Aziza Love and her guitar take us on an adventure to find self-love on her debut solo album, Bare Soul. Drawing the listener in with power-punching intro, “Fake Friends,” all the way through the vulnerable “It Girl,” to the blues-tinged “Smooth Criminal,” Aziza takes each step of the way to create a space for herself—and us—as we marvel in awe at her journey.
“This whole album is me holding space for myself, for my healing,” she tells AudioFemme. Bare Soul took a year to create, with some of the songs written up to five years ago, and now that it’s out, Love can exhale a breath of relief. “I’ve put a lot of heart and soul and energy into music, in general,” she says. “I’ve experienced a lot of trauma in the past years and art and self-expression is the way I like to heal.”
Forming an album born out of hardship creates the incredible ability to shed light, offer love, and pave an inspiring path for others to follow. It is, however, not an easy task.
“It’s been a very over-stimulating process and a vulnerable process to have everybody getting a look at my bare soul,” says Aziza. “Some songs are more relevant now than I thought they’d be. Some songs I’ve healed a great amount through. I’ve been very honest with myself in where I am in my healing process, whereas before I hadn’t been, because I wasn’t speaking my truth.”
Although it wasn’t initially intentional, the Chase Watkins-produced record guides the listener through Aziza’s path of healing, as she confronts friendships, insecurities, addiction, relationship expectations, and love.
“In ‘Fake Friends,’ ‘It Girl,’ [and] ‘True Love,’ I’m seeing that the people around me—we aren’t on the same page. I’ve been hurt by x amount of people, I’ve internalized it, and now I have to realize that I’m worth it,” she explains. “’Remedy’ is me coping with alcoholism. And then going into the ‘True Love Reprise,’ it’s me asking what is meant to be, and what is truth?”
The album was recorded in a warehouse—while Aziza had a slight cold—which added an extra texture of transparency and rawness. She’ll follow up the project with a release event in Cincinnati next month.
Realizing the importance of self-expression and healing, the conversation turned toward the late Juice WRLD. The 21-year-old artist passed away last week after suffering a seizure, ending a long-fought battle with drug addiction and depression.
“This album—one—is to hold space for myself and—two—to really encourage everyone to speak their truth. It is liberating,” Aziza says. “And not just to speak it, but allow it to manifest into something beautiful. I think if we all really take the time to actually listen to each other and feel each other, we’ll have so much more compassion.”
Following up her debut solo EP, Views From The Cut, Aziza Love will release her debut solo album, Bare Soul, later this month.
“Over these years I’ve watched myself choose everything and everyone else first… from people I’ve worked with, intimate relationships, family, friends, lovers,” the former TRIIIBE songstress wrote in an Instagram post announcing the upcoming project. “I lost myself in the search for their happiness. Lost myself in the promises of reciprocity. No more.”
Along with the album’s cover art and release date, Aziza has also shared Bare Soul‘s tracklist. The 10-song album, which is expected to drop on Friday, December 13, will include her previously released song “Smooth Criminal.”
“Bare Soul is a call to action, a reminder to be authentic… Bare Soul is me,” Aziza wrote in another post, calling the project a “declaration of heart thoughts” and her “story, raw and uninhibited.”
Aziza has previously teased snippets of “Baby Steps” via Instagram, which will also land on the upcoming album. Former collaborator Josh Jessen is featured in the record on “True Love,” which was used in Aziza’s short film, Phoenix Rising: Ashes To Ashes.
“Without any formal background in filmmaking, but a relentless need to express my experience, I took on the challenge to learn how to navigate Adobe software to make my visions come to life,” she wrote of the visual on YouTube. “My hope is to create space for black and brown members of the LGBTQA+ community to express genuine emotion, express love, to dance and smile and frown and be free and angry and joyful all in a beautiful way.”
The announcement of the album follows Aziza’s short film and her appearance in standout track “Anytime,” from earlier this year.
