Asheru - conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Asheru (Unspoken Heard)

December 2001

These are the transcripts of an interview with Asheru Of The Unspoken Heard. The interview was conducted by Hugo Lunny on December 6th, 2001.

MVRemix: How did you begin?

Asheru: I began in the early 90's, with Wes and everyone. Seven Heads began in '95. We all went to school together. Wes, after he graduated turned to a couple of record labels and eventually started his own. Maybe a year after he graduated he came to myself and Blue Black and basically told us what his prediction was, what he wanted to do. We all agreed that we would just get together and put some stuff out. So that's how it all kicked off and we've been doing it ever since.

MVRemix: What was your home situation growing up?

Asheru: I was raised around different areas of the PC metropolitan area. Between there and Barbados (my father is from Barbados). So I just basically bounced back and forth. Basically I was just middle class. I didn't really live in the lower class, I mean we had rough moments you know, but that's just like everybody.

MVRemix: How did you manage to get your material out there to begin with? Was it through the label or were you doing things by yourself first...?

Asheru: We're all friends. We've known each other for over ten years now, we just basically did it from the work. We would go in "here" and lay some joints, Wes would put in the work to get them out there and promote them. It was all teamwork - making it happen.

MVRemix: I heard you're a teacher, is that true?

Asheru: Yeah, Yeah I am.

MVRemix: What do you teach?

Asheru: I teach first grade, so I teach everything. Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies. I teach a bunch of six and seven year olds.

MVRemix: What do you find more fulfilling? Educating through music or the classroom?

Asheru: Um, man that's hard. I don't know...They're both instant. I mean, when I'm doing a show, I get the same gratification as if I was teaching a class. Seeing kids actually learning and "getting it." Understanding what's going on. That one's a hard one to call.

MVRemix: A lot of people compared your sound to the early Native Tongues collective. How do you feel about that?

Asheru: It's cool, but sometimes I get a little annoyed by it because we make music that we actually feel and that we love and definitely I'm a product of that whole era. You know, that was an amazing turning point in my life growing up. That whole era of music, not even Native Tongues, but also X-Clan and P.E. - these cats were like the soundtrack to my life. In a way it's flattering because I've stayed with what I knew - in the tradition that I came up in. I don't want to be boxed into that though.

MVRemix: How has your life been affected by September 11th?

Asheru: Basically I don't have any people directly near me that were injured or killed in that thing. It just made me really look at what's going on. It just affected me as far as how vulnerable the situation is. I've just been making my plans and living for the day. And not take any day for granted really.

MVRemix: Would you say a freestyle, is a freestyle, if it's written?

Asheru: I don't know, it depends on the context. Sometimes it can pass but if it's like, I'm coming in here and I'm battling then nah, that's not a freestyle if you wrote it. That's just on some ol' kick a rhyme for me real quick. Off the cuff. Just spit a rhyme that I wrote before. I would look at that as a freestyle as well sometimes. I know when I do something like that I just freestyle parts of it. Going between what was written and freestyling, so it really just depends on the context. What do you think?

MVRemix: I think a freestyle is only when it's "off the dome." Off the top of your head, creating rhymes in the moment.

Asheru: When you look at freestyle musicians though, is that what they're doing?

MVRemix: Some claim to, but how true that is I don't know.

Asheru: Even the best freestyler has some lines that he goes back to.

MVRemix: Yeah, they've got to have some lines which are repeated, but I mean the majority of contents of a freestyle, I would classify as thought of in the moment to give it that classification.

Asheru: Definitely. I feel you. The reason that I say it depends on the context is because I've been in different places just traveling around. When I go to Cali, when they say freestyle they mean either one. It's just whatever you want to do, but then when you get into another context, in a cipher when it's just rhyming. Like in a battle, it's completely off of the top of the head. It's ill man.

MVRemix: I'm a big fan of freestyling but it's hard to tell when people are coming off legitimately. There's no real way you can disprove that unless you have copies of their lyrics written prior to the performance or some recording of the material.

Asheru: It's touch and go really, that whole situation is because a lot of cats are not fanatical about it. And it's to the point where it's almost like an art form in itself. Just dope. They've got cats that are freestyling that aren't really good at writing songs or nothing, but can freestyle their ass off. That's dope. A whole 'nother artform in itself for them because their only focus is freestyle freestyles.

