Kanye West has made a return to music with his latest delivery, a 7-track solo album titled ye. As we all know, the project arrives amidst a controversy about West’s incendiary and historically inaccurate takes about slavery and living in the era of Trump. But on “Ghost Town,” the penultimate track of the 23-minute album, a vocalist makes a poetic and liberating proclamation. “Oh, once again I am a child…I put my hand on a stove, to see if I still bleed/Yeah, and nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free.” Behind these raw lyrics is 070 Shake, a rapper of Dominican descent and Def Jam/G.O.O.D. Music signee. Shake, born Danielle Balbuena, grew up in New Jersey and spent time living in the Dominican Republic with her grandmother. The young lyricist made waves in Jersey’s hip-hop scene before she was signed to the imprint in 2017, and has gained a new following with appearances alongside heavyweights like Kid Cudi and John Legend on ye. Last summer, Vogue profiled her in a feature about a new generation of rising lesbian rappers, and earlier this year, she dropped her debut EP Glitter. With a feature on G.O.O.D. Music labelmate – and Aubrey Graham bully – Pusha T’s latest offering Daytona, it’s safe to say we’ll hear more from the New Jersey rapper real soon. In the meantime, we broke down five things you should know about 070 Shake.
She’s From New Jersey, and Proudly So
Shake hails from North Bergen, New Jersey, and that fact is a point of pride and integral part of the young rapper’s identity. Putting on for Jersey kids is important to Shake; in a short doc released earlier this year, Balbuena said, “A lot of the kids that grew up here – no one gets a chance to really do anything. I wanna bring Jersey up like what Jay did to Brooklyn, because there’s so much talent. No one really pays attention.” Balbuena turned heads early on in her career with North Bergen collective 070, the source of her namesake and a tribute to New Jersey zip codes.
She Got Her Rap Name Playing Ball
Hooping recreationally was a regular pastime for Shake in Jersey. Known then simply as Dani, one play in particular — dubbed the “shake weave” by Balbuena and her best friend — would lead the rapper to create the Twitter handle @DShake. After that, “everybody just started calling me Shake,” she said in the documentary.
She Became Interested in Rapping Through Poetry
As a means of finessing class participation and finding a form of self-expression, Shake dove into poetry to pretend she was taking notes in class. Not one to describe herself as a softspoken person, Shake saw poetry as a vehicle for emotional vulnerability.
“Type Beat[s]” Were An Integral Part of Her Rap Career
The poetry Shake found herself writing was only one component that led her to music. The infamous SoundCloud/YouTube “type beat” culture would also play a crucial role in Shake’s musical career. In 2017, she told SSENSE, “Yo, literally, though, I typed ‘Drake type beats’ on YouTube, I got my notebook where I wrote all my poems, and then started repeating my poems to the beat, just started flowing with it.”
She’s Also a Model
You might be familiarizing yourself with Shake’s work off recent G.O.O.D. Music features, but you’ve probably seen Shake before without even realizing it. In 2016, the New Jersey rapper was featured in a lookbook for KITH’s spring collection, and walked in New York fashion label Gypsy Sport’s FW17 show last year. In April, she modeled for French fashion house Mugler’s RTW Fall 2018 Collection.