Oski Isaiah finished out a busy July with the release of his highly-anticipated new album, Fuck A Job. The 10-track LP features assists from Aziza Love on “Anytime,” Monty C. Benjamin on “Over” and Jus Clay on “Business.” Fuck A Job follows up Oski’s 2018 album, Adventure 2, and a compilation music video released just two weeks ago. Filmed by Dre Shot This, the three-part visual bridges Adventure 2 cut, “Mob,” Fuck A Job highlight, “Apply,” and an unreleased track, “Mention Me,” that comes from a mysterious future project.
Fuck A Job is produced completely by Autumn Jivenchy, who provides hard-hitting beats that bring enough energy to match Oski’s lively tempo, yet remain stripped-down enough to let his vocals shine. Oski’s bars take the listener on a journey through hardship and success and shine a light on themes of support and believing in yourself.
“It was rough end of 2018. I feel like I lost everything. I nearly folded,” the Ohio rapper wrote on Instagram. “Having to be strong. Mentally and physically changing. I felt like a failure. It hurt to exist, I didn’t want to. In those moments, at my lowest, I remembered who I am. I started to understand my purpose. I’m here to promote loyalty, prosperity, love and mental health. I’ve done that with all my music.”
After thanking everyone who contributed to his album, he wrote, “I’ve been able to make Fuck A Job my best album yet.”
With three very active members in Cincy’s hip-hop community, TRIIIBE always has a lot going on. Aziza Love recently dropped her solo effort Views From The Cut EP, Siri Imani is gearing up to release her debut solo project Therapy project next month, and as a trio they’ve not only been working on new music, but also developing community outreach projects, and credit Cincinnati for stepping up and following them on their musical and philanthropic journey.
After their Bunbury Music Festival set on June 2, members Siri Imani, PXVCE, and Aziza Love opened up about spreading positivity on stage, their individual and group growth, their next album arriving this fall, details on their youth and homeless outreach programs, and the important of investing in their community.
AF: Your set was awesome, really great energy. Siri, I know you have a solo project coming out soon, can you tell me a little bit about it?
Siri: Yeah, it’s called Therapy. It releases on July 19. It definitely just goes into a journey of my life, not only this year, but just everything I’ve been through.
AF: And since it’s your debut solo, how has that been different from your usual group recording?
Siri: It is different. Not too different, because PXVCE is producing pretty much every beat that’s on the project, so it still has the TRIIIBE feel. It has the same vibe and message, but it’s more personal and it’s more specific. Therapy goes into five points and it’s the five stages of healing from PTSD and it goes into different parts of my life that reflect those different stages, leading into the transition of a healthier life and healing.
AF: At your set today, you had everybody repeat: “I love me.” You said, “You are worthy.” You implement that positivity not only into your music, but also in your stage presence. Why are those messages important to you?
Aziza: I feel like healing is its own vibration. Music carries and supports that vibration when we all come together to speak our truths. I think that, in itself, creates the opportunity for community healing. So our music, not only when we perform live, but when we’re in the studio among ourselves performing, we open that space for clear communication and raw expression and that, in itself, can be a release, which supports a healthier state of mind, spirit, and being. So joining with people we’ve never met before in that same space, to invite them to do the same thing, I think is really powerful.
PXVCE: It’s a healing process. It’s a transfer of energy. We are able to get to know the audience [and] the audience is able to get to know us, in a very small amount of time, and it’s a lot of our first impressions for a lot of people, so in order for us to relay our message I think it’s powerful to have it received so easily. Words are very powerful; vibrations are very powerful. With us saying, ‘We love you, we love ourselves,’ I think it is very healing.
AF: Siri, you’ve got a solo project coming out. Aziza, you just released your Views From The Cut EP. Is TRIIIBE recording anything together at the moment?
Siri: Oh yeah. Our last album came out on 10/10, our next album comes out 10/10.
PXVCE: We’re about to make it like a ceremonial thing.
AF: What stage is the project in?
