Shawn Pen: ‘Put your pen to paper and write more than songs’

Shawn Pen: ‘Put your pen to paper and write more than songs’

Originally published on The Industry Cosign March 4, 2015

When Hip-Hop was first acknowledged by the masses, it was looked at like a fad, similar to disco. Hot for the time being, but will play itself out soon, especially since it was coming from Black kids in the inner city. Yes, that was the mindset at that particular time.
‘Hip-Hop will go away, so let them enjoy their time while they can.’
Well, what do you know? Hip-Hop, many, many, many years later is not only still going on, it’s STILL the biggest musical genre, in sales, marketing and even in business.
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The next thing they were saying was that once the artists’ career is over, they’ll just fade and then we won’t hear or see them again, except if they are able to book an old school show. But, once again, there are several Hip-Hop artists who may become billionaires within the next several years.Yes, The Business of Hip-Hop is growing more as you read this. So much that people don’t even have to be popular artists in order to get their ‘pie in the sky.’Shawn Pen, once known to the Hip-Hop world as Lil Shawn (Hickeys on Your Chest, Dom Perignon) and perhaps one of the first ghostwriters in Hip-Hop (Even though it was considered a sin back then if you didn’t write your own rhymes), is still in the game of Hip-Hop and has taken his natural talent to a different forum. Proving the naysayers wrong once again as he has written a book, ‘The Black Church’ and this is just the beginning.

Shawn laid down his Pen for a moment to give The Industry Cosign a moment to let us know what he is about to do and the reason he stuck with writing.

You are the infamous Lil Shawn who made the early Hip-Hop classic, “Hickeys on Your Chest”. Why did you decide to become a rapper back in the 90s?

First off, my first deal was in 1987 on Select records. In my neighborhood, at that time, it was either music or drug dealing and I chose both but music was a more promising outlet. The love for music as well as the prospect of financial gain spawned my interest.
How has Hip-Hop helped you in terms of your career?
Career wise, I became very wealthy at an early age and the life’s lessons taught me what and what not to do in business, period. Great relationships are extremely important in any business.
You were known in the industry, not as just an emcee, but as a ghostwriter. How were you approached to become a ghostwriter and how long did you write for others?

I was summoned to a meeting with then Uptown/MCA president, Andre Harrell and newly appointed A&R, Sean Puffy Combs. It was at that time that I was asked to write for a yet to be released artist by the name of Father MC.Your skills as a writer has led you to another aspect of your career as you have ‘Penned’ a book, ‘The Black Church.’ What is the book about and what made you write a book?

I knew I wanted to be back in entertainment but not necessarily in music so being a writer, I figured that by penning a book, I’d open the door to script and later film/TV. The book is about two friends that did time in prison for selling drugs. Upon their release back into society, one got married & started pastoring his own church while the other returned back to his drug dealing past.

Are there any plans to write more books or anything else pertaining to writing?

Actually The Black Church is the first of three. We are now in talks to develop the first release into a mini series.

You were actually referenced in The Notorious B.I.G.’s first record, ‘Party and Bullshit’ as he said, ‘Let me put Hickeys on Your Chest like Lil Shawn. At this point in Hip-Hop, there wasn’t much name-droppin’, so, how did that make you feel at the time when the song did drop and become popular at that time?

That shoutout was BIG’S form of a thank you for being the first to put him on stage prior to him being signed to Bad Boy records by Diddy. It felt great for a number of reasons. Hip Hop has a tendency of forgetting so to be acknowledged by someone as prominent and influential as Biggie it was great.

As anyone who has seen you can tell, for a guy who called himself Lil Shawn, you’re a pretty big guy. You’re also a personal trainer, how did that come about?

While doing a stint in federal prison, I’d gotten into fitness and nutrition. After getting out and seeing how big the health industry was and still is, I decided to help people get in shape and teach them the proper way to eat. For me it became a lifestyle.

How has the industry changed from when you first had an interest in it?

In my opinion, it has changed for the better. The power is back in the peoples hands due in part to the internet. One doesn’t have to take a meeting and get signed to be heard.

Tell me your thoughts about The Business of Hip-Hop. Where do you think Hip-Hop, business-wise, is gonna go, what direction?

Hip Hop influences everything from fashion to food. With artists today being smarter and more independent in it’s way of thinking, there can only be more money generated to the business of Hip Hop by way of corporate America. It has become a force to be reckoned with.
What keeps you going these days, what keeps you in a positive mindset to accomplish whatever goals you have planned?
Today it’s family. What will I do that will garner a life long residual for my children? I’m not into fast food business. There has to be more to it in the long scheme of things for me to be intrigued by it.
Are there any last words or anything you’d like to talk about in conclusion?
Well people can order my book from my website Young kids today don’t all have to be rappers or singers. We must teach the youth the importance of the diversifying of goals and ambitions. Take for instance the tv show, EMPIRE. They had to have music for the show so they hired the producer Timberland. Put your pen to paper and write more than songs.

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