My name is A'sista and I'm representing Chicago.
First off, where did the name come from? Does it represent being anonymous?
A'sista comes from me. It describes my position as an African-American female.
Yes, because it is a characteristic of every woman in general.
How did you get in to Hip Hop? Was it was all around you when you were growing up?
Yes it was all around me growing up. My Uncle got everyone in the family into Hip-hop… because when he came around he'd either pop in a tape or change the station to Hip-hop, so I'd always know who or what was hot because of him.
Can you tell us a bit about where you are from, that is the South Side of Chicago isn't it? Who are the other artists from around there?
Yes, I come from the South Side of Chicago.
Chicago has many talented artists, Common, Twista, and the Brat, just to name a few.
What would be the radio shows you would tune into?
Chicago has a host of radio stations. I never keep the dial on the same station, I'm constantly changing to make sure everyone is keeping up with what's going on.
I understand that you were in a rap crew for a number of years. Who was in your crew back then and how did you get together, would that have been at school?
My long life friend named CM was my partner. We grew up in the same neighborhood. We went all through school together.
When would it have been that you first stepped up and started participating in Hip-Hop, rather than just listening or spectating?
I was in the Fifth Grade when I really started..I started performing at family events.
Having experienced the music business and Hip Hop scene in Chicago, what do you think are the pros and cons of being based in a city that has not had much of a history in Hip Hop. What I mean is most of the focus there would have been on House and Dance music, whereas Hip Hop is much more prominent in New York. Is this fair?
No, I do not think that is fair. One of the pros is that Chicago has already had successful artist, as I mentioned earlier; however, most of them no longer reside in Chicago, which makes it difficult for us to get our props.
What do you tend to write about and what inspires you? Being a single mother, your child and the struggles that situation brings about must have given you plenty to talk about?
Life in general gives you plenty to write and talk about.
Who or what are your main influences?
My family are my main and most important influences.
Does being a woman in such a male oriented genre bother you? Has it meant you have to work harder to get over, or has it been a bonus - maybe because you would stand out from the other acts?
No, because it is a struggle for any woman regardless of your choice of careers.
Can you explain your style to us?
My style is as real as life. It is everything that I've felt, lived and breathed.
So now it has to be all about getting your 8 track mini Album out there?
I've had a very good response to the EP…. Radio embraced it very well…. I was surprised because I was someone they didn't know.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the tracks on your LP, what they are about?
The What if…. E.P. is me stepping out in the world telling my views. Some of the racks like "All I Want", "Promise Life" and "Her Last Prayer" are real life experiences.
You have been to promote your stuff throughout the Midwest and even Europe. What's the reaction like when you are live and what do you feel when doing live shows?
I love performing. It's the best part to me. I love the feedback and energy from the crowd.
And where about did you travel to in Europe?
We are in the process of planning a European tour at this moment.
How does it work with Power Play Entertainments, what do they do for you?
Power Play Management is my booking agents.
And Project X records? What made you link with them?
Project X Records is a very laid back environment. They give me the freedom of doing my music.
How do you feel you are positioned within the marketplace and is that through your wishes or with different circumstances, would you do it differently?
I wouldn't change a thing.
So we talked about your earlier crew. Who do you get down with now? There is Vincent Holbrook and Heathen on your CD, are there any other producers or MCs in your crew to look out for?
Definitely, others aren't just coming, they are here, and we have Organized Thoughts, Queb 'N Blacq, Tera, Wendy, Double A Run, G-Mack and more.
Who is handling your production? J-Dub has got a hand in there on the single, does he do all of it?
J-Dub from Top Secret, He does all my tracks. He is to me what Jimmy and Terry are to Janet.
Where can people pick up your stuff?
It was originally to be released Jan 4, 2003 but because of the bootlegging, we decided to redo and add more songs to the CD. So we are doing that now so we are looking at I think the new date is April 27th, my grandmother's birthday.
How do you view the Internet? Do you think it is a useful promotional tool and a good way of getting out there and breaking the strangle hold the major labels have on the marketplace?
I think the Internet is a very useful promotional tool. It helps you learn a lot about you as an artist, about your music and what needs to be fine-tuned.
Do you have any plans to get your own online presence?
Yes…I'm on the Project X Records site…. www.projectxrecords.com.
Apparently your CD was the most downloaded for a Midwest artist not yet nationally distributed or promoted. That must have given you a great deal of satisfaction?
It felt great…. to take a line from Sally Field "They liked me…They really liked me."
How do you feel, as an artist about distribution systems like KazaaLite that are out of your control and for which you don't get any money? Do you think that seeing as the free music genie is out of the bag it could create problems in the future for you as artists to get paid for your work?
As a consumer, I realize that not everyone can afford a $16 CD. I'm not out here trying to take all the money. I just want my fair share, but however my music gets to my fans, I'm down with it.
Hip-Hop is massive, how do you see Hip-Hop at present and the direction you see it going in?
I think Hip-Hop has been exploited, but that's just my perspective. I see it going back to being real.
Are you aware of any UK Hip Hop artists or records?
Yes, Sixty-Seventh Dynasty is tight. A lot of people overlook them, but I see talent.
What are your thoughts about the state of UK Hip Hop? Do you know why it is very hard for UK artists to get any exposure in the US?
It's hard period as an artist, because the major record labels has the industry tight, only looking for people who sound like someone else.
Do you have any advice for struggling artists in the UK?
Don't stop what you're doing, stay focused and don't change to fit in. Always do what's in your heart.
What is going to be keeping you busy over the next few months?
I'll be working on the CD and promotions.
What are your longer-term plans and objectives?
I'm working on publishing a book of poems, tentative title; My thoughts. Also I am writing some ideas for a movie I want to do.
What other artists would you most like to work with in the future, not necessarily Hip-Hop artists?
Prince, Mary J. Blige, Janet Jackson, Usher, there are a lot of people I hope to get a chance to work with.
What are the things that you like to do when you aren't living Hip Hop? Do you like sports or the Cinema? Or is being a mother enough?
Being a mother to my son. He is number one priority.
Is there anything else you would like to mention?
Just be on the look out for the entire Project X crew…. We're here and we're coming at you real.
Fit all your shout outs and thanks here:
Project X…get down or lay down.
Thank you very much for your time.