Rising artist: South Side’s Sasha Go Hard

When I called up Sasha Go Hard at 9 a.m. CDT on a Wednesday morning, I had a bad feeling. Not only because this was way too early for me, but also because Sasha was in LA, preparing for her appearance in a few days at Diplo’s Mad Decent Block Party tour. This meant she would be waking up before 7 a.m. PST time, which I assume is bedtime for many musicians. Luckily, Sasha is a morning person.

A native to Chicago’s South Side, Sasha has been rapping for some time, but it took her a while to realize she had true talent. It was only after a nudge in the right direction from friends that she decided to pursue rhyming in a studio instead of cellphone voice recordings. To do that, she solicited help from a man who came to embody the Chicago rap scene in the last year, Chief Keef.

“I hit him up because I needed a studio to go to,” she said. “I had never been in a studio before, but after that I started waking up, every day, all day and just working.”

Before long, her name was being mentioned alongside Keef and others as the face of the nascent drill scene in Chicago, the moniker bestowed by music writers onto the sound coming out of the South Side. Sasha takes drill to new heights, however, with biting wordplay and a vicious verbal onslaught that replaces the sing-song hooks that made Keef famous. On her most recent mix tape, “Nutty World,” she proves to have come a long way from reciting raps to her phone. On “Rondo” she sounds primed to explode, her words charged with vitriol and charisma. Another track, entitled “Spaz Out,” features strippeddown production that leaves Sasha free to flex her lyrical muscles. Her vocals are an effortless slalom, weaving through the beat and booming bass.

With all this accounted for, one might think Sasha to be an intimidating force and not someone to mess with, so you can understand my reluctance to call her at 7 a.m. to ask boring questions about her music. On the contrary, she was genuinely kind, almost soft-spoken, and excited to talk about her career. She has a keen fashion sense as well, which is almost essential for any rapper these days. In her music videos, she often sports unique outfits that she tries to cater to the particular sound of the song.

“When I get ready for a video shoot, [I consider] the kind of song I’m doing that’s the outfit I aim for,” she said. “I’ve got some pretty weird stuff though.”

Tony Roche, who produced “Rondo” and will DJ all of Sasha’s Mad Decent Tour shows, also can be seen in several of her videos getting loose along with Sasha and her friends. When contacted by phone, he recounted a performance from a previous show in Atlanta, which he described as a “crazy experience.”

“There were quite a few people; it was one of the biggest shows we’ve played,” Roche said. “And it was a different crowd too, which is good. It always helps to play for as many people and as diverse a crowd as you can.”

Sasha spoke well of Roche not only as a producer, but as a personality on stage as well.

“Me and Tony, we do damage when we get together,” she said. “It’s fun working with him – at shows he’ll jump in the crowd and everything.”

Between the two of them, Sasha and Tony have a lot on their plate the next few months. Sasha already has performances scheduled for London and Paris. Along with those dates, Roche also elaborated on other projects he’s working on, including tracks for other up-and-coming Chicago artists like Lucki Eck$ and BJ the Chicago Kid. Other than that, Sasha plans on living up to her name and continuing to make the most of her early success.

“Sasha Go Hard is who I am as far as being an artist,” she explained. “At the end of the day, it just fits me.