Oct. 12 2011: Spitting bars

Junior Shyawn Gholami spends some quality time with a microphone. He shares his music on YouTube as use whoisSG. Photo by Kevin Tsukii.

A profile of Shyawn Gholami published on page 42 of El Estoque. Can be read here or http://elestoque.org/2011/10/12/magazine/print-entertainment/spitting-bars/.

When junior Shyawn Gholami began rapping last December, he bought himself a 120 page notebook. Two months later, every single sheet was filled with lyrics.Perhaps writing music was so easy for Gholami because his creativity had been suppressed for a long time. For over two years, he suffered from a gastroesophageal reflux disease that caused his stomach acid to burn his larynx. As a result, both his vocal cords and his confidence were damaged.

“Music was never even in my mind,” he said. “I was embarrassed to even talk. I was teased constantly by people. [They] would throw out things like, ‘You’re gay,’ ‘You’re this,’ ‘You’re
that.’”

After an entire year of taking a medication, his condition suddenly improved. “[The doctor] was shocked. [My] voice shouldn’t have changed,” he said. “But when it did, I took the opportunity. Now that I have a voice, I can actually [pursue] my passion in music.”

Gholami disagrees with the stereotype that rap is defined by explicit and crude themes. To him, rap is a way to comment on important issues in his life, which range from family and school experiences to his views on society. The added element of rhyme makes the writing process more challenging, but it only helps him examine and evaluate his ideas.

At first, it was difficult for Gholami to balance his new hobby with school work. His parents were afraid that recording music would interfere with his grades, so he had to ration his time more efficiently. Luckily, rapping had an unexpectedly positive affect on his academic performance.

“Once I wrote music, my [literature] grades went up.” he said. “It really brings out my creative side.”

Because his illness had made it impossible for Gholami to rap earlier on, he was eager to make up for lost time. Since June, he has posted over 25 videos to his Youtube channel as user whoisSG. Three original songs are in the works, and he plans to upload a music video in the near future.

Gholami’s musical aspirations also impacted his relationships with his friends. When he
began committing time to a project he was passionate about, he realized he was hanging out with the wrong crowd. Since then, he has drifted apart from many of his old acquaintances, who were shocked by his new-found outspokenness.

“A lot of people think I changed,” he said wistfully. “[They say] ‘Oh, you’re not the true you.’ I want people to know that this has always been me. Something changed, and it was positive.”

In return, writing lyrics has also given him greater insight into his own life. “Music gives me a sense of acceptance,” Gholami said. “Music’s the one [place] where I can be me…[It’s] the most comfortable I’ve ever been.”

Many rappers post Youtube videos in order to gain fame or attention, but Gholami’s motivations are very different.

“My goal is to affect someone positively [through music],” he said, “because it did so much for me.”

{cc-by-nc-sa} Yimeng Han

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