Aside from her skills as a rapper, what makes Shunda K stand out is that she’s both gay and openly Christian. Even more puzzling is that, throughout her new solo album The Most Wanted, she’s glorifying God in one verse and herself in the next. If blessed are the meek, then maybe Shunda K’s got a Beatitude problem. Yet these contradictions are part of what makes her a compelling figure.
In the end, it seems Shunda is simply trying to spread the positivity that she’s finally been able to harness after overcoming several life struggles: an unhappy hetero marriage, conflict within her group Yo Majesty and record contract trappings. Throughout the album’s 20 tracks, there’s definitely a sense of redemption and optimism. And booty-shakin’, for that matter.
You stream and download some tracks from The Most Wanted below, scattered amongst our interview. For further listening, two mixtapes — The Best Eva Written (in which she raps over Outkast instrumentals) and Kollaborations (collaborations, obvs — including a remix of “Billionaire” with Peaches) — are available for free at her Bandcamp.
Expatriarch: This is your first solo album, although the first track is called “I am Yo Majesty”, referring to your past group, which was a trio, correct?
Shunda K: Well, it is referring to the group Yo Majesty, and we’ll not talk about it in past tense, ‘cause I’m actually working with Shon B, who the first member I recruited for the group. We’re working again to put it back together. We’re looking to release a single by March. We wanted to get Yo Majesty going again for the people, because the people love Yo Majesty!
Shon B guested on your new single, I’m da Best”…
Yeah, and also on another track called “Action”. Me and Shon, we had always been cool. I just, you know, was upset how she pretty much abandoned the group, but I understand the circumstances. So we’ve quashed our differences and we bein’ grown women about it, and keeping it going. We love doing what we do, so why not do it together?
On the subject of Christianity and religion: The lyrics of many of your tracks address Jesus, but at the same time, you are opposed to organized religion…
Right. I mean, God is not a religious guy. When you have a relationship with God, it’s spiritual. Ultimately, God is love. People try to make Jesus Christ out to be so difficult, and it’s not that difficult. God is love and love is God, and if we had more love in the world, it would be a better place.
So the mission and the message is: Spread the love of God and the love of Jesus Christ, and don’t let religion break you down. You need to be around people that celebrating you, not just tolerating you. You only have one life to live, and everyone needs to take charge of their life to be happy. If you don’t do it for yourself, you can’t expect anyone else to do it for you.
I agree with most of what you’re saying, but if the main thing is love, why is it important for you to attach Jesus’ name to that? That may exclude some people who are maybe down with your message of love, but there is a lot of baggage that comes with that word, “Christianity”.
Without my relationship with God, man, everything I’m doing wouldn’t be possible. Even growing up as a kid, my grandparents raised me, but I always felt alone. Nobody ever came to my basketball games or track meets. I was always told I wasn’t gonna be shit, I was never gonna amount to anything.
I ended up graduating high school with honors and got an academic and athletic scholarship to college. That push and that drive and that force that was behind me, making me say, “I believe in myself”, was my relationship with God. Just God being there and having my back. So, you know, even with me — a black chick from the hood — I’ve traveled all over the world. So I have to give God the glory.
You know, I went to God in prayer, I said, “Well, I’ve been taught that you don’t love me cause I’m gay. But I wanna come to you right now and ask that you will bless me with my wife. I want an independent woman, a woman who works…” and I just went down the list. “What I’m gonna do in return, I’m gonna go on a three-month celibacy, where I’m not gonna have sex with anyone.” In three months’ time, I met my wife just the way I prayed and asked God, and from that point on my faith has been filled in Jesus Christ, because I prayed in the name of Jesus, see, the power is in the name of Jesus. And it’s such a wonderful thing when you have that understanding.
I would just encourage everyone to go further than what the Bible says. Get your computers out, Google some of the things you have questions about. You know, King James — the King James version of the Bible — supposedly he was gay.
Really? I never heard that.
Yeah, and so a gay man writes the Bible. I mean, everybody know that. I’m not saying that you’re dumb or anything like that, I’m just saying that that’s well known. But nobody ever talks about that, you feel me? So why should I be condemned to hell cause I’m gay? That’s B.S.! Religion has been used to control the people, to do what religious leaders want. To me, it’s a modern day slavemaster. Just like the music industry if you ain’t careful! Knowledge is power.
Alright, switching gears, let’s talk more about the album and the music. I noticed, taking a look at the tracklist, there’s a lot of Berlin collaborators: Snax, Cindy Wonderful from Scream Club and Electrosexual. What’s your connection to Berlin?
Man, I came to Berlin for a performance with Peaches a couple years ago and got in the studio with Cindy. I know her here from the states, I was doing a club night, her and Sarah from Scream Club came through, and we pretty much built a bond like that, and she introduced me to Electrosexual, and it was on and poppin. When I came to do the show with Peaches, I did an afterparty and that’s how I met Snax. I’m a networker. I’m always looking to do a collaboration.
I read also that you’re going to guest on the album of the Superions, which is the new band from Fred Schneider from the B-52s. Can you talk a little about that?
Yeah, so my label head put me in touch with Mr. Fred Schneider. He was doing their publicity, so he set it up for me to go down to Orlando where the Superions are based, and we did a collaboration, actually, me him and Peaches as well. It was supposed to be on my album, but we decided to wait, and gonna be definitely lookin to droppin it probably by the summertime, cause it’s hot! “Three-way Freeway”, that’s the name of it.