As part of the well-respected UK Rap outfit ‘Tactical Thinking’, Assa has toured the UK as well as supporting Pharaoh Monch at The Jazz Café in Camden in London, and featured heavily on the Tactical Thinking album "Too Broke To Go Solo", was given ‘album of the week’ and a ‘5/5 money shot award’ in DJ Magazine. Tricksta hooked up with him to get the latest…
When did you start making music and was there a person or artist that inspired you to start writing songs and hit the studio?
I started out listening to Busta, Nas, Biggie, Tupac, the Wu, usual suspects really. It was my mate Jay Madden that inspired me to start taking it seriously. He was killing it at like 14 years old, I was just penning any old bullshit, Madden was on some next shit, made me wanna tighten up my lyrics and flow. You can hear Jay Madden featuring on my album; He’s the one that sounds like he is on helium.
Let’s talk about your latest project, its sounding really tight. Who features on it, who dealt with the production and how long did it take to make?
My album EVERDAY USER has been in progress now for longer than I care to imagine, we’re talking years. Every time I go full steam ahead with its release summat gets in its way, life usually. I have a young family and a full time job, sometimes trying to please everybody is hard, I wouldn’t have it any other way but my album should have been released two years ago. The album is mainly produced by NAIVE with guest production from PETE CANNON, MCS on the album include DR SYNTAX, LEAFY, TENCHOO, LEGO, DEADLINE, JAY MADDEN, DEROGATORY, and the snicker salesman himself BVA.I am also working on a free mixtape with my dj DEROGATORY (Surreal Knowledge) called THE HIGH HORSE OF MATURITY, got bare features on there and guest beats from PETE CANNON, ILLINFORMED, NIAVE and more.This year you can also catch me featuring on the following artists albums. LEAFYS, DEADLINE AND PETE CANNONS, THE SLEAZES, ANTIDOTE AND PRO P’S, CHRIS LEESES, THE HEAVIEST HOOKUPS MIXTAPE, THE HIGH HORSE OF MATURITY MIXTAPE, BENNY E. PORK SCRATCHINGS MIXTAPE and of course EVERYDAY USER!
How would you describe the music that you make? I know it’s hard to compare yourself to other artists and styles, but what kind of vibe is your music on?
Errrr fuck knows man, my styles all over the place, rarely follows any kind of normality. I piss producers off trying to cram words in to each bar, Derogatory’s like “take the word ‘bitch’ out or, loose the ‘fuck you’ on the end”, then I’m like……… “Na it fits…. trust.” Like you said though…it is hard to talk about your style without coming across as pretentious.
What do you enjoy the most about the whole process of recording and writing music? Is there something that you absolutely love and is there anything that maybe you don’t like doing as much?
I used to write rhymes in my head, where ever I went, what ever I saw or heard would get turned in to rhymes, these days I don’t think about hip hop all day, I have other things going on in my life, I have to treat it like work. I’ll sit down, flick through beats, come up with a concept and spend a few hours concentrating on one track; admittedly it’s not as fun as it used to be. Treating it like a second job helps me to keep every plate spinning. I still love getting in the studio and bouncing ideas around, we have a pretty good working relationship, if something doesn’t sound right then it gets axed, it’s all about quality control, sound like derogatory now.
Are you releasing your music on your own label or do you have a team that is aiming to help you get signed to a major?
The plan is to release the album through Tactical Thinking Entertainment (our own label) DEC 2ND, although I am currently in talks with an up and coming underground label, basically I’m exploring all possibilities. It will be out this year though, no fucking about any more, even if I have to do it my self on a shoe string.
How are you getting your project out there? Do you have a distributor involved or maybe some shops/websites stocking & supporting your music?
I have been working with a film company from Manchester called ‘Manchester, Lights, media’ we have filmed 5, 3 minute promo videos for my new you tube channel ASSATV, which will be launched early Aug 2011. You will be able to get the album on bandcamp, iTunes and through Suspect Packages.
Getting radio play can be hard for unsigned Hip-Hop artists, but have you had any radio play and if so what DJ’s and stations have supported you?
I sent an early draught of the album to Disorda from SUSPECT PACKAGES/RADIO over a year ago and the response was next level, I’m hoping this time round he’s feeling the album just as much and will give me a push in terms of air play, and an maybe a slot on his show.
Do you enjoy playing live? Have you done many gigs and what kind of artists have you supported or played alongside?
Love playing live, hate travelling, hate sleeping on some ones floor, hating being out of pocket when I’ve been promised expenses, hate being away from my family, hate turning up to mic check to find that they aint even set the bastard decks up yet, but yeah I love playing live (uk hip hops great innit). Back in the day with my old crew Primitive form we did get to play alongside Rahzel, DJ Premier, Klashnekoff, and Skinny man and more recently with Tactical Thinking we supported Pharaoh Monch at the jazz café Camden. (The sound guy there is actually a sound guy, or is he?)
Let’s talk image and branding for a minute. Some artists spend lots of money on artwork and other acts aren’t that interested. How important is image, artwork and branding to you?
It’s very important that’s why I’m keen to get all graphics and album artwork finished ASAP. It’s imperative that your audience have a focal reference for everything you do. Brand awareness is massively important, it gives your listener expectancy….just read that back made me sound well clever and shit, basically I hope when people see the Tactical Thinking logo they know it’s going to bang!
What was the last album you brought and apart from Hip-Hop what other genres of music do you listen too?
Mate the last album I bought was probably the Art of story telling Slick Rick about 10 years ago, I don’t even download music, I take my hard drive round to Derogatory’s gaff and have him load it with shit that he’s listening to, and he’ll sneak some curb your enthusiasm on there as well….. I do like other genres of music though; I listen to smooth FM while I’m tidying up innit.
Have you got any videos on You Tube and have any ever got played on TV Stations?
Yeah got my debut music vid on YouTube. It’s called ’32 bars’ and it’s taken from my album which you can see at this direct link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drxBBAFZtAA. Also AssaTV has been set up but hasn’t been promoted or officially launched yet, I have been working with ‘Manchester, lights, media’, a Manchester based film and lighting company, the guy there, Phil, did me a great deal, anybody wanting promo vid/music vids should give him a shout (
). Nothing has been shown on TV though, I was on Hollyoaks once, I played a Spanish waiter… true story, not Hollyoaks, that’s would be insane.
So what does the future hold for you as an artist? Have you got any big plans that you can tell us about before you go?
Well I’m going to see what the response from my album is and take it from there fella…can’t plan too far ahead when ya got mouths to feed. I hoping that the RLD (real life drama) project gets off the ground eventually, cos if it does its going to bum fuck out of the scene……its basically, me, Leafy, Dirty Dike, Jam Baxtor, kid Genius, Bva and maybe a few more heads by the time it gets going….proper looking forward to that! Just quickly I wanna shout Naive, who’s been super helpful in getting my album ready on time.
Any who cheers for quizzing me on me and my shit peace to you and yours…
ALBUM OUT 2ND DEC 2011 MAKE SURE YOU GO ROBO-COP THAT SHIT!!
Interview by Tricksta