Stacking The Deck with Eki Shola

Stacking The Deck is a feature exclusive to Adam’s World where I bring packs of 1991 Pro Set Superstars MusiCards to artists, and we discuss who they find in each pack.

As I approached Rockwood Music Hall in NYC on a steamy evening in late June I saw Eki Shola standing in front of the venue – over 3,000 miles from her home in the Bay Area – smile on her face, speaking with friends, and generally spreading a feel-good vibe.

When she hit the stage to perform her unique brand of electro-soul-jazz – which she has described as “chilltronica” – that vibe continued, as the she moved the crowd with smooth songs that brought everyone together.

I caught up with Eki after her show to open up some packs of MusiCards, and the artists we found sparked conversations about childhood crushes, concerts with her father, and the seven year old she relies on for fashion advice.

Ralph Tresvant

He sang a song called “Sensitivity.” I don’t think I really knew what the words were at the time, I was still a kid, but it was freakin’ sexy, and I wanted to marry him.

How old were you when you wanted to marry him?

Like late high school. I was kinda legal, but he was probably ten years older. He was very handsome, very cute. I had a major crush on him.

Did you have a crush on him since New Edition? Were you rockin’ out to “Candy Girl”?

You know what, I went backwards. I found out about Bell Biv DeVoe, Ralph Tresvant, and then went backwards later on and found New Edition.

Do you have to re-purchase that Ralph Tresvant album?

Yeah, it’s gone in the fire, and I’m gonna get it again (Eki’s home was in the path of the California wildfires. We spoke about this in a previous interview you can read here). I was just thinking last week, in the car – I gotta get that album. I loved it, loved it, loved it.

I had to get a replacement car, and I went to go test drive it, and I’m pressing the console trying to get the CD open, and the kid was like, “There’s no CD player here. We don’t make them anymore with CD players.” I’m like, “WHAT? Can I just get an old model?”

For real. I’m glad mine still plays cassette tapes. Now, you did say you had a crush on Ralph Tresvant. Was there a top three artists you had a crush on back in the day?

Don’t ask me that! Ohhhh, no! Ralph Tresvant, Ricky Bell from Bell Biv DeVoe, and … I gotta get back to you (on the third one).

Bell Biv DeVoe

You did mention Ricky Bell, and Bell Biv DeVoe is the next card.

I think I heard them in a talent show contest (I was in). I did a piano piece, but there was a group that danced to “Poison,” and that was during the time of MTV videos, when you could watch videos all day.

This is a bit off topic, but you have a very nice accent. Where were you growing up when you were hearing all these artists?

I was here, but I had moved from England when I was 10.

You kept the accent. That’s impressive.

It depends who you ask. When I go to England they’re like, “Wow, you’re a true Yank.”

Getting back to Bell Biv DeVoe, in retrospect, did you know what you were singing about when you were singing along to “Poison” and “Do Me”?

Oh my God. I wouldn’t play that for my kids. No. I had no idea. {laughs}

We were very young teenagers singing “Do Me.”

{laughs} I know! I’m surprised my parents didn’t say anything, and my dad took me to a concert.

How old were you?

Probably around high school age. He took me to a lot of shows, actually. Color Me Badd, all those people. It may have been a mistake. I mean, who sees that with their dad? I didn’t really know.

He definitely played the back at those shows, especially when they started singing about sexing you up.

{laughs} I had no freakin’ idea.

How would you react if Color Me Badd hit you up today, and was like, “Hey, we want to work with you”?

I totally would. That’s like the foundation. That ‘90s era R&B/hip-hop, it was fun, and compared to today’s lyrics it’s kind of G rated.

Janet Jackson

Again, my dad took me to see her in concert. She’s a performer, oh my God, that was a production. Not a concert, a production.

Was that like Rhythm Nation era?

Yes, I think it was.

Did getting to see Bell Biv DeVoe, and Janet Jackson at such a young age affect your concept of what you want to have in a live show?

I didn’t realize the influence until I was applying for the RDMA Red Bull Music Academy. On the application they ask you for like 50 essays, and one of them is like what are your influences, and who are they? At the time, this was last year, I laid out all my CDs on the floor and over 1/3 were R&B, and then I’ve been doing shows around, and people are now asking me to make some hip-hop beats based on the stuff that I do. I didn’t even really hear it in my own stuff, but the influence is coming through, I guess.


I know you didn’t see her in concert, because no one takes their kid to see Madonna.

{laughs} I didn’t get to see her.

I love the song “Cherish.” There are a lot of beautiful harmonies, and it’s very soft, and a very pretty song.

So with all the hip-hop and R&B, Madonna snuck in there.

She kind of did. Yeah.

And she’s a fellow powerful woman, so is that an influence?

It is now, now that I’ve entered into the music world. I’m listening to what she’s done, and she blazed the field for women – independent, strong, just being unique, and being her authentic self, that’s powerful. I really appreciate her for what she stood for in addition to her music, and she’s still rockin’ it!

Billy Idol

I’m putting Billy Idol in this just because Billy Idol wore leather pants, and I’m wondering what regrettable fashion decision is in your past, and may still be in your closet.

The Converse.

Converse are never regrettable.

I love them. I truly do, and as I put them on today my seven year old was like, “Oooh, do you want to wear those mama?”

So your seven year old has you questioning your fashion choices?

Yes, but she’s a fashionista. She’s got style, so I go to her and say, “What looks good on mom?” So I was a little heartbroken, because these are comfortable, and I love ‘em.

For more Eki Shola, check out, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.