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An artist at the crossroads of country and hip-hop, Shaboozey creates the kind of songs that feel as
epic as a movie: gripping, unpredictable, immense in scope but rooted in raw emotion. On his new
album Where I’ve Been Isn’t Where I’m Going, the Virginia-bred singer/songwriter charts a cinematic
road trip through the wilds of the American West, bringing a powerful new depth to his storytelling
while pushing further into the country/folk-inspired sound he’s explored in recent years. The latest
turn in a dynamic career that began with the breakout success of his viral hit “Jeff Gordon”—and
also includes such triumphs as appearing on the soundtrack to the Academy Award-winning
blockbuster Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse—Where I’ve Been Isn’t Where I’m Going is the most boldly
realized work yet from a singular new voice on the music scene.
Born to parents of Nigerian descent and raised in the small town of Woodbridge, Shaboozey grew
up on an eclectic mix of music encompassing everything from country icons like Kenny Rogers and
Garth Brooks to R&B and hip-hop (including fellow Virginia natives Pharrell, Timbaland, and Missy
Elliott). Although his childhood dream was to become a novelist, he started experimenting with
making music in high school and soon joined a collective of local artists—a turn of events that
greatly expanded his creative horizons. “I learned how to produce, engineer, edit videos,” says
Shaboozey, a multidimensional artist who takes a hands-on role in the visual component of his
output. “Where I’m from, the only way it feels possible to make it in music is to try out for American
Idol, but I always knew I needed to pursue it in a way that came from my own vision.” After scoring
a viral hit with “Jeff Gordon” when he was just 18, Shaboozey relocated to Los Angeles and
brought that vision to a series of projects echoing his kaleidoscopic influences (blues legend Lead
Belly, folk poet Leonard Cohen, Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, to name a few), including his 2018
debut album Lady Wrangler. As his profile rose, he joined forces with L.A.-bred
rapper/singer/songwriter DUCKWRTH for “Start a Riot” (a cut from the Into the Spider-Verse
soundtrack), then inked a deal with EMPIRE and delivered his sophomore album Cowboys Live
Forever, Outlaws Never Die—a 2022 LP that artfully fused country and trap and showcased his soul-
searching songwriting on hit singles like “Tall Boy.”
Produced with his close collaborators Sean Cook and Nevin Sastry, Where I’ve Been Isn’t Where I’m
Going marks a major leap forward for Shaboozey, thanks in part to a deliberate shift in his creative
process. “In the past I was getting a lot of beats and building up songs from there, but for this one
we wrote all the music from scratch and tailored everything to the stories I wanted to tell,” he says.
“I wanted to make something without any limitations, and elevate my songwriting so that you feel
every line in your gut.” Deeply informed by his love for outlaw-country artists and indie-folk
singer/songwriters like Gregory Alan Isakov—and by his recent experience in learning to play
guitar— Shaboozey’s third full-length includes hits like “Let It Burn”: a heavy-hearted but
triumphant track that shot to the top 10 on Spotify’s USA Viral 50 soon after its premiere in fall
2023. “To me ‘Let It Burn’ captures the whole theme of the album,” he says. “It’s about letting go
of the things that have caused you pain in the past, and moving on to a better future.”
With its potent collision of rugged guitar work and rhythms that hit on a visceral level, Where I’ve
Been Isn’t Where I’m Going also spotlights Shaboozey’s sharply detailed storytelling and soulful vocals
on tracks like “Annabelle”—a breakup song that brings bright but moody strumming to his
unguarded outpouring of pain. “A friend of mine showed me that guitar part and it immediately felt
like a heartbreak song,” he says. “I went into the studio and freestyled all those lyrics, which is
something I really value about my background in hip-hop. It taught me to just let it flow and see
where the song takes you.” And on “Vegas,” spaghetti-western guitar tones and hypnotic beats form
the backdrop to a sing-along-ready reflection on risk and regret (from the chorus: “Treat my heart

like a day-old paper/Ran me wild, drove me crazy/Old vibrations, familiar faces…Lived my life like
it was one big Vegas”). “That song came from thinking about how love is often the reason we make
certain moves, and how one of the biggest gambles I ever made with my life was packing up and
leaving my hometown with someone I thought I loved,” he says. “There’s the type of people who
win big and then take their earnings and head home, and then there’s the people who put it right
back in and try to double it. And the latter is definitely more like my life story.”
Also featuring standouts like the brooding stomp-and-clap anthem “Last of My Kind,” Where I’ve
Been Isn’t Where I’m Going centers on lush and sweeping soundscapes that recall the wide-open space
of Shaboozey’s hometown—a place that continues to shape his growth and journey as an artist.
“From the beginning one of my biggest goals was to go out there and build a sound for Virginia,
something people could really feel inspired by,” he says. “I want everyone to know that you can do
what you want with your life no matter where you come from, and I hope my music compels people
to get up and do something—dance, fall in love, whatever it is that makes them feel alive.”

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