We live in a time where vanity is mistaken for self-awareness. Often artists and entertainers are consumed with how they look and are not conscious of their own character, feelings, motives, and desires. It is rare when an artist emerges with clarity about their message and brand. Cyrus DeShield is that artist.
From the outside looking in, Cyrus Deshield may look like a typical hip-hop artist. But after speaking with him for a few moments, you realize this man is anything but ordinary. Born in Rhode Island to Liberian parents, Cyrus returned to his homeland as a child. Before puberty, he saw the horrors of civil war that forced his family to move from Liberia to Ghana and the Ivory Coast. His experiences forged a self-aware artist who connects his craft to this journey.
Self-Awareness in Transition
It was the mid-1990’s when Cyrus saw civil war separate his entire family in Liberia. “I got accustomed to leaving. It was difficult to make friendships and believe that people would stay around when nothing seemed stable.” One of our most basic needs as humans is security. Cyrus was no different.
“Each country had its own language and culture that required me to adjust to fit in. It was never easy.” Cyrus’ unmet desire for stability left painful memories yet also created a space for reflection. “I couldn’t depend on who was going to be around, so I had to figure out who I was and who I wanted to become.”
Self-Awareness in Tragedy
While Cyrus was maturing and deciding the direction of his life, it wasn’t without struggle. “The drive to school was a drive across a war zone. There were bullet holes in buildings and chunks of road missing from where bombs exploded.” Music was Cyrus’ peace. With explosions and shouts of violence around, his mother would put earphones on him. “The self-aware music of Heavy D kept me from hearing the chaos all around me.”
Cyrus grew up in a household where the entire family was always singing together. “There was always music in the house. I found myself in that music.” When it got too dangerous to stay in Liberia, Cyrus carried his music from Ghana to the Ivory Coast to Boston. During that time he stayed with his mother in their uncle’s house.
After Cyrus sang at the Apollo, he was signed to A&M/Interscope Records. He began to hone elite songwriting and production skills to make records. Then, in 2011 he signed to Universal Music Publishing Group and moved to Atlanta three years later. “It was a slow but steady climb, but every lesson was worth it.”
Self-Awareness in Triumph
Cyrus’ breakthrough moments happened after writing “Finally” on Bell Biv DeVoe’s comeback album, THREE STRIPES, and co-writing “Start Over” and “Party Life” on R&B legend Musiq Soulchild’s FEEL THE REAL album. The eponymous lead single, peaking at #11 on Billboard’s Urban Adult Contemporary Chart. The album would debut at #1 on the Urban AC and earn a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Album.
Last year, Cyrus made a transition from songwriter to a full-fledged artist. His childhood experiences migrating across West Africa, consuming diverse sounds and cultures shape his musical perspective and rhythm. “I create R&B and hip-hop from a West African point of view. America taught me the skill and technique, but my love for music came from Africa.”
You can feel Cyrus’ clarity of mind from his track “Make a Scene” and his feature on Slaine’s new song, “Do What You Love.” “I am resilient. It’s got me ready to take on this next chapter of my life and win.”
The Simple Truth
Napoleon Hill once said, “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” For Cyrus DeShield, preserving through adversity and becoming self-aware has been the driving force behind his successful journey from civil war refugee to Grammy-nominated songwriter. “With all my experiences I finally am aware of who I am, what I stand for and I’m ready to stand on my own.”
He is one of music’s best-kept secrets no more. He is the self-aware artist we need in a time full of vanity. “I just want to be a light and do right by people. My children will see my life as a light they can follow like Heavy D did for me all those years ago.” Follow Cyrus and hear a unique sound–one of clarity from an artist with his own mind and story to tell.