Asheru/ The ELs
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Asheru/ The ELs


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"We Heard...then waited. Asheru & Blue Black's long road to release. by Alan Page"

The Unspoken Heard is one of the best crews you've never heard of (and that pun is intended). After connecting at the University of Virginia with several other like-minded hip-hop entrepreneurs, the Heard duo - Asheru and Blue Black - became one of the main acts on Seven Heads Recordings. Finally, after far too long, their debut­ironically titled Soon Come - has finally made it to stores.
When I caught up with Asheru of Unspoken Heard, he explained exactly what took so long for "Soon" to come: "Well, the first version of the album that we had, we changed. That was the first delay, we went back to the lab to make more joints. The second delay, I guess, was getting the distribution the way we wanted, so it could be everywhere. Getting overseas distribution, getting local distribution. Locking all that down and not getting jerked just because you're the little man."
Wes Jackson, president of Unspoken Heard's label, Seven Heads Recordings, echoed Asheru's explanation, and added more insight.
'This is the first full length that Seven Heads has ever released, so there were a whole lot of unforeseen issues that we had to adapt to and leam as we went along. What are good or bad release dates overseas - that was an issue when we wanted to release in the spring. Spring and summer are no good overseas and we have a strong mar­ket overseas. We pushed it back because of that. We had contractual issues we had to sort out, money issues, a lot," Jackson explained.
The mission now, as Asheru describes it, is getting the word out. "That's my whole thing. I get up on stage now like I'm doing a sales pitch. Tell people about the album, tell people it's in stores, do
the show, enjoy the show, then be out. Hopefully after the show they'll buy the album. That's my whole shit now. I'm keeping it like that be­
cause word of mouth is what's been helping us. If I give a dope ass show and people see it, then they hear the album and they like it, they'll tell other people."
Despite the strain it has put on his personal life, the touring blitz will continue. "We're going to do a bunch of dates in Cali - LA, San Diego, San Francisco - at the end of November:' Wes confided when asked about the upcoming tour plans for Asheru. "And then hopefully, we'll be able to go up to the Northwest, to Seattle and Portland as well. We'll probably go overseas to London in December. And also around that same time do some spot dates in New York, Philly, Detroit, Pitts­burgh, potentially down in Chapel Hill. We want to come down to At­lanta if we get in the neighborhood. Asheru, J-Live, Mr. Complex, and EI The Sensai is the line-up we're looking to take around the world."
So far, the touring has paid off, as the Heard's fanbase expands with every crowd exposed to their phenomenal stage show. Wes ad­mits sales of the album have so far exceeded his expectations.
But the Seven Heads family isn't just satisfied by money. They're also serious about promoting social change. Off the mic, Asheru founded and runs a nonprofit organization known as Nommo which is dedicated to educating the next generation. "It's a cultural arts exposure program:' he explains. "Previously, I did it with programs all over [Washington DC]. Working with Writerscorps, Village Foundation, the Kennedy Cen­ter, the Smithsonian. Just working with them to basically help kids ex­press themselves through writing, reading, and music. [Nommo] pro­motes literacy. Basically, we're just trying to expose these kids to other elements and other things that go on that they might not have known about, helping them close the gap between what went on before them and what's going on now and seeing the similarities and differences. It's going well. I just presented [the Nommo program] to the graduate school for education at George Washington University a month ago. [It was me and] a room full of educators and students who are studying to be teach­ers, showing them the program. People are into it now. People are show­ing interest. It's going well. I'm teaching again this year, so I'll probably be doing it in my school."
Seven Heads, as a company, also supports a progressive agenda. Recently, Seven Heads Recordings started the "Get Up, Stand Up" 12­inch series to benefit numerous charitable causes. "Get Up, Stand Up is a 12-inch series dedicated to addressing social ills and helping to bring light to some of the things that affect our community," Asheru ex­plains. "Some of the proceeds of that series go to an organization that will help the topic the artist chooses. So, you got a cat that's rhyming about pollution or sexual assault or bad water - even talking about what's
going on right now with the terrorism situation. Whatever the topic is ­
the artist is free to choose - we link up these artists from each [volume in the] series to producers who share in wanting to express whatever the topic is. So, it's a good way to keep the bond in hip-hop going, when you have cats like Geology and J-Live doing a joint or Maspyke doing a joint, all of these cats are people we met and people who we've made
connects with who are conscious, people who want to get involved, too. That's just another arm of Seven Heads. We're building a nonprofit or­ganization now which also houses a scholarship fund, Seven Heads Recordings, Seven Heads Management, Seven Heads promotions. Different arms are being occupied and we're adding them on as we go:'
So supporting the Heard is not only putting good music in your boombox, it's also helping a movement to create positive change in your hood and theirs. Keep an ear open for the Heard.. .and tell a friend. The album Soon Come can be found at finer stores everywhere and the Heard can be found online at - Elemental Magazine

