Tell us your real names, country of birth, date of birth and childhood experience.

(Tota) Real name is Larussell Thomas was born in the United States on October 6, 1994. I was originally born in Oakland, CA but was raised in Vallejo,CA where my parents were seeking a better life for us. I’m the youngest and only male of 4 children. Growing up my father was always singing, his side of the family was very into church early on and very musically inclined. I think I gain my melodic sense from him. I would have to give my edge and aggression to my grandfather on my mother’s side. He was a black panther and close associate of Huey P Newton. I’d describe my upbringing as normal like any other kid who grew up here. Vallejo is one of those areas where some days it feel as if there’s no way out. I always had bigger dreams and seen more. I started rapping with my sister around the age of 8. She was always better than me as far as flow, delivery, and everything so I’d always strive to write something better than her. I picked up producing around age 12 in the 7th grade. Me and my best friend at the time Larry would rush home everyday after school to record songs and make beats. I’ve always had little makeshift studios coming up because my pops was really supportive. My junior year in high school I got my first real equipment while on preliminary expulsion from school. The whole month or whatever I was out of school I just made music on top of music. I started learning how to mix and master and basically do everything myself.

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Tell us about your music career, your band name, musical background, experience and skills.

I would say junior year or senior year is when I started taking it the most serious. I started battle rapping at school for money and just gaining attraction and rep. After high school I started really honing in on the art and craft and just studying everything about music. The best engineers the best writers the best rappers everything about it. I formed a duo called WeAreYou with one of my best friends at the time Dianne Dulay. This led to me forming an artistic collective called GoodCompenny which acts as a manager / marketing platform. We shoot all our own videos, mix and master all our own music, do all our covers, marketing, promo etc. basically a fully independent creative collective.

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Tell us about your genre, concept and idea behind your music video and the song.

I honestly have no idea how to describe my genre. I literally make whatever I feel at the moment. I have songs from rock, pop, dance, to really gritty hip hop with classic bars. Kanye west is one of my largest influences so hearing and seeing how versatile he is has always inspired me and encouraged me to do what I love and not what fits in with everything else. So this forthcoming year I’m really planning to unleash myself creatively and show the world who I am as an artist. The concept behind this song was really just frustration. I get so consumed and involved emotionally with these tragic events such as police brutality. It really takes so much out of me and I can’t do nothing but express those feelings on a song. My idea was solely to shed light on the situation because so many of these events happen and don’t make it to the local news or global news. They get swept under the rug and no justice served to the families.

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Tell us everything that we need to know about you as a musician and the ups and downs you have faced in the music business.

As a musician I prefer to let the music speak for itself. I try to remain completely open and honest and just really real in my songs. I love to question and challenge topics that others deviate from.  I’ve faced a lot of adversity so far doing music. I’ve lost so many of my best friends. I’ve learned so much about people through the experience and clout and seeing people that you once grew with change because they get attention is really crazy. I’ve taught a lot of people how to produce mix rap write etc and always get left with nothing so I definitely know my time is coming.

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Tell us about other members of your band, music producer, crew or music video director, how the song was recorded and how the music video was shot.

Song was recorded back in 2014 in my old studio in Vallejo. I have a horrible habit of holding on to songs and I grow like this connection with them. This one in particular I always had a vision of how I wanted it to sound. I always told myself if I’m going to release a song like this it has to be the best one possible. So over these last 3 years I’ve added new elements to the production , I’ve mixed it over 20 times, I’ve gotten features and the last addition just happened this year and that was the spoken word piece by a poet named Tyanna Braswell Aka TeeSpeaks. I heard some of her work through Instagram and was instantly captured. So I knew I had to have her on this one. When we finally met in person it was an instant connection, she just had an amazing energy attached to her.

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Tell us how long you have been in the music industry, your experience and your future goal.

I’ve been writing music since I was 8 years old. My future goals is so cliché because I feel like everyone says it but I really want to be the best. I feel like hip hop has taken a huge dive lyrically due to all the commercial success of records and I feel I can preserve that. I’m always about the art first and the culture so bars is always my top priority.

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Tell us what inspires you to write, compose and sing.

I’m inspired by life. I literally just see things or here stories from my friends then write about them sub consciously in songs. My friend could tell me about a bad break up and I can literally take it and put myself in those shoes. I draw inspiration from absolutely everything around me.

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Tell us the secret behind making a hit song.

I have no clue.

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Tell us the message you will like to pass to your fans out there.

The message I’d like to pass on is that real people exist. We get so caught up in celebs and treat them like their higher than us and sometimes they act like such but remember fans give them power. They can only treat you a certain way in response to how you treat them. I’m all the way human. Whether you’re the janitor or the CEO you got my respect.

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Tell us how you write your lyrics, compose, sing and record in the studio.

Everything happens naturally. There is absolutely no magic formula or process. It’s actually super boring. I just sit here or walk around mumbling stuff until something comes up. I write pretty fast I always tell myself if I cant get a verse in 15 minutes then I move on because at that point it’s no longer natural to me it feels forced.

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Name five biggest artists that you like.

Kendrick

J Cole

Drake

Kanye

Bruno Mars

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Give us the links to your website and your entire social network.

@Tota Shakur on Instagram and Twitter.


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