When you think of Chicago, artists like Kanye West, Chief Keef, and Common come to mind to name a few. Although there’s a new generation leading the music hub in a different direction! One artist, in particular, that’s at the forefront of new rap phenomenons is Ausar.
Born and raised on Chicago’s Southside, his introduction to hip-hop came via his older brothers, who would often open his ears to new music and instrumentals. “I was only able to listen to gospel, but when my mom got married and my older stepbrothers were into rap music kind of heavy,” Ausar shares. His passion for the genre slowly developed into something he’d take seriously in college and fast forward today, Ausar has garnered mass support across the nation and tons of streams.
In 2020, Ausar shared his critically-acclaimed EP Flight of the Honeybee. “Take the concept of honey and how people love a product that bees make, but it’s taken from them, package, and used by a community that’s not them for profit,” he explains. The 5-track offering, which boasts features from Ro Marsalis and Aaron Deaux, is just a taste of what Ausar has in store for the future. This year, he’s put out two well-received singles “Paradise” and personal favorite “Homies,” which serve as great additions to Ausar’s catalog.
We had the chance to chop it up with Ausar in regards to growing up in Chicago, remaining grounded in the social media age, his single “Homies,” and more! Check it out below.
Walk me through your childhood, what was it like growing up and what are some moments that shaped who you are today?
I’ve been writing since I was a shorty. My older brother, Nick, was the one that got me into rap music. When I was younger, I was only able to listen to gospel, but when my mom got married and my older stepbrothers were into rap music kind of heavy. I remember sitting with my brother Nick, he would put me on to stuff and we would sit and listen to instrumentals. When we got bored, everybody would sit in the basement and write verses. I’m really competitive and plus I wanted to look cool, but that eventually went from I want to write really cool verses to I want to do this.
Chicago has birthed some of the biggest musicians in hip-hop today, what was your introduction to creating music?
The city is very multifaceted. One thing I’m grateful for is my upbringing is very balanced. My pops out in a suburb in Chicago called Madison and my mom stayed over on 57th and Constance. Even though I wasn’t out in the streets, you see a lot and hear a lot. It taught me to move with intention and be safe, be careful. I think on the opposite spectrum, being in the suburb showed me that there was a lot of opportunity in the city. It’s also one of the reasons that I feel comfortable meshing into any surrounding that I’m in so it comes second nature.
Towards the tail-end of 2020, you released your Flight of the Honeybee EP. What do you recall or remember the most about working on that project amid the pandemic?
It was basically using bees as a euphemism for marginalized groups of people. When you think of bees, a lot of people think of them as these creatures that string people without recognizing how much they do for us. You can also take the concept of honey and how people love a product that bees make, but it’s taken from them, package, and used by a community that’s not them for profit. Then you take that and compare it to Black culture, a lot of people who profit from it are not the ones that created it.
I know in the past you’ve worked with artists like Dende and Wyclef Jean—who are some of your dream collaborators?
Shoutout Wyclef and Dende! Andre 3000, Common, Kendrick Lamar, Lauryn Hill, Jazmine Sullivan, H.E.R, Lucky Daye. SZA would be amazing. Randomly, Travis Scott and I think Baby Keem is the future. I could go all day but those are my top picks.
Your latest single, “Homies,” is one of my favorite records from your catalog. Tell me a bit about the process of putting that together.
It’s crazy that everyone rocks with that joint the way they do because I made it on a whim at 2 AM but it came out really dope. The creative process was for two weeks straight, I would take any beat I saw on the Internet that I liked and loop it then rap to it. What’s crazy is I got positive responses from all of the producers that I did that too. This one in particular was actually from one of my homies, Gold Haze, he posted that joint and I was like yo, this is crazy!
“Homies” is about things I do for my people. At some point, my yield of return is going to be enough for me to do things for the people I love. It’s about keeping those people around and making sure they’re truly a part of everything I have going on.
In the Digital Age, it’s a lot easier for artists to go viral but it’s also easy to get lost in what other people are doing as well—how important is it for you to remain grounded?
It’s incredibly important. I think over the past two years, God has really shown me that. I’ve been working on an album for the past four-five years called David. One of the things in the bible, David wasn’t really looking to be king but he was chosen. His focus wasn’t on being at the forefront of attention and that really resonated with me because. As long as you do what you’re supposed to do, you have no way to not succeed.
In regards to your music, what type of impact do you want to leave on your listeners?
I want people to feel like they’re not alone. I want them to go away learning something, whether it be about themselves. I want to inspire change in some capacity, that’s the best way I can describe it.
If you enjoyed our interview with Ausar, check out our chat with Trauma Tone!