Shawn Desman owes something very special to Drake.
The Toronto-based singer released “Maniac” last week, his first single since 2015’s “Obsession”. Known best for his early aughts hits “Shook” and “Get Ready”, he performed as part of Drake’s All Canadian North Stars event at OVO Fest in July. The show brought together Canadian hip-hop and R&B greats from the ’90s and ’00s.
Desman’s performance was so well-received that Drake apparently pulled him aside afterwards. The conversation between Drake and Desman completely reinvigorated his motivation in the music industry.
“I didn’t think it was going to have the impact that it did,” Desman tells ET Canada. “He’s like, ‘Did you hear them? Like, do you realize what you did up there? Because your music it feels new again. It feels like it’s living on forever. What are you doing?’
“And I said, ‘Well, Drake, life happens, man. Sometimes you lose the passion for the thing that you most loved. And he’s like, ‘Nah, nah, nah. Squash that, squash that. Shawn Desman needs to make music again now.’ I can honestly say, Drake, he changed my life that night.”
Drake was not the only one that took notice of the moment. Chantelle Leonardo, Desman’s wife, also implored him to get back to the grind.
“My life since the OVO show in July has not been the same and for the better,” he says. “I have the most amazing family. I have three kids and an amazing wife, and they got to see that show. It was the first time my kids had seen me perform in a long time.
“I got in the car after the show and we were driving and my wife turned and she said to me, she’s like, ‘Babe, I don’t think you realize what you did up there tonight.’ And I said, ‘Really?’ She’s like, ‘The universe wasn’t on your side. It’s been tough the last few years, but the universe is on your side. You need to do this again. You have to.”
Desman does not want to put too much stock into seeking gratification from others; however, he would be lying if he said that Drake didn’t leave a significant impression on him.
“To hear somebody like him say it and not having to say it to me was really special because it’s been really tough,” Desman said, holding back tears. “I stepped away in 2015 for a number of reasons, mental health reasons. My wife became ill so I had to put the one thing I love aside and be just be a dad and be a husband.
“I think artists are in one of the worst businesses in terms of mental health and people going in on you on social media and just because you can see everything now. So yeah, it’s a lot of pressure, but I think what we’ve done and ‘Maniac’ is exactly what Shawn Desman should sound like in 2022.
Asked about a potential collaboration with Drake, Desman does not want to press the issue. He does reveal the pair briefly discussed it during their conversation in July.
“Anything is possible,” Desman says. “I did kind of joke about that in our conversation back in July, and he was like, ‘I’m here, man. I’m here.’ So, yeah, that would be pretty awesome. Especially around everything that’s happening right now, it would be so cool.”