Sharaya J

Sharaya Howell (born January 17, 1984), known professionally as Sharaya J, is an American rapper and choreographer. She is known for her singles "BANJI" and "Smash Up the Place," as well as for being signed to Missy Elliott's label The Goldmind Inc. Prior to her work as a musician, she worked as a hip-hop choreographer and urban screenplay writer. On April 17, 2017, she released her debut mixtape, Dope Product.

Sharaya J
Sharaya J interviewed by Dulce Osuna in 2018
Sharaya J interviewed by Dulce Osuna in 2018
Background information
Birth nameSharaya Howell
Born (1984-01-17) January 17, 1984 (age 37)
OriginHonolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
GenresEast Coast hip hop, R&B
  • Rapper
  • choreographer
Years active2001–present
Associated actsMissy Elliott, Soul Diggaz, Little Mix

Early life and career beginningsEdit

Born to a working mother and a father who served as one-fifth of hip-hop group Double XX Posse, Howell began her career as a hip-hop choreographer. She was featured as a dancer in French singer Mylène Farmer's 2006 tour, Avant que l'ombre... à Bercy. Her work caught the attention of high-profile musicians Diddy, Ciara, Alicia Keys, Jay-Z, The-Dream, Rihanna, and earned her cameo spots on each artists' music videos (Alicia Keys' "Teenage Love Affair", The-Dream's "Shawty Is a 10"). She later went on to work with other top choreographers, Laurieann Gibson, Tanisha Scott, Fatima Robinson, Hi-Hat, and Jamaica Craft (formerly one-third of The Goldmind's act So Def).[1]

Howell also served as a dancer for Step Up 2: The Streets and Step Up 3D.[2][3] In addition, she worked as a screenplay writer and executive producer for the short, The Real T.[3]

Music careerEdit

In January 2010, Howell signed to Missy Elliott's label The Goldmind Inc. and was introduced by Elliott at the New York venue Crash Mansion.[4] Later that year, she released the Souldiggaz–produced "Green Light", featuring vocals by Elliott, and became part of Elliott's sold-out European tour. On March 2, 2013, her single "BANJI" was released.[5] The song features additional vocals by Missy Elliott and production by DJ Jayhood. A promotional music video for the single was released via her official YouTube channel two days following its official release.[6]

On September 11, 2013, Howell was featured as magazine VIBE Vixen's "rapper to watch."[7] The magazine also officially premiered Howell’s new music video, "Smash Up the Place"/"Snatch Yo Wigs," directed by Missy Elliott.[8] In March 2014, Howell, alongside mentor Missy Elliott, were confirmed to be features on Faith Evans' sixth studio album, Incomparable, on a record titled "I Deserve It".[9] In June 2014, she previewed her forthcoming single "Shut It Down" via a T by Alexander Wang campaign, featuring production by Aaron "Dboy" Monroe and Missy Elliott, and cameo appearances by Behati Prinsloo, Derek Blasberg and Chris Kattan, who reprised his role as the former Saturday Night Live character, Mango.[10]

On September 29, 2014, VIBE Vixen premiered the visual to Howell’s single "Takin' It No More", which in turn samples mentor Missy Elliott's Aaliyah-dedicated single, "Take Away".[11]

In 2016, Howell split terms with The Goldmind, and launched her own production company, Banji Entertainment LLC. Under the Brooklyn-based imprint, Howell released "Big".

In July 2018, Howell joined music competition program The Four: Battle for Stardom, where she attained the title for longest seat holder and runner-up of season 2. Prior to filming, she battled stage 2 breast cancer, which was mentioned on the program's finale.

In late 2018, Howell co-wrote and is a featured artist on "Strip", a song on Little Mix's fifth studio album, LM5.



Title Mixtape details
Dope Product
  • Released: 2017
  • Label: Self-released
  • Formats: Streaming


As lead artistEdit

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
(featuring Missy Elliott)
2013 Non-album singles
"Smash Up the Place"
"Takin' It No More" 2014
"Shut It Down"
"Big" 2016 Dope Product
"New Wave" 2017
"Go Sis" 2018 The Four Performances
"Say Less (Be Quiet)"
"Stir Fry"
"Mama Said Knock You Out"
"Go Raya"
"I Don't F**k With You"
"Banji Trip" 2019 Non-album singles
"NuNu" 2020
"Wrong Time Wrong Place"
(with Shi XI)

As featured artistEdit

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"I Deserve It"
(Faith Evans featuring Missy Elliott & Sharaya J)
2014 19 Incomparable
(feat. Candice Boyd, Kate Stewart, Sharaya J)
2020 An Invitation to the Cookout

Guest appearancesEdit

List of non-single guest appearances, with other performing artists, showing year released and album name
Title Year Other artist(s) Album
"Strip" 2018 Little Mix LM5

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2018 Talent Recap Fan Choice Awards Breakout Talent Show Star The Four: Battle For Stardom Nominated


  1. ^ "Missy's New Artist Sharaya J "Banji" Music Video [Video]". Bossip. March 11, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  2. ^ "Sha-Raya - On What Makes A Good Dancer (On Set of Step Up 3D)". YouTube. May 11, 2010. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Sharya Howell - IMDb > Filmography > Writer". IMDb. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  4. ^ "Missy Elliott promoting Sharaya @ Crash Manison". YouTube. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  5. ^ "iTunes - Music - Banji - Single by Sharaya J". iTunes. March 2, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  6. ^ "Sharaya J - BANJI". YouTube. March 4, 2013. Retrieved March 15, 2013.
  7. ^ Daniels, Sharifa (September 11, 2013). "Vixen Exclusive: Sharaya J Drops New Video "Smash Up The Place/Snatch Yo Wigs" > Page 1". VIBE Vixen. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  8. ^ Daniels, Sharifa (September 11, 2013). "Vixen Exclusive: Sharaya J Drops New Video "Smash Up The Place/Snatch Yo Wigs" > Page 2". VIBE Vixen. Retrieved September 11, 2013.
  9. ^ Folk, Antwane (March 14, 2014). "EXCLUSIVE: Faith Evans Calls New Missy Elliott Collaboration 'A Banger', Plays 'First & Last' Game". Rated R&B. Retrieved March 15, 2014.
  10. ^ "Watching The Week > Film > 3. T by Alexander Wang 2014 Campaign". HUNGER TV. June 8, 2014. Retrieved June 10, 2014.
  11. ^ Daniels, Sharifa (September 29, 2014). "Sharaya J Drops 'Takin' It No More' and 'Shut it Down'". Vibe Vixen. Vibe. Retrieved October 1, 2014.

External linksEdit