Shogunna Drops New Raw D.O.P.E. Mixtape [Interview]

For a while, Los Angeles has been the trampoline for Asian artists trying to make it in the very saturated U.S.A. rap market. Originally from Queens, NY, Shogunna moved to L.A. some time ago. Living in Hip Hop’s two most competitive cities has made him a seasoned veteran in dropping quality bars on a constant basis.  His new mixtape Raw D.O.P.E. (Diary of a Poetic Entity) came out last Sunday. Our journalist Danny Yoo aka Booda got in touch with Shogunna to ask him a few questions on his background and current musical path. 

B – Who is Shogunna?

S – Shogunna is the other guy. Usually portrayed as an antagonist due to the choices he made in his past. However, he is also the definition of changing your life around for the better no matter how critical the situations are. In this case, trading in the life of reckless crime and endangerment for the betterment through reaching out to the community through music.

Originally, Shogun was a nickname given to me by my older peers from the neighborhood when I was in my early teens. The nickname stuck with me throughout the years. As I started to pursue the music I realized there were so many artists, Dj’s, and a fighter with that name so I added the NA (meaning “I” in Korean) and that’s how Shogunna came about.

B – How and when did you get into Hip-Hop?

S – I really got into hip hop culture actively at the age of 14 with my involvement with the Universal Zulu Nation. If you do your history, you will see that the UZN and its members are one of the main pioneers in the hip hop culture. I was more involved with the graffiti element in the culture and it was not until I started joining in the ciphers that my heart was leading towards the mc element. Chapter 17!!! PEACE!!!

B – What did you grow up listening to?

S – My walkman was playing Rakim, KRS-1, Lost Boyz, Nas, Jay-Z, Gangstarr, Wu Tang, Tribe Called Quest, CNN, Onyx, LL, Big Daddy Kane, Cypress Hill, Mic Geronimo and Royal Flush.

B – Who were your biggest influences?

S – My biggest influences were Wu Tang, and within Wu Tang was ODB. Pac, Guru, Nas and BIG most definitely.

B – Why do you think asian emcees in the hip hop game are not up there with the rest of the rappers and what is the solution?

S – I don’t think that we are not up there. We are generating a significant buzz in the USA right now as we are becoming more accepted into the mainstream. The only thing in my opinion is that the artist even me still hasn’t made that viral hit that appeals to all types of people and not just one significant audience. Far East Movement blew up with their hit but they are considered to be in the electronic genre. For hip hop it hasn’t happened yet, but it will happen.

B – Any trials and tribulations as an Asian emcee?

S – It’s not just for Asians, but for anyone pursuing this path that there are trials and tribulations. Having the talent and skills is one thing. These days you have to possess the ability to market and promote your brand as well as get yourself heard to the masses. It is not an easy task.

B – What do you think about the status of the hip hop industry right now?

S – Hip Hop is transforming, some are not happy with it and some are accepting the new wave. I do say it’s a lot of trendy rap these days but that’s what the public likes to hear these days and what the radio stations are playing.

B – Why do you think people should listen to your latest release “Raw D.O.P.E. (Diary Of A Poetic Entity)”?

S – Well for my core supporters who have been behind me from the beginning and through my ups and downs, this release will showcase the transition in my music and style as well as my current situations in life, while sticking to my roots. For new listeners, it is the introduction of Shogunna. That raw form of hip hop to the best of my abilities that I am showcasing. It is definitely worth the listen. Close your eyes, forget race, forget face and let the music do the envisioning. RAW D.O.P.E is the title I came up with because this project is like my personal diary. It contains what has been going on with my life and Me as an artist/entity presenting it in the rawest form possible.

B – What is the message you want to deliver to your listeners through your music?

S – The message I am delivering is my testament in lyrical form. I was how you say a screw up in society. I have made many wrong decisions in my life that I paid the price for but that has made me who I am today and I am still on my feet pursuing this dream and passion I had since my youth. It is a testament that no matter what walk in life you come from, anything is possible if you keep that motivation and ambition alive.


B – Where do you see yourself in five years? 10 years?

S – Five years from now I want to be married with kids (laughs). A man is nothing without his legacy. That’s what I believe. Also I want to be established with my own production company where I will be showcasing new talent. Ten years from now I see myself expanding the production empire to different ventures.

B – Any future projects the fans should know about?

S – I have my EP still untitled that will be released early next year. The EP will contain 6 tracks that are on a whole different level!! It is not the everyday Shogunna that people usually listen to, but the Shogunna on a whole new dimension. It’s crazy! I am working on it with a production team called Disbursed Collective and it will be released with a distribution label that I will not announce until the time is right. I will also be dropping a mix tape later on next year and a collaboration mix tape with a producer from Australia named Azza. Got a lot of things lined up. Hope people are prepared for the storm.

B – Any last words?

S – Raw D.O.P.E is available for free download on Reverbnation and soundcloud. The Hardcopy which contains 3 more unreleased tracks will be available on Dank Nation. The hardcopy can be purchased with the first official Gunna Fam Black snap back cap and dog tag. I also have Dank Nation tees available for custom order where we print your name on the shirt!

B – Any shouyouts?

S – Shout out to Danny Yoo and Elementality for having me do this interview. I am honored and truly appreciate the love. Shout out to ALL my supporters who have been with me through thick and thin. Shout out to the Gunna Fam Dank Nation movement. And shout out to everyone back home in Queens NYC and my people out in Cali. I see you!

Mixtape link:

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