Chicago is home to some of the greatest and most influential rappers like Common, Lupe Fiasco, and Kanye West; But the current Chicago sound is very versatile. Lyricists like Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa have made their claim in the industry while Drill rappers like Chief Keef and G Herbo have done the same. All four have gradually built their own fan bases over the past 5-7 years through utilizing the internet. As most densely populated cities are, there is plenty of talent waiting to be discovered. Ausar Bradley, a college student striving towards his college degree while simultaneously developing his rap career, fits this mold perfectly. Ausar possesses a versatile vocabulary which allows him to twist lyrics with the best of them. His context is introspective and challenging on a mental and social level.
N: Glad to have you Ausar! So who are you and where are you from?
Ausar: Yo! I’m Ausar Bradley. I’m from Chicago, Illinois. Well, I’m actually out in Champaign, Illinois attending U of I so most of my time recently has been spent out here. With that being the case, when I do touch down in the city I kinda have to hit the ground running from jump. It’s actually become a running joke in my family that when I come and visit for the weekends I’m really only in the house for two hours tops. Whether it be recording new tracks, hitting different events, stopping by to check up on close friends, etc. I try to make the most of my time whenever I’m back home.
You’re very lyrical. Where did you get such a broad vocabulary from?
I’ve always had a pretty decent vocabulary. As a kid I kinda just had a knack for it, and once my mom saw that she reinforced it heavily. She used to make me write book reports in the summertime and everything, but that was also just because I had a ridiculous amount of energy and she just wanted to keep me busy haha. I hated it then, but I’m super grateful for it now.
Was your mother strict when you were growing up?
Haha my mom was definitely strict, although she may not completely agree. To say the least I’m thankful for it. I wouldn’t be where I am today had she not instilled the work ethic in me that she has, and that goes for her and my father. I’m extremely grateful for the both of them. We don’t always see eye to eye, but I know they’re there in the clutch if I ever need them for anything.
You’ve seem to have made quite the impact on Chicago’s music scene. How does it feel to recieve recognition from your city?
It’s super crazy G. It’s crazy because this is something I’ve always dreamed of and I’ve had faith in from the jump, but seeing it manifest is just surreal. When I go to certain shows now or walk around campus some people actually know me by name with no introduction needed… and just knowing that people have eyes on me is super humbling. It really puts things into perspective.
Now you’ve made the impact on your community, how do you plan to move forward in expanding your audience elsewhere?
Man I feel like we just gotta keep pushing the boundaries! I’m starting to understand myself as an artist more and getting more comfortable with experimenting with my sound. I feel like my last EP really helped me advance, and now it’s just about keeping up that same pressure. More shows, more music, etc. I’m really excited for what comes next. AND I’M SUPER EXCITED TO BE WORKING ON MY NEXT PROJECT!
Recently you opened for the God MC Rakim. Tell me how that came to fruition.
Okay so that was actually kinda crazy. My homie Mike Ingram is a show coordinator at the Canopy Club out here in Champaign. He originally hit me and asked if I’d be available for a performance for the upcoming week, and I forgot to respond (as I do more often than I should). About a day or two passed and he kinda just hit me with another message like “I guess you don’t want to open for Rakim 🤷🏾♂️ oh well…” I’ve probably never responded to a message so fast in my life, I was so excited. The actual show exceeded expectations and I even got a chance to sit and talk with him. It was great.
What did you and Rakim talk about?
Rakim honestly just showed a lot of love. Lots of words of encouragement, and knowledge. He told me to keep going and stay true to my beliefs and my craft because my peers and I are the new face of hip-hop. So it’s our job to continue to push the culture forward. He also told me I was young, had a bright future ahead of me and said I had the torch next. That was easily one of the most exciting moments I’ve ever had. I basically Milly Rocked all the way home.
Since you’re a college student and you’re also focusing on your career your schedule must be pretty crazy. What’s your daily life like?
Man it’s SUPER hectic. It varies from day to day. What a lot of people don’t know is I’m also a Resident Assistant. So along with juggling school and music, I also have to make sure that I handle my obligations and stay available as a resource for the students who live in my building. But as time has passed I’ve learned to find a balance. I’m a night owl so I️ don’t usually start classes until 12 and end my school/ work day around 6-7. Once that’s over, I probably spend the next 3-4 hours on homework and other tasks I have to complete, and after that, it’s usually just music until I K.O.
