As one of the two ferocious female members of Young Money, Atlanta native Shanell -- aka SnL -- recently faced one of her most enduring hardships when the group's honcho, Lil Wayne, headed off to jail do a yearlong bid. But while the team's leader is locked up after pleading guilty to attempted criminal possession of a weapon, Shanell asserts that the gang is keeping their heads high through this temporary rough patch.
"It's kind of made us all have to be strong and he wants to make sure that situation doesn't hinder us at all, and we've all been just looking out for each other," she told The BoomBox. "I think it's making us all a lot closer because we're dealing with each other's personal as well as business [lives]."
Shanell and her YM associates have been busy promoting their gold-certified debut, 'We Are Young Money,' released at the end of 2009. The team had been touring with Weezy up until his imprisonment in March '10, prompting the group to carry on the Young Money name. Having recently wrapped up promotional duties with the group, Shanell paid Wayne a visit at Rikers Island in New York City, reporting back that he's doing just fine.
"It was good," she explains. "When I go visit, I'm really trying to make sure that he's alright. We talk about all kinds of things other than music, and we'll talk about music at the end. But he calls everybody all the time ... he hasn't been able to hear our music, but he gives us advice and we give him advice.
"But he has never allowed us to see him in any kind of downward..." Shanell trails off. "We haven't seen him act as though 'I'm going to jail.'"
With Weezy expected to be released from jail in March 2011, Shanell finds herself reflecting on the good times with Wayne, recalling their most recent tour with the rest of the crew as they traveled around the country for months at a time. With Nicki Minaj as her only female companion in the group aside from a few tour dancers, SnL often found herself caught up in the crossfire of boyish BB gun fights, with members of YM popping off when they were at their most vulnerable.
"The girls didn't know anything about it at first. So we didn't have any BB guns and we were just the victims for a while, but it was really fun," she says with a laugh, quickly explaining that traveling with dudes isn't as bad as it may seem. "It's easier than being around a whole bunch of females. They're like brothers to us, and it's a piece of cake."
With the group having its first moments to relax after their tour, Shanell has begun work on her untitled debut, which she hopes to have in stores by early 2011. Before then, she plans to release a few videos for cuts off her seminal 2010 mixtape 'Shut Up N Listen' and sharpen her live show. But even with her boss doing his time behind bars, it's still Young Moulah, baby.