Islington’s Shanny is the hottest new rapper in the game... aged NINE

PUBLISHED: 16:06 04 April 2016 | UPDATED: 17:36 04 April 2016

Shanny's lyrics mix swaggering humour with playground morals. Picture: Derek Benson

Shanny's lyrics mix swaggering humour with playground morals. Picture: Derek Benson


Islington has a new hip-hop superstar. Her name is Shanny. And she is nine years old.

Shanny, aged nine, has been rapping for less than two years. Picture: Derek BensonShanny, aged nine, has been rapping for less than two years. Picture: Derek Benson

Shanny, real name Shannon Benson-Wills, is possibly the only Year 4 pupil in history to record her own rap EP.

Pink Crayon, recorded at dad Derek’s studio, is barely believable. Take the song Bubblegum Train, for instance (also watch her video for Wick’d Rhymes, above).

Shanny, of Central Street, Finsbury, combines laugh-out-loud humour (“I look so cool next to my dad/I swear he’s the oldest man”) with simple playground morals (“Move your shoulders to the beat/Slowly move your feet/Copy someone else if you want to cheat/It really doesn’t matter if you don’t get it right”).

All of this is delivered in a cheeky, swaggering drawl with effortless flow. Who on earth is this girl?

“Funnily enough, Shanny’s best subject at school [Prior Weston Primary, near Old Street] is English,” laughs Derek, 37.

“Shanny has been musical from the moment she was born. It sounds ridiculous, but I noticed it from when she was a baby in her highchair.

“She would be crying and moaning, but whenever a song came on the TV, she would stop!

“It developed from there. She started singing at the age of four, and I started taking her into the studio.”

It was in this studio where Shanny witnessed artists such as Rudimental first hand.

Shanny and one of her 'day one' fans, brother Ralphie. Picture: Derek BensonShanny and one of her 'day one' fans, brother Ralphie. Picture: Derek Benson

“She was just involved with the artists. In particular, she was obsessed with the lyrics.

“It was only a year-and-a-half ago when she started rapping. It seemed to come out of nowhere and sounded amazing. I’m a rapper myself so it’s big in my heart.

“The progress since then has been unbelievable. I can honestly say I’ve never seen an artist that young to be so talented.

“I’m saying that with my dad face on, but if I was a total stranger to Shanny, I guarantee I would still think the same way.”

The eight-track Pink Crayon EP was recorded in the space of a weekend. Each song was written by Shanny, who was guided by Derek when she needed a helping hand.

And he has no doubt she could follow the success of Little Simz, the 22-year-old Islington rapper who won praise from American superstar Kendrick Lamar.

“Shanny has pure ability with words, and flow, but I think what makes her unique is her passion for music and lyrics.

“She’s not stuck in one genre. She listens to Selena Gomez, for example, but a big influence recently has been David Bowie.

“I have experince of working with successful artists, but I believe she will go far – if that’s what she wants to do, of course.”

Throughout our conversation, Shanny happily chirps away in the background, quick to fill in her dad’s sentences.

But as soon as Derek passes over the phone, inexplicable shyness takes over. Shanny is lost for words at the Gazette’s questions. She is human after all.

Eventually, she is able to describe how she recorded Pink Crayon.

“I was just having a little jamming session in my dad’s studio and the words started going round. It went from there.”

And bashful Shanny has a fool-proof method of batting away attention: “It is a bit nerve-wracking. I just say: ‘You’re embarrassing me!’ That seems to work.”

The release date of Pink Crayon is to be confirmed. Listen to Bubblegum Train here.

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