$tu began rapping 8 years ago initially as a joke, just messing around. During this time, most of his friends wanted to pursue rapping as a serious career and he would just simply tag along when they would write or record their music. One day they asked $tu to write something and he did, the result turned out to be great. With profound validation from his friends, $tu began taking rapping seriously and began searching for beats and developing his voice and artistry. Knowing his environment in Baltimore Maryland was heavy on the street/drug scene, he didn’t feel comfortable rapping about it due to not ever being a participant in it, simply an observer. There are many artists who had a hand in influence for $tu which include; Outkast, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, the down south movement in the 2000’s (T.I, Jeezy, Gucci Mane) and more! However, his favorite rapper hands down is Curren$y.
We took a listen to $tu’s record titled “01 Just Ashin” and we were compelled by the laid-back and authenticity this record provided. Although it had a strong sense of authenticity, $tu’s influences were highly incorporated in the record. One notable feature about “A Tribe Called Quest” was how they had the ability to rap on a more relaxed jazzy beat, showing another dimension to hip-hop. A notable feature about J.Cole is his strong lyricism, and the ability to dictate a story through his verses. $tu represents each element to each influence in his own way, creating a well-developed and artistic sound that will have this lasting effect on its listener. “01 Just Ashin” is a chill song where you can simply catch a vibe too, not get too hyped, but still feel thoroughly entertained due to the raw lyrics and profound approach to his delivery.
Listen to “01 Just Ashin” here and get to know more about $tu below!
Welcome to BuzzMusic $tu! Talk to us about your growing environment. In what ways has growing up in Baltimore influenced or impacted your style of music in any way?
Baltimore is like two cities in one to me. In the day time it’s sometimes vibrant, yet quiet. It feels like your everyday city. But at night it almost turns into a like a hipster/hood vibe if that makes sense. So everyone has this duality to them. Like everyone in Baltimore has a spilt personality lol. That’s reflected in my music, how I’m able to switch flows. I mentioned myself in the third person and asked myself a question in a bar or two. A good example of this from Food4Thought is a track titled Black Thoughts. I’m a 90’s kid so production wise I have a thing for sample heavy beats. I also grew up in the 2000’s as well so I think that’s why I also can come up with hooks sorta easily. Growing up I had my mom and grandmother so I always heard the latest and current radio hits with my mom and the older joints with my grandmother. I could often pick out the samples I heard in different songs. As far as Baltimore’s influence, their club music scene was very impactful. My home station 92.3 otherwise known as 92Q Jams definitely put club music on the map for me. Djs were taking any sample they could find and making a club track out of it. Djs such as K-Swift really brought club music to the forefront. My upbringing in Baltimore allows me to write from a different perspective from the average Baltimore rapper. There’s a huge street/trap culture and most kids can get swept up in it with no way out. I manage to dodge most of the troubles that come with that lifestyle. I was never immersed in that type of that shit but I’ve definitely seen and observed some things. I’ve had childhood friends become victims of violence and even my best friend pass away due to drug addiction. I love my city to death but it can be a dark and sometimes scary environment. You don’t even have to be someone living dangerous to experience harm in my city. So i always keep my head on a swivel.
How has the journey been for you so far as an artist? What has been the most monumental moment of your career?
As an artist I’m still learning and growing. I learn something new about the craft everyday. I’ve had a few setbacks but nothing too major to deter me from continuing. I definitely can see my growth as an artist from my first project First Of Many to now with Food4Thought. I feel like I’m on my way to finding the right tone and bass in my voice. I’ve also found the right subject matter. On first tape I was rapping about guns and drugs and shit like that. I still kept it lyrical But that street stuff wasn’t me. Apart of me yes, but not all of me. I wasn’t living that kind of lifestyle so when I began to write Food4Thought I decided to start being true to myself as well as my audience. As an artist I enjoy learning new things either from myself or others. I try to push myself lyrically every time I write. With that kind of attitude I know I can go far with a little help and some luck. To quote the late Nipsey Hussle from the track, where yo money at?, “I get better each time I rap”. I haven’t had any major success at this point, only minor victories here and there. Any time someone recognizes my skill and effort musically, I consider that a monumental moment. I guess completing Food4Thought was big deal for me. It was sorta therapeutic. Being able to write out your thought and feelings to song is very helpful. Like I said I felt I finally had found myself musically on this project. I developed a concept and stuck to it. Your feedback and this press release will be a milestone as well. One of those minor victories i mentioned earlier.
Let’s talk about your music! What was the major theme behind “01 Just Ashin”?
The theme of just ashin is about smoking and try to enjoy it either alone or amongst a group of friends, but yet there’s someone who didn’t help put up or pay for the bud your blazing. Yet they wanna partake in the cypher with no contributions. In a sense I guess you it can be a metaphor for life. Like you can’t come into a situation expecting something to just be handed to you, for example a blunt/joint or whatever the case may be. You gotta bring something to the table. No handouts.
Where did you draw most of your inspiration from this record
The song was inspired by my personal experiences. The audio clip in the beginning of the song is from the heavily weed themed movie, Half Baked. In the clip two characters are tryin to enjoy a joint but another guy comes out of nowhere and ask to join in with no contributions. They even call him a “Scavenger smoker”. I’ve definitely encountered some scavenger smokers, and most of them were people I kinda considered friends. But this one guy in particular would just always show up to smoking sessions empty handed. There would be times where he would show up with a pack of dutches but he never had his own bud. I got to a point where he would just show up at my homegirls house expecting to hit every blunt and he wouldn’t have anything. This fool didn’t even know how to roll, but considered himself to be a true stoner. Now don’t mind sharing bud because it often brings people together, but when you just start showing up on the regular it can be a problem. So one particular smoke session, everyone had enough. The guy showed up unannounced and empty handed as usual. We had about 5 to 6 blunts in rotation amongst the 4 of us. He sat on the couch as if he were apart of the cypher. The coffee table had various ashtrays on it and whenever someone extended and arm to ash the blunt, he would reach a little as if they were passing the blunt to him, but they were just asking lol. He would draw his hand back quickly to play it off but you could tell he was slightly embarrassed. This went on for the next 4 blunts. He watched as they got passed around and they all skipped by him. I guess he finally realized what the deal was and left. We all laughed as soon as he left. The crazy part was that none of us said we weren’t going to pass him the blunts we all just decided to make the same decision. Like our brains were all on the same wave length or something lol.
What’s next for you $tu?
I’m not sure what the future holds for me. My plan moving forward is just to continue to get better as person, emcee and artist. Keep dropping and creating dope music. I write as often as I can and plan on dropping something around the fall months. I should also have some visuals from Food4Thought dropping early September. I just want to continue networking. I have friends who are already in the industry but it will probably be a complete stranger that will help me make it in this business. I really need to perform so I’m looking for open mics and showcases. I’m have my first open mic performance coming up on 7/26/2019 I’m nervous as hell but I think I’ll be alright. I look forward to maintaining a relationship with buzz music in the near future.
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