“[I am a] Nigerian-Canadian recording artist, servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, [and a] flawed and honest human being.”
Shopé is on a mission to communicate that “God is a real God for real people.” With his music, he wants to tell honest stories of life and how “God is involved in what we would consider the little things.”
“Some people think that God is only concerned with the spiritual aspects of our lives. Am I praying? Am I doing the Christian things? They forget that if God is our Father, he is concerned with every area of our life.”
Shopé’s new album XXY is focused on how God is involved in love, romance, and relationships, specifically between a husband and wife. “God is still involved in and cares about this area of our life which is so common to everybody.”
One of the most important things he has learned is that love is complex. “I do believe that God can give us wisdom in navigating all of that.”
Shopé says that he has learned three key things from marriage. The first is “you are not right as often as you think you are.” He says that because they are sinners and imperfect, he and his wife Marjolaine are going to hurt each other’s feelings from time to time.
He believes that neither partner should approach an argument with the intent to prove that they are right and the other is wrong. “I just found that so often I am not right, even though I think I am… a number of issues are actually my fault. Even issues [in] which maybe she sinned against me, I had a hand in that.” Shopé believes that it is very important to be humble in times of conflict and to admit your faults.
The second point is “marriage is not an island.” He has learned that a family is not meant to be isolated from other couples and families that could provide community, especially older couples who have been where he and his wife are before.
“I have a one-year-old son. I’ve been married for four years and we have friends who are single, friends who are dating, friends who are newly married, and friends who have been married for thirty years. We are surrounded by people at every stage of life.”
Shopé believes that a couple must put effort into developing relationships with other couples who can give them advice. “You can’t stifle each other and be each other’s sole source of comfort and spiritual nourishment.”
The third point is “you have to make up your mind that you are gonna fight for this thing until the end.” Shopé says that in only four years of marriage, he and his wife have had “countless reasons to walk away, [thinking] this isn’t worth it. This is too hard.” When those thoughts come into his mind, he reminds himself of why he got into his relationship with his wife. “For me it was that I could go so much further with this woman. You have to know in your heart of hearts that nothing is going to separate us, short of me pulling the plug on this thing.”
He says that through God’s grace he and his wife have had the strength to keep going when it’s tempting to walk away.
“You have this state of mind that says, ‘We are gonna work this thing out.’”
“A lot of the project is autobiographical.” Shopé was inspired to write about relationships primarily through his marriage, but in the first half of XXY brings in previous relationships that didn’t work out.
“Promise Me” comes from Shopé’s history of when his previous relationships got serious. Shopé said that in this song, he attempts to put words to the thoughts of a relationship’s state. “I hope this isn’t just a fun little thing for you. The hook goes ‘Promise me you’ll save a piece of your heart. Promise me you’ll never let me go far. Promise me when it’s all said and done, I won’t be the one you let go.’”
“Lie To Me” follows and “is when you move past the promise me stage and you stay in that relationship and over time it becomes apparent that this person is not really in this, but you want it so bad that you’re willing to believe the lies that they tell you.”
Shopé says that when a partner is not serious, you should split up with them since your intention should be marriage. “Every day and every moment that you stay in that relationship… you’re essentially telling that person ‘lie to me’ because you want to believe those lies.”
French for “I am here,” “Je Suis Ici” marks the transition from one relationship to another. Shopé’s wife is French-Canadian, so she is the voice of three interludes with French titles.
“What She Wants” is a love song that Shopé says may cause controversy among some of his listeners. “In this project I’m not shying away from much. I’m being very honest and very clear. I’m pretty much saying ‘She needs somebody to connect with her emotionally, spiritually, and physically’ so I’m talking about you’ve gotta touch her heart, you’ve gotta touch her mind, you’ve gotta touch her body.”
“Stay” came from a previous relationship where his affection was not being returned.
“It draws your mind to the bigger picture of what it’s like with us and God.”
Shopé says that each person runs from God “because we’re seeking affirmation, we’re seeking fulfillment, we’re seeking something to satisfy us while God is like ‘You can’t run away from me.’”
He wants people to see that God is calling them to be with Him and stay within His love.
“One Wish Away” tells of the completion of transitioning from the previous unsuccessful relationship to a new one. “There’s some challenges on your part because you’re bringing your own baggage to the table. Let’s face it, everyone has baggage.” Shopé has seen that in a new relationship, each partner has to be honest about their past. “Regardless of anything that has happened in the past, in your situation or in my situation, all that we have is time and chance.”
He takes inspiration from the book of Ecclesiastes and says that in a new relationship, a couple has no option except to try and see how it will work.
“You’ve gotta be willing to love again even after your heart has been broken.”
“Getaway” is about the distractions of the modern, tech-heavy world and how that can take away from a relationship. “Sometimes you’ve just gotta shut all of that down and getaway and spend some time with him or with her.” Shopé wrote this song at a period in life where he knew it was time for he and his wife to spend some quality time together.
The album concludes with “Two to Work.” He brings in the point “you are not right as often as you think you are” and using a personal story, talks about how when there is conflict or arguments, each person needs to be humble and kind.
“That’s such a story that cuts to my heart, that has really played a huge role in defining me not just as an artist but as a person and I pretty much take that story which I have hinted at before in previous songs, but this is it.”
“The project is conveying the ups and downs of romance. Even in the good relationship you’re gonna have the ups and downs.” Shopé and his wife have learned from other couples that when they face challenges in their relationship, they have to work together to come to a solution.
“You’ve gotta work it out because at the end of the day God put you together.”
Outside of music, Shopé loves to play Assassin’s Creed, watching Netflix, and spending time with his wife and son.