Ivy Shades is a whole vibe, and she brings that same energy to all her endeavors. Born from Los Angeles, raised in Houston but now based in Atlanta, the celebrity eyewear designer, rapper, and entrepreneur is the definition of a go-getter, someone who refuses to take no for an answer and inspires the masses to do the same.
Her name comes from her own celebrity eyewear brand, a standout, unique line of luxury custom shades that cover your entire top half of your face in a way that’s classy and stylish — ones that will have you feeling like that b####. To align with that, Ivy unveils her newest single and visual for “Photo,” inspired by that feeling of confidence after buying her first pair of red bottom shoes. Being a self-made female entrepreneur, Ivy invests in herself to make her wildest dreams come true.
AllHipHop: What was a young Ivy Shades like growing up?
Ivy Shades: The young Ivy Shades was actually born in Cedars-Sinai Hospital here in California. I moved to Houston when I was 12 years old. The 12 years I was here, I saw a lot of gangs. I remember police officers used to walk me from one corner to the other one to get to my school. Really Cali is my hometown, H-town is my hometown, now Atlanta is my hometown. But really LA is my roots, this is where I started from.
AllHipHop: Biggest influences coming up?
Ivy Shades: I have really two. Really #1 and #2: Missy Elliot and Lil Kim. Lil Kim really inspired me to see how bold she was, she didn’t give a s###. She didn’t care. She’s like “I’ma say that s### and I’ma do what I want to do.” Missy came out and really made me feel comfortable because I’m so weird. I’m really not weird but they call me weird, “are you really going to wear that?” Missy made it okay to be yourself. Doesn’t matter what anybody thinks about you, just do you and be yourself. Definitely Lil Kim, Missy Elliot, I want to do a record with both of those ladies. I don’t know if it’s going to make this album. Lil Kim and Missy Elliot if y’all are listening, please feel sorry for me and do a song with me. [laughs]
AllHipHop: What inspired you to get into music?
Ivy Shades: I was 15 and I got really into listening to the radio, really inspired. Later on, I saw Lil Kim. I can sing too, but I really don’t like to call myself a singer because Adele is a singer. Whitney Houston is a singer. I can do hooks all day. I can hold tunes, but I was singing. You don’t really know any better but when you hear people like Whitney Houston, “ay b#### you don’t sound like that.” But you still can sing though! I took it seriously at 18. I started writing my little rhymes, and doing my little hooks. They say I’m one of the best that’s about to blow.
AllHipHop: “Photo” out now, how are you feeling?
Ivy Shades: [Claps] “Photo” is so great. I love “Photo” because for me it’s so different, it’s a commercial type of record. People who know me know I’m from LA, they know I’m from Houston. Grew up with nothing and figured it out all myself. I wasn’t some bougie ass “oh my god, my parents have a Rolls Royce.” I didn’t have parents, you feel me. “Photo” was really cool because I tapped into something else. I bought my very first pair of red bottoms, went to the studio. I walked in, people said “yo G, are those red bottoms?” I said “hell yeah.” They said “how much you paid for them?” I said “none of your business.” I was really being goofy in the studio: I kept lifting my feet up, red bottoms.
I really wanted to make a song about red bottoms so that’s how “Photo” really came about. It’s so weird but that’s the most commercial record I have, period! I rap for real for real, I’ll come for their ass. I really love “Photo” because I got to be colorful. It’s a real record but it’s so commercial, it’s so cool. Who doesn’t take pictures? When you’re done talking, take a picture b####!
AllHipHop: The video was so beautiful, what was your favorite look?
Ivy Shades: My favorite look definitely would be the all black. It didn’t get that much playtime because for me, it was so crazy. I have to be so honest with you, I have 3 people working on my costumes for the video. I sketched not everything, but I gave them the ballpark. When I came up with that, it’s really a blacked out look. I couldn’t see s###. The hood came here, I’m in there dancing with the dancers. I pulled up like “did I do it right? Am I in line with them? Do it again!” That’s why it’s my favorite thing because it was the unknown. I want to do this and they’re like “why Ivy?” Because I want to do it. I couldn’t see s###, it was dark. When you saw that, is that Ivy? That’s my favorite look.
AllHipHop: Where did you shoot?
Ivy Shades: In Atlanta, in Studio Space ATL. My gorgeous dancers, it was a lot of people on set. It was like a movie premiere. I don’t really like a lot of people on set like that, but they’re so happy because I’ve been gone for a minute. We came back, shot the video. We had a whole audience watching us shoot the video, it was cool.
AllHipHop: What unreleased music are you sitting on?
Ivy Shades: Are you going to stick around for a little bit today? Everything playing today is going to be new, it’s about 75% of my album. Really uncut and raw, I’m really excited about people hearing it. Some people might hear “Photo” on another level, like “she’s a cute commercial artist. She’s so cute.” But don’t get it twisted b####.
AllHipHop: How did you end up starting your own celebrity eyewear line?
