Interview: Sasha Go Hard (and a download of her new mixtape) | Bleader

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Interview: Sasha Go Hard (and a download of her new mixtape)

Posted By on 10.31.12 at 02:00 PM

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It's been interesting to watch local rapper Sasha Go Hard evolve this year, as she rode the explosion of the Chicago scene to her own share of the national spotlight. The Low End MC makes tracks that have a few things in common with drill music, the aggressive and violent spin on southern trap rap that's now the closest thing to a definitive Chicago sound—to most people outside the city, anyway. Sasha worked with some notable local producers (Young Chop, DJ Kenn, DGainz) for this summer's Do You Know Who I Am? mixtape, a smooth and sinister collection that strips away some of the apocalyptic synths and bombastic percussion of drill. Do You Know Who I Am? earned Sasha critical acclaim and also set her slightly apart from that idea of a "Chicago sound."

Sasha has continued down her own path as national interest in the burgeoning drill sound has grown. Some of that interest, of course, has been spurred by well-reported incidents of violence dogging the scene, most notably the murder of aspiring rapper Lil JoJo. In a recent Fader cover story on Chief Keef and the drill scene, writer Felipe Delerme spoke with Sasha about the violence in her music and image:

"I came a long way from my old songs like 'What We Do,'" Sasha says. "I pulled out a gun in the video, but now I look at it like, Man, why I do that? It's a lot of young people watching me. I just learn from it and be more careful with my music because I care about my fans and I want them to feel safe listening to my stuff, 'cause Chicago, it's crazy out here."

Sasha decided to focus on relationships for her new mixtape, Hip-Hop vs. Love, a collaboration with M.I.C member Il Will that drops today. (You can stream and/or download it after the jump.) She headlines a show at Reggie's Rock Club tomorrow night with the GTW and Bengfang. Last week I met up with Sasha to talk about her rap roots, the violence plaguing the Chicago scene, her new mixtape, and working with MCs from the west side.

How did you come up with your name?

My uncle had started calling me Sasha Fierce when Beyonce came out with that name because of how I dress and how I act and stuff. Then when I first got into the booth to record my first song, "What We Do," everybody in there was telling me how hard I go, like they kept saying, "You go hard." I'm like, "I'm gonna make that my name, Sasha Go Hard, cause I ain't one to make Sasha Fierce 'cause Beyonce had that. So I just took "Sasha" and "Go Hard" and put it together.

When did you record that first song?

I had recorded "What We Do," my first song, last year like around I'd say July.

Why did you start rapping?

I had started rapping—I've always been the type to just rhyme and just be creative. One day I just started doing songs on my phone, my Voice Notes, so my friend always was around me just telling me like, "Man you go hard." You know, like, "You roll with this—you should get serious." It took one of my close friends to tell to me to realize, like, "Man, I gotta get more people to hear this."

Now you're obviously serious about this stuff. Your new mixtape is Hip-Hop vs. Love. What's the meaning behind that name?

Real-life relationship situations. Just me and a guy gettin' together and bringing our situations, what we've been through and what other people go through, and putting them into songs. Just like, showin' people a different side of music, cause it's been, like, the drill scene, so we just decided to do something different.

Why is that?

Just to get people's mind off the violence, because there's been so much violence going on in Chicago with the music scene. So we just looked at, like, we wanted to do something different and get people's mind on something different with the music.

In that Fader article I noticed you mentioned that once you realized that people were really looking at you and the numbers went up, you took a step back. How does being a role model or a recognizable figure play out in your life?

You talking about, like, as far as people looking at me like a hitter or a driller?

Yeah, or just as a famous person.

I want people to look at me like a positive person. I don't want people to think that I'm a driller or a hitter because that's not who I am. Even though some of my songs are hard they don't necessarily mean that I'm a driller. It's crazy 'cause that's the Chicago scene—the drill scene. That's for me to just go hard, but show people who I am—and I'm not that drill person that people think I am 'cause I'm with the Chicago scene.

How's the mixtape coming together?

The mixtape is actually done. It drops Wednesday, on Halloween. It's crazy, like it's soft. It's not real real soft, but it's definitely something different. It's love, it's crazy.

You're working with one of the guys from M.I.C?

Mm-hmm. His name is Il Will. He's with M.I.C.

How did you guys get hooked up?

