Maryland-based rapper Asa Weeks is on a mission. With wisdom beyond his years, the rising talent journeys deep into the heart of his music in a conversation with Alchemical Records, sharing truths that will compel you to listen to his songs in a whole new light and leave you empowered in the process.
Learn about Asa Weeks’ early starts as a pastor’s kid, how a difficult season of mental health challenges propelled his music career forward, his unexpected encounter with a child that made him realize he is a role model, and the most important lesson he has learned about what it takes to be successful.
Music has been a constant for Asa Weeks. Growing up as a pastor’s kid, Weeks was surrounded by his family, many of whom performed with the University of Liberia Alumni Chorus, an ensemble whose music Weeks describes as “moving and gripping.”
It was there that Weeks first felt “goosebumps” and found himself “tear up” in direct response to music. “I realized that my relationship with God, the purest form of when I feel connected to the Source is when music is involved,” said Weeks.
During his sophomore or junior year of high school, Asa Weeks was inspired to write his first song. “We used to freestyle at lunchtime,” he shared. “I found this beat on YouTube; I wrote to it. It was good to me, and then I went to my friend’s house. I rapped it for them, and they went crazy. And that was just enough for me to continue to write.”
Weeks remembers learning songs by his early influences, including Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino, and rapping to himself in the bathroom mirror, imagining he was in a crowd of people.
“Now I’m actually doing shows. And now, I see myself doing festival stages – like seas of people. It’s kind of cool how a passion that I’ve always had since high school is now becoming, not even becoming, it is my life. It’s what I do now. It’s very cool to see an interest in something and the consistent effort of doing it has turned into an actual profession for me.”
This commitment to putting in the work is one of the defining attributes that gives Asa Weeks a competitive edge. Taking inspiration from his parents, as well as heavyweights Kevin Hart, DJ Khaled, Lupe Fiasco, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi, and “for who he is, all the extra-ness excluded” Kanye West, Asa Weeks realizes that following your dreams is not a passive effort.
Speaking of his influences, specifically DJ Khaled and Kevin Hart, Weeks notes, “They are very outspoken on, ‘Hey, you can do what you want to do, you can live the life you want to live, but you have to do the work for it.’ And celebrate and be proud that you’re putting in the work and that you’re getting these accolades and reaching these new steps.”
To keep himself focused on the bigger picture, Weeks created a powerful mantra, “(don’t let anyone) TAKE YOUR DREAMS!”, which you find attached to nearly every piece of his content.
“I wish I could give you some super profound story of the stars just aligned, but really, I was sitting down right at this table that I’m sitting at right now, and I just wrote it down on a receipt, like a scrap piece of paper, and I then looked at it and was like ‘whoa, that’s really cool.”
Weeks added that “(don’t let anyone) TAKE YOUR DREAMS!” is a double entendre.
“It’s the responsibility that you have to do the work to make your dreams happen. You have to be the person to go out and take your dreams, and then, in that pursuit while you’re going, don’t let anyone take that drive, don’t let anyone take the possibility of you being able to achieve all of those things.”
Earlier this summer, I had an opportunity to see Asa Weeks perform at Pearl Street Warehouse as the opening act for MLLN at the R&B vocalist’s album release show, which also featured pop artist LJR. Weeks filled the space with a dynamic energy that was invigorating.
In the days following the event, I tried to put my finger on exactly what was palpable during his performance, and I eventually identified it as joy personified. Asa Weeks has the ability to create music that makes people feel something.
“With me, my songs are about my experiences and what I’ve lived through, and there’s so much emotion behind it,” said Weeks. “I know that they’re good songs because I have people like you, I have people at the shows that tell me, ‘Yo, I love your music because it makes me feel x, y, z.’ And that is my biggest focus now with the new music I’m making. How do I want to feel? And how can I express that so that the listener feels that way?”
Weeks feels “incredibly blessed” to lead what he describes as a “joyous life” rooted in love. “One thing that I’ve known since I was really young is love and what love looks like from a family standpoint,” he shared.
“If you talk to any of my friends, we say ‘I love you’ all the time. That just shows within the music. I love what I do. Every single song that I’ve recorded up to date, I recorded with my friend that I met in math class in high school. We’ve always been two kids who love music who had just the perfect amount of tools to make a song sound good enough to be digestible for other people, and there’s joy in that whole process.”
During the times when he is not feeling upbeat, Weeks strives to remember that beauty can emerge from trying times. Case in point, it was COVID-19 that prompted Weeks to take music seriously.
