As time has progressed fashion has accepted hip hop more and more to the point where designers are using them to show off their most luxurious pieces. Whether it be fashion week in New York or Paris there are rappers on the sideline watching or even performing in the fashion show and that’s proof that hip-hop is more than just music but a culture that breaks boundaries and reaches the world.
At one point fashion houses didn’t want to work with rappers but times have changed. There are many rappers who have broken into the fashion world, including Kanye West, A$AP Rocky, Young Thug, Pusha T, Pharrell just to name a few but there has never been a model that transitioned into the rap world until now.
Let me introduce you to Brooklyn’s own Shawn “EROCK” Sutton. While he was doing some time in jail the Brownsville native started to gain an interest in fashion and as soon as he was released he hit the ground running. What he thought would be just a photoshoot and picking up some game turned into him being signed by Red Models kicking off his modeling career. His rise in the fashion game was fast with him modeling for Givenchy, Tommy Hilfiger, Ted Baker, Rihanna’s River Island and more; becoming one of the most sought after black male models. Proving that he was just more than a model EROCK’s reputation landed him roles in multiple videos which included Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation” and earned himself the male lead in Beyonce’s politically charged video for “Superpower.” After spending almost ten years in the modeling industry EROCK decided to focus on his true love, music.
Before he even thought that he would be a model EROCK was rapping and making beats at the age of 16. Even while modeling music always stayed with EROCK, with him continuously writing, and crafting his sound. This led to him dropping his debut mixtape 16 on April 16th of this year. The project introduced the world to his fresh yet classic hip-hop sound. Songs such as “Strategize,” “KD,” and “April 16” find EROCK bringing a 90’s vibe, while tracks such as “Molly” and “Wheels Up” find him using autotune and bringing and entirely different sound to the project that you wouldn’t expect. Complete with skits the mixtape which boasts features from Tory Lanez, Mr. Papers and members of his GBM (Get It By Any Means) crew, takes you on a journey through EROCK’s life with him painting a vivid picture of the hardships he faced to get where he’s at and the spoils of his success as a model.
Fresh off opening for R. Kelly on his recent “The After Party Tour” and currently on the road with Kelly Rowland’s new group June’s Diary the Brooklyn rapper is just getting started. With his debut mixtape out now and a ton of visuals on the way, EROCK is ready to prove that he can conquer rap game as he did the fashion world.
Get familiar with the Brownsville native and check out the interview below where EROCK talks about his influences, working with Beyonce, his start in modeling and more.
1. You have been modeling for about the past 10 years from some of the biggest brands Givenchy, Tommy Hilfiger, Ted Baker, Target, Macy’s, and Rihanna’s River Island. How did you start modeling and when did you know that it was going to turn into a career? Did anyone push you to pursue it?
- I started modeling when I was about 18, 19 years old after I came out of prison. While I was incarcerated I used to look at magazines, but before that, I’ve been stopped before and asked about it, but I used to play basketball hard so I really didn’t care for it. When I did that time in prison when I came home I wanted to do something positive, so I said to myself I’m going to see what this modeling thing is about. I got home did my research, googled every agency, every pose, every magazine.
- So, one day I had a job interview for “Buffering” and the same place the job interview was at was the same place as Red Models, a modeling agency I had on my list. So I figured I would knock out two birds with one stone. I went in said I’m an aspiring model trying to become a superstar. The guy took some pictures of me we talked and that was it. Then I went to the Buffering job interview and I realized I forgot the list I had with modeling agencies. So I called Red Models back told them I forgot my paper and the guy told me no need for this paper we’re going to sign you today.
2. Was modeling or music your first love and when did you have to make the decision to push music to the side?
- Music was my first love since day one. When I started modeling I just got too busy for music, but it was always there. No matter where I was whether it was Paris, Milan, I jotted something down and kept it in the memory bank.
3. You also appeared in a few music videos such as Kelly Rowlands hit single “Motivation” and Beyonce’s “Superpower.” What was the transition from modeling to being in music videos like? Can you tell me about your experience walking alongside Beyonce in her “Superpower” video and how did that opportunity come about?
- The transition was easy because modeling is basically being in front of a camera and being in a video is the same thing you’re just moving. Working with Beyonce was an amazing experience, I learned a lot, she’s humble, a professional, she’s just a regular person like me. It was fulfilling for me and it said to me that you can do anything in this world as long you put your mind to it.
4. Finally, you’re getting the chance to pursue your first passion, music. When did you start focusing 100% on music and why now?
- I have been focused on the music forever, it’s just the demand of the ever changing pace within the fashion industry forced me to put music on the backburner. While I was modeling though I saw that music and fashion were becoming one, so I said, shit, this the right time, I guess there calling for me.
5. You recently released your debut project 16. What is the significance of the number 16 and what was your creative process like when making the project? Were you aiming for a particular sound?
- “16” the yin and the yang, the 1 and the 6, the good and the bad. April 16th is my birthday, it’s always been a special number for me, since playing basketball. The project was a compilation of a bunch of songs I had, some were new, some were old. The creative process was just the place and time where I was at, about real stuff I go through. Like the song “April 16” is about love and relationships, and “KD” is about basketball, motivation and moving forward. It was just something creative I thought of that would work and show people where I could take it on my next project. I wasn’t aiming for a particular sound it was just originally I wasn’t trying to focus on what was going on in the game, it’s just me.
6. If you had to choose one song to introduce yourself what song would that be and why?
- The “Runner.” It shows that I been on this path for a long time and I’m still not where I want to be, but I’m still in a good place. The “Runner” is it, it shows me running, it just shows me, EROCK, my background, everything.
7. You recently came off of tour, where you opened for R.Kelly. What was that experience like and did you pick up anything from R.Kelly during the tour? How did that opportunity come about?
- It was amazing, I also did a video for R. Kelly a long-time ago. He’s a wise guy I learned a lot from him. Being on tour with him and just seeing how we think alike, getting words of wisdom from him, it was great. He came from the same place I came from, he was poor once, and he had his break to be on tour with someone else and open up for them. I got the chance to be a part of the tour because the person that was working with them messed up, so my peoples contacted me and asked if I wanted to go on tour with R. Kelly and I said “hell yeah.”
8. You are already working on the follow-up to ’16’. Can you tell me anything about it and are you taking a different approach then you did when recording ’16’?
- It’s a secret, but it’s going to be dope. Right now I’m working on dropping a project with my team that’s been with me from the start. We go by the name GBM (Get It By Any Means), so were going to do that first, then I’ll release my next project after that, so early 2018.
9. What do you have planned for the rest of the year?
- We’re trying to do visuals for the rest of the project. Music, fashion, giving back, family time and that’s about it, staying creative.
10. Is there anything you would like to add?