As a founding member and the first lady of Disturbing Tha Peace, rapid-fire rapper Shawnna remains one of eight female emcees to register a number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 with her appearance on Ludacris’ on 2003’s “Stand Up.” Along with an appearance on “What’s Your Fantasy,” her career seemed poised for superstardom. However, contract disputes and infighting within the DTP family ultimately led to delayed releases (Worth Tha Weight, 2004) and the disbandment of a group with boundless potential.
An inarguably blessed lyricist, Shawnna’s re-emergence comes a good decade later with the release of Voodoo Child — her third album (Block Music, 2006) — on her own Guy Entertainment. An ode to Jimmi Hendrix’s classic and also a nod to her Grammy award-winning father’s New Orleans roots, it is a fitting reintroduction.
We spoke with Shawnna about how her time away from the industry has helped shape her and what it took to repair her relationship with DTP’s head honcho.
It’s been 10 years since the split with DTP. What was your biggest takeaway from that experience?
I took away all positivity. My father’s in the music industry and as a child, I was able to learn early on that business goes up and business goes down. Good things do come to an end. I had been with Disturbing Tha Peace for 10 years. I was also pregnant with my third child, and I just made the decision to go home and kind of recollect myself, be a mom, and be able to be home for all those milestones that I missed for my two earlier children.
Is there anything that you regret about that situation?
Just not being vocal enough, not expressing my frustrations … I should have been more involved in the process and really understanding my contract and just being involved in every decision that was made… That’s the only thing I regret, is just putting so much power in someone else’s [hands] and [not] handling it myself.
Talk about your new project, Voodoo Child — what’s up with the title?
So “Voodoo Child” is originally a song that was cut by Jimi Hendrix … and he just kind of loses it. Throughout my father’s career, he would do his own rendition of it. Also, … Pops is from New Orleans. I spent a lot of my childhood down in Louisiana and I have roots [there], and I wanted to include that.
Do you and Luda have a relationship?
[Yes.] Luda and I were estranged for a little while. Just last year, we happened to get booked on the same venue. I think just both parties was just like, “Yo, enough is enough … it’s time to hug it out,” and we did that. It was such a relief. It was like a weight was lifted off my chest because we did create a legacy.
We were pretty dominant and to not acknowledge, to not embrace that with him throughout those years was [weighing] heavy on my heart. So it was really refreshing.