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Raw Sounds & Style: Who is RaidenX?

By Belle Martinelli  



Jones, accessorized to the max (photo via @longliveraidenx on Instagram) 


Shelton Jones, who also goes by his stage name RaidenX, is known for two things on the Purchase College campus: his sound and his style. The Brooklyn native is a senior this year and despite his 5’3” stature, he will be leaving big shoes to fill in the performing scene at Purchase.  


He can be seen sashaying around campus, fitted in hats and scarves, lots of rings and bracelets, big shoes and sunglasses. He describes his style as raunchy, flawlessly mixing feminine and masculine styles, which is crucial to him.  


When asked to describe his music, the first word that came to mind was raw. “I mean, my music’s real, feel me?” he said. “It doesn’t just come from an idea, a pen, and a pad. What I spit comes from experience, from pain, from joy, from envy. What I spit comes from my heart and soul, for real.” 


Jones’ music is in the style of rap, with heavy old school and R&B influences. He cites inspiration from many 90s old school MCs, crediting artists like Lil Kim, Busta Rhymes, and Missy Elliot for having the biggest impact on his sound.  


Although Jones is a journalism major, who is currently working on finishing up his senior project, he always has time for music. His first year living on campus was his sophomore year, which is when he first started experimenting with his sound and writing his own music. In a room full of his musician friends, just eager to observe, he wrote a verse, and the rest was history.  


He went on to write and produce his own music on GarageBand that summer and came back his junior year in full force with his first live performance at the Stood.  


“At the time, I had no music out, not even a snippet, so I had no real credentials under my creative belt at all,” he says. At the time, he was on a lot of unreleased music with his friends, also Purchase students, like Charlie Rapaport and Kijani-Ali Gaulman of Signal Coast ,and Tyler Perpall, also known as domultra.  


Jones went on to perform at a couple of shows at the Stood this past year, even student-headlining the annual Purchase music festival, Afrodisiac, on April 13. 



Jones on stage at Afrodisiac as the student headliner (Photo via Belle Martinelli) 


According to him, preparing for the show was the hardest part. The planning process started in January, but he was not officially signed on as a headliner until mid-March.  

“Preparing for a show of this stature required a lot of my attention,” he said. “I had to live, breathe, sleep, and eat my set list day in and day out.” 


He describes staying up until 5 a.m. most mornings, trying to plan out lighting and transitions, and how that became his new normal for the four months between January and the performance in April.  


“I would rehearse twice a day in front of my mirror in my Alumni Village dorm and then throughout the day, I would constantly sing my songs to myself, even when the songs were getting irritating, I still had to force myself to put in that time,” he said. 


Even though the planning experience came with a lot of stress, Jones has always dreamed of headlining Afrodisiac. And it was even more special to him because one of his biggest supporters, his mom, got to be there to watch him live out his dream.  


“My mom is definitely my best friend. I tell her everything, for the most part, as long as it won’t give her a heart attack,” he jokes. “She’s my biggest support system for sure, from my fashion down to my music, she’s always finding ways to contribute and keep it real.” 

 

Jones is a self-appointed mama’s boy, his first memories of music being bonding with his mom over music. She had a huge stereo system in their bedroom, with speakers that were larger than him as a child. “She would always play her music and sing along with it, because I didn’t know any of the lyrics to most of these songs, I was her backup dancer,” he says. He fondly remembers dancing in circles around her, and her holding him until he fell asleep in her arms.  


Growing up in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Jones said he did not come from much. His father was not around, but he remembers his grandmother and his mom as superwomen during his upbringing. Even though it was tough growing up without a father figure, he said, he appreciates the women in his household doing their best to guide him growing up. “My upbringing also forced me to be open-minded, imaginative, extremely humble and I feel those are three of the key traits I try to stay close to as I grow older,” he says. 


Jones also grew up with three sisters. Although he describes them as tightly knit, he jokes that they fight like cats and dogs sometimes. “Like any family, we aren’t always on the same page but it’s definitely all love,” he says. “I don’t know what I’d do without my family, to the left and the right of driving me crazy.”  


Outside of his family, his friends are also extremely important to him, given that he works closely with a group of them. Charlie Rapaport, a senior studio production major and one half of Signal Coast, has been with Jones since the beginning of his music journey.  


“Off the bat, he was an amazing singer, rapper, and overall performer,” says Rapaport. “He had a lot to learn but was excited to do so. Within a few months, Shelton was at a level it takes most artists years to get to. He was honing in on a unique sound, growing as a lyricist and performer, and starting to collaborate with other artists.” 


Jones also works closely with Tyler Perpall, better known as domultra. The two often times share the stage during performances, building off of each other’s words and energy, showing the audience the true extent of their heightened stage presence, getting the crowd jumping and chanting along.  


“He’s my brother,” says Perpall. “He could write to literally anything – he's better than most of us.” 


Jones says that working so closely with Rapaport and their other artist friends has been a beautiful experience. “These guys are truly some of the most talented creatives I’ve had the pleasure of meeting on Purchase campus,” says Jones. “There would be no RaidenX without them, truly.” 


The stage name RaidenX comes from Jones’ desire to be bold. He likes to think about it as a creation that derived from his desires and his past. “I really wanted a name that was powerful and that could stand on its own, leaving a lasting impression,” he says. “Raiden was that name.” 


Although the X comes after, it was the first part of the name that Jones came up with, a nod to artist XXXTENTACION. He still pulls inspiration from him to this day, and says he was a big part of how Jones got into underground rap in the first place.  


Like his idols that have paved the path before him, Jones hopes to make it big and be an inspiration to anyone and everyone later in life. If he could give younger him any piece of advice, it would be to stop looking back.  


“You [are] letting individuals who are behind you, issues that are behind you, hold you back from your full potential,” he says. “There’s a lot to look forward to ahead of you, kid.”

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