New York is the birthplace of hip hop. Nearly 45 years ago, the genre was concocted by DJ Kool Herc after he realized exactly how much crowds enjoyed getting down to drum breaks. A few years later, the sound grew into a nonviolent way to have fun and celebrate. But from a more political standpoint, hip hop was also a means for honest communication for people of color — especially young Black people. It has waxed and waned since then, adding and subtracting figures, phrases, subject matters, vocal styles, and production methods.
One contemporary New York based-artist who is determined to carry the culture forward (in her own way, of course) is Ahsh Eff.
Ahsh (pronounced “Ah-sh”, not “Ash”) is a Brooklynite in her early 20s. She sports a head full of long forest green hair, with snatched brows that you may catch furrowed. Eff, which is short for “effect”, formally introduced herself to the music two and a half years ago, via a FADER premiere for her song “Storefront”. Since then, she has collaborated with rapper Ms. Boogie, and been featured in Out Magazine and her music video for her new single, “Tongue Ring” was recently featured on Paper.com. As her level of determination seeps through the internet, you can’t help but respect her hustle. In short, Ahsh is rising.
I spoke with Ahsh about her next big move in music, the nitty gritty of city life, and her thoughts on being called a “female rapper.” Check out our chat below.
HelloGiggles (HG): Some people think that musicians live carefree lives. I know that’s not true because it’s still a job at the end of the day. Can you tell us some of the not-so-glamorous aspects of the music industry so that people have a true idea of a rapper’s life?
Ahsh Eff (AE): Well first off, NOTHING IS REALLY FREE! But mainly, the behind-the-scenes work required to break through is 50% of making it honestly. Without a team, it falls on the artist. So yes, being a rapper means I have to sit in front of a computer for hours writing to people who have no clue who I am to explain why my music is the shit and why you should take notice as soon as possible. I’m like a walking commercial, and you can’t shoot a commercial without a camera, lights, [and a] script.
HG: Do you rap full time or do you have a day job?
AE: I’m full-time. My mom always told me if you have a plan B, plan A will never be able to work. Shout out to her.
HG: You’ve worked with huge, New York-based producers, like Stelios Phili and Crystal Caines. How do you come in contact with producers? What sounds attract you?
AE: I met Stelios randomly through a friend-mentor Ross and I literally met Crystal on Facebook. We clicked and [have] been close ever since. [As for sounds,] I love dark shit. It’s like I can’t escape it. I love screaming, yelling, making weird noises and shit; so pretty much whatever goes with that.
HG: What was it like growing up in the city? Do you think people have skewed views regarding what NYC is all about?
AE: I had the pleasure of growing up in two…places, so I think my experience was a bit different. But I feel like my city self got a chance to see a lot of things, and go to a lot of places that most people [don’t]. Two words; WILDLY MATURE (laughs). As for views, whatever you think the city is, that’s what it is. So many people come expecting this grandeur idea, when really the city is what you make it! Nothing more, nothing less.
HG: What are your thoughts on the term “female rapper?”
AE: …I think it’s stupid…[c]ause you don’t call a man that raps a “male rapper.” I feel like if you can compete with the best…why limit yourself to the category of gender?
HG: Since you’ve said it’s already finished, when do you plan on releasing your first full length project?
AE: I’m not quite sure. [Within] the next three months, I will decide. I just want to get out of the industry norm of releasing things that aren’t thought out. I’ve had a chance to sit with these songs for a year. Pick and choose what goes, what should be changed, all of that. Really learn to love [the songs] through and through and it’s been excellent. But when the project does come out, I know it will be impactful, even [if only on] the smallest scale.
Watch Ahsh Eff’s latest video, “Tongue Ring,” below.