Confronting his past through music, Shea Malcolmson (Abstract Artform) opens up about growing up not knowing about his adoption. Being truthful has taught this local rapper how to deepen his craft and his relationship with his mother.
Story produced by Amy Simoes.
Shea Malcolmson, also known as Abstract Artform, reaches for an aged Polaroid of his mother, leaning against a speaker in his studio. He smiles, looking down at the photograph.
“She looks very much like me, except she’s got crystal blue eyes and mine are brown,” says Malcolmson.
While many people don’t resemble their parents, Malcolmson and his mother’s difference in eye colour is a small piece of a very blurry past.
“At 22 my parents got a divorce and on the same day they told me I was adopted. When I was going through some of my rougher years she didn’t want to stir the pot. I understand why she didn’t tell me sooner and I love her,” says Malcolmson.
At fifteen-years-old, Malcolmson began experimenting with drugs. As his habit worsened, his mother waited for an appropriate time to tell him the truth.
“We had always planned to tell Shea. We believed that there would be something that told us it was the right time, and it sort of never came,” Yvonne Thevenot admits.
Malcolmson, now ten years clean, is using his music to heal his past and his relationship with his mother. In his track “As the Crow flies” from his recent album, “Crows”, Malcolmson opens up about his adoption.
“When you start out as an artist you just want people to hear your art, but after that first little bit, you’ve got to dig deeper,” says Malcolmson.
After writing the song, Malcolmson took it a step further, using his family’s home footage in his music video to tell his story.
“People wonder if it’s hard to be so truthful to everyone. What’s hard is bringing up all those emotions again,” says Malcolmson. “It’s more therapy than anything else.”
Malcolmson was nervous to show the video to his mother, but it became a positive experience, deepening their relationship.
“I think it’s important for Shea to do that with his music and it’s beautiful that other people can benefit from it,” says Thevenot.
Malcolmson’s mother lives in Toronto, but they see eachother almost every month. He says she’s his biggest fan and often wears Abstract Artform T-shirts under her blazers.
“My mom is the coolest woman in the world. Martha Stuart is up there, but my mom is cooler,” Malcolmson laughs.