We Saw This: Sasha Go Hard
In the staging area outside of the downstairs room at Santos Party House on Thursday night, Sasha Go Hard’s brother was asleep on her shoulder. Video director and producer DGainz was slouched over on the couch to her right, eyes closed, with his arm over his head to block out the thumping bass from Le1f’s set. Sasha silently paged through her Twitter timeline on her phone with her sunglasses on even though there were only dim black and red lights in the room. Le1f finished his performance, and the DJ played a noticeably quieter Riff Raff song (this may be the only time in human history that Riff Raff has seemed noticeably quieter than anything). From the looks of it, you would’ve assumed Sasha Go Hard’s first show in New York was already over.
Then, the all-too-familiar keys of Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” came through the speakers and that cute kid voice reminded us for what felt like the thousandth time that Young Chop is on the beat. Everyone in the entourage slowly rose to their feet, and Sasha took her place at the front. Her manager tried to hype her up, thinking that she was tired from the day’s press whirlwind. She said, “don’t worry, I’ll turn up once I’m out there.” The double doors that lead into the room swung open, and suddenly Keef’s voice and Young Chop’s rolling snares seemed twenty times louder. I followed Sasha and her entourage through a small sea of people and strobe lights as they made their way to the stage. The largely female audience lurched forward as Sasha and her brother (who also served as hypeman) climbed onstage. They slowly started to rock back and forth to the music as “I Don’t Like” closed out, and it was weirdly hypnotic–it made you want to join in. The crowd started to rock back and forth too, and she launched into “Why They Mad.”
At 20, Sasha Go Hard has already mastered the appearance of that casual, laid-back attitude that every other 20-year old in the universe, rapper or otherwise, seeks to emulate and regularly fails at. It’s not that she was disinterested in her own show; it’s just that having a good time is basically effortless for her and so she has no reason to get overly excited about it. The Chicago native’s discography only spans two mixtapes, but they indicate a wealth of sonic experience in the city’s very-hyped rap scene. Glory Girl, a project helmed by DJ Kenn, has all the same marks of his work with Chief Keef (the mixtape’s title is a reference to Keef’s Glory Boyz Entertainment). The same kind of maximalist production style and simple song structure (sometimes called “drill”) that Keef has popularized takes on a totally different tone with a female voice, and Sasha knows this. She’ll use the same syllables for four bars in a row so that her voice sounds like another drum pattern on the beat, or she’ll twist her pronunciation of words like “bars” to “bors,” which admittedly sounds really cool when you hear it scattered all over a track. Sasha’s second mixtape Do You Know Who I Am? was released this past July, and it shows a solid improvement. The lyrics are stronger, the hooks are catchier, and Sasha draws from a wider pool of production talent–included this time are Chicago’s Young Chop, JHill, and Block On Da Track, in addition to Atlanta favorites like Southside and Absolute P. It offers a much wider range of sounds and shows how Sasha is willing to adapt to succeed, which explains why she was so comfortable on the Santos stage.
As the first song ended she asked, “Do you guys like tattoos? Make some noise if you got at least one or two tattoos.” This was met by deranged cheering, and so began the DGainz-produced, Gucci Mane-sampling “Tatted.” Sasha took off her cheetah print jacket to reveal cheetah print tattoos. Everyone genuinely began to lose their shit at this point. It was a very bad time to get heartburn from the spicy chicken sandwich I ate earlier. As she predicted, the show is turnt up. “You know my name ring bells/ come through and you know I bring hell” gains new meaning.
“Welcome To The Real World” from her first mixtape came on and Sasha took off her sunglasses. The crowd, now slightly subdued, adapted their movements to the Araabmuzik-esque danceable synths of DJ Kenn’s beat. The rocking back-and-forth dance was more complex now–she repeatedly dropped to the floor while dancing in a way that is definitely only allowed by physics if you weigh less than a hundred pounds. Two women to my right started to kiss and I began to wonder if this was all secretly being filmed as a music video. Sasha looked so carefree that she might as well have been dancing home alone in her room with headphones on. After a run-through of “I Think I Like,” Sasha looked at her brother while dancing and laughed. “I think I like New York,” she said, and once again cheers erupted. Short set length aside, it was obvious that New York liked Sasha Go Hard too.
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