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He’s on Beyoncé’s album. He has a No. 1 hit. Shaboozey’s moment is here.


Singer-songwriter Shaboozey knows you can never predict success in the music industry, but when he sat in his producer’s studio in November and worked on a sizzling new track about the joys of alcohol, a thought struck him: “This is gonna be my country No. 1.”

He uttered that thought into a voice memo as he wrapped up recording, and it was remarkably prescient: “A Bar Song (Tipsy),” a country-hip-hop drinking anthem that interpolates the 2004 smash “Tipsy” by rapper J-Kwon, started spiking on streaming services within days of its mid-April release. Two weeks later, it hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country chart, which measures streams, sales and radio play.

“My producer sent that [voice memo] to me yesterday. He was like, ‘Man, this is crazy, you said this at the end of the song,’” Shaboozey said in an interview. But he admitted that even with all that confidence, after about a decade of figuring out his path as a musician, he was still nervous about how the song would be received. “As an artist, you have these moments of doubt.”

For now, the doubts can subside — Shaboozey (born Collins Obinna Chibueze) is having the kind of month that only happens in most artists’ wildest dreams. The singer, who celebrated his 29th birthday last week, watched as the song busted out of the country chart’s confines and rocketed up the Billboard Hot 100. It currently sits at No. 5 behind Kendrick Lamar, Taylor Swift and Post Malone, and Tommy Richman. As if that wasn’t enough, at the end of March, Shaboozey appeared on not one but two tracks on Beyoncé’s country-themed album “Cowboy Carter” with “Sweet Honey Buckiin’” and “Spaghettii.”

Suddenly, he has more eyes on him than ever. And it is fortuitous timing, given that “Cowboy Carter” fueled conversations about how Black singers influenced country music and what it means when artists blur genre lines. “Spaghettii” also featured guest vocals by country legend Linda Martell, who kicks off the song by asking, “Genres are a funny little concept, aren’t they?”

It’s a fitting question for Shaboozey, a Woodbridge, Va., native whose parents are Nigerian immigrants. He spent years experimenting with various sounds and production and mixing together cultures and aesthetics in his music. He was inspired by artists such as Chingy, Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule, as well as Garth Brooks and Kenny Rogers, and the music of his Virginia roots (the home of superstars including Pharrell, Timbaland and Missy Elliott) is important to him. And now he’s witnessing firsthand that there appears to be quite a large audience for a blend of hip-hop and country.

“The universe works in mysterious ways,” Shaboozey said. He compared the last six weeks to the feeling of living inside a simulation. He went from people saying, “Who?” to his phone being a constant stream of messages from friends and strangers and famous musicians, some of whom want to collaborate. He recently performed “A Bar Song (Tipsy)” at the Stagecoach country music festival and saw thousands in the crowd screaming along, and hopes to carry the momentum forward when he releases a new album on May 31 called “Where I’ve Been, Isn’t Where I’m Going.”

“Country music is something that — you know, I’ve been in this space for a long time … and I had my values about it and being accepted. And my outlook on it has always been different than other people,” Shaboozey said. “I’ve always been about integration and bringing people together and sharing stories, and just having a love for culture in all aspects and all walks of life and all people.”

“I’m definitely not a ‘divide’ type of person. I’m a ‘bring people together.’ So I think the song I made does that. It brings people together all over the world,” he continued. “So it’s cool to just see the universe responding and giving me a platform. Because I think my message is very pure and my message is something that I think the world needs to hear.”

His message is “togetherness,” he said. While he is aware it can be extremely challenging to bridge the divide in country music, where there’s a visible and much-discussed lack of diversity, he’s hopeful that there are some in Nashville who want to shake up the status quo. And now he’s part of the discourse — “A Bar Song (Tipsy)” made history when it hit No. 1 on Hot Country, taking the place of Beyoncé’s “Texas Hold ’Em.” According to Billboard, it’s the first time that two Black artists have had back-to-back No. 1 songs on the chart.

“There are people here that are willing — that are open and do want to champion diversity and are championing change in the space,” Shaboozey said. “I mean, it seems like the hate is louder, but there are people here that have been super receptive.”

