In April 2014, two Vineland locals, Shawn Munoz, 22, and Brandon Pennington, 20, started the record label Runaway Records. Munoz, a rap artist, writes, records, and edits his own music. He began recording when he was 12 at Bezel’s, a now-closed studio on Landis Avenue. He now records in the studio he built in his house.
“I was making music and I wasn’t really taking it seriously at first, but once we started getting a good response from it, we figured we should do something independent.” Munoz said. From there, Munoz began producing music and Pennington started designing t-shirts and logos.
Munoz is inspired by the raw emotion of classic rock and he hopes to portray the same amount of emotion in his music. He uses scenarios from his life that impacted him because “most likely someone else is going through the same thing.”
His goal is to inspire and motivate underprivileged artists by showing them, “no matter what situations you’re coming from, this is possible to do.” He plans on using his record label to give the needed tools to underprivileged musicians.
Munoz has attended multiple open-mic events at venues such as Voltage Lounge in Philadelphia. He has received positive feedback from the audience. His first album was featured for a week on one of the “biggest music websites in the world,” datpiff.com, and it got 1,200 downloads. His second album, New Religion, is receiving more positive responses.
His DJ, Joey Diaz, creates playlists and orders the songs for Munoz’s performances. Diaz, along with Pennington and Munoz’s mother, is among his biggest supporters. Munoz works primarily with his friends. They use their individual talents and expertise to create the albums and merchandise. Munoz’s older brother, Orlando, is his manager and helps book performances.
From conception to completion, one song takes Munoz four to five days to create. During this time, his friends may give their input, but Munoz does the majority of the editing. When asked about how he writes his lyrics, Munoz said, “All day I write down these little ideas and at the end of the day I have a paper full of scribbled ideas and I come home and try to make it a complete song.” Since Munoz uses events from his life as inspiration, he is passionate about the messages he is sending.
Munoz has encountered many people who doubt his ability to make music into a career. “It was something people kind of laughed at me for, especially rap.” Munoz has been told a music career is unrealistic and he needs a back-up plan. Although he and his supporters are confident in his ability to succeed, he is working towards his real estate license.
Munoz plans on releasing two music videos in the upcoming months and a documentary in the upcoming years. He and his collaborators are “trying to capture all of the hardships we’re facing and capture us succeeding.”
Munoz’s music can be heard at therunawayrecords.com.