Oakland's Songstress Sh8peshifter Releases New EP "After Darkness"

Article Contributed by JP Cutler Media | Published on Friday, June 21, 2019

A breeding ground for indie artistic ventures ranging from the latest hit movies by Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You) and Daveed Diggs (Blindspotting) as well as GRAMMY Award-winning albums from musicians such as Fantastic Negrito (Please Don't Be Dead), Oakland serves as a wonderland of creative inspiration for the poignant narratives defining Sh8peshifter's thriving career. As an entrepreneur, Zakiya Harris (a.k.a. Sh8peshifter) is a visionary figure helping to advance opportunities for Oakland's under-resourced youth in the black community. By night, Sh8peshifter enchants audiences through a kaleidoscopic lens with her fusion of hip-hop and electronic beats dripping with supernatural vocals. On her latest EP, After Darkness (Release Date: September 27, 2019), Sh8peshifter leaves an indisputable impression as a force on the front lines fighting for the betterment of Oakland.

An Oakland native herself, Sh8peshifter traverses the globe in search of enlightenment within diverse genres of music and dance. From Senegal to Jamaica to New York City, her travels inform her sense of culture. Her home of East Oakland silhouette's a fierce artistic identity sculpted over the past two decades. After graduating Rutgers University (New Jersey) while working in public interest law at the World Trade Center, Sh8peshifter emerged as a performer of note in the Brooklyn club scene during the hip-hop renaissance instituted by luminaries Mos Def and Talib Kweli; the latter of which Sh8peshifter opened for at San Francisco's live music institution, Stern Grove Festival.

Upon returning from NYC to Oakland, Sh8peshifter's grassroots pursuits led to co-founding nationally lauded initiatives, including Impact Hub Oakland, Hack the Hood (winner of Google Impact Challenge grant for $500,000), and Toyota's Grind for the Green. As a speaker, Sh8peshifter has presented at Tedx Denver, The National Convention of Black Journalists, and the NAACP National Convention. With the release of her book, Sh8peshift Your Life: The Creative Entrepreneur's Guide to Self-Love, Self-Mastery & Fearless Self-Expression, Sh8peshifter leads workshops at prestigious universities across the country, including at University of California, Santa Cruz; San Francisco State; Livingstone College, and others. Sh8peshifter was named "One to Watch" by Grist.org.

While living the American dream as a happily married black woman, homeowner, and successful entrepreneur, Sh8peshifter's life was swept up in a whirlwind of change a decade ago when she lost her home to foreclosure at the height of 2009's housing crisis. A mother of a beautiful daughter, Sh8peshifter ended her marriage and was laid off while non-profit budgets diminished during the Great Recession. Following a bicycle accident that left a permanent facial scar, Sh8peshifter channeled her losses into a mantra destined for exponential growth. At this crossroads in her life, Sh8peshifter fully realized her creative impetus and took a deep dive into releasing music.

Sh8peshifter -- After Darkness -- Featured Compositions
After Darkness opens with "Abracadabrakaafrica," an empowering anthem that showcases the vigor of black women in America. Amid spellbinding beats and electric guitar work, Sh8peshifter proclaims that, "black woman is God." Sh8peshifter composed the track in memory of Sandra Bland, an African-American woman pulled over by police during the height of The Black Lives Matter Movements who was suspiciously found hanging in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas.

"For myself, my daughter, and my community, it was essential for me to pay tribute to Sandra Bland as a black woman who is God," says Sh8peshifter.

Renowned artists, musicians, choreographers and dancers united for the filming of the official music video for "Abracadabrakaafrica." Sh8peshifter notes, "It's an affirmation and right of passage to have all these powerful black women crowning me in the video." The music video features appearances by Amara Tabor-Smith (UC Berkeley Dept. of Theater and Dance), Nkei Oruche (Afro Urban Society), Karen Seneferu (Berkeley City College), Melora Greene (Community Activist), Ryan Nicole (Actress), Maddy Clifford (Poet), and Lalin St. Juste (The Seshen). To view the music video for "Abracadabrakaafrica," please click here.

"Open My Door" speaks to opening oneself up to people with self-serving personalities, and igniting one's internal capacity to let go of toxic circumstances. Sh8peshifter contemplates the impulses of going from one unhealthy relationship to the next and evaluating why one lets adversarial people into their life.

The title track "After Darkness" mirrors the metamorphosis of Sh8peshifter. All of creation starts with the dark, whether in the womb or soil. One needs to burrow to create roots to be fully grounded. Challenges will arise and with "After Darkness," Sh8peshifter transforms life's most difficult moments into her greatest gifts. "I have earned stripes through the school of hard knocks," says Sh8peshifter. "I've now come into the light, stepping into a new level of my own power as an artist. My new EP reflects my personal story, but even more so, it’s a soundtrack for those contending with life's hardships."

Co-produced with brothers Kevin and Geoff McCann (Alphabet Rockers), "Give and Take" transports Sh8peshifter into an electro-space soundscape with a vital message that when things go seemingly wrong or extremely well, it's imperative to keep a level head. "Not Today" further exemplifies the depths of explorative arrangements on After Darkness while lyrically, Sh8peshifter confirms the things she will no longer put up with by setting clear boundaries.

After Darkness concludes with an ode to 1980s-inflected punk rock on "Runaway." The uplifting narrative offers sage advice to do more than just live. Sh8peshifter encourages the listener to thrive to their greatest potential. "Sometimes when you see crazy coming down the street, you need to run away. You have a choice to leave those who are not serving you in positive ways."

Sh8peshifter celebrates After Darkness with a special headlining CD release concert in Oakland, CA in September 2019. For a comprehensive list of Sh8peshifter's forthcoming tour dates, please visit: sh8peshifter.com.

After Darkness
(Release Date: September 27, 2019)

Track List:
1. Abracadabrakaafrica
2. Open My Door
3. After Darkness
4. Give And Take
5. Runaway
6. Not Today