Shelly Quest is something of a rap veteran who has been rapping since the early 2000s and has found her new home in Cologne, Germany. Originally from the Bronx, she grew up in a large family and found her musical beginnings early on. In an interview with 365 Female* MCs, Shelly remembers that she wrote her first song at the age of 12, although she thought she started rapping at 19. Her artist name is a tribute to her uncle Eric, who rapped under the name Johnny Quest and inspired her early on. Shelly is also influenced by other artists such as Mos Def, Lauryn Hill, The John Wright Trio, and Jay Electronica.
For Shelly, music is a form of therapy, and she writes all her lyrics herself. In addition to performing live on stage (in times without a pandemic), she also gives rap workshops in schools. Shelly sees herself as an activist and believes that music can be a tool to initiate revolutions and move the community. She is committed to charitable work and community activism, and plans to release new music, including a tribute to Breonna Taylor, in the near future.
(Photos: Katja Illner, Frederick Loewer)