The Break Presents: Tasha the Amazon
Tasha the Amazon can probably turn in a live performance of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" as easily as she can one of her quick-witted punchlines. For Tasha, becoming a classically trained pianist—a process that consisted of four-to-five hour piano lessons beginning around the age of 8—was a way to take her musical destiny into her own hands.
"I remember reading in like, magazines when I was younger, a lot of like producers—some of the best producers, you know, like Timbaland and stuff like that—had some kind of musical background, or they taught themselves piano," Tasha tells XXL. "So to me, learning piano was like, I love just making music, but it was also kind of like a way of me take the reins on my own musical career and not have to rely on somebody else to produce for me."
Years after her first piano lesson, Tasha took things a few steps further, teaching herself to play bass and the guitar. She also built her own studio from scratch.
That rarefied skillset, along with the rapping ability she's been developing since she was in grade school, has helped propel the musical dynamo to the top of Toronto's rich crop of talented up-and-comers. Tasha The Amazon—aka, Perp Vonnegut, the Patron Saint of Ruckus—put her musical virtuosity on full display last fall with her Die Every Day EP, a project that sees the multifaceted artist mix in melodic flows, skillfully written lyrics and sing-song hooks for tracks that manage to be grim, critical and celebratory simultaneously ("Watch It Burn," "Picasso Leaning").
About a month ago, the rapper, born Natasha Schumann, reaped what's possibly her biggest reward to date when she attended Canada's 2017 Juno Awards, where her Die Every Day EP was nominated for Rap Recording of the Year alongside Belly's Another Day in Paradise, Tory Lanez's I Told You So, Jazz Cartier's Hotel Paranoia and, of course, Drake's culturally ubiquitous, Views album.
As much as she's accomplished already, Tasha has ambitions large enough to cover the entire rap landscape, and she's only getting started. Get to know the burgeoning rap star in this week's edition of XXL's The Break.
Age: "I never tell...I like mystery."
Hometown: Toronto, Canada
I grew up listening to: "Kind of all over the board. I mean, if we're talking about rap, I listened to a lot of, like, OutKast, and Fugees, DMX and a lot of New York hip-hop stuff. But I also listened to a lot of punk, and a lot of like...I don't know. Anything that had a lot of energy, so kind of all over the board. I wasn't really bound to genres much."
My style’s been compared to: "I get the female Pusha T a lot. I get those comments on my YouTube a lot, which I dig because he's like, one of my favorites of all time. Strangely enough, somebody called me the female 21 Savage the other day, which I mean like, Savage is dope, I don't really hear that. Other than that I've been compared to like, Danny Brown...more so on my last single 'Watch It Burn.' Yeah, I don't know so I dig it."
Most people don’t know: "I don't know...I don't know what people do know. I don't know, I play the piano. I don't know if people know that. I'm a classically trained piano player and I produce all my own beats—I don't know if everyone knows that."
My standout records to date have been: "I think 'Prayer' is probably one of my favorites. I just love the fucking, like, energy—I like songs that are dark and energetic. Like, you know? Like, you can just like, get a mob together for, and we're actually putting out the video for 'Prayer' this week, and it's basically like—the visuals are exactly what I saw in my head when I was writing it. It's just like, you know, the dark smoky room with people all in black just mobbing up. It's just kind of like the mob track. So that one—and then also off this past album—I think the title track, 'Die Every Day,' it's just kind of like the rawest that I've gotten. Just kind of…just kind of like telling it how it is and being emotional and raw."
My standout moment to date has been: "I don't know. I mean it's like, it's a weird thing it's like, when you're hustling every day, there's days when like, something amazing happens, you know, you get like nominated for some kind of award, or somebody puts you on—I don't know, Dr. Dre puts me on his Apple playlist—that was pretty dope and like, we just got nominated for a Juno, which is like, a Canadian version of a Grammy. And I don't know, just like filming a ton of videos and stuff. So like, there's days where you're like, 'I'm popping off right now.
"But you just put your head down and you keep working. I'm not the kind of person that stops and smells the roses, and sometimes that's not good [laughs]. My standout moments are usually always like...shows. Like I just love the energy of performing and having everyone turn up, and crowd-surfing and stuff like that. Just like, amazing moments like that.
My goal in hip-hop is: "To do something that's never been done before. Like to push it in some...like you know, I think there's a lot of people that look at someone else's come-up and they're like, 'Yeah, I want to do that.' Or all they want to do is make a ton of money and you know—there's like a lot of those stories. You know, obviously, everybody wants to make money and buy your parents out the hood and stuff like that.
"But I want to do something like...you know, the way that I assume that Kanye thinks about his career, you know? Obviously, when he was like, coming up, he was like, 'Yeah I want to put my friends on from the block and I want to move myself out of here,' but also I want to leave some kind of artistic legacy. I think that's like the difference when you listen to somebody's music. You can they're pushing every time they go to the studio they're trying something they've never tried before. But that's how I am. It's not good enough just to, you know, make hits and make money and stuff like that. I want to change the landscape. I want to make rap sound different because I was here."
I’m going to be the next: "That's hard. That's hard because that relies on a lot of things. That relies on how the industry is right now. I don't really—and what people think of me too. I think those are things I can't control. All I know is I wake up every morning and hustle and make the music I want to hear. So I don't know what that makes me the 'next' but...I hope it's good. I hope it's big."
What are your plans for 2017: "So 2017, I work exclusively with my production partner Danthrax, and we just like, have really hit our stride in the last like, six months, eight months. Finished with the album, the album came out. So we're just like, dropping videos for it right now. We just got back from [SXSW], where we played like 10 shows—did the tour in Mexico. So that's not going to stop, we're just going to keep playing shows—I think we're talking about going to Europe, playing some shows in France and Belgium and Germany right now.
"And then the video for 'Prayer' dropping this week, and then we're like, immediately back in the studio. So it's Danthrax and I are just like doing what we do on the 'nerdy producer' front. Hunting for sounds, making sound and shit like that. I want to put out an album before the end of the summer."
"Watch It Burn"
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