeah sometimes. When I watch videos and I see his face, and I listen to the radio, it’s like he’s still here. But when you don’t hear from him, go to the studio, and he’s not there, it’s like, “He’s really in jail.”

Complex: Right, for a while it was like he’s never going to jail.

Shanell: Yeah. I was like, “Oh my god, he’s not going to go! They’re going to tell him he can stay home. I know it!” When that day really happened it was like…[Sigh.]

Complex: One thing I wanted to talk about with you is the rumors about you and Wayne. Obviously you guys denied the pregnancy rumors. I think what really fueled those rumors was that you guys made out in the video for “Prom Queen.” Whose idea was that?

Shanell: [The director] Dave Meyers. I swear. He was like, “This is going to be this amazing rock video. You guys will “rock star” kiss at the end.”

Complex: But you guys would also go on tour and do it on stage.

Shanell: Yeah, we decided. It started off just a joke, “Like we should do it on stage.” It was never rehearsed. We just both kind of was like…it happened. I mean, the response we would get was just crazy.

Complex: But at the point when the rumors started spreading, Wayne could have kissed any girl on stage. But he was still kissing you on stage.

Shanell: But he kissed me in the video.

Complex: So he has to kiss you on stage?

Shanell: No he doesn’t have to, but that’s why it made sense to do it on stage. Hey look, it got you and the rest of the world asking questions about it.

Complex: Someone else the rest of the world has been wondering about is Kat Stacks. She’s been talking about how she slept with everybody in Young Money. Did you ever run into her on tour or anything?

Shanell: I don’t even know. No. Some people called me and told me about it. I didn’t even see it online myself. Someone called me like, “This girl running around talking about…” But lately there’s been a lot of girls on the Internet running around talking about sleeping with a bunch of rappers and wanting to write books. So we shouldn’t give her the time of day. That’s my family and I know they don’t appreciate it at all.

Complex: Fair enough. When I first started seeing you on a lot of blogs, the first thing I noticed about you right away was your nose ring. What inspired that style?

Shanell: Just playing with my stylist on the road at the time. She made jewelry, earrings. That was like a hot thing in the summer. The earrings that go from ear to shoulder. I just told her to make me one that goes from my nose to my ear. It took a while for us to get it right, it was too heavy at times. I don’t wear it all the time. I don’t wear it around the house of nothing. It’s just a piece that you wear. It’s like your fly watch you wear when you go out somewhere. Or that pair of shades you wear out. I guess it’s a memorable piece. - Complex Magazine


"Young Money's Shanell Begins Recording Debut"

By: Steven J. Horowitz

She may be Lil Wayne's favorite punked-out badass, but Young Money's resident chanteuse, Shanell Woodgett -- aka SnL, is ready to introduce the world to the sexier side of the squad. The 26-year-old Atlanta native, known for rocking a signature chain connecting a pierced ear to her nose ring, made her grand entrance to the mainstream world as the featured guest on Wayne's top-20 single, 'Prom Queen,' in early 2009.

Now, after dropping her viral mixtape 'Shut Up N Listen' in April, the buttery-voiced songstress has officially begun work on her untitled debut, which she hopes to have in stores by spring or summer of 2011. "I started to work on some stuff," she told The BoomBox, having recently wrapped up a tour with her Young Money associates a few months back. "It's a slow process. I don't want to rush anything. I think creativity has no time limitation on it, so I'm taking my time and I'm coming up with some great, great ideas."

'Shut Up N Listen' was only a taste of Shanell's eclecticism, touting her remixes of originals by Ryan Leslie, Simian Mobile Disco, Groove Theory and Eve. Now that the mixtape has slithered across the internet and clocked upwards of two million downloads, Shanell plans on using her debut to bring her sound to the next level, focusing the album more on rhythm by building each track with a percussive foundation.

"I'm a rhythmic person because I am a dancer," she explains. "And I feel before I sit down and actually listen to words, so I know I want it to be kind of a rhythmic album or a feel-good album."

While Shanell has worked with everyone from Melanie Fiona to Lil Wayne to Ludacris, she plans on keeping the collaborations to a relative minimum on the LP, noting that most classics showcase the artist at the helm. "The albums that I think are classic and last the longest have stories and some kind of theme," she says. "Nowadays, you buy an album and it's almost like a compilation. There are so many features from different artists on one project; I kind of want people to really get into me, so I'm going to do a lot of it by myself, but I'm probably going to collaborate with a few people."