“That was the first time I experienced anxiety and any type of depression,” said Weeks, referring to the pandemic. “These are words that I never used to say, but I realized as a human being, those aren’t detrimental words. Those are just actual things that we experience.”
“I felt really disconnected, but I had the time to make music. And I had such a compelling feeling, way more than I ever had in my life. During COVID, I felt a need to put out music, and when I did, it was such a freeing feeling, and the response was so provoking that it required me to keep going.”
Three years in, Asa Weeks says the one thing he prays for is to “be an inspiration” to those around him. Weeks, who is Liberian, cites his faith and strong sense of cultural heritage as crucial to knowing himself enough to be able to impact the people he meets, adding that when you are unaware of your history, “it’s so easy for your story to be written for you,” especially as a person of color.
Weeks recalls a chance encounter with a kid named Asher at a wedding. When Asher, who was accompanied by his father, had a moment to speak during the free-flowing group conversation following the ceremony, he said the weekend festivities taught him that life is about “being who you are and having fun in every moment,” adding, “I feel like that’s how Asa lives his life.”
If he were to give a piece of advice, Asa Weeks encourages fellow creatives to trust themselves and enjoy the journey. “On the other side of trusting yourself is self-doubt, and that’s where, I think, all of the creative blocks come from,” he said.
“That’s where writer’s block comes from; that’s where feeling stagnant and getting stale – even as an artist, depression can stem from not trusting in yourself creatively because then you start looking to other people to validate what you’re doing, and when you do that, the art loses its wholesome value.”
Reciting lyrics to his 2021 song “Distractions,” Weeks stressed the importance of being present in the journey while looking ahead to the future.
If you got what you say you want
Would you have everything you really need
“I think we’re always in a pursuit for bigger and better. And what is that thing, what is that milestone, what is that point in life that you want to hit? And I’ve heard multiple times, okay, now you’re the biggest artist in the world, you’ve toured the whole world, and you’ve hit the top, you’re charting number 1. Now what happens?”
“You have to give a lot of gratitude for where you’re at because you never know when things can change for you,” Weeks added. “And before you know it, you can be living a life that you said that you wanted, and now, you don’t have those things that you need in your life.”
With his clear sense of direction and well-rounded perspective, you better believe that the best is yet to come for Asa Weeks. Catch Weeks performing live on Aug. 26 at the inaugural Black Frederick Festival in Carroll Creek, Maryland.
Weeks is also working on a new project with the backing of his newly formed team (shout-outs to Slash, DJ Baspy, Benefactor Events, 24/7 Artists, and his close friends, better known as “home team”). Weeks notes that having the support of a team allows him to approach his music differently, which will be apparent in the final product.
When asked what he believes makes his music stand out within the saturated market, Weeks replied without hesitation, “My music represents who I am off of the stage, and who I am off of the stage represents the music when I’m on stage.”
“There is really no fluff when it comes to me. You get exactly who I am. You can meet me backstage at a show, you can meet me at a food market, you can meet me at a fashion show, or you can just see me on stage and be like, ‘Yo, who’s that?’ I think those different interactions, you’re not going to see a different person, you’re just going to see a different side of me. That authenticity and that connection to who I am, there’s so much value in that.”
“And then, I’m just really good at rapping,” Weeks laughed. “That is a great addition. Because at the end of the day, all the social media, everything, you take all that stuff away, and I can still rap very well.”
Cynthia Gross is a freelance writer and award-winning spiritual pop artist based in Maryland. With more than a decade of experience as an executive ghostwriter, she understands the power of each individual’s voice to create positive, meaningful change.
Flow-bending artist aSanTIS discusses art, culture, and whether sound can solve the world’s problems in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
My interview with Amy Santis aka aSanTIS began in the most unexpected way. The Maryland-based flow-bending artist and lyrical storyteller came prepared to engage in conversation around questions I had posed – and she also brought one or two of her own thoughtful prompts based on her curiosities around my view of learning.
This practice of taking in her surroundings deeply through observation and inquiry has come naturally to aSanTIS ever since she was a young child. In terms of her early starts in music, she notes that she began as a discerning listener. “Just listening to music from my mom, on the radio, just being a consumer in the world of sound. But I think mainly, my mom has always loved dancing and listening to music, so that was sort of like second nature. We play music at gatherings, we play music in the car, and these songs are sort of like diaries that take us into a specific place.”
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