Straight out of Crazy Town, vocalist/lyricist/producer Shifty proved 2001's chart-topping "Butterfly" was no fluke when he was featured on Paul Oakenfold's "Starry Eyed Surprise" and watched it shake up dance floors and the charts. Now a solo artist, Shifty -- no Shellshock needed -- is primed to reach similar heights. Working under his own name has finally given Shifty the creative freedom to reveal his true identity and he's risen to the challenge on his debut solo set, Happy Love Sick.
Shifty's triumph however, didn't come without pain.
Unsettled at the disintegration of Crazy Town, he sought refuge in Malibu. It was there, at Starbucks, that Shifty came across a young singer/songwriter performing with an acoustic guitar on the sidewalk. The aspiring musician asked Shifty how he managed to make it. His advice was simple: "Make a CD and give it to the dopest person you can think of." Three months later, after Shifty completed one of Crazy Town's final shows at the Roxy on the Sunset Strip, the same street the musician approached Shifty with a demo CD. Shifty took the disc home and was blown away by the young singer and multi-instrumentalist known as TC and soon they were laying down tracks together.
"The first thing we did together was a cover of Minnie Ripperton's 'Loving You,' and we did it in an hour," Shifty recalls. "It was the most fun I had making a song since I started." Shifty and TC took the 1975 Number One hit, updated it with a Sublime vibe and pulled a gender switch. "It's a classic song sung by a woman," Shifty says, "but we've done it as two little stoner kids singing it to a girl and it's kinda cool."
With Crazy Town heading towards its inevitable end, going solo was a natural progression for Shifty. He proved his star power as the voice and face behind Oakenfold's crossover smash "Starry Eyed Surprise."
With his confidence as a solo artist growing, Shifty recorded a demo that landed on the desk of Maverick Records CEO Guy Oseary. Already familiar with his work with Crazy Town and Maverick artist Oakenfield, Oseary signed Shifty to the label Madonna built.
The album has a summery groove that will surely please fans of "Butterfly" and "Starry Eyed Surprise," hits that first gained Shifty notice. "I love to write songs that people love to listen to and ultimately make people happy," he says. "A lot of artists pretend to be dark, but I just wanted to focus on a classic summer vibe that kids can have a good time to, and I think we pulled it off."
Happy Love Sick is more representative of Shifty's early influences than anything else he's done yet. As a teen growing up in Hollywood, he fell in love with the pillars of West Coast hip-hop. Shifty moved with his family to Hollywood from Boston at the age of 12. It wasn't long before he became one of the city's most popular graffiti artists, with Westwood Village and Hollywood among his favorite targets. It made sense, considering his father was an artist and filmmaker who did album covers and directed The Rolling Stones' Ladies and Gentlemen, The Rolling Stones movie. "I got into all the biggest graffiti crews 'cos no one could believe what I would climb up into and write on. I was like a monkey. I would climb onto the tallest buildings."
It was through those crews that he would end up becoming a member of late 80s/early 90s hip-hop outfit, The Whooliganz. At just 15, Shifty was the group's hype man, touring the US and performing on the country's biggest stages. He shared bills with the likes of Cypress Hill, Rage Against the Machine and House of Pain, his idols. "I was just a kid but I was like, "this is what I want to be. I'm gonna be a musician. This is life. I got to freestyle on stage at Madison Square Garden with Cypress and Rage!"
Going out on his own gave Shifty the freedom to regress to those earlier influences while creating something intensely personal. "Happy Love Sick finally allows me to make the music I want. I'm not worried about being cool. If I want to write a song and it's from the heart, then I'm gonna do it. That's just how I feel about songs. If I feel it, I'm gonna write it."
Aside from TC, Shifty also called on other friends to lend a hand. Oakenfold returns the favor on "Turning Me On." No Doubt's Tom Dumount turns up on "When We Were Young," a song that looks back at "all the crazy sh-- we went through growing up," Shifty explains.
Elsewhere, Shifty tackles such serious subjects as a best friend's death in "A Better Place," which recalls Radiohead and Coldplay with a hip-hop vibe, and his own battle with sobriety in "Take the Pain Away."
More than any other track, the first single, "Slide Along Side" exemplifies where Shifty is at this point in his life and career. It's a song about life and living it up. "Even though bad things happen," he says, "life's about appreciating the good things. You can focus on the bad or you can focus on the good. It's a journey and I'm happy to be on it."
--- from the official Shifty website