The debut might be a ways off, but in the meantime, the Universal Motown recording artist doesn't plan on idling. Shanell recently shot a few videos, including one for 'Runnin'' off Lil Wayne's 'Rebirth' album, as well as for a couple cuts off her mixtape, including the dance track 'Hair Down My Back.' Once the raw footage is edited, she plans on rolling out the clips every two weeks to build up anticipation for the album. And the buck doesn't stop there. "I'm working on my show. I have a band and dancers and I put that all together myself, so I wear a lot of hats," Shanell explains. "I'm in rehearsal a lot, and hopefully will be coming to a city near whoever's reading this soon."
- AOL's The Boombox


"Shanell Joined Young Money Because Lil Wayne 'Believed' In Her"

With Shut Up and Listen, she's introducing her music to people who only know the rumors, in Mixtape Daily.

By Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Rahman Dukes

This Week's Main Pick

Artist: Shanell

Holding It Down For: Young Money

Mixtape: Shut Up and Listen

Real Spit: Young Money singer Shanell has been inspired by challenges almost her entire life. She grew up encouraging and battling her sister, former Danity Kane singer D. Woods, in songwriting.

"It was me, my sister, and we have an older brother," Shanell said on a recent trip to NYC. "We used to watch him. He did music before either one of us. He did television, movies, and we used to run around the house singing his songs, until we started writing our own. It was friendly competition between me and my sister, because we would always help each other and challenge each other.

"I been real nice with the pen game," she added with a smile. "I was good when I started, and I got better and better and better."

While on the road with her sister during Danity Kane's tour in support of their debut LP, Shanell, who used to be a backup dancer, crossed paths with Ne-Yo. She was writing to a track, and he asked if he could use it for his album. The song turned out to be "Say It" from Ne-Yo's Because of You. Ne-Yo eventually invited the singer — who went to a performing-arts high school — to be down with his camp as a songwriter.

"It was really a great learning experience," she said. "[Ne-Yo] listens to all different types of music. I know he sat me down one time and was like, 'That's great, but try to say all that in three lines.' I was like 'a challenge.' So my writing has been influenced a lot by him."

Shanell said she decided to join Young Money because, whereas Ne-Yo's attention was on her writing skills, Wayne saw her as a performer.

"Wayne was kinda like, 'You do this. Keep your music for yourself. You have the talent, I see what you do. You can come over here with Young Money and do what you do over here,' " Shanell said. "Which was the best situation I can be in. My music is a little bit different. It's not R&B, it's not pop, it's not rock, it's not alternative. It's a fusion of everything. A lot of labels don't let you do that, but at Young Money, they let you do that."

Wayne also gave her the freedom to take several minutes from the America Most Wanted tour to showcase her skills. She had a mini-set within Wayne's set last summer.

"It was great," she said. "I brought dancers in. I did a lot of staging and choreographing. I loved that he believed in me enough to do that."

Shanell said her debut LP won't be out until sometime next year, but she did just drop the mixtape Shut Up and Listen. If you have a physical copy of the disc and look inside, you'll see a baby carriage filled with headphones and other musical items. That is a playful middle finger to the rumors that she was having Lil Wayne's baby.

"I'm trying to take a negative thing and make a positive," 'Nell said, who added that she was never romantically involved with Wayne. "That's another reason I put this mixtape out, because a lot of people haven't heard what I do. It's all these rumors flying, that's all they hear. So it's here, this [mixtape] is my baby, this is what I've been sitting in the studio every night working on. This is my baby. This is what I've been pregnant with for the past nine months. So we're just trying to take a bad rumor and turn it into something positive."

What did Weezy think of the rumors that he had knocked up his artist? "We never talked about it," the singer insisted. "Nobody ever talks about the negative stuff. We're too busy making records. We get on the stage and perform, we get in the studio, we're on the radio every day."

Joints to Check For

» "Hair Down My Back." "That is my ladies-anthem song," she explained. "It's a fun record. It's about when you go to the store, you see the 14 inches, you see the 12 inches. For women to wear it, call it out. You don't have to be ashamed. Nowadays, everybody knows girls wear weaves. Wear it as long as you want, as short as you want. I would say it's kinda pop/R&B. It's talking about extensions, but it's still a club beat. I don't think I'll hear it in Club Crucial in Atlanta, but I think it will reach a vast amount of people."

» "Tell Me" (featuring Jae Millz). "Millz actually thought about that, brought it to me, like, 'I wanna do this Groove Theory record over,' " Shanell said. "I tried to sing it just like [Amel Larrieux]. I did the verse just like her and redid the bridge. It's a feel-good record, and it's a classic. I was a young'n [when the original came out]. It reminds me of the picnics in the park, sitting on the bleachers watching the boys play basketball in the park."

