New York has been making a strong comeback these last few years, with a stronger focus on the lyrics lately. Along with the lyrics, that grimy New York sound has also been making its way back.

This week’s “Staff Pick” $ha Hef who hails from the Bronx, is a student of that grimy New York sound with the bars to match. He has been rapping for about 5 years, but really started taking this rap shit seriously when he released his “Mafioso Psalms” mixtape in 2014. Since releasing his first project he has proceeded to drop “Super Villain” in 2015 and “Krime Pay$” Spring of last year. In the last three years, he has created a bigger following with each release, gaining more fans and growing continually as an artist.

Affiliated with New Jersey spitters RetcH and Da$h, whom he calls his family. $ha Hef along with his East Coast following, also gets love out in the West Coast; frequently touring there as well, collaborating with Los Angeles natives Aston Matthews, LNDN DRGS (who he frequently collaborates with), and Earl Swavey.

With his Black Market/OTM (Out The Mud) crew behind him, Sha Hef is ready to take over 2017. He is currently working on his upcoming project “Out The Mud”; and if you’re in New York, you can catch him live this Wednesday, January 18th at “Yams Day” alongside A$AP Rocky, the A$AP Mob, Danny Brown, TDE, Cam’ron and more.

Check out the interview below and stream his latest effort “Krime Pay$: The Re-Up” below.

1. So how did you get the name $ha Hef?

Well, my real name is Rashaad but everybody has been calling me Sha my whole life. Back wen I jumped in the streets as a youngin 50 was just buzzing with the power of a dollar tape and all the mixtapes and then people started calling me Sha Money. When I decided I was going to take music serious I couldn’t run with $ha Money because that was already homie from g unit name so I picked up the Hef from Hugh Hefner. After getting money the next thing I was known for was having a lotta women around me so it made sense at the time.

2. Your choice of production is unique when compared to a lot of up-and-coming artists. Who were some of your influences, as far as your sound and style, coming up?

As far as influences people like Alchemist, Just Blaze, The Heat Makers, Kanye, Swizz Beatz, Dame Grease, Rza were some of the producers that influenced me. I always gravitated to that grimy vintage NY sound. With my music now I try to incorporate that same sound but build on it without sounding redundant and add my own flavors to it, I never wanted my music to be comparable to anyone else’s.

3. Since 2013 you have released 3 projects and over time have gained a cult following. Can you talk about what you did to bring yourself to this point?

Since 2013 I have dropped 3 fairly successful projects and honestly, I couldn’t give a blueprint. I never grew up wanting to rap or be any type of artist for that matter but realizing I had the talent motivated me to figure it out. Luckily because of a lot of the connections I made in the streets prior to rap I was able to connect a lotta dots and get things done as I go. Overall hard work, self-motivation and making myself a necessity helped me get where I’m at today. As far as my following they realized the authenticity in my music and my lifestyle and they growing with me as I get bigger.

4. Do you feel like there is a lack of support for up and coming New York artist? Or in general?

I honestly do feel there is a lack support for newer New York artists, the older more established artists have their relationships and it’s kind of like you got to go through them but that’s how New York is in general. It’s cutthroat out here you got to know how to survive and how to make your presence felt or you are going to get left behind so I never trip. I’m used to it I never go into any situation looking for handouts.

5. What’s next for $ha Hef?

Next for me is continuing to grow my brand as well as Black Market/ Out The Mud as well. My “Out the Mud” LP is dropping very soon, 1st quarter 2017 and after that, I got a few other projects I’m finalizing as we speak. Also expect to hear a lot of other projects dropping this year with other artists. New merch, new visuals, I’m going to hit the road and touch the people. I’m taking shit to the moon this year I need everything I came for. We just going to keep putting that good energy out here and hold it down for the streets.

6. Is there anything you would like to add?

Lastly, I just want to shout-out anybody out there showing their support for me and my music, I greatly appreciate it. Shout-out to the whole Black Market/Out The Mud, the whole NYC. And for all those just getting in tune go back and get familiar with my previous work because I’m playing for keeps with this new shit.