MVRemix: Do you have a favorite J-Live and Asheru collaboration?
Asheru: The joint we did with Pete Rock. ‘Kick It To The Beat’. It was dope because I got to meet Pete Rock. That’s on J-Live’s first album, ‘The Best Part’. That’s my favorite one. J-Live has so many songs. He has a lot of material.
MVRemix: When making hip-hop songs, do you go into the studio with pre-written rhymes, lyrics and themes or do you hear the beat first and write then and there?
Asheru: Earlier on, I had a lot of rhymes that I had pre-written and that I wanted to get off my chest. So, it was about 70% pre-written stuff to 30% of stuff I wrote there. As time went on, we changed up. Now, I write when I am there. My whole pattern in writing is completely different now. I sit down with the track and write it out right there. I’ll take my time though. I’ll write a little bit and come back, and write some more a day later. Nowadays, I write it with the track right there.
MVRemix: When did you first begin rhyming?
Asheru: Probably around 15 or 16 years old. I began free styling in the basement on little equipment. Eventually, I began doing shows with a live local band in college.
MVRemix: What song made you fall in love with hip-hop?
Asheru: The song ‘Fudge Pudge’ by Organized Konfusion. Pharoahe Monch’s verse on that song blew me away.
MVRemix: How did you get the name Asheru? What is the meaning behind it?
Asheru: Basically, I took it from ‘Asher’ and my tribe 12 Months. The month of December is Asher.
MVRemix: You are also a teacher. What do you teach?
Asheru: Yes, I teach 7th grade. I’ve been teaching for 7 years. I just finished my masters in education. I’m getting out of the classroom and into other things. Just like hip-hop is my niche, teaching is one and the same. I teach all subjects. I teach at a special ed school for kids who have learning disabilities and who are emotional disturbed.
MVRemix: Grap Luva used to be in INI and he has been involved in some of your work. How did you hook up with him?
Asheru: Grap is down with us. He’s a teacher too. I think 3rd grade.
MVRemix: You also worked with some amazing producers like J. Rawls. How did you hook up with him?
Asheru: I hooked up with him when I was recording the ‘Jamboree’ EP. He came by the studio and talked for a minute.
MVRemix: How is the production style of J. Rawls different from the other producers you worked with?
Asheru: Everybody has their own flavor, their own style. J Rawls just sounds different and I appreciate it. The stuff we do now is different from the last stuff we did. We do slower songs that are more thought provoking. They are moving. Now, J. Rawls has branched off even more. He’s making me write and shape my songs differently. He’s dope. He’s working with cats like J-Live and Joe Money. He makes incredible beats.
MVRemix: What emcee or producer would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Asheru: There are a few cats. I would definitely do another joint with Talib Kweli. I would like to work with Mos Def, Madlib, 9th Wonder, Little Brother, Bahamadia. The list is long. I like the fellowship of it all. I like meeting people and being cool with them. It’s amazing how it goes down. Growing up, I would hear people like Bahamadia and then, I actually meet people like them and build with them. It’s a whole other experience. It was like that with Pete Rock. I’m there for the fellowship of it all. I would love to work with Prince Paul, The Last Emperor, and other cats that I rhymed with or toured with.
MVRemix: How is the hip-hop scene and market different in Europe?
Asheru: They are just a lot more into it. There is more of a give and take in terms of performances. Once you get into it, they rock with you. I’m not saying the crowds here don’t rock with you but out there, it’s different. I guess it is because we are not from there and we are imported from another place. We come there and it is extra special for both of us. We are not cats that they see everyday. These are cats from another country. If you are in a local scene, after a while, you don’t get as excited seeing the same cats. You are a little bit more enthusiastic when people from somewhere else come around. I think here, we take the artists for granted because we see them here all the time. Here, everybody has a friend that rhymes or who is a DJ. Overseas, there is more participation. The crowds show a lot of love and support.
MVRemix: What has been in your CD player or on your turntable recently?
Asheru: In class, I listen to a lot of Stanley Clark and Steely Dan. At home, I listen to a lot of mix-tapes. I have been playing the new Outkast album a lot lately too. I love it, man. I love Andre 3000’s whole album. I love Big Boi’s album too. They are both really dope but I have been playing a lot of the Dre one. Since ‘The Love Below’ came out, I have been playing that sh*t non-stop. Another album that I play a lot is Tenacious D. A lot of people don’t get it but that’s my sh*t. Jack Black! I would definitely do a joint with Jack Black any day. That would be dope.
MVRemix: On the Seven Heads compilation ‘No Edge Ups In South Africa’, you have a song called ‘B.M.I.G.’. For the people who do not know, what does that mean?
Asheru: ‘B.M.I.G.’ means a lot of sh*t, man. ‘Brilliant Minds Illuminate Genius’. It’s like a campaign slogan we carry with us. It changes day to day. ‘But Mostly I’m Grateful’ or ‘Being a Man Is a Game’ or ‘Bob Marley Inhales Ganja’. There’s so many of them but it basically means ‘Brilliant Minds Illuminate Genius’. When I wrote that song, that was what I was referring to.
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"My whole pattern in writing is completely different now. I sit down with the track and write it out right there. I’ll take my time though. I’ll write a little bit and come back, and write some more a day later."