ASON COVER STORY FRESHMAN’18 STORY BY RUDZANI “ROO” NETSHIHENI PHOTOGRAPHY BY @blackmilk_za MAKE UP BY @themarchwolf STYLING BY ASON Over the years I’ve been exposed to the talents of some young artists that it always amazes me when I come across another bunch of new & young artists that have decided to push against the current expectations of our local music industry to create functioning different worlds for themselves and peers to live & grow in. In other words, it’s clear that there is a new artistic motion taking place that the young have created for themselves to bypass the linear habits that exist within our music culture as a way of controlling what is considered acceptable and good enough. Its time like these that make me appreciate my open-mindedness to accept the inevitable that is THINGS CHANGE & REARRANGE! A transformation has always been a good thing in my eyes if it that transformation debuts an enlargement of something that exists. I think if one can swallow his/her pride and acknowledge that the current shift happening is positive then one has secured a place in the future. With that said by now, you that are reading this might have come across HYPE’s Freshman’18 campaign being mentioned & communicated somewhere in these digital and analog streets either sometime last year or early this year. First of all, this whole campaign has always been passion driven and was created to further challenge not only HYPE to be progressive with discovering rising stars out there, but it was created to confront the support systems these rising stars have. Will they vote for you? Will they support you? Those some of the core questions the HYPE Freshman campaign provokes. Some days ago, we shared the official cover of the Freshman’18 artists that made it and the first (out of 7) cover stories highlights a young man I think is destined to do amazing things in the game solely because of his music and consistency to thrust himself higher. Last year the Mozambique born, USA raised but SA based rapper dropped of his LEAUX EP which solidified has entrance into the hip hop scene as a fierce competitor. So I naturally had chat with ASON to find out just a little more about how he functions and what sort of plans he has for the new year. “There’s not a person that can add pressure onto me because Of the goals I set for myself” – ASON The origin story of an artist’s entrance into the music scene, well according to me at least, is the most crucial part of understanding what kind of artist he or she will develop into. You come from different parts of the world but are currently here in SA, how did you get into music and who or what do you give credit to for the kind of artist that you are today? I always loved music and there wasn’t a day where I didn’t feel like listening to something, but I used to be really into soccer which was the dream that I was pursuing at the time. It went from liking music to making music, when I got an injury (soccer) I was told that I had to stop completely. Within that time, I was depressed about it and was kind of lost in a way because that soccer dream was all I knew and all I had focused on. Well, I used to make songs for fun even during the soccer days but like maybe a song per year because I had no equipment or beats so when I got lucky and had time, I’d make a song but in years 2016/17 I had no passion and I had to find one. My brother in law had a microphone and my sister had a MacBook with GarageBand, that was the first time there was a mini setup for me to at least record every day for free. Instantly, I believed I could do this and be the best. I knew sonically I’m not where I needed to be but literally, for the whole of 2017, I made a song every day or compensated with 2 songs on a different day if I skipped a day. It was my way of filling a void and falling in love with something new. And I truly fell in love with making music and the whole experience of it. It became my new dream to make it and to be regarded as the best or one of the best. With regards to what “kind” of artist I’m becoming, different people made me this way. Originally, I didn’t really listen to rap as a kid. I listened to more rock and pop. Like all your regular Billboard alternative rock and pop. Then my brother started playing me a version of rap that I liked, which was when Drake, Mac Miller, ASAP Rocky & Kendrick Lamar we’re still regarded as new artists. They made me feel like I could make music if I tried way before I thought I’d think to really make a song because the beats were different, and they resonated with me. I feel like to name names is hard because so many different people did different things for me. In terms of “how” I’m here, there were different steps and I study the game. I knew the things I needed to make it. I always find out how to put myself in the right place or position. My label (Rude World Records) was a big part of helping shoot videos and getting beats before people wanted to give them to me or just work with me. You need that for relevance. But the turning point was being able to work with Bash (Vision) as my manager because he was a big part of my career changing. It’s essential to be around the right people and he did that for me but then you yourself should be able to make use of those situations. I get it… Now the SA hip hop industry has seen its fair share of challenges and triumphs. And regardless of how big of a challenge the industry faces, the game will always progress. During the challenging times, we more often witness artists falling under the pressure of trying to make a success of their careers. How do you manage to overcome moments of doubt when things seem or feel bleak? I think that moments of pressure are part of the game. You should be built for it, if you’re not ready for the pressure