Shelem and his new mixtape “8-Track”

Isaac Fadiga is an engineering major, who describes himself as a “junior and some change.”

When Fadiga isn’t working on schoolwork, he raps as Shelem and has been releasing his own music and playing shows in Huntington since as early as 2015, where his first performance was at a talent show hosted by Marshall University.

“I’ve gotten a handful of performances [since then],” Fadiga said. “I would say a total of at least 10 since then, so it’s not a crazy lot, but definitely I’ve tried my best.”

“I’ve put together two of my own [shows] and I do Black Koffee once a semester,” Fadiga said. “There was a local open-mic type thing I did and I got to perform one time at a frat, but I don’t even know which one it was.”

As Shelem, Fadiga has released mixtapes and one feature length album called “The C.F. Medley.” Fadiga has since kicked his musical productivity to 11 and is awaiting the release of his upcoming album, “8-Track.”

In a world where mixtapes and albums are independently released by the thousands on a daily basis, Fadiga offered a small bit of rhetoric as to why hip-hop fans should listen to his latest album: “First of all, I’m a lot better,” Fadiga said.

Fadgia said although the album’s history is expansive, it is still one of his best releases to date.

“I have this crazy thing where everything I do gets mixed up, so like ‘8-Track’ was something I had the idea for after my freshman year of college when I put out ‘Freshie,’ and then I was going to go into ‘8-Track’ after that, but I ended up doing the ‘C.F. Medley’ EP and thought I should turn it into an album, which I later did, but I was still holding onto the ‘8-Track’ album idea,” Fadiga said.

He said at least eight tracks of the project were scrapped while he was trying to get everything together.

“A lot of stuff got thrown into the dirt,” Fadiga said. “The main concept, once I finally got into it, is that I was originally going to do all sample-based tracks, but then once I got further into production, I kind of stepped away from it. There was one song, track four — once I made track four I was like ‘no, this doesn’t have a sample, but it has to be on there,’ so then the project turned into a little bit more.”

Fadiga said the main concept for “8-Track” is to get people reminiscent about the summer, which is part of the reason he implored the #summerinthewinter hashtag. He said the overall goal of “8-Track” is to build his repertoire of songs he performs live.

“A lot of my earlier songs just don’t translate live,” Fadiga said. “They’re good at the time, but when I sat down my first couple times to figure out which songs to perform anytime I was like ‘nope, not doing that one, not doing that’ and I would come up with three solid tracks that I would definitely do and then for the other ones I was like ‘okay, I guess this would work.’ The main goal was to have eight songs, plus my original three, so I can have a full set whenever I’m ready.”

Fadiga released the single “Everyday (Livin’)” Jan. 23 on his Twitter page. The release was preceded with his followers posting summer throwback photos accompanied by Fadiga’s hashtag. He said he had a pretty decent turnout of people using his hashtag, but still thinks that social media can be an iffy way of getting the word out.

“What I do on social media is good at reinforcing what I already have,” Fadiga said. “The people who follow me and know me and my tweets are like ‘yeah, cool,’ but for those who don’t, it’s hard to gain new followers. Every once in a while, someone will click on your page from a retweet and see that your song is pinned — I’ve had three or four in the past months. So its iffy.”

“Everyday” carries a specific message with it. The song is filled with a zeal for positivity, something Fadiga states as one of the most evident things about him and his music.

“It’s [‘Everyday’] representative of me as a person, ‘cause I’m all about positivity as a whole,” Fadiga said. “No matter what I’m actually talking about, everything has a goofy, positive twist on it. When I first started working on the song, I was beyond ecstatic because this is the song that I want every song to be like. The message is exactly what I want to portray to the world, period.”

Fadiga said he had workshopped “Everyday” a couple of times before he was truly happy with the result. He said he believed in that specific song a lot, so was incredibly focused on getting it right.

When it comes to juggling school and music, Fadiga said he isn’t quite sure how he’s pulled it off so far.

“I can’t pinpoint a specific thing, but if you want something, you want it,” Fadiga said. “My drive to not quit school yet is because I’m already in the hole, I already owe $25,000, I’m not going to flunk out of that and music is absolutely everything so I can’t quit that; I have to make them both work. There’s nothing specific, but I just know I have to make do, so I do. Last semester was when I finally figured out how to live my life properly, so I got into the groove of doing homework during the day, so my weekends are 100 percent music all the time. Saturday and Sunday I don’t touch anything school related at all. Some evenings in the week, if I ever feel like it, then I’ll drop whatever I’m doing and go work on some music for a little bit, but I know for a fact my weekend is my music time through and through.”

Fadiga said he isn’t entirely sure if dedicating his weekends solely to music has affected the music itself, but said he is more confident, responsible and mature since getting his act together.

Listeners can catch the first notes of “8-Track” Feb. 4 as part of a listening party hosted by Fadiga in the Harless Media Room at 4:30 p.m. Fadiga said the album sits at about 28 to 30 minutes long. He said he thinks the party will provide fans a great chance to really get a solid first listen in.

“Your first time listening, you hear it, but you don’t actually feel it,” Fadiga said. “So we’re going to get that first listen out of the way in a big group.”

Fans can find Fadiga’s latest Shelem release on his twitter page (@ChadFranklin_) and on his Soundcloud page.

“8-Track” is out Feb. 12.

Will Izzo can be contacted at [email protected].