» "Hear Me Calling." "The music takes you from one end of music to the next. I wanted to ease people in," she said about why she started her mixtape out with that song. "It's a chill record. It feels good. It's where I started, subject matter-wise. As the music transforms to the other side, which is the last record, that's my growth and all the different types of music I listen to. I can go from here to there — that's what I wanted to show people. [I'm singing about] life and memories, things that remind me of my 'hood where I grew up: the corner store, the duplex, the white lines on the sidewalk." - MTV News


"Lil' Wayne's Label Mate Shanell Rocks New Genre"

(CBS) By Melissa Castellanos

If you're in the same musical arena as multi-platinum, Grammy-award winning rapper Lil' Wayne, then you've got to have the chops and the edge to back yourself up.

Shanell, a self-described "urban pop rock artist" who toured with Lil' Wayne has proven that she has what it takes to hang with the big "dawgs."

She has penned four of Lil' Wayne's chart-topping hits, including "Prom Queen" off of his certified gold 2010 album, "Rebirth."

"I want to be the new voice for women," the singer-songwriter told CBSNews.com. It's really all about female empowerment."

Photos: Lil' Wayne

The edgy artist, whose signature look includes a nose ring with a chain, came off of a 52-city U.S. run performing with Lil' Wayne on his headlining "I Am Music Tour."

The thrill of performing in massive sold-out arenas alongside Lil Wanyne says Shanell, gave her the insight and boost she needed to further her solo career.

She also had the chance to see the rapper in a different light.

Lil' Wayne, now serving a one-year jail sentence for having a loaded gun on his tour bus, has an incredible work ethic, according to Shanell. Despite his hard-core street persona, she says, he would dedicate so much time in the studio perfecting his craft that he would practically sleep there.

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Shanell, who also goes by the moniker, SnL, has generated a lot of buzz on the mix-tape circuit with the recent release of "Shut Up and Listen," a follow-up to the successful "A Taste of Shanell." She also hopes to release her debut album sometime this year.

She first made a name for herself as a songwriter, penning tracks for Ne-Yo, Jennifer Hudson, Danity Kane and Kelis, before mustering up the courage to get behind the mic herself. And as her career blossomed, so did her roster of musical collaborators. She has also worked with Usher, Beyonce, Lloyd, and Keri Hilson, among others.

Like Lil' Wayne, Shanell is a fan of the rap-rock genre.

Although it's been done before by Run DMC and Aerosmith, Shanell says that she is trying to create her own genre or "fusion of music," which includes rock, R&B and pop. She made a cameo in Lil' Wayne's video for "Prom Queen," where she got the chance to rock out with the band, Korn.

Inspired by Madonna, Mary J. Blige and Cyndi Lauper, among others, Shanell points out that there is a double standard for female artists.

But that doesn't keep her from writing provocative lyrics.

Shanell references her song, "Substitute Lover," which falls into the realm of "not-so-safe subjects," she says, but "men do it" and are able to put themselves out there lyrically without any repercussions.

"I have worked long and hard," she said. "I support all women who are making music."

The Young Money Entertainment/Universal Motown artist attended a top-notch performing arts school called Tri-Cites High School with alums like Outkast and producer Bangladesh. She is also a trained dancer in modern, ballet, African, hip hop and theatre.

Lil' Wayne, born Dwayne Carter, is serving time at the height of his career. His latest album, "Rebirth," was released last month. He could be released in about eight months with good behavior.
- CBS NEWS - Entertainment


Discography

SHANELL aka SNL
* Cupid's Got A Gun (track)

SHANELL aka SNL - SHUT UP & LISTEN (Mixtape)
*Choose You Remix Feat. Ryan Leslie
*Save Me Prod. By Keys 3:50
*Tell Me Remix Feat. Jae Millz Prod. By Bryce Wilson
*La La La La Feat. Jovi Rockwell & Mika Means
*Hair Down My Back
*Hit The Stage
*Its The Beat Remix Prod. By Simian Mobile Disco
*Work That Remix Feat. Mika Means
*Me N My Feat. Eve Prod. By Salaam Remi *Other Side Feat. Lil Wayne And Ne-Yo Prod. By David Guetta

LIL WAYNE - “Rebirth”
*Prom Queen
*I’m So Into You
*American Star
*Running

SHANELL aka SNL - A TASTE OF SHANELL (Mixtape)
*Play in My Band
*Substitute Lover
*Party All the Time (Remix) f/ Aubrey O’day
*Handstand f/ Nicki Minaj
*Smoking Section

YOUNG MONEY - “ WE ARE YOUNG MONEY
*Sacrifice
*Play in My Band
*Finale

LIL WAYNE - “DEDICATION 3”
*My Weezy

LIL WAYNE— “THA CARTER III”
*Action (aka Showtime)
**Target Limited Deluxe Edition Bonus Disc
**UK Bonus Track

DANITY KANE - “WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE”
*Key to My Heart

NE-YO - “BECAUSE OF YOU”
*Say It

KELIS - “KELIS WAS HERE”
*Aww Shit

B5 - ”B5”
*You Don’t Know

TOO SHORT - “MARRIED TO THE GAME”
*What’s A Pimp

TOO SHORT - “WHAT’S MY FAVORITE WORD”
*That’s Right
*Female Players
*Quit Hatin’ Part 1

