How Female Rapper Thug Shells Created A Successful Hip-Hop Livestream

Thug Shells aka The Bubbly Gangster, talks how to create a successful live stream.

It’s International Women’s Day.

To celebrate this, we thought that it’s only right to single out one woman making her own unique mark within the music industry. We present to you the hip-hop livestreamer, Thug Shells.

Over the past two years the popularity of live streaming has shot up for obvious reasons. We wanted to dig into what inspires her and what it takes to make a live stream successful.

Thug Shells is a Canadian rapper of Russian decent. She drops positive heavy hip-hop tracks and freestyles to breakbeats and DnB tracks. She’s doing this very successfully via her freestyle live streams.

Thug Shells has always been a hip-hop head and draws inspiration from the likes of Harry Mack, Mac Miller, Tribe Called Quest, Freestyle Fellowship, and Nas. Shade K is another artist that inspires her greatly, he’s a breakbeat producer who helped work on her first album.

Thug Shells
Thug Shells

Thug Shells finds inspiration

She first started freestyling in 2019 after she found inspiration at an arts festival in British Columbia, Canada called Bass Coast that she had the honor of attending.

“Canada has a lot of amazing festivals, but this one is unlike any one you’ll ever find. All weekend I was rolling around with my friends, and I saw a mobile art stage of sorts cruising around the festival that belonged to the Freestyle Focus Group”.

Freestyle Focus Group are a Vancouver based collective of hip hop lovers. They put together mobile stages with speakers and microphones, and their main mission is to make rapping accessible and available to those who may have not tried it before.

“From the moment I touched the microphone, I knew that I had found my destiny”.

Thug Shells admits that she’s still learning and finding her sound. The breakbeat projects she puts out are created so that she can enjoy performing them at festivals. Her most recent project, the Rainy Day EP, encapsulates a time of growth and change in her life.

The projects she’s currently involved on are a dive into the boom bap vibe that a hip-hop artist embodies.

“The music I make is always a representation of where I am at in the process of my growth not just as an artist, but as a person”.

Thug Shells

Livestreaming and branding

Livestreaming helped move her sound outside of her city to a global scale and birthed a career as an independent business owner. She’s her own boss – and the hours that have so far been put into live-streaming has laid that foundation”.

Next up was how to brand herself that’s where the monocle Bubbly Gangster came in. She wanted to be as true to herself as possible. She believes that being unapologetically yourself is the key to self-branding. It’s what sets you apart from the ocean of artists. Her performances, and music that she showcases to the world are all just an extension of who she is as a person.

Planning and executing

There is a lot of planning that goes into the live stream process and the multiple areas of the production. However, when it comes to the freestyle lyrical content, Thug Shells literally goes with the flow.

“I am comfortable enough with myself and my community that unless something very special is scheduled, I just focus on making sure I’m in a good mindset before I go live”.

An understanding of what content people will watch can be tricky. Content centers around your audience rather than itself, so it’s important to keep this in mind. The right content will draw people in, rather than giving the feeling of being interrupted.

Remember – it’s more about your audience than it is about you.

“Building expectations is important for the audience. But the wonderful thing about the nature of streaming is that fans just want you to be happy, because that energy gets passed along to them”.

Thug Shells
Thug Shells

What equipment does Thug Shells use?

The decks of choice are CDJ 2000s, DJM 900NXS Mixer, and her trusted SM58 Shure Microphone that she’s had since day one, which connects into her Rubix22 soundcard.

For video, Thug makes use of a A6400 with a 16 MM lens – which connects to an Elgato Capture card Finally the headphones you will see her rocking are Audio Technica M40X.

When you first begin streaming, you will need a third party to put your stream key into that then broadcasts into whatever streaming site you wish to be on. Thug recommends Streamlabs due to its user-friendly ability. However, she chooses to use OBS instead which can be customized and has a lot more features.

“I focus primarily on twitch, so I’d recommend installing Nightbot added to your chat. It’s a wonderfully helpful bot that helps you be efficient.

Getting to know the etiquette of the streaming platform of your choice and becoming a part of the communities, that will help support you and your fellow creators is an essential key ingredient that will allow you to build your persona.

“Be very grateful to your viewers and treat your moderators like gold. Do not forget to take breaks so you don’t get burnt out. Also, ensure that the content you are streaming is what brings you joy, because it will reflect”.

She adds that it’s highly recommended to test your equipment, speed test your internet connection. You should also know as much as possible about the streaming apps you use to minimize anything that could go wrong when you are starting out.

Another aspect of a successful stream is consistency – something Thug Shells is very aware of. She makes time in between projects. She’s often seen jumping on unscheduled random streams at least 5-6 times a week.

With Harry Mack
With Harry Mack

Harry Mack x Thug Shells

Thug Shells has been aware of Harry Mack for a while now. Like any freestyle rapper taking their craft seriously, awareness of the people making big moves in the field is just a part of the whole process.

“When I got reached out to be on the Happy Hour, I was thrilled – but also so nervous. I remember spending the whole morning practicing my freestyling skills “.

This is not an opportunity that presents itself everyday, so getting the chance to freestyle with Harry Mack was a pivotal moment. Being on Harry Mack’s Happy Hour show was one of those moments for her. 

Since that day, she continues to be disciplined with her daily practice ritual. Wanting to make sure that the next time an opportunity like is presented, she will be ready.

“I was practicing, but nowhere near the number of hours that one would have to if they wanted to continue leveling up at GOAT speeds. I could be. I tune into that inspiration and use it to fuel my growth”.

Thug Shells Socials


Written by The Hinky

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional." – Hunter S. Thompson

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