"Live: Unspoken Heard, J-Live, Moorish Delta 7 by James McNally"

Dekefex seems to have an endless supply of America's finest underground talent on tap. But with a consistent flow of emcees, the calibre of Masta Ace and Mr. Complex through their doors don't they run the risk of making London hip-hoppers complacent? After all, what another New York underground emcee? This attitude, if tonight's treat is anything to go by, would be a mistake.
Part of that mistake would be thinking that you're just going to see tonight's stateside headliners, Unspoken Heard and J-Live, Dekefex have chosen to counterbalance their US guests with Brummie contenders Moorish Delta 7. Falling four short of the seven in their title, they bounce on stage just after midnight and fill the already heaving room wth 15 minutes of funk. Their beats falling somewhere between bling and bang on the HHC jigometer, these conscious rhymers prove a hardcore winner and are beckoned back on stage for an encore in spite of being billed as the warm-up act. Definitely a name to watch.
Next up is fail-safe party starter Shortee Blitz. Within seconds the charismatic chubby kid has the crowd dancing and rapping along to Karl Hinds' Brit-hop anthem 'Don Gramma', and from there on in it's one razor sharp cut after the next as Shortee works his way through more big bangers than a butcher.
The pitched upped by a comfortable two notches, it's time for the stars of the show Asheru and Blue Black of Unspoken Heard and J-Live to step forward. Smiles indelibly plastered across their faces, these three New Yorkers come off as perhaps the most amiable emcees you'll ever see. But don't mistake this for weakness. Ths extended crew are no PM Dawn, and when they freestyle over Shyne or Dead Prez's 'Cop Shot' it's plan to see they could give the hardest Bronx hardrock a run for this money. When they're not freestyling our main attractions take it in turns to lace the crowd with their respective hits. Asheru and Blue Black take us from the joyously funky 'Jamboree' to their excellent recent single 'Elevator Music'. And J-Live, perma-grin still in effect, run through the best part of his back catalogue, showing why he's remained a mainstay of the indie scene since he first dropped 'Braggin' Writes' in 1995.
As usual t's that song which steals the show, J taking to the turntables and cutting back and forth on the instantly recognisable break while simultaneously rhyming in his smoothest of smooth flows. He has the crowd eating out of his hand. It has been a night of the best rough-edged feelgood hip-hop money ban buy. DEKEFEX, MASS, LONDON VISUALS: Jeff Crown
- Live And Direct

"School House Rock. Club and classroom merge for D.C. hip-hop artist Asheru. by Robert Schroeder"

