Burnell Washburn on a mission to show Utah has hip-hop cred
Twenty-three years ago, Stuart James Sheffield was born in Salt Lake City.
He grew up in Cottonwood Heights, graduated from Brighton High School and studied at Salt Lake Community College.
Nothing out of the ordinary about that.
But what is extraordinary about Sheffield is that he is now known as Burnell Washburn, a rapper who is arguably the most high-profile hip-hop artist in the state.
On Aug. 24, the Urban Lounge hosted a birthday party for him.
"We celebrated properly with some of my favorite artists in the world and 250 of my closest homies," Washburn said. "EveryÂ year two things are a must for my birthday: For one, a concert. Secondly, a camping session. Mad love to everyone who came out to the show."
This weekend, Washburn is touring in Arizona with his new live band The Alex Nibley Trio.
WhatÂ areÂ theÂ favoriteÂ lyricsÂ you'veÂ everÂ composed?
ThatÂ isÂ aÂ toughÂ questionÂ thatÂ wouldÂ probablyÂ haveÂ aÂ differentÂ answerÂ everyÂ otherÂ week. LikeÂ mostÂ artists,Â IÂ generallyÂ loveÂ myÂ newestÂ materialÂ theÂ mostÂ becauseÂ itÂ isÂ theÂ freshest toÂ meÂ andÂ usuallyÂ moreÂ relevantÂ toÂ myÂ stateÂ ofÂ beingÂ atÂ theÂ time.Â TheÂ lyricsÂ thatÂ are standingÂ outÂ inÂ myÂ headÂ rightÂ nowÂ areÂ fromÂ aÂ songÂ IÂ justÂ barelyÂ wroteÂ calledÂ "Money, Penny."Â Here'sÂ aÂ littleÂ excerptÂ fromÂ theÂ secondÂ verse:Â "I'mÂ aÂ rapper,Â notÂ aÂ politician /Â ÂAllÂ I everÂ wantedÂ wasÂ forÂ youÂ allÂ toÂ listen / NeverÂ thoughtÂ itÂ wasÂ aÂ gameÂ orÂ aÂ competitionÂ / Just thoughtsÂ inÂ myÂ brainÂ onÂ aÂ compositionÂ ÂÂ notebook / Look,Â ÂI'veÂ gotÂ aÂ lotÂ ofÂ showsÂ booked,Â ÂbeenÂ throughÂ enough,Â IÂ couldÂ writeÂ myÂ ownÂ book / OnÂ howÂ toÂ getÂ screwedÂ overÂ everyÂ other dayÂ andÂ stillÂ haveÂ aÂ bigÂ smileÂ onÂ myÂ prettyÂ littleÂ face."
WhatÂ areÂ yourÂ mostÂ memorableÂ musicalÂ experiences?
OneÂ ofÂ theÂ coolestÂ momentsÂ wasÂ whenÂ IÂ wasÂ blessedÂ withÂ theÂ opportunityÂ toÂ goÂ to SoundsetÂ MusicÂ FestivalÂ inÂ MinneapolisÂ withÂ MacklemoreÂ toÂ runÂ hisÂ merchÂ boothÂ and performÂ aÂ showÂ ofÂ myÂ ownÂ theÂ nextÂ day.Â IÂ hadÂ alreadyÂ beenÂ outÂ thereÂ aÂ handfulÂ ofÂ times soÂ IÂ knewÂ itÂ wasÂ goingÂ toÂ beÂ awesome,Â butÂ itÂ wasÂ reallyÂ coolÂ gettingÂ toÂ knowÂ MackÂ better andÂ beingÂ onÂ theÂ groundsÂ toÂ interactÂ withÂ soÂ manyÂ inspiringÂ artistsÂ thatÂ I'veÂ grownÂ up listeningÂ to.Â IÂ leftÂ theÂ DesertÂ RocksÂ MusicÂ FestivalÂ inÂ MoabÂ stillÂ halfÂ coherentÂ atÂ likeÂ 6 a.m. andÂ flewÂ to MinnesotaÂ forÂ oneÂ ofÂ theÂ greatestÂ andÂ mostÂ exhaustingÂ weekendsÂ ofÂ myÂ life. AnotherÂ oneÂ ofÂ myÂ favoriteÂ timesÂ everÂ inÂ musicÂ wasÂ openingÂ forÂ DelÂ TheÂ Funkee HomosapienÂ atÂ LakeÂ Powell's PowellapaloozaÂ MusicÂ Festival.
WhoÂ inspiresÂ you?
