Student to sonic auteur: a spotlight on Shiraz Smith’s blooming music career

For some students, creative outlets stay within certain and safer boundaries that make one feel more comfortable. For others, it evolves into a combination of surprises and acquiring new skills with a passion that is nurtured early on. In CHS junior Shiraz Smith’s case, the latter is true, as he is in pursuit of making great music.

Smith has loved rap music from an early age, and after learning about some new computer software such as Ableton Live, he has been able to craft beats and add plenty of additional layers into the mix.

“[For] a lot of songs, I will play like the piano because I play a couple of different instruments and I’ll play the piano in order to get like the melody or like the actual musical part and then I put the drums or the rhythm,” Smith said. “It’s just like the percussion part. Then you got a song, I guess. And then if I’m trying to make rap music, you’d sample other songs and then you like chop it up and whatnot.”

Inspired by rap artists such as Kanye West, Tyler the Creator, and ASAP Rocky, Smith has a more production-focused approach to his music, using samples and manipulating them to create melodies and rhythms that drive his music. It is what he defines as the “blueprint” to his music-making process. Smith enjoys using a variety of samples for his music, especially from the 70s.

“I mean, the seventies has amazing music and so many different genres. I don’t know why they do, but like they just do. I think it’s because everyone was off of psychedelics, but yeah, the music from the seventies is very interesting to me. There’s a lot of good gospel samples and whatnot, jazz stuff,” Smith said.

One example of Smith’s influences permeating through his music is his song “cool k!d,” which is on Spotify and Apple Music under the artist name Sh!raz. Some of the themes in the lyrics are reminiscent of Kanye’s brutally honest and retrospective storytelling in some of his earlier albums such as “The College Dropout”. Smith generally uses his life experiences and a healthy dose of honesty when writing his lyrics, which he tends to make after he has finished most of the other layers of his songs. The slower yet airy, melodic sections for the chorus evokes an aura of Tyler the Creator in his 2017 album “Flower Boy”.

Smith loves making music and has a lot of fun working through the process. He is just getting started and will only improve as he keeps crafting music, using his inspirations as a foundation for his creative identity, and experimenting with digital and live instrumentation to create textured and enjoyable music.