It was a beautiful night on the rooftop of the Wythe Hotel’s bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We sat overlooking the entire city, engulfed in the rush of it all. Asaad’s decked out in all black; his head wrapped in a black bandana, O.G Jordans on his feet and leather En Noir shorts cover his legs. In between sips of a sweet moscato, we chat about future endeavors and the gritty hustle of the east coast. His hair is growing, but his beard is barely just a 5 O’clock shadow. It’s a slightly different aesthetic than we’re used to seeing from Philly, home of long beards, and wavy Caesar haircuts. There’s a new culture brewing.
Though Asaad’s surrounded by peers, he seems like he’s on a mission alone. He’s completely consumed by and passionate about his art. Sure, he finds time to dress in Balmain denim and rub Kiehls almond lotion on his skin, but that’s just the material glimpse of Asaad’s life, the glimpse that opposes his stories of a rough upbringing in North Philly– The period of his life he often mentions in his songs. Asaad’s upcoming EP, 006, is a supposed culmination of every work he’s put out before. According to him, the title holds multiple meanings: the age his father left home, his childlike outlook on life, and him coming in the game, as he says, “On some stealth James Bond shit.”
So, how’d he get here? In 2012 alone , Asaad dropped some incredible bodies of work, each showing more musical progression than the last. One of his most poignant being the Dirty Middle Class EP. He mentions that he’s written for both Jaden and Willow Smith, using connections he made from being around the studio at a young age. Philly legend Black Thought is a mentor, and he’s been around for a lot of Asaad’s growth. His buzz has been growing in what feels like overnight, “I get a lot of calls from influential people. It’s great, but I like to take it with a grain of salt,” he says.
In his music, Asaad is like a hero from a vintage blaxploitation film. His raps are crude, yet inspiring. Materialistic, but gangster. Much of it is produced by him and his father. After reuniting, they decided to create a production company, Wasted Youth, where the music is crafted by his father and sprinkled with work from other musicians.
Listening to Asaad talk, there’s an obvious method to his madness, and a group of specific individuals he wants to inspire. “It’s high energy,” he says while overlooking the city, “And if people are receptive to it then they’ll feel it. If it shocks people than so be it.”
One day, Asaad hopes to be that hero for Philly. It’s apparent he wants to live lavish and chase beautiful women, but that’s not his only dream. “I just wanted to be the voice of Philly and show kids that you can be yourself. If you don’t want to shoot a gun, you don’t have to shoot a gun,” he says.
On his new 006, He’s trying to get those kids to dream more. “The whole project itself is just a dose of inspiration,” Asaad says speaking about his upcoming EP. “On the records, I just want the listener to really understand that I come from North muthafucking Philly. The heart of North Philly. The 1700-1800 block of Gratz Street.”
He’s inspired by many of the relationships he’s held in life. Whether it’s working relationships, his father’s absence during his youth, or even his friends and his neighborhood, he lays it all on the table like a deck of cards. The bad hand and the good hand. It’s obvious he’s willing to be the guy in the leather kilt who walks through the hood, spitting gems.
During his live show, in front of a smaller crowd during D.C.’s Trillectro festival, only a few fans knew all the words to his songs, but you can tell it won’t be like that for long. He pulls his friend Walt Fraze, on stage for their cold collaboration, “Holy Mountain.” These kids are raw and descriptive of their environment. The energy feels right.
Asaad often represents his street now, way more than in his earlier work, Flowers. It seems as though after his first project, his market changed. On his record “ Black Kids Dream” he spits, “I don’t fuck with hipsters, I’m cooler with the thugs.” But why? “Because of me, my man from the street can talk to my other friend who’s a Billionaire. If I wasn’t here, that might not have happened, ” he says confidently. Even in North Philly, roses grow from the concrete.
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