When Kanye West's ye arrived last week, it came with the flurry of last-minute decisions. The album's artwork was taken on an iPhone on the way to the album listening, and tracks were being added and subtracted on release day. One of the last minute additions was "Ghost Town," an operatic anthem featuring Francis & The Lights production, an operatic Kid Cudi hook, and a decisive feature from one of G.O.O.D. Music's more recent signings, 070 Shake.
The North Jersey-based artist was born Danielle Balbuena—the stage name indicates affiliation with her local 070 crew. Another hometown connection: after linking with YesJulz's management agency 1AM, Shake signed to G.O.O.D. Music in 2016, and released the The 070 Project: Chapter 1 that December. A string of singles followed, and Shake's excellent Glitter EP dropped back in March. Each release has received more attention than the last, and the momentum came to a head last week, when Shake delivered the three biggest features of her young career.
There she is singing the hook on Pusha T's "Santeria," a poignant moment on the album's darkest and most personal track. Then Shake popped up twice on ye: her intro and hook for "Violent Crimes" opens the door, and her soaring contribution to "Ghost Town" is a decisive step across the threshold to stardom. But it almost didn't happen. "I had done a reference for it, and then I guess he forgot about it," Shake tells us over the phone. It took a timely reminder for Kanye to play back the reference and realize Shake's version was "the one."
It has made all the difference. "The experience I had in Wyoming makes me want to make music on a different level," she says. Her debut album Yellow Girl is next up on the list of priorities, and after "Ghost Town," that might mean starting over.
But no matter what's next, 070 Shake has arrived, and she's come prepared. Read on for our interview with Shake, and watch the video for "Mirrors" below.
Tell me about “Ghost Town,” did you record that with Kanye?
I did the recording in Wyoming. We finished that song the same day it came out.
Was this a part you had written previously?
I had done a reference for it, and then I guess he forgot about it. We put that reference on another song, then Kanye did his own reference for that “free” concept. At the end we were talking and asking, “Is this the one right here?” And I kind of mentioned “Ghost Town,” and said maybe we could use something from that. He listened to the reference again, and said “Oh yeah, this is the one.” So “Ghost Town” almost didn’t make it.
“Ghost Town” and “Violent Crimes,” those are the ones I did for Ye. We worked on a lot of stuff, and you never really know what’s going to make it. All I know is Kids See Ghost is coming out soon.
I GREW UP LISTENING TO KANYE WEST AND KID CUDI. I'VE CRIED TO THEIR MUSIC. THEY'VE DEFINITELY CHANGED MY LIFE, AND SAVED ME FRO MA LOT OF STUFF.
Those videos of you listening to “Ghost Town” in Wyoming are amazing.
That was just a real moment... All my life I grew up listening to Kanye West and Kid Cudi. I’ve cried to their music. They’ve definitely changed my life, and saved me from a lot of stuff. And I never made music back then—if I had told myself four years ago that I was going to be on Ye’s album called ye, I would have said “yeah, right.”
It was just random, I never made music so that wasn’t an option for me. I wrote poetry when I wasn’t playing basketball, but never music.
Watching @070shake go nuts to her feature on Ghost Town gave me chills. You just know exactly what this means to her. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more proud and happy for a complete stranger. pic.twitter.com/zEfRq5ewrv— Yeezycone (@Snowcone965) June 3, 2018
Could you tell us how you ended up signing to G.O.O.D?
A girl from my town played Kanye one of my songs, called “Sunday Night.” Initially, there were labels that were looking at me, but I said I’m not going to sign to anyone unless it’s Kanye West. And a week and a half later, Steven Victor found me.
Is Yellow Girl still the debut album title?
I don’t know if it’s going to be called Yellow Girl. I know the songs are definitely changing. The experience I had in Wyoming makes me want to make music on a different level, so looking back on that I’m like, “I have to scrap this whole shit.” It's going to be very dope. You just have to keep elevating, keep getting better. I’m still going to use some of those songs, but I just want to get better.
Speaking of elevating, what’s it been like being on a label like G.O.O.D.?
I think it’s the dopest part of music. I see us as the Avengers, everybody else is Thanos. Francis & The Lights, he did a lot of extra stuff on ye, and he’s really fucking dope. I became good friends with him, he’s on the label too. I also love it because everybody has a really big heart, and their mission is bigger than getting plays. It’s a lot about spreading love, and I love that.
Are you still interested in incorporating film and theater into your skill set?
100%. I’m just doing everything strategically, picking things one by one that can get this music shit popping. When I was a kid, my dream was always to act. I just wanted to be an actor—me and my mom would try and sign up for things, but they would cost too much money. So we could never do it, and I said, “All right, fuck it. I’m gonna find a way to get there.” Everything I do—I say what I’m going to do, I speak it and it happens as I see it in my head.
What are you looking forward to in 2018?
070 Project Part 2. This one is fucking different, shout out to The Kompetition. I’m also going to have the best project of this year, once it comes out.
Stream 070 Shake's Glitter EP below, and listen to ye here.