Friends of mine often recant their favorite Asaad rhymes in the open space of my Bushwick apartment. It’s true that where the bits of his mind splatter over a record are almost random, an element of what entices fans to listen to his gospel. His sound could be described as many things - charismatic, youthful, poignant, violent, honest and materialistic - but it’s never been boring. 

I wrote a piece on the Philly rapper about three years ago called “A Rose That Grew From The Concrete” for Respect Magazine, not too long after a friend had recommended I give him a listen. The article focused on who Asaad was at that time: A black kid speaking about his plight in inner-city America who was using his natural gift to express his differences, while still blending in his community. In between that time and now, Asaad’s amassed a discography that’s quite incomparable to the rest of his budding rap peers, with each entry of his discography being unique and inventive. With Flowers II, Asaad’s managed to create a somewhat common ground or consistency between all of the personality traits he has revealed in his previous works. As of right now, that consistency is the key to unlocking his mainstream arrival.

When Asaad showed up to a playground not far from my regular hang out spot in Soho with his childhood friend, P, and manager, Kev Storey, he was noticeably a little bit stockier than before. His face tattoos could provide all that is necessary to stereotype anyone as typical gangster, but a short conversation with the emcee will prove to you he's more than just what meets the eye. He’s an intellectual. And however brief his answers to my questions were, there is a distinctive air about him. He seemed way more settled and lighthearted, possibly because he’s entirely ready to get the ball rolling on his career after a short stint away from the public eye.

“This record is sort of like me talking to my brother,” Asaad says of Flowers II, the second stage of his Flowers series. He’s referring to his cousin Quill, who’s currently locked up. In many of  his raps he is often referring to Quill as a mentor. “I wasn’t even planning to do a Flowers II”, he reveals. They don’t reveal what Quill’s locked up for, but Kev tells me that during certain periods Quill and Asaad grew up in the same house, which made their brotherhood bond much stronger.

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While sitting in the shade on a green bench, Asaad told me that the “young bulls” in his neighborhood requested this record from him and maybe that’s why it feels so special because he went back to his neighborhood in North Philadelphia to ingest that inspiration. He ended up recording over 30 songs for the project, which Kev helped chop down to a concise 13 tracks. It was just the step Asaad needed to take.

While sitting in the shade on a green bench, Asaad told me that the “young bulls” in his neighborhood requested this record from him and maybe that’s why it feels so special because he went back to his neighborhood in North Philadelphia to ingest that inspiration. He ended up recording over 30 songs for the project, which Kev helped chop down to a concise 13 tracks. It was just the step Asaad needed to take.

Many fans took it on the chin when Asaad transformed into Saudi Money, the gun-toting antagonist that he portrays in songs like “VGM666” or “Bank Roll.” Some of the records around the time are dark, and almost feel like someone’s pushing his buttons. In our 2012 interview when I mentioned the recent slight change in his content, he mentioned his first record Flowers saying, “My first installment was Flowers. And the message from that was the flower has to grow. There’s people who’d like to say I changed. No, I don’t believe in change. I believe in growth.”

 “There’s people who’d like to say I changed. No, I don’t believe in change. I believe in growth.” 

I still remember the conversation with him, where he also said that he’d rather be cool with the gangsters than the hipster kids. And it’s pretty obvious that the people that he grew up around are those that he wants to reach.

Looking at artists like Chief Keef and Fredo, one could assume their own agenda, but where’s the balance in the tough talk? Where’s the conscious effort? In Asaad’s gangster, at least he gives us constructive things to think about. Yet still, I couldn't help but wonder if his new movement was counterproductive.

It didn't get any clearer to me, but rather got more confusing, when I stood backstage taking pictures at a Pusha T show in Philly where Asaad was one of the opening acts. The energy in the show took a negative turn when when Asaad sprinted to the stage and yelled, “Fuck Pusha-T and everybody that love him.”

This was around the time he dubbed himself Saudi Money. I asked his then best friend Troy and his management at the time what the deal was but either no one knew what was up or they just weren't willing to divulge any information.

Fans stood in the audience understandably confused. Here was Asaad, Philly’s brightest new star, dissing the headlining act. Back then it felt like a vye for attention. When I interviewed Pusha T later that night, he partly answered my lingering questions as he stood near RE-UP GANG member Ab- Liva (who is reportedly Asaad’s cousin). Pusha responded, “ I’ve always been in Philly, but I don’t have to be friends with anyone. I don’t have to know Asaad.” That was it.There’s much speculation that some of the work on G.O.O.D MUSIC’s Cruel Summer album can be traced back to inspiration from Asaad. Coming up in the ranks, he was mixing things like high fashion and street tales, branding hood aesthetics with higher taste, and the only artist that had really done that in such an avante garde way before him was Kanye. But, in terms of a prelude to Cruel Summer, for a deeper, darker, more spastic version of Kanye, we can look no further than Asaad’s 2012 project "White" for comparison. One of the songs from White bears the title, “God Flow” and - maybe or maybe not - coincidentally most of us know one of the singles from Pusha-T and Kanye West on Cruel Summer is called “New God Flow.”