From Compton, With Love | Meet Azjah, L.A’s Melodic Finesser

Photo Credit - Yoshi Uemura

Azjah is big on protecting her energy. At this stage in her career, she’s primed to take L.A’s ranging soundscape to new heights with melodic finesse. But the thing is, Azjah doesn’t identify as a singer, she’s just smooth as hell – or as the self-proclaimed “Princess of Compton” admits, “I’m sweet talking the track.”

Without a doubt, years of sweet talking the music has paid off. Azjah has risen to prominence in route of becoming a breath of fresh air for the West Coast. In short, she’s just different. There’s no drawn out plan to attribute her acquired success – just hard work, prayer, and divine intervention.

Outside of the music, Azjah is a beacon of hope for the vulnerable. Admittedly, she’s a hopeless romantic, but her inability to connect the dots on love hasn’t stopped her from sharing self-contained narratives that promote change. She’s rooted in realism, beyond the bounds of possibility that her genuine love for others may not be reciprocated. Although her intentions remain pure at heart, that doesn’t mean she has to tolerate bullshit, or hidden agendas. “I feel like that’s what held me back in the past, I was helping out too many people.”

While angelic numbers guide her down a path of self-discovery, Azjah’s innate sense of raw emotion has afforded her the opportunity to connect with fans on a more personal level. With 1:03 AM, released via EMPIRE, she reflects on life through a anecdotal lens. Spanning 10 tracks in total, Azjah’s latest project mirrors the Compton-bred emcee’s current disposition: she’s not letting anything or anyone hinder her growth.

Read our full conversation below, lightly edited for context.

What role has spirituality played in identifying Azjah as an artist? 

I always put my trust into God, if that’s what you mean. Everything I’m working for, I also prayed for. Other than that, I don’t get into the other things that I see people saying, spiritually. I think people are saying that because of the name of the project. It’s 1:03 AM, and that’s an angel number, but what I mean by that is that I see that number often, so when I look it up, it means greatness is coming. It’s a sign from God. 

Let’s expand on this a bit. Is there any significance behind that personal timestamp? 

I could be looking at my lights, and it’s 103 lights. I always see 103. Yesterday, I was at a hotel, and the pool capacity said 103. It’s like I see it all day. It’s not a feeling that I get, but once I started paying attention to it, I started seeing that number more often. I wanted to know what it meant, so I looked it up. But before that, I wanna say two years ago, Joe Moses was the first one to really pay attention to me. I had dropped “Time For” and “Spotlight,” and it was on October 3rd [10/3] when he shared the video. That’s when I started to get a lot of traction. 

You sing about the idea of love with so much raw emotion. Is being vulnerable a big part of your story? 

Yeah. I feel like in the past I was too vulnerable. I let people get away with certain things that they shouldn’t have. I don’t think I’m vulnerable anymore [laughs]. I’m paying more attention to everything, but throughout my life, I’ve always given people the benefit of the doubt.

As an artist, you’re endowed with a unique responsibility to create for the enjoyment of others. When you’re creating music, how do you get past that natural fear of oversharing? 

I don’t [overshare] actually. I used to in the past, I think that’s why this project is so special, because this time I tried to let everything out and say what I wanted to say. I used “her.” Before, I wasn’t directing my energy to a specific sex, but this time it is what it is, everyone knows what the deal is at this point. That’s where I’m at wit it. I’m not gon’ hold back any punches no more from this point on. 

Did this transition come with an adjustment period, with boosting up the confidence to be more vocal about your sexuality in your music? 

I never hid nothing, I was just never boisterous about it. I think during the pandemic I got to know myself way better. I’ve always been comfortable with who I am, in my own skin, but this time I’ve become more mature about certain situations.

This project is definitely a change of pace compared to your debut album, Princess Diaries. Did you make a deliberate attempt to mirror where you are today or did that growth just come naturally? 

It came naturally, but I put in a lot of work to get to that natural point. When I used to record, I wasn’t completely comfortable with my sound. I’m not a singer, and I wasn’t comfortable with the sound all the way. Around this time, it kind of came out of nowhere where it sounds good to me. I think I learned more about the keys, vocals, and stuff like that, so I became more comfortable. I put in a lot of work without trying. I can’t explain it, but it came out of nowhere, I swear. 

What do you think it is about your music that resonates with listeners the most? 

I’ma go with what my little brother said, “You’re just different.” I feel like I’m different. It’s a lot of artists with that melodic sound, but I’m different. That’s not on any arrogant or cocky stuff, but I know what I can bring to the table. When I think about my sound, I see a lot people coming towards me with the singing, but I feel like I can do both [and rap]. I don’t think I can sing. It’s just a delivery of rapping, but it sounds smoother. I look at singers like Queen Naija or Teena Marie, really blowing vocals and shit. But with me, you not gon’ catch me singing like that. 

