Fiona Apple has reunited with the person who inspired one of the highlight’s from her latest album, Fetch the Bolt Cutters.
Apple released her fifth studio album in April and it was an instant masterpiece, a new American classic. There were several standout tracks, including ‘Shameika’. The song was inspired by a former childhood classmate going by that name who had told Apple that she “had potential.” She certainly called that one right.
In the run-up to the album’s release, Apple was profiled by The New Yorker, where she the story behind the song was discussed: “In “Shameka” [sic] she celebrates a key moment in middle school, when a tough girl told the bullied Apple, ‘You have potential.’”
Apple was unsure about the truth of her memory when she first wrote the song though and she wasn’t “entirely convinced” Shameika actually existed. However, after The New Yorker article came out, a teacher Apple had kept in contact with over the years emailed her saying, “I heard you wrote about Shameika. I can see her …” and sent a picture.
Apple said of the picture: “I had remembered that maybe she was a bully or something. Then I got sent this picture of her, and she’s so cute — she doesn’t look like a bully at all. She’s just got this big smile on her face.”
Now, as told by Pitchfork, Apple has finally reunited with the actual Shameika (full name Shameika Stepney), for a new song titled ‘Shameika Said’.
What’s even greater is that Stepney has been involve in music herself in the last few decades: for the last 30 years she’s been making rap music under various names, including Dollface.
She found out about Apple’s song about her after it was released thanks to a card sent in the mail from Apple’s third grade teacher.
“This group of girls used to bully people all the time — that was their thing,” Stepney recalled in the interview when talking about the inspiration for Apple’s song.
“But I wasn’t scared of them. I sat at every table. My parents paid like $35,000 a year to send me to that school, so I can sit at any table I want, and you’re not gonna tell me otherwise! All of these tables are mine! I was like a warrior as a little kid — I was fearless.”
Stephney reached out to Apple over the summer and ‘Shameika Said’ was born. The track samples the original and also features new vocals from Apple.