Artist Spotlight is a series whose basic aim is to highlight promising and interesting up-and-coming recording artists. From relative newcomers to underrated veterans, from mainstream to underground, we simply want to shine a light on talented musicians that are making great music.
Asiahn (pronounced Ahh-zee-yahn; real name Asia Bryant)
Asiahn is considered a relatively new face in contemporary R&B, but the LA-based singer-songwriter has been active in the music world for some time now. She began her career primarily as a songwriter, with writing credits that include Jennifer Lopez, Drake, and Miley Cyrus; her work as a writer for other artists garnered her three Grammy Award nominations and helped create buzz around her name in the industry.
Asiahn’s work also caught the attention of Dr. Dre, and she was featured on Dre’s 2015 album Compton, on the song “Just Another Day” alongside Game; the song was one of the only cuts from the album that also appeared in the blockbuster film Straight Outta Compton. Meanwhile, Asiahn was shifting her songwriting focus towards her own musical endeavors. She released Love Train, her first project under the moniker “Asiahn,” in 2017.
Why You Should Know Her:
Asiahn appears to be a member of a rising class of young R&B soon-to-be stars — a class which includes artists like Jorja Smith, Summer Walker, H.E.R., Ravyn Lenae, Lucky Daye, SiR, and many, many others — and it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that she is probably one of the most vocally talented of the entire bunch. You don’t have to look much further than songs like “Waiting” and “NOLA,” which feature incredibly impressive, high-octave vocal harmonies towards the backends, to know that this girl can sing. (For those who subscribe to the common-yet-unfounded narrative that modern R&B singers “can’t really sing,” I suggest listening to Asiahn.)
What makes Asiahn’s rise so inspiring and worthy of note is her journey, which involves overcoming colorism, sizeism, misogynoir, and homophobia within the music industry while staying true to herself. In an interview with Billboard, she detailed the blatant discrimination she’s faced from industry heads, who have told her that she was “too dark,” “too thick,” and impossible to market, despite being very talented. Her rise as an artist is a figurative slap in the face to those who thought she was unmarketable. “Proving people wrong is always part of the goal,” she said.
Asiahn’s honesty and openness, especially about her sexuality (Asiahn identifies as a lesbian), has become one of her biggest selling points and an important component of her artistry. Much more than making incredibly emotive and relatable music, Asiahn’s presence helps provide visibility for Black and/or LGBTQ+ women who are misunderstood and ostracized — not just by the music industry, but by society as a whole. In the same Billboard interview, she discussed the potential effect of her music: “I feel like being represented in this lane, as a lesbian, is a good thing because due to the stigmas, a lot of people still feel like they can’t do that openly…The goal is to show people who don’t understand people in the LGBTQ+ community that we all hurt the same, we all want the same things, we all go through the same space of being comfortable with somebody.”
3 Songs to Get You Started:
“Waiting” is one of the standouts from her 2017 EP Love Train. The production is ambient, and the hook is catchy, but Asiahn’s stunning voice steals the show, hitting some pretty lofty high notes around the 3-minute mark.
“I want somebody who’ll pray with me / Vibe with me, learn with me, roll with me, grow with me,” Asiahn croons on the bridge of “NOLA,” the first single from her latest album Love Train 2. Here, Asiahn puts her impressive vocal range on display as she expresses her desire for a real substantive relationship, as opposed to “fake” ones she seems to have found in Los Angeles.
On “Like You,” a highlight from Love Train 2, Asiahn expresses feelings for another love interest in the midst of dissatisfaction with her current relationship. The song features throwback R&B vibes and an absolutely stellar hook.