I had heard about M.I.C from DGainz; he had done one of their videos. Me and DGainz are close, so we talk about everything. He had come back after he did the video, tellin' me, "Man, I just did a video for these guys out west. They real cool." He felt comfortable about being around them. I'm like, "OK, that's whats' up." One day they had hit me up to do a feature with Il, and I had did it and went to a studio session, and bein' around them I saw what DGainz was talking about. They was super cool, their music was dope, so I had told him, "I'm gonna do another song with him." So we did that song, and somehow we did another song. Their manager, he had told me, like, "Y'all crazy together. Y'all make good songs. Y'all should do a mixtape." And I'm like, "Yeah, y'all real cool." Me, I'm a caring person, so I feel like they got buzz, but they buzz wasn't like how mine is. So I'm like, "Man, I wanna help them because they got good music." So I'm like, "Yeah, I'll do it." So it was like a relationship built with us.

It's interesting too because—correct me if I'm wrong—people I've spoken to say, "Rappers from the south side just fuck with rappers from the south side, rappers from the west side just fuck with rappers from the west side." What was it like connecting with rappers from a different part of the city?

On the business level it was good. M.I.C, they manager make sure they take care of their business and they easy to work with on the business level. I mean, we had a problems—a few small, minor problems—on a personal level, because, you know, like I said, we connected. We built the relationship. But other than that, working with them in the studio, it's dope, it's fun. Everybody has fun.

Does anyone else appear on the mixtape?

Well, we have M.I.C, like they got some songs on there, like me and all of them. Tink, she on there with us. That's all.

The mixtape drops Wednesday. You've got a bunch of shows coming up. What's next after that?

I'm thinking all the way to my next mixtape after that. Hopefully I got more shows. I know I got a show in Canada; we planning that show. Basically, my grind—I'm gonna continue. My mixtape round three coming in January; that's gonna be super dope.

You seem to have a quick turnaround with your music; is it important to put out a lot of music in a short amount of time?

It's not. In my eyes it's not important to just throw stuff out, because I don't like givin' my audience and my fans too much at one time, that'd kind of confuse them. But we got a video droppin' with the mixtape on Halloween, and my next video I'll probably drop the end of next month just to give that video time, you know—get some views and get people to see that. It's not important to just drop everything at one time; I just make sure people see that I'm not falling off or I'm not done rappin'.

Earlier you mentioned that the drill scene is what people think of when they think of Chicago hip-hop. The way that scene has blown up, everyone sort of expects that sound, and you're trying to do something different. How do you balance all of that in a way that doesn't alienate your fans and keeps you in tune with who you are as a person and where you want to be as an artist?

I just stay away from talking about violence and promoting violence; I 100 percent disagree with that. I don't like being around violence or promote any kind of violence. I just talk real-life situations, because growing up I wasn't a violent young lady or surrounded by violence all the time. I grew up on the Low End, so it was violence, but I wasn't in it. So I just try to talk positive, do positive things, and just be real. Be real, like, no fake nothin'.

What was it like growing up on the Low End? You mentioned that there was violence, but apart from that how would you describe your childhood?

Growing up, my mother, she had kind of kept us inside, like indoors or close to her or close to home. So I wasn't really a street girl—like, I didn't see how the streets work, but I kind of knew it by some of my family members and what they was doing and what they went through. It was kind of good growing up, but I still saw how life works and how the streets was. But my mother kept us close to her so we wouldn't get into that.

Are you still close with your mom?

Yeah. I'm still like—they my biggest fans. Like my mother, and my sisters and my brothers, my daddy—they my biggest fans, supporters. They my friends; we real close.

If you didn't end up rapping, what would you have done?

I always been the type to be doing something. Like my mom call me the busybody of the family. I do hair—before I started rapping rapping I was doing hair, going to school, drawing. I always did little small creative things just to keep me busy, things that I like.

A lot of people place you as toward the top of this group of local female rappers. Is it important to express a sense of being female and feminine in your music? How do you feel about being described as a female rapper in addition to a rapper?

It feels kind of good for people to look at me as female rapper, 'cause it is a lot of females in Chicago, and I'm one of the top ones. It feels good because people actually get in tune with me, and a lot of people in tune with me. So I just gotta keep grinding to keep them people and get more, but it feel real good.

You are starting to perform a lot more; what can people coming to see you for the first time expect from your live show?

Expect for me to just turn up, smile a lot, just tune the audience in. I love interacting with my audience—I love it. People can expect for me to just bring them in, like, if they in a shell I'm gonna take them out and show that this who I am. I'm free when I'm on the stage—I'm free, I'm in my zone. I feel like I'm just on top of the world, like nothin' else matters but that stage and my crowd and my music.

Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.

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