Updated: Apr 17
Mr. Craig is an experienced recording artist, songwriter, and entrepreneur based in the "DMV" (D.C, Maryland, Virginia) area. Also recognized by his previous moniker, "Strictly Shadow", Mr. Craig is a musical visionary within the hip-hop genre, rap, and R&B genres. Drawing influence from notable artists such as Tupac and Lupe Frisco, Mr. Craig has crafted his very own unique sound and compelling style that has garnered him dedicated fans from all around the world. The artist's music exudes passion, honesty, and personality, matched with dynamic productions. The lyrics in Mr. Craig's songs shine a light on his backstory, which was fraught with many perils and bumps along the road. It is clear that his past experiences have only strengthened him and shaped him into the relatable, yet multi-faceted person that he is today.
After four years off, Mr. Craig is making a big comeback with his upcoming album titled, "This Time It's Personal", which is scheduled for release later this year. In addition to his musical endeavors, Mr. Craig also hosts his own radio show on Spin Wax Radio called "Inspired By Mr. Craig Radio Show".
Follow Mr. Craig on his social media platforms to stay updated on news and upcoming music releases!
"I want to be the one to shine the light where other artist are not shining it. We all feel something in life whether we hide it or not."
- Mr. Craig
Hello, Mr. Craig! Thank you for joining us today. I’d love to know, when did you first discover your passion for music?
Mr. Craig: Thanks for having me, I appreciate it! Well, my uncle was a DJ at the time and he used to play music every day at my dad’s house in the basement. He showed me the ropes on switching records on the turntables and transitioning songs from one to the other. That’s how my love for music started. The sound and self-expression really got to me.
What three words would you say best summarize your musical style?
Mr. Craig: Hip-hop. Rap. R&B.
What is your interpretation of being an artist? What does it mean to you?
Mr. Craig: For me it’s not just being one dimensional, as an artist you can apply your craft and thoughts into other things. It can range from helping people, to inspiring people, to making a movie, building a community center for kids, scholarships for kids. You name it!! If you’re in position to do it of course.
I have a T-shirt clothing line called “Inspired” which is universal and I developed a line just for Women called “Inspired for Women” - quick plug! It can be found on my website www.Mrcraigta.com.
Do you feel like music has always been your calling?
Mr. Craig: Good question, I’m not sure about it being my calling, but I actually started writing as therapy from all the trials and tribulations growing up, and some of it will be on my upcoming album. It became my way of dealing with things and letting things out, my way.
Tell me about your upcoming album release titled, “This Time It’s Personal”.. what is something very special about it?
Mr. Craig: So, one of the special things about this album is that it wasn’t planned.
I had no intentions of doing another album after I put out my “Inspired” album four and a half years ago. Most of my family and friends didn’t believe me but I had another vision and I was all set to carry it out, and sometimes life steps in the way, so, in November I wrote four songs in three weeks and I was non-stop on recording grind mode was definitely on point and I looked at a few songs I had just sitting around and I was like “wow” I have an album. So, I thought about it and listened to the songs I had and I just felt it needed to be heard. So, now my saying is 4 years off and “I’m Back” – this time it’s personal. Fresh out of retirement!! The album was done in December of 2021 and I’m just putting some extra icing on the cake at this point, but to be honest it was a situation I went through that made the album, not me.
There are going to be a lot of great songs on your upcoming album.. but I’m curious, which song on “This Time It’s Personal” means the most to you, and why?
Mr. Craig: Ha, well there are a few, but I’ll keep short. Ok, so, “Appreciate You” is one of my favorites. Sometimes people don’t know how much you appreciate them, maybe you didn’t say it, or show it enough. Maybe they are not here any longer. Give them their flowers while you still have the chance too because you never know when you won’t have the chance. Tomorrow is not promised to no one! So, if someone means that much to you… show them, let them know!
“Had It All Together” is another favorite of mine. Since I was so long winded on the last one, I’ll just say grab the album when it comes out!
Ok, so, I went left field with a song called “Blessings” a song no one would ever think I’d write. What can I say…. “This Time It’s Personal” for me, they all have meaning!
You are also the host of your own radio show called “Inspired By Mr. Craig Radio Show”, which is impressive! What is something unique you can share about your show?
Mr. Craig: I mean I’m just enjoying music and having fun. Trying to inspire people through music. It’s something I always wanted to do. I went to school for radio broadcasting so there you have it - the love for music! Let’s go!
Who are some of the artists or bands that you grew up listening to?
Mr. Craig: That’s a pretty long list! Anything from rap to r&b, I mean you name it - Michael Jackson, Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Prince, Joe, Rakim, Public Enemy, Boys II Men, I’m an artist and a fan, and I just love good music. I grew up listening too so much, we would have to do an interview on just that alone!
In your opinion, what separates you from other artists in your genre?
Mr. Craig: For me and no disrespect to any other artist doing what they do, but, I just be me!
I’m not trying to be something I’m not. They’re a lot of artists that I can rock out with on the real though. I’ve been through a lot and, somethings you may not hear in a song. Everything doesn’t need to be for the public knowledge. Just facts!
Most artists say that through their art they learn more about themselves, heal injuries… in what ways has music helped you?
Mr. Craig: I can tell you I learn more about myself every day, with or without music. Music helped me realize that we are all flawed to a degree in life, like we all make mistakes, no one is perfect, no one is exempt from stress or depression. We all go through stuff. I have an outlet, and if my outlet can help others… it’s all love!
How do you want your music to help or affect other people?
Mr. Craig: Ya know, I want people to feel like, ok Mr. Craig gets it, he understands my loss or my hurt and pain. I also want to help uplift people as well, or for them to not be afraid to ask or seek help. Speak to someone, reach out, I’m speaking to someone now because sometimes you may need more than music to push on. I want to be the one to shine the light where other artist are not shining it. We all feel something in life whether we hide it or not!
What is your songwriting process like?
Mr. Craig: So, my process is so complex at times. It really all depends on the song I’m writing to be honest. I can be in the car and something pops in my head and I’m like, "yooo", I have to write that down like now! Walking around gets my writing process going as well. For me it’s movement than just sitting there.
What would your idyllic life as an artist look like?
Mr. Craig: Interesting question, never been asked that before, hmm. Knowing that I’ve touched lives in many ways as possible. It’s all about inspiring myself as well as others and knowing I’m doing that, I’m good, but also being recognized for the person I am, because if you know me personally, you know how I rock out, I’m real and I don’t pull punches! Thanks for the interview!
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Listen to Mr. Craig's music on Spotify: