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Thandie Talks: Shaé Universe talks unreleased features, turning 25 and R&B “critics” | @ShaesUniverse

Thandie Talks Volume 4: introducing  Shaé Universe

After returning back to London from Grammy week (late Jan 2020), British R&B upriser Shaé Universe said she felt that LA had left her with a new sense of “motivation, versatility, and drive”. She immediately got working on the music video masterpiece presented as ‘No Stalin’. Shaé’s single ‘No stallin’ was originally released in 2018, where its bouncy yet silky-smooth sound spread very quickly amongst the UK music scene, accumulating over 1.5 million streams independently, featuring in several verified playlists and gaining major radio coverage on global stations such as BBC 1Xtra, Capital Xtra, Beats1 and more. 

I’ve heard a lot of talk of R&B singers having lost the silk and authenticity of vocalists that grew from the traditional church choir. The Nigerian-born songstress credits the choir’s influence in increasing the versatility of her voice. I think this is what drew me to her, a solid bass voice that can waver it’s way into higher notes – with ease. It’s clear Shae’s momentum as an individual artist is set to shake the tables – could she be the next UK R&B star to keep the genre afloat?  

I’m 24, I’m going to be turning 25, I’m a Gemini – If anyone cares about Horoscopes. I started singing in church, my parents were strict Christians. Then I’ve always studied creative stuff so even in school and college I studied drama, media, and dance. Then when I finished university, in 2016, I went to a drama school university, I got my degree in American Theatre – after that, that’s when Shae’s universe began. 

Photography by: Karis Beaumont (@KarisBeau)


This encounter was a small fangirl moment for me. Having heard Sháe on US artist Boogie’s project ‘Everything’s for Sale’ inspired by African- American experiences. I was even more inquisitive to see how she works as a UK artist projecting her experiences through her music. 

Boogie discovered me through Instagram and he hit me up and complimented my Redbone – Childish Gambino cover. From the moment he hit me up we’ve worked on loads of stuff together. We have a lot of things on the pipe, I don’t know if they’re ever gonna come out. But that’s how it came about – plus opening for Eminem.


“From the moment he hit me up we’ve worked on loads of stuff together.”

Shae’s latest project celebrates the authentic Black love and Black British culture. Shaking the tables even further, on her latest single ‘You Lose’, she freestyles over a London Drill track – but still insists she’s not much of a rapper. 

I would not with my chest claim that territory yet. I appreciate rapping and I can tell you about a good artist but I’m not confident enough to say I am a rapper or to start freestyling on the spot. 


“When I’m drunk I can belt out songs but never rapping – that still needs some work”


Do you write your own lyrics and what inspires them? 

Sometimes it can be other people’s experiences. Like, If I have a friend that’s going through something or a story that I hear or relate to and then interpret it in my own way. But for the most part, it’s usually my own experience.  Yes, I write all my stuff. 

Picture by: Karis Beaumont (@KarisBeau)

“I’ve seen this chat on Twitter- is everyone an R&B specialist?”

As an R&B singer would you say your genre is dead?

I’ve seen this chat on Twitter – is everyone an R&B specialist? I feel like R&B is 100% not dead but the difference is it’s not as championed as it was in the 90s. The R&B artists they had were in the frontline and we just don’t have that in this generation at all. No one is championed and people can’t be bothered to go out and look for it. Music is so fast-paced now and everyone wants the quick alternative; I don’t think R&B is dead at all. 

I’ve been on a very weird journey with humility the whole concept of it and what it is. When I first started my perception was modesty and being timid… As I turn 25, I want to strip everything away and go back to the root and let myself be. 

How do you overcome your anxiety? I can imagine as your popularity increases so do your audience and workload

Well…prayer and it works for me, the people I have around me – they let me know when I’m doing well – they aren’t yes men either.

listen to Shae’s tracks No Stalin and You Lose on the 9bills Spotify playlist.



Words by @thandietweetss

Thandie Sibanda



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