IÂ drawÂ inspirationÂ forÂ myÂ artworkÂ andÂ myÂ lifeÂ inÂ generalÂ fromÂ justÂ aboutÂ everythingÂ and everyoneÂ aroundÂ me.Â TheÂ otherÂ dayÂ twoÂ ofÂ myÂ goodÂ friends,Â TaylorÂ andÂ ShamaeÂ Galloro, gotÂ marriedÂ atÂ RedÂ ButteÂ GardenÂ andÂ IÂ wasÂ soÂ inspiredÂ byÂ theirÂ loveÂ andÂ theirÂ beautiful growingÂ familyÂ thatÂ IÂ wroteÂ aÂ wholeÂ songÂ aboutÂ that.Â TheÂ weekÂ beforeÂ thatÂ myÂ landlordÂ was beingÂ shady,Â andÂ IÂ wasÂ ultraÂ stressedÂ aboutÂ financialÂ issues,Â soÂ IÂ wroteÂ aÂ songÂ aboutÂ that.Â I amÂ intenselyÂ inspiredÂ byÂ extremeÂ painÂ andÂ extremeÂ joy. WhenÂ lifeÂ isÂ justÂ inÂ betweenÂ with noÂ extremes,Â IÂ findÂ myselfÂ justÂ kindaÂ "blah"Â withÂ noÂ realÂ emotionsÂ toÂ spill.Â With extremeÂ goodÂ andÂ extremeÂ badÂ together,Â theÂ yinÂ andÂ yangÂ ofÂ creativeÂ energyÂ provides moreÂ materialÂ thanÂ IÂ willÂ everÂ knowÂ whatÂ toÂ doÂ with.
WhatÂ isÂ theÂ firstÂ thingÂ youÂ thinkÂ aboutÂ whenÂ youÂ wakeÂ upÂ inÂ theÂ morningÂ andÂ the lastÂ thingÂ youÂ thinkÂ aboutÂ beforeÂ goingÂ toÂ sleep?
TheÂ firstÂ thing IÂ usuallyÂ thinkÂ aboutÂ whenÂ IÂ firstÂ wakeÂ upÂ isÂ goingÂ backÂ toÂ bed,Â thenÂ breakfast,Â then whateverÂ obligationsÂ IÂ haveÂ thatÂ day.Â WhenÂ I'mÂ onÂ tourÂ IÂ generallyÂ wakeÂ upÂ withÂ enormous amountsÂ ofÂ excitementÂ becauseÂ almostÂ everyÂ dayÂ isÂ aÂ differentÂ cityÂ withÂ differentÂ peopleÂ I love.Â WhenÂ IÂ goÂ toÂ sleepÂ I'mÂ usuallyÂ visualizingÂ theÂ futureÂ andÂ makingÂ sureÂ I'mÂ readyÂ to takeÂ onÂ theÂ nextÂ day.Â IÂ loveÂ toÂ watchÂ inspiringÂ informativeÂ documentariesÂ onÂ NetflixÂ or TEDÂ talksÂ beforeÂ bed.Â IÂ refuseÂ toÂ watchÂ orÂ listenÂ toÂ anythingÂ negative,Â suchÂ asÂ CNN, beforeÂ IÂ sleepÂ becauseÂ IÂ alwaysÂ wantÂ toÂ fallÂ asleepÂ inÂ aÂ positiveÂ mind state.Â WhenÂ I'veÂ had aÂ busyÂ orÂ stressfulÂ dayÂ IÂ likeÂ toÂ watchÂ animatedÂ kids' moviesÂ orÂ natureÂ showsÂ beforeÂ bed toÂ takeÂ myÂ mindÂ offÂ allÂ theÂ stressesÂ ofÂ livingÂ inÂ Babylon.
WhatÂ isÂ WasatchÂ Renaissance,Â andÂ howÂ wasÂ itÂ born?
