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Local amateur rap artist finalist in VH1's contest

The second time around may pay off for Rashad "Shadcore'' Harrell in the TV channel's rap contest.

By RITA FARLOW
Published September 25, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - Last year, St. Petersburg resident Rashad "Shadcore" Harrell was nominated runner-up in VH1's Freestyle 59 contest. This year, he has made it to the final round again and is confident he can win the whole competition.

But not without your help.

The contest allows the public to vote finalists off until a winner is crowned, American Idol style, with the winner receiving $10,000. The competition is courtesy of VH1's 2006 Hip Hop Honors show, which will recognize veteran rappers like MC Lyte, Rakim, Easy E and members of the Wu-Tang Clan.

Rappers from across the country were invited to submit a short video - 59 seconds or less - of their best effort at freestyling, or spontaneous rapping. A panel of judges chose the top five entries, and this week the pool was narrowed to four when a Texas rapper was voted off.

As a finalist, VH1 paid for Harrell to go to New York City for two days at the end of August to take promotional photos, give interviews and tape a short video segment accessible at VH1.com. Harrell, who is a mail sorter for UPS and a deliveryman for CMK Trim Products, said that his bosses and co-workers have been very supportive. "They were just as understanding as last year. They were all excited, saying, 'Let us know when you get back, so we can start voting again,' " Harrell said.

It's not the first time Harrell has won something through his talents. Five years ago, a radio contest netted him a Kia Rio.

Harrell, 30, who has been rapping since childhood, said his music carries positive messages and is "meant to enlighten."

"A lot of people have told me, 'You may be out (selling commercially) if you cursed a little or got more gangster,' but this whole contest is a testament that you can do well without compromising," Harrell said.

Harrell said some of the messages embedded in his music were "to uplift women, don't bash women, have some self-respect, have some integrity, don't compromise who you are."

Married with three kids and two jobs, Harrell has found the time to put together a new album, almost finished, called Potent Poetry. The lifelong resident of St. Petersburg said he hopes his music is an inspiration to others.

"I bring hope back into a dying generation of hip-hop. Nowadays, there's not much substance. I'm a breath of fresh air. I give them something to be proud about, coming from the hometown to give this area a voice in the entertainment industry."

Want to vote?

Go to www.vh1.com/shows/events/hip_hop_honors/2006/fs59/. To hear more of Shadcore's music, go to his Web page at www.myspace.com/shadcore1.CDbaby.com.

Voting continues until noon Oct. 17. The winner will be announced at the awards show scheduled to air at 9 p.m. Oct. 17 on VH1.