Aziza: We’re in a transformative stage because it’s a mixture of writing, recording, reconnecting. We’re setting our focus to our philanthropic side and all that we do. Especially seeing all what’s been happening in Dayton right now, reconfiguring in general with one how we’re operating in Cincinnati and how we’re operating elsewhere and how we can help on a more grand scale. We’re in a transformative state in our music because it reflects our work in the community as well.
Siri: It reflects the project. III Am What III Am was last year. That was us literally showing who we were. III Am What III Wanna Be is showing what we want to be, that’s musically, physically, in reality and all. It’s all a process and we’re playing with different styles. We all bring different things to the table and us figuring out how to leverage that is the key toward III Am What III Wanna Be.
AF: What philanthropic projects are you currently working on?
Siri: Potluck For The People is for people experiencing displacement, homelessness, and that’s every final Sunday from 12 to 5 [p.m.] and Raising The Barz is every first and third Thursday at the public library. That is an Intro To Hip Hop class for the youth, we’ve got as young as 6-year-olds and as old as 30. We invite local artists and local students to help themselves get better with hip hop or any craft they want to work with.
AF: Most Cincinnati artists I’ve spoken with credit you to bringing togetherness and acceptance in the hip hop scene here.
Aziza: That’s so beautiful.
AF: Do you guys feel a little bit of pressure with that recognition or has this just been your natural progression?
Siri: We curate spaces, but we can curate a space and nobody shows up. The people genuinely wanted to connect and taking the time to do it makes this work. Without anybody supporting, we’d just be three people trying to do something. This is something that the city wants and the city made it happen and it’s not just the credit to us, it’s never just the credit to us. That’s the whole point of TRIIIBE, it’s understanding that we are doing this. It’s one big machine and without any of us playing our part it wouldn’t work out.
PXVCE: When you look at Atlanta or Chicago, who have huge underground scenes, many people can become catalysts for some of those movements, but to take the credit completely, it just doesn’t make sense because if not everyone is participating then you can’t even say that.
AF: It’s a give and take.
Aziza: It’s a unified decision to make change.
Siri: I’m definitely proud to be one of the holders of the idea… but the city and the people are the catalysts of it.
Aziza: We’re not the first. And we’re not the last.
Aziza Love, one-third of Cincinnati hip hop group TRIIIBE, released her debut solo project, Views From The Cut, earlier this month. Aziza gracefully balance rapping, singing, and spoken word – a style she’s honed in her previous work with the group. Although brief, the four-song EP powerfully reverberates self-worth and makes an impact as an artistic extension of the activist, singer, and TRIIIBE member herself.
“Phoenix Rising” launches the EP off to a bold start with Aziza manifesting her own self-worth and demanding that other women do the same. “You a bad bitch and you’re beautiful / You are much more than usual / Don’t you dare wait ’til your funeral / To give ’em all a reason to acknowedge / That your essence is a blessing / Girl, you better see it as a lesson,” she sings.
Chase Watkins’ production really gets going on the next song, “Spiritus Scronk,” featuring Josh Jessen, and Aziza plays with different vocal tones, pitches and singing styles. But her energy truly peaks in the Devin Burgess-mixed “Shemix” of Cardi B’s “Backing It Up.” Aziza raps non-stop and claims ownership of her sexuality and attitude in the new empowering remix of the already catchy single. She bounces effortlessly along the jingling beat with words of fully-realized confidence and self-worth.
The overall lyrical content of the project contains an important lesson. While TRIIIBE is known for their charitable actions and giving back to their community, Views From The Cut‘s themes of reflection and self-love show that to invest in each other we must also invest in ourselves. Outward love and compassion are themes TRIIIBE commonly portrays in their music, but with Aziza’s solo project, we see that glimpsing inward and owning one’s independent process and worth is equally important.
TRIIIBE will be performing at Bunbury next month and Aziza says visuals for Views From The Cut are coming soon.
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