Born, raised and still residing in his hometown of Tucson, Arizona, Shug came into prominence back in the nineties when he released his first album for Def Jam Records, titled, 86 the Madness (receiving four mics in the Source magazine).
“Like every other kid back then, I had dreams of being a rapper,” says Shug, who was given his nickname by an uncle while in seventh grade. “But I was getting in trouble back then, too. I realized instead of being out there doing it, I needed to talk about it in my music and let people know that getting into trouble wasn’t all it is cracked up to be.”
Growing up in a big family, it was Shug’s late Grandfather that helped to raise him. “He was my biggest motivator. Just watching him—he told me as a kid, there was something different about me. He told me that I had this strong voice, a strong aura about me; which I didn’t understand at the time. As I got older I started to understand what he was talking about. He put things in perspective for me. He told me to keep dreaming. He would say, ‘The day you stop dreaming is the day you gotta worry.’”
Shug’s dreams led to his first record, “Shug’s in Effect,” an indie label release through his very own Shug Entertainment. Going on the road, he had the opportunity to share the stage as an opening act with a virtual list of hip-hop all-stars that included Ice Cube & NWA, Too Short, Public Enemy, Rob Base & EZ Rock, Eric B & Rakim, DJ Quik, Kid Frost, LL Cool J, Run DMC, and more. “Those we fun times,” recalls Shug, remembering how he was often penalized for his strong stage presence. “A lot of the headline artists would be pissed with me for outshining them, because the crowds would get so hyped during my performances.”
Shug eventually met up with collaborator Young D who produced several demo tracks, and along with managing partner Greedy Gregg took the music over to Russell Simmons, Founder and CEO of Def Jam Records. Simmons was so enamored with Shug’s music, he signed him as the label’s first West Coast artist. 86 the Madness along with its first single “Western Hills Funk” received mediocre success, but not enough to maintain Shug’s agreement with the label.
Shug went on an extended stretch without recording, simply experiencing life. Sadly, in 1995 during an altercation, he was stabbed within an inch from his heart—practically dying while on the operating table. Three months after his recovery, more tragedy ensued as he was in a car accident and broke his neck in three places. Once again Shug recovered, and the same year his first child was born. “Bringing kids in the world will help you put your life in perspective,” he says. “I started changing my life after that.”
Watch the video for his hit song “It Only Gets Better” – www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5oUOZiqdoM
Shug – It Only Gets Better
Shug – It Only Gets Better