MVRemix: So, what are your plans now that the album has dropped?

Asheru: Keep promoting it man, keep building and moving on with different projects. I think it's a good starting point for us. The album 'Soon Come' and just bringing everything up. For me, artistically, it was just a flush. Everything came out of me. But you had to start right there. Now, you go on with a clean sheet and just make more. Feels good man, feels good. The plan is up and out of there.

MVRemix: One of my preferred tracks of yours is 'Better,' but I didn't see it on the come it didn't make the cut?

Asheru: Well, we've got somethin' comin' for y'all with that. That's the only reason. Hahaha. We'll hit y'all off a little bit later. That's one of my favourites too man. That shit was great to record and everything, that shit was just fun.

MVRemix: For the album you used a lot of lesser known producers. How did you find these guys?

Asheru: Being in the same circles or knowing the same people. At shows, different clubs. At times bumping into each other at the studio. But like Geology, I knew him from way back when I was in college and he was doing 'Do-Able Arts' with Matt Do. He was a dope graphic artist and at the time I was a freelance journalist. So, I was doing an article on them when they came out of my school. Years later, I bumped into him again and he's like "Yeah man, I've got some dope beats. You need to hear 'em out" and I was like "What?!?" I mean me and J. Rawls. We met at a studio one time when we were recording the Jamboree EP, we met him and J. Sands and have just been cool ever since. Same thing with DJ Khaliyl, from Self Scientific out in Cali with my man Combo. Bumped into him, we got up and have been doing things ever since. It's where you just meet a cat and show mutual respect for each other, you just say "Yo, lets collaborate, lets do something." And, it builds from there.

MVRemix: Your album contains a very relaxing sound. What music do you listen to to relax to?

Asheru: It depends. When I'm by myself. Jazz. Like in the car. Then in another setting, in the house I'll throw on some regular "good music." Music which I call good, you know a lot of what they call Neo Soul stuff. Hip Hop wise, I listen to a lot of cats Hip Hop wise. It depends on what mood I'm in. All types, all genres. Classical sometimes.

MVRemix: What are you currently working on?

Asheru: Right now, getting up with Chad, doing some joints with J(Live), El Da Sensei. Collaborting. We've got a couple of remixes coming up for some singles on the album. The 'True Unique' single is out now. And then touring again, doing some more shows. So, between all of that and teaching, that's pretty much everything. And recording some of our own shit, me and Blue have been talking about that. Keep going.

MVRemix: What are you most proud of creating?

Asheru: Song wise? 'Soon Come' was very dear to me. Same thing with 'Dear You,' they were both very personal. My "real" viewpoint type of joints. I think about things which really mean something to me and just say it, even really vulnerable things. Those two would probably be the ones.

MVRemix: With all the beefs on wax at the moment, do you think this is a good thing or that there's too much at stake?

Asheru: I think it's a good thing. It's all like wrestling to me, I mean it's like The Rock and Hulk Hogan fighting. It's all for the showmanship. I don't think most of them cats are really mad at each other. But I like listening to it like the shit that Jay did to Nas, and then they're playing Nas' answer non-stop. I liked it, I can't front. But I still think Jay roasted him. I ain't think Nas could write something after that.

MVRemix: What are some of your favourite books and movies?

Asheru: Favourite books...'The Prophet,' 'The Alchemist' and 'The Temple Of My Familia.' Movies - 'Snatch,' haha, 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.' I just like shit like that 'Reservoir Dogs,' 'Usual Suspects.'

MVRemix: Where do you see your career going in 2002? What do you think will be going on what do you know will be etc.?

Asheru: I see myself still teaching, still mixing those mediums (Hip Hop and Education). Doing my program man, project No Mo' and getting everything lined up. So that I can do it seamlessly. Go on speaking tours and do shows in the same weekend. Putting things together for myself and everybody around me.

MVRemix: Are there any last words you'd like to put to your fans and potential fans?

Asheru: Keep supporting us and check us out at the website - That's how we stay in touch with people, so...definitely holler at us and come to the shows when we're in your area.

Related content:
  • Asheru 2001 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Asheru 2004 Interview by Todd E. Jones
  • Asheru 2005 Interview by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman

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    "I think it's a good starting point for us. The album 'Soon Come' and just bringing everything up. For me, artistically, it was just a flush. Everything came out of me."