GABRIEL BENN HAS TO GET UP IN THE MORNING. It's a Wednesday (a school night) and the director of arts in education at Northwest's Rock Creek Academy has a desk to sit at come early Thursday.
But there's something going down he can't miss: hip-hop artist Asheru is booked at Mirrors on New York Avenue. The stage is set, the DJ s spinning, the crowd is filtering in and Benn is sitting at the bar, surveying the scene. He just got to stay.
That's because Benn is Asheru and Asheru is Benn, educator by day, hip-hop artist by night. "My route is to merge hip-hop with education," says Benn, sipping a drink and lounging n a high-backed stool before the show. "They're both my passions."
Which explains why the holder of a master's degree in education spent last summer working on an album called While You Were Sleeping. It's also why the University of Virginia graduate, who's taught first, sixth, and seventh grades, now incorporates tunes by artists Nas, Common and Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth into lessons for emotionally disturbed and learning disabled K-12 students. And, indeed, it's why the 30-year-old Maryland native has titled his newest CD Insomnia.
"I don't sleep at all," Benn says, his high cheekbones jabbing the club's amber-hued air as he expels a husky laugh. In fact, he doesn't even seem tired -- not when performing, anyway. In a loose yellow collared shirt and calf-length jeans, Asheru bounces around the club's stage like there's helium in his blue Adidas, arms thrashing and the mike millimeters from his beard-rimmed mouth as he intones the opening number, "B.M.I.G."
"I don't rhyme for a living, I'm living a rhyme," he growls before the bopping, nodding crowd.
It's not the hip-hop life that one might imagine. The guy doesn't look like he knows what the word "bling" means - though he knows, all right. It's just not his scene.
He writes his show manifest on a lined notebook, the same kind every middle-schooler uses, and is most animated when talking about his day job. "This year we had five kids who got admitted to college," he says, holding up his hand--for fingers and thumb outstretched--to illustrate the number. Benn says he puts about 12 hours a day toward school-related duties and another two toward music.
And though he's spend from cramming the work on his first solo album in between playing with his kids and developing curricula, he knows, in one musical form or another, that he's going to keep going. He's planning an international tour for the new album and he's writing a new song tonight, in his head, tentatively titled "Seeds." "I will always record," he says.
In the end, Asheru didn't go on until 11:20 p.m. that humid Wednesday. But Benn didn't seem to mind, school night notwithstanding. Writing lessons, singing songs: "It's all hip-hop," he says. "It goes together to me like left and right. - DC Style, Washington Post


Cosmology EP...Unspoken Heard (1997)
Better/Smiley 12”... Unspoken Heard (1998)
Jamboree EP ... Asheru (1999)
Soon Come LP ... Unspoken Heard (2001)
48 Months LP … Unspoken Heard (2003)
Mood Swing 12”... Asheru feat. Talib Kweli & Raheem DeVaughn (2003)
Black Moses 12”.... Asheru (2005)
Insomnia Vol.1 LP... Asheru (2006)
Insomnia Vol.1: Sleepless in Japan…(IMPORT ONLY) (2006)
Hip Hop Docktrine: The Official Boondocks Mixtape… (2006)
3 Stars, 2 Bars CD... Asheru (2007)



Asheru Bio:
Aliases: Ash Ganero, Ash Gordon, Ash Ketcham, Ash Wednesday, Crown Vic, Black Moses

Unspoken Heard
Black Lincolns
The ELs
Guerilla Arts Ink, LLC

Attributes: Emcee Extraordinaire, Universal Collaborator, Independent Artist, Arts Activist, Youth Advocate, Educator

Career Highlights:
-Worked with notable producers such as Pete Rock,Geology, 88Keys, DJ Spinna, Usef Dinero, Dj Khalil, Kev Brown, Oddisee, Roddy Rod, Sound Providers,etc.
-Collaborated & performed with several Hip Hop artists and groups like J-Live, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Raheem Devaughn, Common, Lone Catalysts, The Roots, El da Sensai, Richy Pitch, Ed OG, Wordworth, Self Scientific, Fat Jon, Grap Luva, Jazzy Jeff, Jill Scott, Rich Medina, and many others
-Traveled all over the world on several international tours all over Canada, Europe, and Japan
-Presented at various speaking engagements and seminars across the country in the promotion of Hip Hop music and culture as an educational device, cultural phenomenon, and emancipatory artform
-Founder and Executive Director of Guerilla Arts Ink, LLC, an arts-in-education organization that also serves as owner and distributor of all Asheru and affiliated releases
--Composed and performed the theme song for the hit TV show, Boondocks. Also wrote several other songs for the series, such as the Martin Luther King speech in the "Return of the King" episode