• Tallie Spencer

Sammy Shiblaq shows off on new single "Champion"

"A dream is nothing but a dream unless you go and chase it," - Sammy Shiblaq.

Sammy Shiblaq is an up and coming artist based in San Jose, California who's bringing a new and versatile sound to the game. He grew up in Detroit, Michigan and knew that he wanted to pursue a rap career since he was just 13 years old. He began his rap career by freestyling and releasing his music on Soundcloud. Now, Sammy Shiblaq is bringing his dreams to fruition with the release of his latest single, "Champion," which is an exhilarating effort that truly shows off his lyrical skills.

"Champion" is Shiblaq's first release since signing with Empire record label, and it's been appropriately receiving a lot of hype. With some of his main musical influences being J. Cole, Akon, Lupe Fiasco, A Boogie, 50 Cent, and Kendrick Lamar -- it's no wonder that Shiblaq is able to deliver hard-hitting bars over any beat.

In a recent interview with Remixd Magazine, Sammy Shiblaq noted that hip-hop saved his life in plenty of situations. Instead of letting his circumstances defeat him, Shiblaq has been inspired by any tribulations and turned it into something he could talk about in his music. This storytelling technique is evident, especially in the recent track "Champion," where Shiblaq says he wants to be remembered as a champion and someone who makes a difference.

"I have always been inspired by what I go through and how I can turn it into an art where others can hear my story," he said.

As someone who grew up as a first generation American in his household, Shiblaq has a different type of hustle. He stated that he carries his roots in every record he makes, and that's why you can hear the confidence within his sound -- it's been built up over time through his lifestyle and his upbringing.

"Today in my music, you hear a confidence that has been built overtime from all the hardship that came with this lifestyle; but I can honestly say without my experiences, the fan base I have today would not believe in me the way they do," Shiblaq continued.

Keep reading to learn more about the independent artist and be sure to stream "Champion," on all platforms!

What city are you from/ Where are you based now?

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan before moving to the Bay Area when I was fourteen. I now

reside in San Jose, California.

What is your artist name? What is your real name? How did you get your artist name?

My artist name is Sammy Shiblaq, the same as my real name. The reason I kept it that way is

because I want to be remembered as me; the artist and the person. My favorite artists like J.

Cole and Kendrick Lamar kept their real names in their artistry and today they are viewed as

some of the top rappers in hip-hop.

At what point in your life did you decide to pursue a career in music?

I started freestyling shortly after I could talk and I dropped my first song on Soundcloud when I was only 13. I always knew I wanted to be a rapper, it was the only way for people who did not come from where I come from to hear me. Before growing up in Detroit and moving to California, my family came from Palestine and if you are not aware of the political situation

and the poverty my people go through, you may never find out unless you hear it from me.

My whole mission as an artist is to be the voice of my people and even though my music

today is not political, I carry my roots through every record I make.

Has your upbringing played a role in shaping who you are and defining your sound

today? If so, how?

I grew up as a first generation American so my experience is really different. In school, I was

the only one of my kind so nobody really had my back when I got into trouble. I had two older brothers who passed on certain values and how to move as I grew up, but they were always 5-7 years older than me so when things hit the fan, it was really on me to figure it out. My oldest brother used to rap when he was younger so I always wanted to reach his level and be even better than he was. I think this mentality combined with growing up in Detroit and then moving to such a different culture in the Bay created the person I am today. I always had a lot of people around me who loved and knew what I was capable of doing, but it always felt like it was me vs. everybody when it came down to getting where I need to be.

Today in my music, you hear a confidence that has been built overtime from all the hardship that came with this lifestyle; but I can honestly say without my experiences, the fan base I have today would not believe in me the way they do.

How would you describe your sound to readers who may not be familiar with you?

I combine my old school influences with my new school influences so that no matter the age

or era of hip-hop you grew up in, you will feel me regardless. I have records where in the

verses I am bringing back the lyrical and storytelling aspect of hip-hop, but the chorus is

melodic and catchy for the younger crowd. My goal in doing this is to make the younger

generation appreciate the rappers who really have something to say and also convince the

older generation that a record can sound melodic and still keep its authenticity. I have no

specific style as I have full lyrical rap songs and full melodic rap songs, but I believe these

styles I incorporate create a sound that has not been heard before. I want to be an innovator,

not a follower, so each song I release can be different from the last - it just depends on the

point in my life I’m at because my reality always makes its way into my music.

What ultimately inspired you to dedicate yourself to a music career?

Seeing my older brother as a rapper was the first thing that made me pursue this dream. The

point in my life where I took it seriously is when J. Cole dropped Forest Hills Drive in 2014. I

have never resonated with an album more than that project and when I heard 03

adolescence, it made me feel at only fifteen years old that I was a grown man with a duty to

pave the way differently than my people who had become victims to their lifestyles. The

words from that album always echoed in my head and it kept me out of trouble for the

longest time. Since 15, I went on a journey to become the best artist I could be while

remaining conscious of my influence. I believe once I have achieved what I need to achieve in hip-hop, I can open the door for more kids like me who want to play a different hand than

the cards they were dealt.

What’s one reason you are passionate about music and what inspires you?

Hip-hop saved my life because there would be times when I hit rock bottom and the only

prescription was putting it into music. I have always been inspired by what I go through and

how I can turn it into an art where others can hear my story. Today as my fan base grows, I

gain more and more inspiration from my fans because I have a duty to guide them on the

right path and never let them down.

Do you have any hobbies outside of music? What do you do to stay creative?

I like to read and learn from people who know more than me because the secret to growth is

simply listening to someone who has done it before you. I try to be involved in making change for my people and our communities, but it’s not an easy fight especially for an artist. Before I was 18, I was starting protests/rallies marching the streets and speaking at large events for Palestine to bring more awareness. While many of the events brought out a huge response, I saw my opportunities in music being minimized due to the controversy. I have focused on establishing myself as an artist in order to have a bigger voice for my people.

Who are some of your main musical influences?

J. Cole, Akon, Lupe Fiasco, A Boogie, 50 Cent, & Kendrick Lamar.

What are some of your music career goals for the future?

I want to be the biggest rapper of middle eastern descent, but even bigger than that I

want to be one of the biggest rappers in hip-hop. I believe I carry a touch that many

my age don’t want to carry and even if it takes longer than most, I know I will get to

the top of the game one day.

Tell us about the project that you are promoting. What is it about? Is it a single or EP?

Also, what is the name of the last project you released?

I am promoting my latest single “Champion” dropping March 1st. It is my first song of

2021 and my first song with Empire so I am really excited to take this to the next level.

Shoutout to Ghazi for bringing me on board and since my last release in 2020 titled

"CUFF." I think “Champion” is going to be one of my best records yet.

What are some projects you’ve done in the past that you are most proud of and why?

My last two mixtapes “Faith & Hustle” + ”Between The Lines” have really established

my presence locally in the past two years. F&H being my first mixtape really started to

paint the legacy I wanted to solidify with my fans and BTL is like the improved and

more grown version of that project. Both mixtapes have constant themes and build a

story as you listen through; and both projects together have been streamed over a

million times.

What message do you hope fans take away from your music?

A dream is nothing but a dream unless you go and chase it. I firmly stand on that

principle that if you believe in something, you have to put faith in yourself and put in

the work. I always try to make music that means something and to serve my greater

purpose because as the great Malcolm X said, “A man who stands for nothing will fall

for anything.”

Where can we follow you on social media?

Instagram: @sammyshiblaq

Twitter: @sammy_shiblaq

Youtube: Sammy Shiblaq