Introducing ‘Notes from Mr. Sandman‘ – a column slapping a spotlight on lyricists overlooked, under appreciated, or just plain criminally slept on. Or like a man named Nas once said, “I never sleep, cause sleep is the cousin of death.” Enter Mr. Sandman with what y’all missed while chasing the REM dragon; Photo: Shawn Childress
Shawn Childress a.k.a. Awdazcate is a Chicago-based lyricist who can deliver a humorous punchline just as adeptly as he can pen a compelling rap. He is the Patrice O’Neal of hip-hop, a versatile lyricist whose razor sharp wit can slice and dice with the best of ’em; no topic is off limits because his approach is all inclusive.
Childress is a fixture in Chicago, and embodies the city’s do-it-yourself attitude. He is both a lyricist and producer and takes pride in his ability to work both ends of the spectrum. “For me concentrating on beats kinda kills the bars because you’re trying to kill the beat,” explains Childress over email. “The challenge for me now is not looking at the rule book and continue to push the envelope with each release. Making beats is 24/7 in my head so the jukebox is always in effect.”
For Childress music is a constant, his songs unfolding like fluid landscapes. At times it can be nothing more than a bed of silky melodies laced with chopped vocals, other times it’s a filthy break and him ad-libbing over the top like it were improv. When he lays out beats like “Awdaz Daily” or “Love Yet” you can hear his influences seeping through, a rich history of soul, hip-hop and funk. Combining those elements like an alchemist he embraces a sophisticated perspective that captures a different side of Chicago’s hip-hop scene; his beats akin to the city’s turbulent weather, going from mild and warm to frigid and stormy all in the same day.
“Chicago builds character and tough skin so when it comes to this music that’s what you’re gonna hear,” adds Childress. “Chicago made me so I will always rep and shine light on this city. Youtube and World Star has really jaded some views about Chicago and we rep the golden-era of hip-hop, so keep searching we’re here still making music.”
Those who know Awdazcate best, know him for his all encompassing humor. He can take a negative moment and add a positive and jovial spin, all without compromising his integrity. It’s a welcome contrast to a place where there is no shortage of drama. His perspective is deeply rooted in social consciousness, not only for the sake of the city but for his family as well.
“What will my mom think about my views?” said Awdazcate when asked about how he maintains his balanced approach. “What will a young artist seeing me for the first time digest when they see my show? I will say hey it’s always a war on words and emotions in this day and age, words always win. When you’re on that stage you represent a lot and the first thing you have to rep is home training.”
Awdazcate is a veteran and like a pro he’s always extending a hand, reaching out making sure that the tradition of excellence continues. “I freestyle more and the topics have changed because I have a daughter and it really puts you in a position to be positive,” says Childress. “I’m still wild on the mic but I think about these kids and give them some mental food at these shows. I hope when it’s all said and done people will look at my work and say, ‘damn Awdazcate put in work, we don’t have any excuses but keep this Chicago hip-hop scene going’.”