Is there anything Shanell can't do? That's the question being asked of the singer, dancer and artistic director as she steadies herself on rollerskates.
While taking a break from rehearsing a new routine for the second leg of Lil Wayne's I Am Still Music tour, she rails off a list of things she's working on and ends with her duties as creative director of the show.
"I do the choreography, and I kind of oversee everything from the lights to the sounds, the music; it all makes sense and is all tied in together," Shanell tells BET.com. "So I got a lot of work on my hands in the next couple of weeks."
What she fails to mention is that she also recently released a remix of Weezy's rap ballad "How to Love" (this time told from a female's perspective) and also just wrapped the shoot of her first music video for a song called "My Buttons," the first single off her upcoming mixtape, Nobody's Bitch, which takes the reins from men and flexes a woman's power over her own body and sense of self.
"I'm big on representing for the females," says Shanell. "Listening to the radio nowadays you hear a lot of songs saying, 'Baby get low,' 'Drop it like it's hot,' 'Girl, girl, do this, do that.' I was like, the ladies need to speak up because men are talking about doing this that and the third when really we know what they can and can not do."
She goes on to explain the double meaning behind the song. "Buttons are our special place. [In the song] me and my button are having a conversation about how this guy may or may not come with it. I'm talking to my button about keeping it's head up, sticking in there with me, and he's going to do it right I promise. At the end of the song he ends up really not coming through, and I end up having to take care of my button myself, which actually ends up happening to a lot of women in all aspects of life—we end up having to do it ourselves."
Taking charge of things is something Shanell is all too familiar with. The multitalented singer is known by many as simply the resident crooner of Young Money, but behind the scenes it's apparent that she's a Jill of All Trades, writing, recording, dancing, working with the likes of Jay-Z, Ne-Yo and Usher, and most recently managing to piece together a new show for the tour without breaking her neck on the skates. It seems the only thing the young starlet struggles with is finding a balance between focusing on herself and others.
"I got so much energy from working with so many different artists," she says. "So now when the focus is just on me, it's kind of harder. It's like, when you're working with other artists you're trying to pull the best out of them so you can kind of see from the outside looking in. I gotta see from the inside looking in."
But the Bostonian (by way of Atlanta) talent is always up for a challenge.
"I ain't no punk, and a lot of times females singing are looked at as soft and vulnerable. My projects, as well as my career, are about representing the strength in women, the no nonsense."
The second leg of the I Am Still Music tour begins July 13 in Hartford, Connecticut, at Comcast Center and will end on September 11 in Woodlands, Texas, at the Woodlands Amphitheater.
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