Published on February 20th, 2020 | by Percy Crawford0
Brooklyn Rapper Asoh Black Dares The Industry To Let Him In
Asoh Black dropping, “Black Ocean” on Friday!
Asoh Black! is a rising artist from Brooklyn and a founding member of Free.All.Mind$, a New York-based creative collective. Known for his diverse style, which sees him often infuse hip hop with elements of other genres like house or funk, and infectious lyricism, Asoh has racked up over 1 million streams on Spotify, been featured on prominent radio stations like Shade 45, and recently completed a college tour throughout the Northeast. Asoh is currently working on his debut studio project, “Black Ocean,” and recently received his master’s degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Scheduled to be released on February 21, 2020, “Black Ocean” is guaranteed to have fans falling in love again with his feel-good sound of fusing hip hop with other elements of music. This project showcases his skilled lyricism and ear-pleasing sounds, while also highlighting his electrifying energy and Brooklyn swagger. “Black Ocean” will undoubtedly solidify his place in hip hop and as one of the most unique musical stylings in the NYC rap scene.
During a recent conversation, the Brooklynite shares the meaning behind, “Black Ocean,” talks about receiving his master’s degree and warns other rappers.
What’s good, AB?
Asoh Black: The year has been treating me very well. I’m excited about the shit that’s coming. As you know I’m about to release my debut mixtape. I see the rate at which life happens to me. It’s like me not doing anything and blessings just falling into my lap. I see that rate increasing ten-fold once this shit drops. So, I’m excited as shit. Plus, we just went to LA, in the hills… not bad, you feel me. I’m chillin. I’m good.
Explain the title, “Black Ocean to us, my man.
Asoh Black: So, “Black Ocean” as you see, it’s season one being released on Friday. Now, I intend to make it a series installment. Now that means this is season one of four coming projects. Every individual season will have its own identity. But realistically, it won’t be truly grasped as to what that identity is relative to the series concept as a whole until the series is over. The pieces will ultimately come together when it’s done. When the puzzle is done. And me just being the type of artist that I am, I find great value in the anticipation of the artist. Not knowing what his next move is. I’m not going to lay everything out for you.
But I will tell you that, “Black Ocean” stems from… so, I just got my masters in, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. When I was in school, they were telling us how companies use innovation to gain competitive advantage in their industries, right. Ultimately, there is something called, Red Ocean. And that’s when an industry is so geared to a specific format. One spread of innovation worked, and it allowed one company to get a competitive advantage to where they are a leader in the market. Red Ocean is when everyone starts to follow that strategy and it becomes a formula and now the standard in the industry.
You put some thought into this.
Asoh Black: It’s not even done yet. So, Red Ocean is when companies get a strategy that works and it becomes the standard and the norm; sort of like how music is these days. One sound catches on and everybody follows it and now that’s the sound. But when a company deviates from that norm and innovates further, it’s what they call, Blue Ocean. The goal is to try to go for a, Blue Ocean strategy. Something that can truly give you some kind of differential. Something that can give you some type of leverage through your own individuality. This first project is something like the Red Ocean. I made a digestible project; not too long and not too short. Grant it, I’m always going to be different because that’s just the type of artist that I am. That’s the type of music that I offer. People are going to hear it and be like, “Oh wow, this is something that I can fuck with because it’s so different.” Now, that’s not to say that it’s industry standard, I just made it as industry as I possibly could.
Does it have any features on it?
Asoh Black: It has one big name feature on it. It has some very acceptable industry sounds. Even with that being the case, because I am who I am, it still doesn’t sound like other artists. It’s just me trying to if anything, fit in. Ultimately, the next project will be something that shows Blue Ocean. Something more geared towards myself and me deviating from what worked in Red Ocean and now building upon it further. That will be the second installment. Ideally, Red Ocean or season one, is something that will propel me into the industry. By the time season two comes out, I should have made a name for myself and that’s the point where I can move forward without relying on the market sound. Now, I will be accepted even more because, “Black Ocean Season One,” should have did what it did and I should just be able to have a fan base that is so loyal to whatever I put out. And then by the third season, I should be at a point to where, instead of me trying to chase a sound, or build a sound that the market kind of fucks with, now I am the sound. By the time season three comes out, I’m just going to be so on that whatever I drop niggas fuck with it because that is the sound now.
