Shawn Setaro is a writer/reporter for Complex’s podcasts. He’s the author of the new book Complex Presents Dummy Boy: Tekashi 6ix9ine and The Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods, based on the enormous amount of reporting that Shawn did around the Tekashi court case. Shawn poured a lot of that effort into a podcast and articles at the time, but there was also quite a bit left on the table.
How did you get to where you are today, professionally?
I took a very long route to get where I am! I loved both writing and music growing up. My first real experience in journalism (aside from writing about the Super Bowl for my elementary school yearbook—still some of the only sports coverage I’ve ever done!) was being involved in my high school newspaper. I went to Berklee College of Music, so writing obviously took a backseat to music. But even so, during that period I interviewed bands, reviewed records, and wrote about politics for local zines.
After a while, writing took a backseat while I pursued a career as a musician. I spent years performing and teaching in a wide variety of situations that, if nothing else, gave me a lot of stories for parties, and provided me with a working knowledge of tourist spots and vegan restaurants in college towns all around the US. In late 2009, I stumbled onto a website then called Rap Exegesis. How it worked absolutely blew me away. I had long been obsessed with hip-hop, and already thought of its intertextual references, both musical and lyrical, as akin to hyperlinks. So seeing that idea on an actual website was wild—it was like someone took my brain and put it on the internet.