Shaboozey is having a banner year — and he’s just getting started

The genre-melding artist tells EW about his new album, "Where I've Been, Isn't Where I'm Going," what he learned from his collaborations with Beyoncé, and the importance of maintaining artistic integrity.

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Singer-songwriter Shaboozey is having a career-defining moment, and his new album Where I've Been, Isn't Where I'm Going (out now) is poised to maintain that momentum through the rest of 2024. While he has made a lot of new fans through his collaborations with Beyoncé on Cowboy Carter or his current hit song "A Bar Song," the Virginia-born artist has been making music for a decade, starting with his 2014 single "Jeff Gordon." But with this new album, he is stepping into new territory.

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With his meld of country music and rap, Shaboozey is carving out his own lane, one that drives the album. “There’s so many different vibes on this project," he tells Entertainment Weekly. "There’ll be a lot of different songs that will have their own moments throughout the rest of this year, so I’m excited to get it out to the world." From the bouncy, hip-hop-leaning "Drink Don't Need No Mix" to several quintessential country tunes including "Finally Over," Shaboozey is delivering tracks for fans of both genres.

EW spoke with the record-breaking artist about his new album, what he took away from working with Beyoncé, and what he’d tell the version of himself who was just getting started a decade ago.

<p>Daniel Prakopcyk</p> Shaboozey

Daniel Prakopcyk


ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’d like to start at the beginning. What initially sparked your passion for music?

SHABOOZEY: [I was] exposed to music very early and [realized] how much I enjoyed listening to it. Watching videos and being fascinated with how it was made. Trying to understand the whole energy around music and the whole process around making music, visuals and telling stories.

Who were some of those artists you were listening to early on?

Kanye, Pharrell, Jay Z. Those are probably the top three. Lil Wayne. Even seeing how Wayne crossed genres a lot early on in his career and was very experimental, adding rock elements to what he was doing, and being inspired by things that people don’t look at as Black culture. He was in there, so seeing that was always cool. He was always skateboarding and doing things like that as well.

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Congrats on the success of “A Bar Song.” Very important question: Is whiskey your drink of choice?

Between that and tequila. Everyone loves a good tequila, honestly. I definitely like whiskey. The culture behind whiskey; It has heritage in the South. It makes sense to go there with the drink of choice.

When did you know that interpolating "Tipsy" for "A Bar Song" would work? From the start or during the writing or recording process?

I feel like when you’re gonna flip a 2000s song, especially when it has the type of energy the original one had, it’s like, how does it not work? It’s definitely one of those that an A&R is wishing like “Damn, I wish I came up with that?” I like to find talent and help people develop sounds, with other artists, and it’s something I’m interested in.

What has experiencing the response to "A Bar Song" been like?

It’s amazing to see it resonate with so many different audiences. To have people jumping and going crazy, singing the song word for word in all different parts of the United States. You can’t bear that, you know?

You’re credited as writer on all the tracks. Was there one that was more difficult than the others?

No, which I think that’s the best thing about the project. There was no song that felt difficult or forced. With all the songs, I wanted to just be vulnerable, tell my truth, and tell my story. Speaking about what I’ve been through, what I’ve experienced, just being real with the audience. Letting them see a piece of me or a portion of me that we usually keep guarded. That’s what country music is about — it’s about telling your truth.

How did the Noah Cyrus feature come together and why was Noah the right choice for "My Fault"?

Me and her are super similar as far as being super intentional with our art. We’re going to make sure that our art represents ourselves, and it’s something different and unique. I loved her last couple projects "July," "Dear August," The End of Everything. It’s got a classic, vintage feel to it, so she’s definitely inspired a couple songs on this project. To finally get her on a song — last project I tried to get her on a song and the timing didn’t work out, but it’s cool the timing worked out on this one, and the song came out awesome.

<p>Daniel Prakopcyk</p> Shaboozey

Daniel Prakopcyk


Cowboy Carter has songs from different pockets of country music and for some it has been entry points into country music or what Black artists are doing in the genre. For those new to it, how would you describe where the songs on Cowboy Carter you were on fit into the country genre?

[Cowboy Carter] is a hybrid of a lot of different genres, and that’s always been my mission, to be the bridge between hip-hop or urban music and country music. It was cool to hear her project and see that she’s inspired by the same things I’m inspired by. Seeing how some of the themes and concepts of Spaghetti Western, or Western outlaw music, matches with the themes of trap music. If you go back to Marty Robbins’ Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs, songs like "Big Iron" and "The Master’s Call" are songs about being in a gang, robbing banks and trains, and leaving that life behind because that life is only going to lead to death or incarceration. It’s interesting that a song from the 1960s is talking about that. Then you got a song from Atlanta and it’s talking about the same thing, trying to get out of that life. I thought it was very interesting how she blended those genres together because I did the same thing on my projects.

What did you learn or take away from working with Beyoncé?

Don’t sacrifice your artistic intention. I go back to the interview where she said people don’t make albums anymore. That is a real album with interludes. Everything she did with the artwork. Even when she dropped the tracklist, I was like, “Is this a show poster? What is this?” It’s just cool to see her at that level of her career still being a real artist. At that level, they can offload everything if they want, and she’s in there doing everything still to this day.

What would you tell the version of you who started making music a decade ago?

Don’t lose your inspiration, honestly. When I started music, I had so many dreams and aspirations [for] what I wanted to do beyond music. I used to put wanting to make movies, write books, and all these other things in front of making music. I just want to make sure I don’t lose that in the future.

<p>Daniel Prakopcyk</p> Shaboozey

Daniel Prakopcyk


Your music is part of this current moment where folks are looking at and talking about what Black people can bring and have brought to country music. What would you say to artists who want to or have tried to enter the space?

Make music that’s true to you. Don’t make music for a response from people. That’s the biggest thing. I don’t think anyone needs to worry about if there’s going to be space when [they] create. Create music that’s authentic to you and that you respect and there’ll be space for you honestly.

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You didn’t make this album knowing how 2024 would blow up for you. Has that shifted your plans for what happens after the album drops?

Not too much. I didn’t know any of this stuff was gonna happen. I wanted to put together a great album that people would listen to and feel connected to, to feel like this is the new artist we want to listen to for the next 20, 30, 50 years.

Where I've Been, Isn't Where I'm Going is out now.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.