What comes to mind when you hear “Nashville”? Tennessee? Strawberry wine and a glass of brandy? That’s not the Nashville I’m referring to. Located in Howard county, Arkansas is the small town of Nashville, approximately two hours from the capitol city of Little Rock. This is where up and coming rap artist, Shun Childress calls home.
The 19-year-old is a junior in college, juggling music and a full course load. Despite the balancing act, he has high hopes of his music career taking off. Once he reaches a place where he’s able to give back, he plans to provide a platform for the youth and creatives like him, who come from small towns where breaking the mold – specifically, pursuing music as a career – means going against what is traditionally accepted. As for Shun’s music, he peels back layers of emotion and isn’t afraid to be vulnerable. He’s real, raw and refreshing.
I was introduced to your music through a mutual friend and it warmed my heart to know that you’re also from Arkansas. You’re in a small town with such a big gift. I’ve never been to Nashville, but I’ve passed the exit going back and forth from Arkansas to Texas. Tell me more about where you’re from. Does Nashville have much of a creative scene?
There really aren’t too many things going on in Nashville beyond sports, so if you’re coming here and it’s not for a football game or something you’re one hundred percent either visiting someone or just passing through. Lately, there has been more of a scene developing, but before there’s never really been a consistent amount of shows or anything like that here for homegrown people to show off what they’re making. That’s why after going to college my first year in Fort Smith I came back home and tried to link artists that had not met yet and had a showcase at our fairgrounds. It’s just difficult to get heavy support or involvement from people that grew up around you which sounds backwards.
Take me back to the moment when you realized your talent and took music seriously. What was that like for you and what have you learned along your journey?
I think I was around thirteen or fourteen and I realized that putting words together was my niche more than anything. Early on I was a bookworm, so developing entire stories and creating my own little space was just natural and adding sounds with that made it more interesting. A lot of it was because of my friends though, hearing them rant about what could happen is what kept me actually making music throughout all these years. In my journey music has moved side by side with my life so every song has a personal reflection to where I am honestly. I think that’s why Home has emotional highs and lows because in those months of making it, I had days like Sad and I had days like Baby or Move.
I had to double back a fews times as I was listening to your EP, Home. I heard a mixture of Boogie and Chance The Rapper in your delivery and cadence. It’s mind boggling because I haven’t heard your sound in Arkansas, specifically, which is major. Who are your musical influences?
I think it’s wild that you said Boogie because the Chance reference is usual, but nobody has ever said Boogie, I’m pretty sure. Those two are one hundred percent two big influences with Acid Rap being one of my favorite projects ever and the fact that while making Home I had Tired/Reflections by Boogie on repeat every single day. My overall influences change time to time which makes everything interesting. Like right now I’m listening to a lot of Kaash Paige, Dominick Fike, Clairo, and the usuals like Uzi and Future so there’s a solid mix. The biggest thing I take from any artist is vulnerability. How can I be relatable if I’m selling you a lifestyle I’m not really living?
Growing up, it was really the “it takes a village” kind of thing so there’s been multiple people that allowed me into their home and took a part in raising me like their own.
Speaking of Home, what was the driving force behind this EP?
You’re asking all the stuff I wish people asked a long time ago, sheesh this is incredible (laughing), but Home is my way of dealing with a lot of things by saying them out loud for the first time and giving a lot of relationships their own song and just airing everything out over six songs. Growing up, it was really the “it takes a village” kind of thing so there’s been multiple people that allowed me into their home and took a part in raising me like their own and that EP was my safe space of dealing with that and what comes with it. A majority of the time those feelings are just easier to get across in the form of a lovey dovey song even if the initial thought wasn’t on that wavelength at all.
Let’s talk production. Do you produce your own beats/tracks? Walk me through these processes: beat selection/creation, writing, recording.
Nah I’ve never produced a beat for any of my songs, I’m slowly learning on it and getting tips from producers I usually work with though. As far as beat selection and recording and everything in that area it literally just happens in a way I can’t even explain, truthfully. Every verse on home was a freestyle and the hooks usually don’t take long to come up with unless I get in my head and feel like they don’t ring off the ear well enough. It was the same process for Friends, get a hook down and freestyle the verses and keep the overall best ones.
Why do you create music?
I’m not too great at just saying what’s on my mind or communicating things that don’t sit right with me when it’s a really personal relationship and it’s way easier to get something off your chest with some bass behind it rather than in a quiet room. Even beyond that I remember being a kid and calling labels to freestyle for receptionist and rapping over songs I downloaded to my phone and just thinking how insane it was that my whole mood could be changed by just hearing stuff and I fell in love with that.
I believe that the circle you’re in creates the person you are.
You’re set to release a second EP, Friends on August 14. What’s the significance of this project and how is it similar to or different from Home?
Friends is more upbeat than Home and just highlights my relationships with really influential friends I’ve had in my life from the songs to the shirt that comes out with the project. I believe that the circle you’re in creates the person you are and I was lucky enough to have a group of people around me that are really solid and this is my best way to show my appreciation I think.
What more can we anticipate in terms of projects, collaborations and growth?
There’s a lot of stuff after Friends releases that’ll be really fun to see pan out I think. But I would hate to jinx all the fun, so we’ll see what comes whenever it happens.