There’s a Drake lyric to go along with any situation you could be facing. From falling in love, to falling out of love, to making enormous sums of money, a Drake lyric is there for you. But what if Drake isn’t the only person who’s behind those lyrics? Drake is a rapper who we can empathize with, because we can picture him and his struggles so vividly in one complete package. This package is sold so well that we forget that he, just like many other artists, often have a team of people constructing these words for them. For Drake, one of those people is Toronto singer and songwriter Shi Wisdom. Shi is like an incarnation of an angry Lauryn Hill, who seems to always be mad about something. You can find Shi on social media promoting her music and other things that she is passionate about, but she is also known for her self-described confrontational in-your-face personality. Recently, it was suggested that Shi was the Toronto woman who was allegedly suing Drake for not getting paid for the work she did as a ghostwriter. The claims were spread on Twitter, with most of the focus being laid on the fact that a woman could possibly be behind the rapper’s lyrics, instead of the way he handles his business.
A quick trip to the provincial courts of Canada, as well as an email to Gloria Allred, confirms that these rumours hold no factual merit, but because Shi and Drake have worked together in the past (Shi wrote R.I.P., a song that was later given to Rita Ora) these allegations were not outright dismissed by those with knowledge of the situation. Much of the reaction she received once this news hit the web suggested that she is angry for not getting the fame she wants as a ghostwriter or a singer, but Shi has told us that her dream doesn’t involve being a singer in the spotlight—a result of her belief that she is what the industry would find problematic: too dark, too loud, and too fat. We sat down with Shi to discuss the rumours of her suing Drake, and the backlash she has received as a result of her being a female songwriter in this industry.
Noisey: Why haven’t you posted even just a simple tweet confirming or denying that this woman being spoken of is you?
Shi Wisdom: Why would it be my responsibility to abort a mission that I didn’t start? This doesn’t have anything to with me so why am I in that way going to feed into it? In the comments and in the conversations that have been happening underneath these posts I have pretty much said this isn’t me. I like conversation, I’m a person who encourages conversation. People don’t speak enough these days. I’m a texter as well—I like to be behind my computer too—but I’m also a very confrontational in-your-face person, and so, like I said, I encourage conversations. If you ever look at any of my social media pages I am always encouraging conversation. I could have just made a simple statement, but I know a conversation will ensure more, and that is the whole point.
You didn't think that by posting the articles and reacting to the backlash people would think that you were behind this?
I like to see where peoples heads are at. When I posted the original article speaking about this Toronto woman, it didn’t say it was me and I didn’t say it wasn't me. I just wanted to see what people were thinking about it. Not even an hour later, there’s another post that comes up with my face on it saying that it’s me. I didn’t feel the need to even address the issue in terms of validating whether or not it's true with just anybody. You’re the first publication I’ve actually openly said that this is not me, because I’m already a credible writer. I wrote a song with this person. My name is in the pamphlet along side his. I am not a ghostwriter. I have never been a ghostwriter.
When the rumour hit the blogs, people reacted more in shock that a female could be writing his lyrics than being shocked at the possibility of Drake not handling his business. How did this make you feel?
It goes beyond even being surprised that it’s a female. This Toronto woman that they’re speaking of doesn’t have anything to do with me. I have my own isolated incidents with him from years ago that we already settled. I think that it started out with some people wanting to say something about Drake because people will hold onto anything. To be honest with you, who cares if he doesn’t write his own stuff? It’s very evident that he’s an intelligent business person. Who in this industry writes their stuff all the time? I don’t know anybody who writes their stuff all the time that is a big artist, not one person. When you go into these meetings with these labels they tell you who is looking for songs and it’s a bunch of people who you thought wrote their own songs. Females do have a hard time in the industry but I am not going to use the fact that I am a female as a crutch. Songwriters period have a hard time in this industry especially when you’re a ghostwriter. When you realize how small you are in this industry it’s crazy. And when you’re this small in the industry and you’re a woman then you’re kind of a little bit smaller.
There was an incident between Iggy Azalea and Nicki Minaj where Nicki basically tried to put Iggy down by accusing her of not writing her own music, but you’re saying that everyone has a team behind them?
There’s a lot of ghost writers out there and there’s a lot of people who are not ghostwriters. You don’t see them you don’t hear them they don’t exist to the audience because like I said there’s this illusion that all these artists write their own stuff. There is a whole machine behind everybody. All these artists have several people keeping them there. Everybody has writers, everybody has a team of people to put it together. Some of these people do write some of their songs, but do you really believe that Nicki Minaj writes all of her songs, with no help? To be a songwriter on a song all you have to do is contribute one word. By the time the “R.I.P.” record I did with Drake was finished, six writers including myself and him touched that song. That wasn’t the plan but thats what happens somebody comes in and says, "instead of saying 'boy' say 'you’". Now they’re a writer on the song, but that's access. For the longest time Beyonce didn’t write any of her records, I personally still don’t believe she's written any of her records.
Being at the centre of this rumour, what else has this shown you that females in this industry are facing?
As a female, there are a lot of things that the industry would consider a problem with me if I were an artist in the spotlight—like people are now accusing me of trying to become out of this whole scandal. But that's not my dream. People in the industry acknowledge my talent and they say "we love what you’re doing, but business is business." This industry doesn’t want somebody like me and I know that and I’m very well aware of that. I’m too opinionated, I’m too dark, and I’m too fat. That’s just what it is and I’m okay with that. I’m okay with being too opinionated, I’m okay with being too dark and I’m okay with being too fat. This is something women definitely have to deal with in this industry. I can’t be fat but Rick Ross can be three times my size and wear no shirt and everybody loves that? Thats crazy.
Tania Peralta almost wasn't credited for this interview - @juelzsantania