WasatchÂ RenaissanceÂ isÂ anÂ artisticÂ collectiveÂ designedÂ toÂ addÂ aÂ positiveÂ impactÂ onÂ the worldÂ throughÂ artisticÂ andÂ actionÂ sportsÂ cultures.Â ItÂ wasÂ bornÂ threeÂ yearsÂ agoÂ in Sugar House, startingÂ inÂ ourÂ houseÂ andÂ blossomingÂ intoÂ aÂ two-storyÂ officeÂ buildingÂ in Sandy.Â IÂ wasÂ talkingÂ withÂ myÂ friendsÂ TaylorÂ RichensÂ andÂ ParleyÂ Glover,Â andÂ weÂ realizedÂ we hadÂ soÂ manyÂ talentedÂ homiesÂ doingÂ someÂ typeÂ ofÂ artÂ orÂ sportÂ orÂ similarÂ lifestyleÂ thatÂ we wantedÂ toÂ putÂ togetherÂ aÂ companyÂ thatÂ couldÂ helpÂ allÂ ofÂ themÂ succeedÂ andÂ giveÂ allÂ of themÂ aÂ platformÂ toÂ makeÂ dreamsÂ comeÂ true.Â WeÂ allÂ haveÂ commonÂ dreamsÂ ofÂ makingÂ the worldÂ aÂ betterÂ place,Â beingÂ free,Â beingÂ happyÂ andÂ beingÂ ableÂ toÂ supportÂ ourÂ familiesÂ and communitiesÂ byÂ doingÂ whatÂ weÂ love.Â InÂ theÂ lastÂ severalÂ years,Â I'veÂ seenÂ manyÂ collectives similarÂ toÂ oursÂ thrivingÂ inÂ theÂ stateÂ ofÂ Utah,Â andÂ inÂ myÂ opinionÂ itÂ isÂ aÂ greatÂ thingÂ forÂ allÂ of us.Â TheÂ wordÂ renaissanceÂ meansÂ "rebirth,"Â andÂ manyÂ historians claimÂ theÂ Renaissance toÂ haveÂ beenÂ theÂ bridgeÂ fromÂ theÂ MiddleÂ AgesÂ toÂ theÂ modernÂ era.Â ForÂ manyÂ inÂ theÂ world, timesÂ haveÂ beenÂ darkÂ latelyÂ andÂ weÂ believeÂ thatÂ aÂ newÂ rebirthÂ isÂ amongÂ usÂ throughÂ artÂ andÂ counterculture.
DoesÂ beingÂ inÂ UtahÂ hinderÂ aÂ musicalÂ careerÂ andÂ fromÂ gettingÂ yourÂ message out?Â
Yes.Â ThereÂ areÂ manyÂ stigmasÂ involved.Â WhenÂ IÂ tellÂ peopleÂ I'mÂ fromÂ Utah,Â theirÂ first reactionÂ isÂ usuallyÂ like "Oh,Â soÂ you'reÂ Mormon,Â right?"Â orÂ "HowÂ manyÂ momsÂ doÂ youÂ have?" andÂ ofÂ courseÂ theyÂ useÂ a "hick"Â accentÂ whileÂ askingÂ meÂ theseÂ absurdities. UtahÂ isÂ not homeÂ toÂ musicÂ industry.Â WeÂ haveÂ noÂ majorÂ labelsÂ orÂ bigÂ recordÂ companiesÂ operatingÂ out ofÂ theÂ stateÂ orÂ reallyÂ anyÂ vastlyÂ popularÂ artistsÂ claimingÂ thisÂ state.Â MostÂ ofÂ theÂ famous musiciansÂ fromÂ hereÂ didn'tÂ getÂ famousÂ untilÂ theyÂ movedÂ awayÂ soÂ theyÂ don'tÂ necessarily claimÂ Utah.Â InÂ hip-hop,Â thereÂ hasÂ yetÂ toÂ beÂ anÂ artistÂ fromÂ UtahÂ getÂ hugeÂ nationalÂ orÂ global exposureÂ soÂ weÂ areÂ justÂ notÂ knownÂ forÂ thatÂ yet.Â PeopleÂ justÂ don'tÂ generallyÂ associateÂ Utah withÂ amazingÂ musicÂ soÂ theyÂ aren'tÂ lookingÂ forÂ usÂ yet.Â IÂ wouldÂ beÂ nowhereÂ probablyÂ ifÂ IÂ just stayedÂ hereÂ allÂ theÂ time.Â TravelingÂ outÂ ofÂ stateÂ andÂ networkingÂ withÂ peopleÂ allÂ acrossÂ the worldÂ isÂ keyÂ toÂ havingÂ aÂ successfulÂ musicÂ career especially if you live in aÂ state like Utah.
WhatÂ isÂ theÂ meaningÂ ofÂ life,Â andÂ yourÂ meaningÂ ofÂ life?
IÂ don'tÂ thinkÂ thereÂ isÂ oneÂ specificÂ meaningÂ butÂ ifÂ thereÂ isÂ it'sÂ gottaÂ beÂ love.
Find Burnell Washburn
The Utah rapper will perform with Joey Badass, Absoul and The Underachievers.
When • Saturday, Nov. 2
Where • The Complex, 536 W. 100 South, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $25, $30 day of. VIP passes $60 at SmithsTix
Online • Tour dates and some free downloadsÂ onÂ http://www.burnellwashburn.com. He currently has two albums for sale on iTunes. He often releases demosÂ and instrumentals on http://www.soundcloud.com/burnellwashburn asÂ wellÂ asÂ on his Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/burnellwashburn. He is also on Instagram and Twitter.