That’s actually a dope and very well thought out strategy.
Asoh Black: I really like concepts and albums that really teach you to be honest. Even if you bumping it and you’re not really learning anything from the lyrics or you don’t become wiser, just off of knowing where, “Black Ocean” deviated from, that educational aspect, will make you feel that my music is more than just sounds. Bro, my music is based off my life. It’s based off what I have experienced. That’s why all the sounds are different from each other. I’m never in a constant state of expression. I’m never always happy, or always sad, or always mad. So, my music is going to inherently fluctuate. But ultimately, it’s based off of what I’ve lived. If I’m in class and I’m learning something and I’m like, “Wow, this shit would be dope to be applied to a musical space,” that’s what I’m gonna do. I remember being a young ass kid and learning facts from a reference that J. Cole or Big Sean would use as a bar. Music can really make niggas smarter.
Do you feel like your music took a backseat when you were earning your master’s degree or were you able to find a balance?
Asoh Black: Not at all. I feel as though the mark of my will power and the mark of my abilities and determination for this shit was the fact that I was able to do both simultaneously. Music was always the plan A, but this is life, this is America, so you need a plan B. So, that was college. Now I have an educational background where I can take this shit wherever, including music. It was never like music or education because ultimately, I’m going to use my education for music. I didn’t approach like most people where you go to college for 4-years and you’re in this bubble and whatever happens before this doesn’t matter and whatever happens after this doesn’t matter because at the end of the day I’m trapped in this bubble. I approached college like, there is life after this. I’m not going to die after I graduate, so how can I be in class while learning how to use this information for when I’m out of class. I had plans on winning a Grammy, being on TV performing and shit. That wasn’t going to happen working some office job. I knew that I would do music regardless. It was just a matter of being so focused that I knew I could do this as well. Also, I pride myself on being multi-faceted and I just think that in America, you cannot be good at just one thing. You have to be very versatile. I have always looked at life like that. This isn’t a challenge; I was going to be doing this shit anyways.
You recently completed a college tour. What was that like?
Asoh Black: That shit was fire. Honestly, when I was in college, I was going to other colleges and sometimes missing classes if I’m being honest with you. But it was very fire, one, you’re in college performing at other colleges, so their automatically going to fuck with you because you’re speaking their language. Also, it allowed me to really connect with them. Anytime I was on stage telling them things and being truly honest with them and telling them, you have dreams you can do that shit, it’s more feasible when you see that, that’s a nigga that’s in your shoes literally living out his dreams as well. That was one of the biggest takeaways I took from touring college. And it was also just the wild bullshit (laughing). It’s one thing to be in college because that can be wild in itself, but to be a performing act in college, what? That was the shit.
You sent out a warning to other rappers to have it together by the end of the month or it’s too late. Is that the mentality you’re coming with?
Asoh Black: Listen, I dare the industry to let me in the fucking door. I dare them. I’m gonna be such a problem. I just have a lot of pride and hopes and goals. I’m trying to win Grammy’s; I’m trying to be doing live performances and be on Jimmy Fallon. I’m not trying to be in the music industry just because I had a sound that caught on. I’m not someone who will easily grow stagnant. So, if the industry fucks up and lets me in the door, I’m going to be a problem. These other rappers are not going to be able to keep up with me. I’m not in a lane like anyone else. There are a lot of rappers who want to be the best rapper and blah-blah-blah, I’m about to fuck a lot of dreams up is all I’m saying.
I can’t wait to hear your project, good luck with everything, man. I like your confidence. Is there anything else you want to add before I let you go?
Asoh Black: Check me out and follow me on Instagram and Twitter @asohblack. This Friday is the first time where we are putting a lot of time and resources behind the music. The music videos, the merch behind it, the concept and ideas behind the merch, we have a short film video that’s coming with the dropping, “Black Ocean” and I’m just excited. I want people to be able to acknowledge me as more than just the guy that writes the songs. I’m the brainpower behind this entire shit. Realistically, it’s not something you see every day.