Sometimes it doesn’t take a genius to work out the meaning behind the lyrics in a hit song. Take SZA’s ‘The Weekend’ for example. “My man is my man, is your man, Her, that’s her man. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I just keep him satisfied through the weekend.” Not the first song about a woman sharing her man with someone else, and probably not the last either. But for some, more complex lyrics, it takes someone with a brain like Eddy Eyad, to break it down.
The 23-year-old, also known by his producer alias ‘Shy Ink,’ is a final year business student at the University of Birmingham and became involved with the Genius site in 2012, when it was still called Rap Genius. The website features the latest news and videos in the world of music and breaks down the lyrics that some find it hard to figure out.
But for Eddy, who started out annotating lyrics, and now divides his time being a final year University student, a journalist and producer, and makes it look easy. He has worked with the likes of Nija, a two-time Grammy award winning songwriter for the likes of Beyoncé, Cardi B and Jason Derulo, PartyNextDoor and Drake’s producer G. Ry and Supah Mario who is responsible for producing some of Young Thug, Travis Scott, Lil Uzi Vert and Quavo’s songs – to name but a few. “I started off by just verifying artists that came onto Genius, helping them set up their artist page and updating their song credits. Now I regularly interview artists and even listen to their unreleased music, giving my opinion on certain songs and offering guidance on how they should rollout their upcoming singles and projects.”
It was through a friend that Eddy got involved with Genius in their first year of college, when they would regularly search rap lyrics to their favourite songs; “A few months after discovering the site, I made an account and started annotating lyrics, breaking down the meaning behind popular rap and R&B songs. This really helped me sharpen my writing skills and I ended up becoming a site editor which gave me extra privileges.” As his first introduction into the world of journalism, Eddy was exposed to some of the best in the business, despite not actually being employed by the company.
All the work Eddy does is freelance, but due to his long-standing affiliation with the website and the relationships he’s built with artists, he tends to write exclusively for them. “I’m a big advocate for Genius, I think they are doing some of the best work in the music journalism space so I’m glad to be a part of the brand, despite not being an actual employee.” Eddy was promoted to an editor role which gave him additional privileges on site, and after a year of succeeding in this role, he was promoted to become a site moderator.
“There are only a handful of moderators on Genius, we all focus on different things but in general we mediate the forums, train and promote new editors and verify music artists. When I first became a moderator, I primarily focused on helping aspiring editors improve their written expression and I helped rid the site of spam accounts. However, I soon started to focus on verifying artists. I used this as an opportunity to speak to the artists I was verifying and I soon realised I was indirectly interviewing them. This was the first time Genius spotted the editorial work I was doing and asked me if I wanted to start writing for them.”
Understanding the somewhat ruthless competition in the music industry, Eddy takes advantage of every interview and opportunity that comes his way. In 2016, he conducted his first interview with G. Ry, which also happened to be G. Ry’s first interview before he went onto produce two songs for Drake’s ‘More Life’ album. “That interview opened a lot of doors for me, gave me a little spotlight which I used to secure more interviews. It also put me on the radar of music labels and management companies who would later reach out to offer me stories to cover.”
While very much still in the early stages of his career, Shy Ink may not live up to the ‘Shy’ part of his alias. Unafraid to drop an exclusive story, Eddy was the man behind some of the secrets from Kanye West’s ‘Ye’ album. “On the track ‘All Mine,’ no one knew who the singer of the track’s hook was. Major outlets and big personalities were claiming it was Jeremih or an upcoming singer called Valee. The actual singer was a relatively unknown artist called Ant Clemons who was luckily under the same management as Nija, their manager reached out to me to share the backstory of the song and provide proof that it was Ant Clemons singing on the song. I was able to interview Ant Clemons and break the exclusive story before any other journalist. That article gained a lot of attention and has easily been my biggest success to date.”
Learning on his feet and paying close attention to every detail had Eddy yearning for more, he has been teaching himself the piano for the last six years and has wanted to produce his own work since 2016. Aware of how sometimes its all about who you know in this business, but not wanting to abuse the position he’s in or the connections he’s made, Eddy started posting snippets of his music on Instagram or Twitter, where certain artists would interact and give their opinion on his work.
“Making the most of every relationship is incredibly important. An unknown artist is one song away from being a star so never turn your nose up at someone you’ve never heard of. One of my journalism mentors, Rob Markman, once told me ‘A closed mouth doesn’t get fed’ so don’t hesitate to shoot for a big artist or approach a certain publication, you need to have faith in your craft.”
As Eddy approaches his graduation date on 18th July, neither his university work nor his honed craft of producing and writing have been neglected in favour of the other. So, what’s your excuse for letting third year at University getting in the way?