Atlanta?s Shop Boyz say being a rock star is all mental

By Simon Vozick-Levinson
Updated July 06, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Growing up in the Bowen Homes projects in Bankhead, Atlanta, the three young rappers who called themselves the Shop Boyz looked up to all the familiar heroes in the hip-hop pantheon: Tupac Shakur, 50 Cent, and…Ozzy Osbourne? ”[Ozzy] just got that swagger, man,” says Rasheed ”Sheed” Hightower, 20. The Boyz recently parlayed their eclectic tastes into the crossover smash ”Party Like a Rockstar,” a guitar-infused cut that single-handedly returned the ailing rap-rock genre to the top of the charts. ”Our music is different because we don’t care what people think,” says Sheed. ”We want you to like it, but if not, we’re not going to change it for you.” As they kick off a tour to promote their debut LP, Rockstar Mentality, they’ve learned that being a star requires more than just partying like one. ”It’s hard work!” says Richard ”Fat” Stephens, 21. ”You see the videos, and you’re like, okay. But then you realize the things you gotta do to get to that point.” Still, OnDeck Records CEO Brian ”Bingo” Ward, 30 — who signed the group in 2004 and is best known for shouting ”Totally, dude!” on the hit’s hypnotic hook — insists that just about anyone can party like a rock star: ”The mentality we’re kicking is not about the music. It’s just a way of life. I know some corporate guys — my lawyer’s a rock star.”