Daeshawn Ureña introduces himself this way at every show.
“My name is Shawn, I go by the stage name My Friend Shawn,” he says. “I’m a 21-year-old rapper, singer, and songwriter from Miami, Florida.”
He’s not a typical performer. He’s your friend.
Ureña is an indie artist on the way to making a name for himself. After growing up in Richmond Heights, he has released 6 singles, an EP and a full-length album.
He has played at house shows, venues such as the Fish House and Florida International University’s Wertheim Center. He has also become a regular at the Miami Youth Fair’s festival.
His work centers on reminiscing about his past, the tribulations and successes surrounding love and emotional vulnerability. His music brings uniqueness to the Miami music scene with the way it fuses bedroom pop, hip-hop and indie rock.
Ureña has performed dozens of times in every type of venue in both Miami and New York City. His numbers are strong, with his top 5 songs garnering well over 10,000 plays each on Spotify.
“He is just talented,” Pierre Ledain, close friend and collaborator, said. “But, above all else, he knows this is for him, he knows that making music is what he wants to do with his life.”
Ureña has always been musically inclined. He was born in June 2001 and was pushed by his mother to pursue his love of music. He attended the Visual and Performing Arts Academy during his time at Coral Reef Senior High, a magnet school located in Richmond Heights. Though he played in the school’s band, he never took creating music seriously until he was 16 and released his first song.
The song was a soft, crooning number named A Very Swanky Christmas. It described the beauty of having friends, family and other loved ones around as the Christmas season approaches. This song garnered him a bit of attention around the South Miami area and was a very strong start for the aspiring musician.
Ureña draws his inspiration from a plethora of artists ranging from hip-hop acts like Chance the Rapper and Saba to rock acts like Coldplay and Red-Hot Chili Peppers. He says a lot of his exposure to music had come from his mother, who introduced him to Coldplay, Radiohead, Green Day and Blink-182 and his grandmother for introducing him to Latino music like Luis Miguel, Chayanne, Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan at a young age.
The narrative surrounding Ureña does not come from himself, but how people perceive him. This is clear when others refer to him as a hip-hop artist rather than an indie musician, thus confining him to one genre.
On the contrary, most of his music is indie based with hip-hop playing a big part in his influence. This is shown by one of his biggest songs, L.O.V.E., which he released in 2018.
It talks about how love is a complicated emotion. Ureña makes sure to show his vulnerability and complicated relationship with love. “Love, Love takes you to a whole new place. Love takes from you and it’s never ever safe,” he sings.
The production of this song is reminiscent of a ’90s or early ’00s R&B track. He sings about how great love can be and performs the verses in a melodic style.
As of now, the song has garnered 17,000 plays and has remained one of his most streamed numbers.
He could be pigeonholed as just another Afro-Latino artist, but he uses his diverse musical background to break the mold. His goal is to change how people perceive Black artistry. “I want to basically expand what it means for a Black artist to make music because I hate how we’re always put into two little boxes – hip-hop or R&B,” he said.
Juliet Bradley, lead singer of local band Iliad, has been one of many people in the indie scene to vouch for him.
“He’s one of the most talented people to come from this area, and in our era of musicians, he’ll see the success he deserves,” she said.
Over the last five years, Ureña has released two projects and a handful of singles. In July 2020, he was accepted into New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. Currently he is working on finishing up and releasing his newest project, which still doesn’t have a name. He now plans to reside permanently in New York City and hopes to further build upon his momentum there.