One of the most distinctive qualities found in Future’s songwriting is his palpable openness. He’s at his best when the scars on his wounded heart become a melodic voice of eloquent fluidity. A similar style of true-to-life-lyricism is present in the music of Philadelphia rapper Shaun Sloan. Sloan, 24, appears on the opening track of 1800 Seconds Vol. 2, a compilation album curated by 1800 Tequila and the previously-mentioned hip-hop superstar who handpicked seven on-the-rise artists to collaborate on an album together in New York City produced entirely by Papamitrou.
“My man told me to check the email,” Sloan says of 1800 reaching out to him. “It said that 1800 wanted me to be a part of the album. I was excited.” Not only did 1800 wish for Shaun Sloan to be a key feature on Vol. 2, but they wanted him to open the album. On top of a Future co-sign, to be the first voice heard on a promotional compilation project of this magnitude is nothing short of an honor.
“Seen my brother lose his life and that could’ve been me,” Shaun says with earnestness to begin “Hot Boy,” the full-hearted intro that starts 1800 Seconds Vol. 2. There’s sweeping vigor in Sloan’s voice. He coats every lyric with weighty emotion, yet his voice doesn’t shake. He is transparent as a diamond, yet durable as the head of a hammer. When he raps the line, “You can hear the passion, on God, I’m in a zone, yeah,” Shaun Sloan is telling the truth.
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“It’s an opener for everything the other artists are talking about,” Sloan tells me of “Hot Boy.” “I also feel like ‘Hot Boy’ explains me in a sense.” With hard-hitting lyrics that could cause tears to well up in the most stoic of men’s eyes, Shaun Sloan’s statement is right on the money. “Hot Boy” is the story of a young man taking on the world—a world that is not so kind to him. Yet, with 1800 and Future in his corner, fortune is starting to favor the upstart.
Over the phone, Slaun is direct, a man of few words. To his credit, at the start of our call, he mentions being with his son, who I could hear in the background. “Gotta make it back to my son, I’m everything he needs,” the Los Angeles-by-way-of-Philadelphia rapper spits on “Hot Boy,” another reality-reflecting lyric. He admits that “Hot Boy” was completed in 10 minutes over one of the first instrumentals Papamitrou played. When asked what grabbed him about the production, he responds with little hesitation: “The pain in the beat.” By following that pain, Sloan made the ideal song to begin 1800 Seconds Vol. 2., an album full of underdog artists who are all fighting impossible odds to be heard.
Rappers who pull their lyrics from their actual life can pour out stories much swifter than over-thinking songwriters who build fictional worlds. One of Sloan’s standout lines, “Sickle cells turn me to a soldier,” speaks to his ongoing fight with sickle cell anemia. Before 1800 Seconds Vol. 2., Sloan released the music video for “Wait for Me,” a visual representation of the hospital environment that’s a part of his journey. Although it’s brief, he mentions how being chosen by 1800 and Future can motivate other younger artists who are fighting a similar fight. He views his story as one that can inspire. So get inspired.