Shaboozey’s music journey started on the internet, posting songs online after he graduated from Gar-Field High School (he was born in Fairfax but grew up in Woodbridge). The first one to make waves was trap breakout “Jeff Gordon,” bringing together the cultures of NASCAR and hip-hop, followed by tracks such as “Starfoxx,” “Winning Streak” and a Led Zeppelin tribute, “Robert Plant.”

“That was one of the first moments I realized I was very much like, on a mission,” Shaboozey said. “My thought process there was like, ‘I want to do something different.’”

He moved to Los Angeles, landed a deal with Republic Records, and released his first album, “Lady Wrangler,” in 2018. He got a song, “Start a Riot,” on the “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” soundtrack with rapper Duckwrth. A couple of years later, Nashville record executive Eric Hurt was talking to producer Sean Cook, who mentioned that he was working with Shaboozey. Hurt heard a demo recording of a song called “Tall Boy” and was blown away.

“My first thought was, ‘Man I don’t know where this fits, genre-wise, because it’s just a real blend. But this guy’s great,’” Hurt said. He remembered that famed Nashville songwriter-publisher Frank Rogers once told him that when he first heard bluegrass and country singer Chris Stapleton, he didn’t know exactly where he would fit in the format, but he knew he wanted to work with him — and if someone has that level of talent, all of the details will eventually work themselves out. “Honestly, Frank’s words echoed in my head the first time I heard Shaboozey.”

Hurt, vice president of A&R Publishing, Nashville, signed Shaboozey in 2021 to the independent label Empire, which was founded in San Francisco and had been expanding its Music City presence. Shaboozey, who put as much thought into visuals and storytelling music videos as he did with songwriting, started releasing a series of tracks that did big streaming numbers, such as “Tall Boy” and “Beverly Hills.” (Hurt started describing him to people as, “If Quentin Tarantino was a music producer and he wanted to produce a country album with a rap artist, it would be Shaboozey.”)

But the mainstream breakout moment hit as two moments collided, one being a call from Beyoncé’s team about Shaboozey contributing to songs on her upcoming album. Abas Pauti, Shaboozey’s co-manager, said he thinks that Beyoncé saw Shaboozey’s authenticity.

“I think he was ahead of his time in terms of what he was trying to do,” said Pauti, recalling how Shaboozey fused country in into his early songs and on his second album in 2022, “Cowboys Live Forever, Outlaws Never Die,” and leaning into the aesthetic with Wrangler apparel and Lucchese boots. “No one was doing the stuff he was doing as authentically. People would do it and it would come off as gimmicky or trying too hard, but for Shaboozey it sat just right for people.”

Then came “A Bar Song (Tipsy),” which Shaboozey wrote with his producers, Sean Cook and Nevin Sastry. (J-Kwon, who excitedly gave his permission for the interpolation, has a writing credit, along with his co-writers.) Shaboozey correctly guessed that combining nostalgia for early aughts hits along with classic country themes of booze would have great appeal, and now he has Nashville and the greater music world paying attention.

“Sweden. Ireland,” he said, checking off the names of places where fans have been dazzled by the song; he suspects that Irish listeners really enjoy the parts with the fiddle. “It just really has like a positive vibe to it. And I think the world needs a lot more positivity in music.”

Sak Pase, a longtime producer and vice president of A&R at Empire, said that he expects Shaboozey to be a “trailblazer” as more people discover his music and upcoming album. “He’s a songwriter at heart. I think there is a group of those in the country community that can appreciate it, but I anticipate that for a lot of people it is kind of hard to wrap their heads around it,” Pase said of the reaction. “Boozey’s disrupting every space he’s in, and country is no exception.”

Shaboozey also finds it gratifying that he’s carving out his own space in a genre that generally sticks to what has already worked and doesn’t like to deviate from tradition.

“For me to be able to sit in rooms and have conversations with those people without doing it the exact way everybody else does it, I think it’s inspiring to myself … and to other artists as well that are doing their thing,” Shaboozey said. “Do it your way, you know what I mean? Stay true to yourself, and people will come around.”



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