With Americans’ constant complaints about their home country, it has, disturbingly enough, become shocking to hear genuine praise for the good ol’ U.S. of A. Even more startling is that most of said praise has not come from people who grew up here, but rather individuals who fought hard to reap the benefits that most of us take for granted. Such is the case with West African born hip-hop/R&B artist Issa (pronounced E-suh) and his business partner Shaun Chine.
With Americans’ constant complaints about their home country, it has, disturbingly enough, become shocking to hear genuine praise for the good ol’ U.S. of A.
Even more startling is that most of said praise has not come from people who grew up here, but rather individuals who fought hard to reap the benefits that most of us take for granted. Such is the case with West African born hip-hop/R&B artist Issa (pronounced E-suh) and his business partner Shaun Chine.
“We as Africans see the United States as the land of dreams,” said Chine. To which Issa added, “Once you land from the plane, the first thing you want to do is kiss the land.”
This positive mindset motivated Issa to pursue his musical ambitions by applying for the United States’ green card lottery while still in his home country of Senegal.
After being selected, his parents spent their life savings setting him up as a resident alien in the U.S., where he began attending PSU in 2003. While majoring in marketing, Issa kept busy as a model, producer and musician until 2007, when he met fellow student Shaun Chine.
Chine, also a West African native, studies business administration along with the third member of their business-savvy trio, Shahram. The three have since pioneered a recording label and production company, Just 4 D Records LLC and J4R Productions, respectively.
“I don’t even need to talk about my vision,” said Issa of the bonds between the trio. “The passion is shared. Whatever we had to go through or spend didn’t matter anymore. It was about the end product. And that’s how we’ve been successful so far. We’re just so hungry to succeed and make everybody proud.”
With a BET recommendation for Issa’s video “Used to Be the One,” a recently filmed pilot for the Oprah Winfrey Network and music available on iTunes, Rhapsody and in Virgin Megastores, Issa and company are well on their way to doing just that.
“We don’t sleep at all,” says Chine, “Whatever it takes. We’re ready right now.”
If determination, dedication and idealism are worth anything, this trio is on the fast track to greatness.
However, despite their talents and successes, they refuse to succumb to the harsh tongues and backstabbing of their industry of choice.
After trusting too many undeserving members of pop culture’s high society, they have sworn their loyalty to each other and the honor of their actions.
“It was the kind of experience we needed to go through,” says Chine. “People can take your kindness for a weakness and we have had some bad experiences. Though we’re nice, we’re tough. I thank them for backstabbing us, it was a sweet pain. Now we’ve had success going different places in the world, but acting the right way.”
By visiting so many different parts of the world, Issa and his production crew have earned global-spanning recognition. In August, they returned from an overwhelmingly successful tour in Africa.
They were, and continue to be, a radio staple, while fans recognize them on the streets and ravage the stage to obtain a free CD. They have become role models of success in Africa, and are extremely grateful.
“I want my music to be a musical bridge between cultures,” Issa adds, “And I really feel like it’s happening.”
Issa is also scheduled to tour India in November, a country where his music has been making the rounds at nightclubs. His popularity is also growing in Europe, and Issa was recently solicited by a Russian rapper for collaboration.
“The music is really a mix of different cultures,” says Issa. “The rhythms, the drums that I use, speak to different ethnicities.”
Most revealing of their nature as individuals and artists is Chine and Issa’s new project Free Issa, for which they will travel to high schools all across the country playing their music and speaking.
“We [will] share the music, share the message that we have, and hopefully create dreams and just have people believe in themselves,” says Issa.
They hope to motivate more students, particularly those going through difficult situations, to respect themselves and the potential they have to create and make an impact in the world.
Their message, their music and their dedication are inspiring, and both agree their primary goal is twofold.
“We want to be able to reach that level of success where we are in a position to discover music and distribute it to the world,” says Issa.
That journey starts with their request for support from what they consider their American home–Portland. And, if their past is any indication, they won’t be satisfied with a “no” answer.
IssaBlue DragonflyNov. 1, 9 p.m.21-plus