Sha Money XL has bittersweet memories of his first bike. Like many kids growing up in New York in the 80s he coveted a shiny dirt bike custom made for tricks and stunts. One brand in particular was a status symbol amongst riders and non-riders alike, Mongoose.
“Honestly, it was given to me because I couldn’t afford nothin. My sister’s boyfriend gave it to me. I don’t know where he got it from, he didn’t steal it, but it sure enough got stolen from me,” the native of Queens, NY says with the disappointment in his voice seeping through the phone. “That was the most disappointing thing that happened to me in the early part of my life. I still remember the two kids that stole it…where they stole it, when they stole it and how I couldn’t even do nothing about it when it was stolen. It was just fucked up. They was real street kids and older than me. I was going up to the corner store and they took it.”
Thankfully, the childhood experience didn’t sour him on bikes and the joy they brought. For many kids a bike represented freedom, mobility and even entrepreneurship. That spirit has manifested in the latest project from the multi-platinum selling manager, producer and co-founder of G-Unit Records, The Chain On The Bike.
“So ‘The Chain On The Bike’ is an analogy and nickname I was given earlier in the beginning of my career. That’s a nickname 50 Cent gave me a while back because he understood my value at that time. I was gettin’ shit movin,” he explains. “With a bike you got the wheels, you go the steering, you got the seat and the pedal, but you need that chain to really move. Without that chain the bike ain’t really moving nowhere. The thing that keeps this bike moving and keeps the pace, get’s you goin, is that chain and that’s what I am for a lot of these artists and talented people that I’ve helped, producers and writers that have worked with me. Thats where that came from.”
From his days working with G-Unit and producing his One Stop producers conference, to A&Ring projects for Def Jam and Epic Records, it has always been part of Sha Money XL’s personal mission to identify and cultivate new talent in hip-hop. With this new project he has paired new voices from various cities and regions with established talent like Prodigy and Styles P. Through a partnership with his Teamwork Music Label and eOne, his passion project is finally seeing the light.
“I’ve been procrastinating always making it about whether I work for Epic or Def Jam or managing artists, and I pushed this to the side,” he says. “But since my boy Sean C gave me this MPC Renaissance, he sent it to me as a loaner, I fell in love with it and ended up keeping it, and I’ve been on this shit making so much music. I feel more creative as a producer now than I was back then making 50’s first album that sold 20 Million records. This is the right time for me. If I’m not listening to Griselda, there isn’t much on the soundscape that I like unless it’s a new guy. So guess what, let me help these new guys. If they need features, co-signs or someone to stand next to them for a mention to happen or for a blog to pick it up, so let me give myself up to help these guys.”
Read on as Sha Money XL gives us the Inside Track on the songs from The Chain On The Bike.
“Cold Winter,” Featuring G Yamazawa
My boy Chris from The Frontrunnaz, a production and writing crew, sent me a link on Facebook and it was this kid. He was rapping and going in. The visual was compelling and the energy was just so raw like yo, this kid is fuckin killing it. Not to mention the kid is Asian. He’s talented and going hard. I became a fan of him. That’s how it started and I reached out to him and said I like what you’re doing.
As we started working I had this one track that I was real selective in who I would play it for and I just felt that I knew, with his energy, if he was to get this one, it would create the kind of shit that you need in hip-hop right now. And he killed it.
The beat, I was just here creating and I had these two parts. I just wanted to start off calm and have a build up so you could see it like a movie. I only sent it to one other artist who liked it but he never responded. So I [kept it].
Coming From Shadyville (Skit) WSB 90.1
I wanted to hear my voice on the album and anytime family members and kids hear my name on a record they always get excited. This was back in the days when I was going to NYU and I used to be at the radio stations doing my independent thing trying to be famous and get on. I went through a bunch of my old tapes and found this recording of me on the station. I don’t know how I got it but I recorded it. And twenty years later hearing myself as a teenager, this shit is crazy. You can hear the hunger, you can hear I’m still about my hood Shadyville, Queens Village. I’m still here doing this my own way, no clique, no clan, and it’s about this music. This had to have been ’96 or ’97.
“Never Did You Wrong” Featuring Northside JR, Landlord, Kronik
The skit segues into this song. ‘You about to hear the Shadyville All Stars.’ This is the new generation. I’m from the North side of Queens and there’s a lot of executives like Steve Stoute and DJs like DJ Clue, my cousin DJ Whoo Kid, guys like Irv Gotti that are all in the industry, but they’re not rappers. And I always wanted to see a rapper make it from my neighborhood. I was trying back then with one kid but he didn’t make it because his life took a turn and then I got with 50 Cent, who was from South Side. But these two kids are from my neighborhood who are new and talented.