Ivy Shades: So Ivy Shades, the Shades part started really when I was young. I used to buy Chanel glasses and Bulgari shades. It really wasn’t doing nothing for what I want, trying add stuff to them like “nah this is corny.” Why spend $500 on your brand and it’s really not what I want? I said s### I’m finna order some stuff and make what I want for myself. I can draw too so I started sketching stuff out and ordering s###. I started making them, people started buying them off my face in a club in Houston. For real, that’s how I was encouraged to put out my brand. If you gave me $350 for these shades I just made yesterday, I done sweated in them after performing and you still want them? Watch me work. Okay then hunny. [laughs]
AllHipHop: What was the reality in launching your own brand?
Ivy Shades: That was one of the most difficult challenges because at the end of the day, nobody gives you guidance. Nobody tells you what to do, how to start a company, what these products work. Setting up vendors, setting up an entire company, getting a warehouse, or hiring employees, nobody really told me “Ivy, this is what you should do.” I took it upon myself to try s###, that’s why I got a formula now because I did everything myself. Some stuff works and some stuff didn’t you know. S###, I’m powerful as hell right now. You can’t tell me nothing.
AllHipHop: How’d you get that legendary Pimp C feature?
Ivy Shades: One of few artists to lay claim to a feature with the late great Pimp C, Ivy Shades has her sights set on rising up the charts alongside some of her biggest influences, such as NickI Minaj, CardI B and Megan Thee Stallion.
AllHipHop: I do, it’s called “25.” The remix is called “Throw A 100.” Shout out to my bro, RIP Chad Butler. A lot of people don’t know the story. I was mad young around these n*ggas in the studio. I used to walk around them, looking at them with all their jewels and diamonds on. I’m walking there like “I’m going to be a rapper too, yeah!” My voice was deep, he’d say “man, you’re cool. Work on that s###, don’t be scared of your voice.” I said “my voice sounds like a man.”
“No you don’t lil sis, some of these b###### jugular.” I’m like “what is a jugular?” He said “don’t be shy, keep your voice the way it is.” I took vocal lessons to be perfected. Later, I got the record after he already passed away. It was hurtful, like damn he’s not even here. We got a record together and I’m his lil sis. I used to follow this n*gga around the studio like “listen to this verse Pimp!” He’s like “that’s hard, but you can say it like this.” That was a blessing.
AllHipHop: What did you learn from working with Pimp C?
Ivy Shades: One thing for sure is don’t be insecure, because I thought my voice was too deep. I naturally have a deep voice, my voice is so distinct. If I call you, you’ll say “Ivy what up?” You’ll know. When I rap hard: “sitting back on my castle, people kiss my a######. Cutting w##### like zeros, but I’m catching planes like Alesso.” I can’t really hide my voice, he told me “don’t be scared of that. Be who you are and go hard.”
AllHipHop: What inspired you the most when you’re recording?
Ivy Shades: The track. It’s all about the music for me, just like all about the shades for me. If you’re a dope producer, I walk in and you play tracks for me, I may pick a couple. If the track’s real hard, hot, I don’t write. I may have people record me for an hour.
AllHipHop: You freestyle everything?
Ivy Shades: Oh yes, I’m like “take that back. Let me hear that, okay we gon’ keep that.” I’ll keep going, but it’s all about the music for me. If you’re s### not hot, who are you? You want me to do what? I’ma send it to my little cousin.
AllHipHop: 3 things you need in the studio at all times?
Ivy Shades: Definitely would be hot ass track #1. #2 an engineer that knows what they’re doing. Even not only my shades, my whole life is weird. Where I live, what I drive, everything’s really on the same vibe. If I say “hey I need this to do this” or “I need this to do that,” I need somebody talented enough to say “I don’t know but I’m feeling you, let me try this.” A good engineer. Last one would be, when you done talking, my cell phone. [laughs] that’s not that hard right?
AllHipHop: What’s the reality of the independent grind?
Ivy Shades: It’s a challenge everyday, it’s a lot. It’d be a lot for anybody because I have my own record label so essentially, I’m not showing up like the artists. I have so many calls, so many things on my plate with everybody. My manager doesn’t even work for my label, but he manages Ivy Shades. He gets a lot of stuff but I’m really swamped all the time. It’s a challenge but I wouldn’t change this s### for the world. If someone offered me $10 million to take, nah kill yourself. Lose it. I’m Ivy, that way.
AllHipHop: Why’d you name your label, P by Tha Pound Records?
Ivy Shades: Do you know what P by the Pound stands for? Take one guess. If you get it right, I’ll give you 5000 pennies.
Ivy Shades: Yes, it’s P#### by the Pound. My entourage used to be in ATL, Houston, back then we were all broke and struggling, then got a little money. You got to switch it up so I switched it up, now we Female Money Team. Everybody essentially doesn’t have bread, but they’re going to get it because I’m helping them with their companies. It’s all about women empowerment. Nobody taught me s###, so I’m giving them all the game for nothing. You know they say I’m a pimp in Houston? They say that but I’m really not, girl I can’t even pimp. How she did that? You never see somebody with so many females following her.
AllHipHop: Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
Ivy Shades: #1 goal is to chart, that’s my #1 goal right now. Be on the charts, you gon’ hear it everyday from me. I want to chart chart chart chart, what are we doing? Get this done. Why am I not here? Let’s go, chart. Everything else has fallen into place, I’m really blessed. My goal right now is to chart, period. Point blank, that’s it. When they’re done talking, I’m leaving. [laughs].