there’s going to be someone else who’s ready and they will succeed because of that. In my times of overcoming tough moments as a rising artist, I just try to remind myself that I used to be laughed at and now I’m taken seriously as an artist, and the message in that is that, things change. You should tell yourself you’re supposed to be up there. People won’t tell you this until you show strong signs that you’re special. So, at that time, I just try really hard to keep the faith and count my blessings. The pressures that come to me are internal, not external, with when I want to achieve certain things and how. There’s not a person that can add pressure onto me because Of the goals I set for myself, you know? I already beat myself up enough to keep going. “I knew the things I needed to make it. I always find out how to put myself in the right place or position” – ASON I won’t lie, last year seemed like you were still in a self-discovery state, having dropped a handful of singles and a project. Can you describe what type of artist you are developing to today or are you still in that self-discovery phase? I think any good artist is always in the discovery phase, for me that’s how you get better but in terms of being sure of my talent and myself, I’m very sure of who I am and what I can do but there are other things that helped like new fans and other artists/producers reaching out and trying to work. You can’t do everything alone so it’s encouraging when others start to see your talent the way you see it. I have to say that I was first put onto your music by a close friend of mine in 2017 and since then I have been watching you move. It feels good to see you in a space that I can only describe as “good” for a young artist like yourself. Times have changed and the people demand more from artists. Can you describe your fan base? Does what they demand matter more than what you demand from yourself using an artistic point of view of course? Yes, a big shout out to Freddie! My fan base I can only describe as growing. I love the way they are because when they love my music, they really love my music for real. It’s not like a fly by fan. They stick. I think it’s 50/50 because fans dictate how big your music gets but also, I believe in giving the supporters good quality music. Even if I’m making music at a fast pace for them, before I start releasing, I make sure it’s always better than my last releases. “Less and less new artists are being put into the bigger platforms to be given a chance to blossom” -ASON So, then what is the story that you are trying to tell with your music? Are there certain topics that you are trying to address? The story I’m trying to tell is of hope and triumph. I always try to put out my story of being disregarded and not taken seriously as an example to another kid like me starting out with no one believing in him or her that it can happen. You don’t need to be known or to have co-signs if you work smart and will things into your life. I’m a big believer in energy and drawing things to you. I always put things out into the universe before they happen. People are usually afraid to do it because you get laughed at if you fail but failing happens to everyone and eventually you get it right. So, for me, I’d rather put it out there and make sure it happens and I try to give people the confidence to do so through how I am and my music. That was a deep thing for me in the past. It really sucks knowing what you’re supposed to be, and no one believes you and wants to help. You feel hopeless when you just want a stepping stone to start on. I want to make sure the people who support me understand that I made everything happen. Nothing came to me and nothing ever will with my story and that’s okay. I’ll keep taking what I want. It’s all possible. What is your current opinion on the state of hip hop in SA? I think there’s a lot of originality from certain artists and I think there’s also a lot of bad copy paste. With saying that, you kind of need both because it’s still growing and more and more artists are breaking new grounds, going international, doing bigger things across the continent and across the world. In Africa, with hip hop, that’s not happening anywhere else. South Africa is becoming a beacon due to those successes, so I think there’s an upward trend. We’re at the stage, especially with my generation, where we just must keep going. Complaints and things just slow you down, even if your situation is unfair. People don’t owe anybody anything so just try to find a way is my advice. They’re examples all around that show it’s possible. And Even if there weren’t, it’s okay to believe you’ll be there first to do something big that’s never been done before. That’s really the energy I’m on. What would you say is missing in the game? I feel like opportunities are missing. Less and less new artists are being put into the bigger platforms to be given a chance to blossom. Talent is one thing that isn’t missing. How far are you projecting yourself with your music? I’m too much. I’ll be legendary when my time comes. What are your plans for 2019? To keep elevating to new levels with everything I do and obviously release a lot of new music, visuals, and projects throughout the year. Definitely way more than last year. Lastly, you made it onto our 2nd annual Freshman cover. The campaign wasn’t an easy one but you here. How did being a part of the whole experience make you feel? I loved it. It was humbling to be put on a list with other amazing talents and be regarded as the next up. I was grateful with all the support I received and as someone coming in without any big co-signs or anything. Just doing the groundwork. I’m proud of myself and everyone who made it. It’s tough getting recognized in this industry we’re in so it’s awesome. END.