Asiahn, industry pro, is a queer R&B star marking her own path

·4 min read
Asiahn
Asiahn

Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.

If you got plans can you change it…” It’s time to properly meet Asiahn.

You might not instantly recognize Asiahn’s (pronounced “ahh-zee-yahn”) name, but you probably know her work: The singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist, who was born in New Jersey and raised in South Carolina, has penned a bunch of tracks for our favorite pop stars like Jennifer Lopez (“Booty”) and Miley Cyrus (“Hands in the Air”), and she’s even worked with hip-hop staples like The Game (“Gang Related”) and Dr. Dre on “Just Another Day” from his 2015 album Compton, earning her one of her three total Grammy nominations.

But for plenty of high-profile songwriters — from Keri Hilson to Bonnie McKee to Julia Michaels — it isn’t fulfilling enough to just write for others. Some songs are simply too personal to give away, and this talented songstress clearly has way too much personality to keep it hidden behind the scenes. Asiahn considers herself an open book, professing herself as a “chocolate, melanated, Black Girl Magic, lesbian, nerd and anime aficionado” in an interview.

It wasn’t until a couple years ago that Asiahn decided to properly step out on her own as an artist in her own right with her 2017 EP Love Train, before following it up with her 2019 debut album Love Train 2. If you’re looking for some sleek and vibey R&B music dressed up with the right kind of 21st century production to hold your attention, then Asiahn is your girl. Her catalog proves she not only has the vocal chops but also the songwriting know-how to keep you coming back for repeated listens.

Fast-forward to a newly inked label deal with Motown Records / Since the 80s, and that brings us to 2020 and the beginning of Asiahn’s brand new big chapter.

Gucci Frames,” our first taste of what’s to come from this new chapter, kicked things off back in September. The track finds her incorporating some dramatic and impressive opera-esque energy to moody late-night R&B beats and atmospheric electronica.

With its title serving as a metaphorical reference to setting boundaries, the two-minute banger challenges us to look back on the people we’ve all left behind, the friends whose toxicity dragged us down, the ones who always want to be there for our highs but never feel like staying for our lows. “Like, no, you weren’t a great friend to me before, so I don’t want you to be a great friend to me now,” Asiahn said in a statement about the song. “This is me saying: I’m so sorry, I can’t see you with my Gucci frames on!”

And while “Gucci Frames” is surely a much-needed vibe on its own, Asiahn already has a new song out called “Get Away,” and it’s undeniably a show-stopper.

Sometimes, the beauty of a song lies in its simplicity, and that’s just what’s happening here: Fluttering harps and warm, enchanting atmospherics gently floating in the distance effortlessly set the tone for the song’s welcome escapism as she dreams of better days in the arms of a lover.

“The inspiration for the song came from the frustration with what’s going on in the world today and wanting to get away to just exist. In my mind I wanted to create a song that felt like the experience of being free,” Asiahn stated about its consumption. 

Fittingly, the track’s visual places Asiahn in a dreamy dessert with her special someone, living out that message in true bliss. “We’re over sexualized, overused and most of the time unrealistic in what we look like. I wanted to show a goddess-like depiction of two females in love,” Asiahn added in her statement. “Not overly sexual, but sensual, powerful and feminine. The concept circles around the belief that beautiful things can grow in the most unexpected places.”

There’s no risk in getting on board with Asiahn: She’s a sure thing, and she’s only continuing to prove herself as one of R&B’s most exciting new talents.

If you enjoyed this article, check out Jon Ali’s recent spotlight on TikTok star turned bilingual pop star, Alaina Castillo!

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