What are you majoring in and what do you plan to do with you’re degree?
I’m currently majoring in Community Health with a concentration in Health Administration. Super left field right? I want to use my degree to open up a trauma center on the south side of Chicago; Somewhere more central to where a majority of the city’s trauma related incident’s occur. There are hundred of lives that could be saved just from cutting down the distance it takes to receive help.
What’s your creative process when making music?
Honestly I don’t have one, at least not one that’s set in stone. A lot of times I’ll listen to a beat and inspiration just hits so I’ll sit down and write until I feel like I’m ready to give it a break. Other times I’ll be praying or I’ll be going through something, and the best way I know how to express my emotions is through a song. It just varies day by day.
Do you use writing as a release?
Absolutely. I actually hate talking about my emotions with people around me. It never feels productive because I always feel like I’m not able to get my point across fluently. Writing is really the only way I’m able to get things out as concisely as possible. Plus it really helps me to internalize exactly what I’m feeling and put meaning behind it.
One thing is for sure, you have versatility. If you had to classify yourself as an artist or rapper, how would you do so?
I’m actually not sure. I just make whatever feels right. A lot of the times it’s hope music. Music that either tells my struggle, or helps other people get through theirs. Sometimes it’s both.
How big of a role does religion play in not only your life but your music?
A huge one man. That’s definitely a big piece of who I am as a person, and with that being the case, it definitely shows in my music!
What’s your favorite verse or story from the bible?
I don’t know if I necessarily have a favorite verse or book at the moment, but I do have a favorite person, and that’s David. And by happenstance, that’s actually the name of my next project. I really resonate and find a lot of similarities within myself in the story of David. So most of what I read about him really hits close to home. It’s kind of hard to explain in summation, but the goal of my next project is to kind of explain that dichotomy…. along with just GIVING YA’LL THESE BARS.
As a lyricist, what do you think about this new age of rappers on the rise?
Well there are some really dope artists out here. A lot of them really don’t get the recognition that they deserve yet in the mainstream, but I can tell that’s all about to change soon. With the talent that’s coming up even just in Chicago, it puts me in high hopes of what’s to come. The future is super bright.
Would you mind listing some of these artists?
Well let’s see… There’s the Freesole collective, Jhon Myquale, Femdot, Kiraly Payne, IsaiahG, Josi Green and Plainro (who are both a part of the A.I️.M. collective w/ me), and a whole bunch of other artists from the city who are really just killing it right now. (My apologies to anyone I may have left out. You know it’s all it’s all love.)
What is the A.I.M. Collective?
A.I.M. is a collective consisting of Josi Green, Ro (Plainro), and I. We all met through a student organization on U of I’s campus called WORD. At the time, I was only a producer, and Josi was the first person to take notice in me and kind of take me under his wing. We started working more closely together and eventually I was introduced to Ro who was his primary producer at the time. Shortly after I decided I wanted to start putting out my own music, and my first EP was fully produced by Ro. The rest was history. Fast forward to now, and our relationship extends far beyond just music. I really consider the both of them my blood brothers, and they’ve been with me through some of everything. I feel like God brought us together for a reason, so now all that’s left to do is keep working until we get to where we need to be.
So when we first started working together it was after you released your “The 6 Page Letter EP”, but as I was going through your Soundcloud I came across a song called “Excuses” and it’s posted twice. One is for your project “Lazarus” and the other was the single. I noticed in total the views for the song sits at around 350k. How did this song become so popular?
This story is actually kinda crazy. Around the time I dropped that song, Soundcloud had just implemented an algorithm that gathered up related plays based off of what you were currently listening to. By the slightest of chance (no pun intended.), Chance had just dropped Angels not to long before that. So a few weeks after I released it, it was put into the related plays!
Where can I listen to your newest project “GROWTH” at?
AYE YOU CAN FIND GROWTH ON ALL STREAMING PLATFORMS. SOUNDCLOUD, APPLE, SPOTIFY, AUDIOMACK, ALLADAT!
To stay updated on Ausar’s music follow him on Twitter @AusarMusic