It sounds like you’re finessing the track in a cool sort of way. 

Finessing it yea, but I’m so in tune with it. I don’t really like that word [laughs]. Let’s put it like this, I can sing but, I can’t sang. I’m sweet talking the track.

Do you consider yourself a hopeless romantic?

Yup, I ain’t even gon’ lie to you. Aye look, during the pandemic, I went on some dates like that: some picnic dates, some sit on the roof dates. But listen, there was a point in time where I was wildin’ out, I was going on dates with all types, because I was heartbroken. But then I settled down and now, I can turn it on and off. If you do me wrong, I can do you worse, in a relationship standpoint [laughs]. 

What’s love got to do with it? Is that a big part of who you are, or do you identify with love because that’s something you’ve always yearned for? 

During my teens, I never was the type to be in a relationship. You know how some people always have to have somebody, I’ve never been that type. I’ve always had my family and friends. I didn’t get into my first real relationship until about probably five years ago. But when I did, the relationship ended badly, and then I took a break and started wildin’ out. I got into another relationship where it was like I love it here. But I can do without the whole relationship thing. I’m not the type of person that has to be in a relationship all the time. 

How receptive are you to change? 

I used to be scared of change, but that’s because my mom is scared of change. But now, I’m starting to embrace it because when I do change stuff, it’s a better feeling. You know, some people are afraid to step outside of their normal routine, but once I started to change, I realized that I could better my life, better my situation, better this by change. 

As you continue to evolve as an artist and experience new things, do you feel like change is inevitable?

Definitely. I feel like everybody has to change at some point. One thing I’m not gon’ do is change who I am because somebody tells me to. If I change something, it’s gon’ have to be for the better. For example, with how I dress and with who I am, if a label tells me I need to dress like this or that, I’m not doing it. I’ma stick to what I know. I’m not gon’ change because you want me to change. I can be really stubborn when it comes to people telling me what to do. 

Have you always been that way [stubborn], or is that a side effect of your horoscope placement? 

I’ve always been that way, ever since I was a kid. I don’t even look at horoscopes. I don’t have the app of anything on my phone. People will send me stuff like, “Oh, that’s your horoscope, we match.” You might get cut off sending me some horoscope shit [laughs]. 

In your opinion, do you ever think that it’ll get to a point in life where you have to question the intentions of the people around you? If so, how do you discern between who stays and who goes? 

Crazy that you brought that up. I was in a situation where people that I thought were my friends were just around me. I had genuine love for them, I never needed them for nothing. I just had them around to be around. The whole time, you gotta be careful because I had people that were leeching off me, just to be around who I was around. You never know people’s intentions until you cut them off. Then you start seeing shit, like damn, I was right about you the whole time. I got a lot of family around me now, but at the same time, that third eye is never not on. I’m always gon’ question some intentions to a certain point. When I don’t know if you got love for me or if it’s genuine – like,  I’ll never question my mom’s intentions, my aunt’s intentions or my dad’s intentions. 

I’m big on energy. I’m big on how people move around me. Just cuz I’ve known you for five years, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to question your intentions if I see something off. How I go about it is by energy and the things that I see. I feel like that’s what held me back in the past, I was helping out too many people. In this game, it’s hard to trust everyone that’s around you because you never know what their agenda is. I’ve dealt with the craziest situations. People will come around, act like they support, whole time, they are just trying to get what they want and then they leave. It’s hard to get in my crew now. If somebody wanna come fuck with me or hang right now, it’s hard. When I perform at Rolling Loud this year, there won’t be that many people with me. I’ma put it like that. It’s fucked up though, because when you peep situations and cut someone off, you have everyone from the outside looking in thinking you changed on your friends. But I’m not gon’ tell them what they did. It was genuine on my end, you just gon’ have to think that I’ve changed. 

One song to best describe the current space that you’re in artistically, and mentally. What is it, and why? 

Can I pick two? Since you said both.

You’re right. Give me two songs. 

Aight. “Definition Of A Rydah (Intro),” because you said creatively, and that’s where I’m at emotionally, with how I’m placing things. And “Forgive Me (Outro).” That’s the intro and outro. To me, “Forgive Me (Outro)” is the best song [on the project] because that’s where I’m at wit it. The whole project I was singing, showing melody, and at the end, I was talking my shit and giving what I’m known for. The people that we just talked about that are no longer around, I’m letting everyone know I’m still here. This is where I’m at mentally, this where I’m at creatively, and this is what it’s gon’ be. If you wanna get to know where I’m at mentally right now, you should listen to the last song. The outro is like a to be continued.

About the Author

Derrius Edwards
Derrius is a music industry professional with experience in content strategy and editorial writing, sharing relevant and resonating stories as a conduit for hip-hop culture advancement.

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