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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Hip-Hop artist, AK (Austin Kassabian)

I know I have a responsibility as an artist to shed light on what I feel needs to be heard.

New Jersey born Hip-Hop artist, AK (Austin Kassabian), has firmly planted his feet in the Hip-Hop world with his uncanny lyrical abilities and unique sound. The razor-tongued rapper continues to make waves in the industry and is taking a stand in support of the BLM Movement with his latest single “Silence is Violence”. The single and its’ accompanying music video serve as an anthem for change and encourages listeners to speak out against racism and police brutality. AK’s incredibly descriptive lyrics paint a very clear picture of the violence happening across America today. AK is taking a stand by specifically calling attention to the police brutality in our country and actively supporting the BLM Movement. This record serves as an anthem for the state of our nation today and a cry for change during this pivotal election year. AK is using his music to promote change in the industry, and the world, by setting a strong example of what it looks like to be an ally. AK is taking a stand against the violence by refusing to stay silent.

“This song is about understanding the value of every life that walks on earth and how Black people are mistreated simply because of the color of their skin and the stereotypes people hold against them.” — AK on his newest single, ‘SILENCE IS VIOLENCE’.

 

“Silence is Violence” follows AK’s latest music video release “Family Tree” which uses DeepFake technology to explore the evolution of Hip-Hop by acknowledging the iconic artists that have changed the history of the genre. Throughout the song, AK’s face digitally transforms into many different Hip Hop artists whose groundbreaking talent has made Hip-Hop flourish into what it is today. AK digitally morphs into Hip-Hop Legends like Lil Wayne, Eminem, Drake, Missy Elliot, Snoop Dogg and other icons as he pays homage to Hip-Hop influences in his “Family Tree” music video. The self-produced single serves to show AK’s deep appreciation for the genre, craft, and those that have come before him.

 

While influenced by the Hip-Hop heroes of the past and present, AK has undoubtedly carved out a space of his own, representing the future of Hip-Hop. The 20-year-old artist from South Brunswick, NJ quickly took the internet by storm after writing and releasing remixed freestyle covers on YouTube, starting with his Desiigner’s “Panda” (40-Million Views). With 1.6-Million subscribers and well over 160-Million views on his own YouTube channel, AK has since released several original singles and successfully launched his music career.

 

AK’s music has graced top charts both in the U.S. and internationally amongst iTunes, Spotify, YouTube Music and SoundCloud. His single “Now I’m Forever” landed at #1 on the U.S. iTunes Hip Hop Charts. This past year, AK released his much-anticipated EP, “On Me”, accompanied by top-quality music videos for each single. His other recent releases have included “Top of the World” (as heard on ESPN’s First Take and E Sports League Poland), the fan-favorite “Like I Got It” (with over 4-Million views), and “Broken” which perfectly portrays his masterful vocal ability.

 

AK’s music blends Hip-Hop and R&B genres in a way that highlights his versatility as an artist. With each music release continually bigger than the last, it goes to show that AK is the next big thing in Hip-Hop.

Hello AK! What first got you into music? What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?

AK: I’ve always had a love for music, but I never started making my own until 8th/9th grade. If I wasn’t doing music right now, I would probably be getting ready to graduate college this year.

 

 

You’ve taken the internet by storm after writing and releasing remixed freestyle covers on YouTube, starting with Desiigner’s “Panda” (40-Million Views). How did this success influence your career?

AK: This video is the one that brought eyes to my music initially. I found my manager from that video and together he and I have been working hard on continuing the growth and success of my career. Super blessed for the journey I’ve been on so far.

 

What is your creative process like?

AK: My creative process is always different. There are times I write a song using no beat and when I’m finished I’ll find the beat that fits the lyrics I wrote. Or sometimes, I write lyrics to the beat I have picked out already. Or I’ll write at the same time as I, or the producer I’m working with, work on getting the beat to where I want it. It all depends on the vibe of the session.

 

Have you managed to make any new discoveries as the time passed during your creative process? Do you think that at some point in that process your writing approach changed much?

AK: I’ve gotten much better at producing since quarantine started. I made sure to focus a lot of my time on it specifically, because I already had a good idea on how to do it, so I wanted to now experiment and grow my own sound within it. I’m so glad I dove into production, I love it.

 

 

I really loved your song “FAMILY TREE”. Can you tell me more about it? What’s it about?

AK: Family Tree is about acknowledging the impact/influence that those who came before you brought to the genre and appreciating the road they paved for you. Influence is passed down from generation to generation especially in Hip-Hop. We are a product of each other, so it’s important to recognize who paved the way and appreciate the new that follows.

 

Your latest single “Silence is Violence” has some powerful messages, and it’s an amazing video. How did you get inspired to write it?

AK: I’m sure you and anyone else reading this has seen some of the horrific things happening towards people of color in America… And I know I have a responsibility as an artist to shed light on what I feel needs to be heard. The world needs more love and unity.

 

Where do you think the music industry is going?

AK: I honestly love the direction music is going. It’s becoming easier to do for people and with technology and being able to showcase your talents and build your own empire from a bedroom is something I view as a huge positive. The music itself feels very free as well, a lot of genre meshing is accepted and I love what artists like MGK are doing with fusing rock with rap.

 

What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?

AK: Honestly, I’ve had a few run-ins with police but the story I mentioned in Silence Is Violence is the most bizarre type of encounter with me getting into trouble.

 

What advice or philosophy might you impart to other musicians, be it in forms of creativity, technical stuff, the business side of it, or anything else?

AK: Do this the way YOU want to. The industry is changing so much there are a lot of people still trying to adjust and adapt to it. So, figure out the route you want to go, there is no right or wrong way.

 

What are you working on right now?

AK: I’m working on a project. That’s all I’m saying haha

 

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

AK: I honestly don’t know exactly. I just know I’m always gonna be working towards putting myself and my family on. We gon be aight in 5 years I know that.

Make sure to follow AK’s social media pages:

Music: YouTube | Spotify | Apple Music

Social Media: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Thank you HipHopStage team!

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Written by Emily

Emily is currently finishing her studies in journalism and popular media abroad in the School of Media studies in Tel Aviv. In free time she writes for several popular magazines and loves hip hop culture very much.

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