CHILI - “Bi-Polar”
*Aww Right
*Take You Away
*Wanna Be Yours

3LW - “POINT OF NO RETURN”
*Throwback

Photos

Bio

As the Pop Fusion princess of Lil’ Wayne’s eclectic label crew of winning artists Young Money, Universal/Young Money songstress Shanell aka SnL is far from the average vocalist. The Atlanta-based singer/songwriter who’s built a formidable name penning tracks for artists like Ne-Yo, Kelis, Melanie Fiona, Jennifer Hudson and many others has stepped from behind the soundboard and up to the mic with a creative pen and a sultry voice that’s already proven to rock arena crowds.

Between her latest mixtape, “Shut Up & Listen” garnering 2 million downloads to date, becoming the national campaign face for the edgy women’s line Married To The Mob as well as developing an ever-growing fan base and quickly becoming a bourgeoning music media darling by the likes of YRB magazine Complex.com, CBS News Entertainment, MTV News, Suite 903/The Fader, Honey Magazine, Obscure Sound, XXL, LP33.TV, AOL Music, and many others Shanell has been more than poised and prepared as she’s transitioned to her current path in music.

A classically trained dancer in the disciplines of ballet, jazz and modern dance, Shanell began her career in music with a professional edge that quickly garnered her steady work as an in-demand dancer for the music videos of hit artists like Ciara. “On my first audition, I showed up in tights and toe shoes. I was stretching on the wall and everyone else auditioning in sweats and sneakers looked at me like I was crazy. But I wasn’t crazy, I was a dancer.”

Dancing on sets by day and writing songs in-studio by night to the tracks of hit-making producer and friend Bangladesh, Shanell quickly began to make a name for herself as a songwriter. However, it wasn’t long before Shanell would pack up her notepad and pro-tools to head on tour when she was tapped to become one of the principal dancers for Grammy award winning artist Ne-Yo.

While using every free moment on tour to write and record songs for artists and groups like Danity Kane, word of her writing talent continued to spread across Atlanta and it wasn’t long after that the very person she was dancing on tour for would come knocking. Ne-Yo, after overhearing Shanell practicing a song one evening, snagged one of her tracks which became “Say It, ”a track on his album Because of You. Needless to say, upon her return from tour, her demand as a songwriter increased as equally as her initial demand had as a dancer.

Inspired artistically over the years by a mélange of artists as diverse as Queen and Mary J. Blige to Prince, Nirvana, Klymaxx and Nas, Shanell began writing a collection of songs that didn’t stylistically fit the persona of those she wrote for. As this unique collection of songs continued to grow, she decided the best thing to do would be to take the leap and become an artist herself.

“My songs were going left, so they really only fit for me,” says Shanell. “So Bangladesh said, ‘let’s just keep these songs for you.’ We did and I put together a demo for myself.” Shortly after, Shanell got the call to dance for Ne-Yo’s next tour and instead of packing up she declined and shared her decision of becoming a full time songwriter and recording artist.

Putting together an edgy showcase at Atlanta’s local club, The Underground, the news of Shanell becoming an artist brought key music industry tastemakers and heavyweights like Ne-Yo and Usher out to show their support. “Everyone was great and from that point I moved forward full speed ahead,” says Shanell.

While in search of a label home that would give her the creative space for her ‘Rock-&-B’ pop sound, she turned down several record deal offers that she felt didn’t fit until fellow artist and superstar impresario, Lil’ Wayne came to her with an offer that wouldn’t artistically box her in. One day in the studio where she brought Wayne the Bangladesh-produced beat she suggested he use for his forthcoming album (and subsequently became the sound for Wayne’s Grammy-award winning breakout single “A-Milli”), Wayne suggested that she “quit giving away songs, you can do what you're doing over here." Lil Wayne, who she'd met while performing on the "Up, Close & Personal" tour featuring the MC, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo, was referring to his burgeoning label, Young Money, an off-shoot of Cash Money Records where the MC housed acts like Nicki Minaj and Drake. 

Shanell agreed, joined Wayne's camp and has since been moving full throttle. She recently toured with Young Money in support of their 2009 self-titled album, wrote four songs on Lil’ Wayne’s chart-topping, certified Gold Rock/Hip Hop album, “Rebirth,” including the song “Prom Queen,” and gave a smash performance in early 2010 at The Roots’ annual Grammy Jam in Los Angeles that industry insiders are still buzzing about. Shanell is currently recording her as-yet-untitled debut LP and has a busy touring schedule for spring/summer 2010 beginning which began with a headlining performance at the Digiwaxx Media 2010 showcase in Austin