Meet Ahsh Eff
The Freshest Face in Hip-Hop
When Brooklyn rapper Ahsh Eff released her breakout single, "Storefront," earlier this year, it became immediately clear that contemporary hip-hop would soon be stirred by a fresh new face. Her aggressive confidence recalls the height of Lil Kim's early '90s reign, rapping with a full, deep voice that demands attention whenever heard—a talent that transcends the studio and into the streets.
On Ahsh Eff's second single, "@YoungThug," we hear the rising artist diving into darker sonic territory, where droning, ominous production is met with her robust rhymes about hard work and realizing your dreams. Today, we're thrilled to premiere another track from Ahsh Eff, called, "PBP," produced by Sole Profit. "Poppin' bitch problems, ya I got 'em," she raps with cocky confidence.
Listen, below, and read Nicopanda's conversation with hip-hop's strongest new player.
Bring us through your background and early music-making memories.
Before I start, I want to say rest in paradise to my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Karen Riches—one of the first people to help me realize that the ability to arrange words is a gift. She taught the class a segment on poetry for nearly half the school year. After writing my first short story she told me that because I was a gifted writer, I should write about my frustrations and innermost thoughts. I took that and ran with it. I think of and thank Mrs. Riches every time I reach a new goal. Fast forward to 17-year-old Ahsh: a senior theater major skipping English class to finish writing my mixtape, and ditching prom to record the project in a professional studio. My mom, who's my biggest supporter, helped me realize my skills were far beyond average and that if I wanted this, I needed to chase it. Born in New York, I moved to Seattle Washington, came back to Brooklyn, went to schools in Connecticut, and returned to the concrete jungle. Now, I'm a 21-year-old monster.
How has your experience been with developing your sound?
Developing my sound has been trying and rewarding. I’ve always secretly—but not so secretly, now—had a baby orchestra of sounds in my head that go with my voice and emotions perfectly. I see music in colors. When I rap, I see cool blues, warm oranges and the most vivid and cocky greens. My sound is constantly evolving, but now I've found it. It's my toddler in a tiara—I'm cultivating her, dressing her up, dressing her down, making her perfect by my own standards. I try to stay away from being descriptive because I want people to build their own feelings about the content, but in a nutshell, think, 'hard core glamour.'
Describe the process for writing your lyrics.
The real process is picking the perfect pen and notebook. I'm obsessed with office supplies. I get a notebook and I write and write; I take my time, so I can avoid extra scribbles on my paper. I hate writing in my phone; I feel like it constricts my creativity and I have no room to say what I have to. The most important part of my real process is eliminating my fears and getting uncomfortable to become comfortable.
What's the story behind your breakout single, "Storefront?"
If I could describe ‘Storefront’ in one word it would be, 'progressive.' Reason being, the hook, 'wrapped up tryna get my rap up,' symbolizes a climb and my personal desire to have it all. 'Robbery I could get it back faster’ is my truest, most honest analogy because a person who's willing to rob is willing to take risks to survive. Now, whether those risks are violent or comprising is completely up to you. However, it's that fire in your belly that motivates being unconventional and chasing your dreams. I named the track ‘Storefront’ because no matter where you are on the planet, there's some type of storefront-like space. Subconsciously, we associate hard work and triumph with the people inside these storefronts. When Mess Kid, Stelios Phili and I made ‘Storefront,' we built it from the sounds of a city—busy, unpredictable, loud, obnoxious, rude as fuck and still amazing.
And your sophomore single, "@YoungThug?"
Oddly enough, ‘@YoungThug’ was free-styled for a lengthy majority up until, like, halfway through the last verse. I'd written a verse and liked it, but it didn't give that oomph I was looking for. Producer Crystal Caines told me to just let myself go and say whatever I felt even if it came out funny to everyone else. With that gem, I listened, let loose and created my perfect hustle anthem based off me talking my shit and being candid. ‘@YoungThug’ was made from this sample I brought to Crystal—I was too in love with it not to build from it. I wanted something moody, dark and for the rain. Here we are a couple years later with this baby, '@YoungThug,' looking too wavy.
The world is so tense, right now. How do you think music can change this?
I think sound is the most far-reaching 'language' in the world. The biggest asset that music brings to the conversation is influence—a musician could feel a 'way' about something and make a song that motivates people to stand by a certain opinion. With the right beat and lyrics, if any, you could convince a nation to go on a hunger-strike, come together [or] empower each other. Depending on how it's approached, a song can be used as a tool to educate diverse groups of people to share passion or love for a common thing. Even if the content isn't deeply rooted in awareness, people still walk away with something.
What do you hope your music will accomplish?
I originally named myself 'Ahsh Eff' when I was 15. 'Ahsh' is short for Ahshae, which is my middle name and 'Eff' is short for 'Effect.' Together, Ahsh Eff is the the impact I want my music to have on people—I'm a voice for those without one, the voice of a poppin' ass outsider, the voice of struggle, and the voice of the lessons myself and others have learned. If someone could listen to ‘@YoungThug’ and feel a boost of confidence or be motivated to hustle and be on go, I've used my sound as a tool and in that split second they could carry that feeling for a lifetime. My goal is to stay gold, be timeless and remain innovative.