Exclusive: Shane Eagle breaks down his newly-released visual album 'Xenergy: The Final Saga'.
When lockdown regulations were put in place after the pandemic hit, early in the year, many artists' plans were either halted or changed. Shane Eagle is one such artist who has had to relook, restrategise and draw up a new plan for the year as far as his music is concerned.
Having released a project every year since his debut album Yellow came out in 2017, the South African rapper had planned to go on a Dark Moon Flwr tour this year. Dark Moon Flwr is his third project, released in 2019, following the release of his 2018 EP, Never Grow Up.
Shane Eagle has decided to make up for the tour by releasing a visual album titled Xenergy: The Final Saga. In the 7-track project, he performs mostly songs taken off his 2019 project, Dark Moon Flwr.
Each song is performed in a different scenario said to be drawn from the archive of his memories of feeling a sense of loss, pain, hope, inspiration and gratitude, themes which are all expressed in the Dark Moon Flwr.
In each of the seven visuals, Shane Eagle is an omnipresent character existing in an atmospheric starry galaxy-like environment steeped in water and loaded with subtle symbolism.
Watch me perform my new Record “Racks Talk” prod by Gem . https://t.co/nsJj8Rtn3l #Xenergy https://t.co/aRSyEHWz2h— Eagle (@Eagle)1602827492.0
He occupies the vast animated spaces as he recites his rhymes and the result is the viewer experiencing some of their favourite Shane Eagle songs in a different light.
"Racks Talk", a new song produced by Gemini Major, appears on Xenergy: The Final Saga to give fans a glimpse of his current mindstate and act as a teaser for his upcoming releases.
In the interview below, Shane Eagle breaks down the concept of Xenergy: The Final Saga, his relationship with Dreamville and not taking criticism personally among other things.
This interview has been slightly edited for length and clarity.
What does Xenergy: The Final Saga mean? And why did you name the album this?
Xenergy is another term for energy. It is a term I like to use to describe the balance of a clear mind and pure soul. "The Final Saga" refers to the installment to the Dark Moon Flwr chapter and a prelude into my next succession.
What informed your selection of the songs that the visual album is composed of?
I selected songs based on fan favourites and songs that I know will remain real throughout time.
A recurring theme in the album is that of loss, the loss of your dad. It comes up in "Zaire" and "Storytime". How has the loss affected you as a person and as an artist?
My father was and is the biggest narrative in my story. I have spoken about him in all my projects. Dark Moon Flwr is what came as an expression to the loss of him, that will continue to affect me for the rest of my life. In a way, it has also brought a sense of comfort to me knowing that I have a spiritual guide to navigate me through life.
Your portfolio of international features on the album speaks to your good relationship and liaison with Dreamville's roster. What is your process in securing these features?
I think the process involves natural interactions before the music. When I connected with Bas, Lute, TheHics on tour, it was more about getting to know each other on a human level before work. I base all my interactions off pure energy as opposed to a forced collaboration.
The visual album depicts a minimalist aesthetic that's however loaded with subtle symbolism centered on an atmospheric starry galaxy-like environment steeped in water. Is there a meaning to each component as depicted by the visuals?
The approach or theme was built on creating an inner experience pertaining to the idea that "less is more". I wanted the "stage" to be endless. That way, I could create settings for each song by using the element of light as the key differentiating component. I kind of wanted the viewer to see the light in a variety of forms throughout the visual album.
How do you reconcile your global aspirations with the criticism that you're often subjected to, which is that you sound too American, more specifically, that you sound like J. Cole?
I don't see it as a criticism to associate me with greatness and I suppose that's why the comparison seems like the most natural to make. I have also learnt in my time making music never to take critics or opinions personally (good or bad) because my art is subjective. It's true to me. As long as the message is understood, I'm happy. I also think the sound in my music creates a bridge between opposing worlds and suggests that we can all connect through art and music regardless of where you were born. Maybe it's all connected in the end and I happen to be the link.
In the very few last lines on the album, from "Racks Talk", you shout out OGs. Are there specific OGs in SA hip-hop whose lineage you believe you're from, to whom those lines apply to?
When I say OG's it is not just bound to music here but to artists, designers, writers who have paved the way before including those who broke those boundaries for Africa musically on a global scale. Rap is like any sport or game, and sometimes the torch gets passed down for you to take it to a new level. But you can't do that unless you acknowledge who and what came before you.
Stream Xenergy: The Final Saga on Apple Music.
Xenergy: The Final Saga credits
Created by: Shane "Eagle" Hughes
Produced by: Eagle Ent
Executive-produced by: Nicole Swartz
Directed by: Shane "Eagle" Hughes
Co-Director: Tebogo "GraphixGuy" Laka
Assistant Film Director: Imraan Christian
Creative and Art Direction: Nicole Swartz
Visual Effects Editor: Tebogo "GraphixGuy" Laka
Custom Costume Design: ArtCodeIsData "ACID"
Sounds by: WEZ
Live Sound Engineer: Stage Tech & Dave Sampson Solutions
Additional Live Sound Mixes: Jason Sampson