16-year-old Shaquille Strauther is an “all-around talent.” He’s a good student, a recording artist, a studio engineer, a video editor, and a basketball player. At Lincoln Park High School, he is a sophomore and his favorite class is chemistry. Lately he has been balancing chemical equations and working with the periodic table of the elements. “I like having challenges to overcome,” he says. “It makes me want to do better.” That’s an excellent attitude to have!
Shaquille’s emcee name is Pyro. His first rap came at the age of 7. He recorded his first song when he was 11. “I like to express how I’m feeling,” he says. “[Rapping] is a good way to let my anger out.” No matter what, Shaquille says, “All my music makes sense,” which is a great testament to artistic integrity. He is currently working on an album and he plans to do a lot of shows this summer. Shaquille says, “I love to perform,” but admits, “I get nervous sometimes.” Luckily he has his older brother and cousin to back him up. They perform together as a group.
Music videos are also in the works for Pyro. Shaquille has been making videos since he was 13. He currently works as an editor for Hard Cover Chicago, a television program written, directed and produced solely by teenagers. “Videos make your music come to life,” he says. “It’s all about organizing the clips.” Shaquille’s interest in editing makes him a perfect match with his mentor, filmmaker and Video & Filmmakers Club Coordinator Michael Alexander. Recently they have spent time together off-site using hi-tech equipment at Michael’s office. “I got to see what he does and how he works,” says Shaquille. “I felt important.” Hopefully more students will get inside access like this during Career Week (March 29-April 2; details coming soon). Shaquille directed a video to promote an event for his Cabrini Madness team, “The Awesomes.” You can watch it here.
For his AAU basketball team, Shaquille plays shooting guard. He knows how to look at the floor and fill the lanes and he’s ready to take on anyone at Cabrini Connections. If he plays basketball in college, he would love to go to Michigan State or University of Illinois, but if his focus is film and video, Columbia College may be his top choice. Regardless of where he ends up, he looks forward to getting out of Chicago. “I want to go around the world!” he says. You will, Shaquille, if you keep up the hard work. Thanks for contributing to Cabrini Connections.