Way back in April toward the beginning of quarantine, Fiona Apple released her critically acclaimed Fetch the Bolt Cutters, which featured a moving song about a very real interaction she had with a classmate of hers from elementary school, “Shameika.” Now, over six months later, the titular Shameika has released her own single, “Shameika Said” featuring Fiona Apple, which dropped at midnight on Friday, November 20. It’s all come full circle.
In an interview with Pitchfork, Shameika Stepney opened up about her new single, her 30-year rap career, and how she and Fiona Apple reconnected. Stepney, who lives in Virginia Beach and sells properties for a vacation timeshare company, and was only vaguely aware of Apple’s music career, finding out that Fiona wrote a song about her from a handwritten letter from their shared third-grade teacher, Linda Kuhnardt, months after the album came out. “If she wouldn’t have said anything, I probably would have never realized that there was this song — until I watched the Grammys!,” Stepney jokes in the interview.
Months later, Stepney reached out to Fiona Apple and the two FaceTimed, reminiscing about their shared grade-school days and eventually coming up with the idea to collab on a remix of the track. Harlem native Stepney has a 30-year rap career under her belt, serving as an MC in several rap groups, including the Harlem Hoodz, Angels With Dirty Faces, and the E Brothers, as well as rapping under the monikers Dollface and Chyna Doll. Stepney was briefly signed to a production deal with Bryce Wilson of R&B duo Groove Theory, collabed with Jodeci’s Devante Swing, and rapped on two songs from Blackstreet’s final album, Level II, in 2003. However, in recent years Stepney wondered whether it was time to put all the music stuff behind her. “I love music, and I been doing it my whole life,” Shameika said, “but I was sitting here for the last couple of years, like, ‘Do I really want to do this?’”
Post reconnecting with Apple, Stepney’s ready to dive back into pursuing a career in music. “Shameika Said” shares Stepney’s side of the interaction between Shameika and Fiona all those years ago at St. Hilda’s and St. Hugh’s school in West Harlem, with Stepney rapping and Apple providing backup vocals throughout. “When we did the song, it was as though we had been together all of this time and talked every single day, like, This is my girl,” Shameika told Pitchfork. “We’re never gonna be apart again. We’re like connected spiritually.” Check out Shameika Stepney’s new single with her old friend Fiona Apple and hear exactly what “Shameika Said” from the woman herself. She’s got potential.