That beat was me and my boy J Boogie. He’s an amazing musician, him and his brother Keyon Harold, he plays a lot of instruments like the trumpet. He has his own album out. When I created that I was sitting with my boy Kronik, who is a producer, writer and singer. He’s very talented. I was explaining to him that I really want to make a song that makes me wanna rap, but I’m not gonna rap. In my story, as much as you can find me having issues in the past, I can tell you I never did them wrong. What happens in the cycle of the music business, is people come to you to get help, but as soon as they get it, they don’t want you to be a part of it because now money is involved. I’ve been through that. I said I need this hook to tell my story. Then they took the hook and applied it to their stories in the verses.
“Divine Time” Featuring Prodigy, Tedy Andreas, Stargiela
Prodigy was the first artist to come to my mama house when I was living in Queens Village. He came to my mom’s basement. My whole life was about beats and my boy Bizzy said “I have Prodigy with me, I’m gonna pull up.”
When we was in Cali recording with him and I was working with my boy Slim The Mobster and I had him pull up to the studio and he cut some vocals for Slim. He was hanging with us just chillin and working. Why I liked Cali was I couldn’t get that creative energy in New York. Everyone was always in a rush and nobody would actually complete things. With me working out there it helped me carve out legendary records.
This beat is a combination of what he rapped on and what I made more current.
I’m a Mobb Deep fan. I still got the tapes, still got the vinyl. I’m from Queens and they actually told the story for us. Just me being that fan and my story stemmed from Prodigy coming to my house, to Havoc being on the first beat I ever sold, which was “Angel Dust” for Cormega, Havoc was on the hook but I did that beat. They’ve been a part of my story in a major way and my tribute to them is this record. When you’re going through files and go “Yo, what are you gonna do, just keep sitting on shit?” People need to hear the god. Coincidentally with the anniversary of The Infamous, it is divine time.
“One Way Ticket” Featuring Styles P, Tedy Andreas, Chubbs, The Dreamer
That’s another California record that I did a few years back. I was out there working a lot with Dre between my other things I was doing. At that time we were cutting records not knowing where they would go but we were making a lot of dope records that would end up anywhere. That was one of those that was like, this is for me, I’m not giving this to no artist. So I’mma just hold this until it’s time. I’ve got a few of those. I’ve been an A&R for a long time so I have a lot of those.
Styles was real receptive to working and Rest In Peace Ice Pick J. I loved him. Because of him I got real tight with Jadakiss and A&R’d Top Five Dead Or Alive and got to work with him away from the [old] beef. That’s what grown man shit is a bout. If you ain’t able to make peace, what’s the real beef? I was with someone that didn’t like [them] or saw them as competition, but there was no real beef. There was always love and Jada and Styles always came through anytime I called.
“D.A.R.E” Featuring Domo Genesis, Kronik
I did this track that made it on his album and we were recording. The Genesis album. I did the track “One Below,” but this record didn’t make it. This dude is so dope and when I got in the studio, between how his records were being mixed, I was blown away, because I didn’t realize how dope he was. I’ve been procrastinating on this album for a time. I’m the procrastination master and he’s a spitter and I needed a West Coast dude on here so I grabbed this.
“Too Many” Featuring Sandy Benjamin
Sandy Benjamin I met through Duro [Ken “Duro” Ifill]. He brought him to my crib when I was in Cali. I seen how he worked and I said we can make an album right now in a week. We made almost an EP in two days. This is the type of energy I need. I don’t have time to just mess around when I have all these kids and another life. He’s a smart kid and I took to him. He could be like a Kendrick Lamar.
“My Cherie” Featuring Abillyon
I recorded this with Abillyon from GS-9. He’s got a real good voice. We were in the recording process and he actually never was able to release an album because they dropped him. I had this record that I recorded with him and I really loved it. My production on this is a little different. The mood and the vibe was in a different pocket. I sample a lot of French music because I’m Haitian. I got a lot of old records that my parents had that are in French so when I hear French music it gets me excited and I be chopping them shits up.
“Ramona” Featuring Caleb Steph, Marco McKinnis
That’s like a new “Dear Mama.” It’s super personal. Caleb is this kid from Virginia I discovered through my boy Carlyle. The kid is so dope and I hate to see these dope talented kids and no one sees this shit. You got shit that’s out and it gets overlooked and it’s like wait a second. This kid was working with a European label and they didn’t know what they were doing. When I had this record I was like we need more positive records about mothers and they not releasing nothing so I’m not gonna wait til this record gets old. Why not keep this energy out there.
Sha Money XL’s The Chain On The Bike Is available on streaming platforms everywhere!