Beninese singer and songwriter Shirazee is an artist who’s been steadily carving his own space in Africa’s crossover era.

Musician Shirazee’s global upbringing has empowered him with a sense of cultural awareness that along with his musical talents has shaped him into one of today’s exciting artists to watch. 

Born Paolo Prudencio, he grew up in Benin, West Africa. “Inbetween Benin, Ghana, South Africa, London, Paris and I eventually ended up in New York City. That’s where I am now – an African in New York.”

Shirazee shares that his collaboration with Sting, which features on a 6 track Ep entitled ‘Lost’, happened organically. 

“It just came from me, wanting to tell my story. I would meet people who say, ‘hey, I can believe you’re the guy who sang Make Wild, or Soweto’ and I thought I had to make people relate to my story. So when I did ‘African in New York’, that’s what led to my collaboration with Sting and here we are. He heard it, he gave me his blessing and asked for us to do a version together,” share the artist. 

With so many different influences, it’s no surprise that Shirazee has a unique sound – one that he jokingly calls “Bipolar Pop”. 

“You can find a lot of different influences in my music. My overall message is pushing Africa to the rest of the world song-ically, and I’m doing it with pride so that everybody back home can look at me and be like, ‘you know what, he’s representing us properly’. 

If the studio is his happy place, collaboration is the cornerstone of his sound. 

“Collaboration, for me, is one of the primary ingredients to my sound, my music and my brand. If you listen to my music you can tell that I’ve been influenced by so much. It’s a no-brainer for me to go to different territories and be able to work with different acts and feel right at home. All the while, learning how to keep my voice as strong as possible so that I can be around for a long time. We want to be here forever right. What I do hope people take away from my EP ‘Lost’ is great music and an honesty, that this is an artist who’s trying to find himself and we’re just going along for the journey with him.”  

Shirazee says the biggest lesson he has learned is the importance of betting on yourself and not relying on others to do things for you. This sense of personal empowerment is sure to serve him well as he continues to share his unique perspective on culture with the world.