Main, Stream

Fighter Spirit: Steph Dash Nash Battles Terminal Illness While Crafting A Classic

I’ve spoken about this in the past, but as a recognized journalist, I get lots of email and attention from…

I’ve spoken about this in the past, but as a recognized journalist, I get lots of email and attention from artists looking to have some pen game dedicated to their craft. In this daily wave things don’t always stick out to me; It’s impossible for me to listen to everything and respond to everyone, respectfully.

Sometimes, though, you just get a feeling.

That’s what happened when I got a message on Twitter from Steph Dash Nash, a mother, Hip Hop journalist, clothing designer and producer who happened live in my city. She politely asked if she could send me her project, True Grit, which she produced alongside Big Sproxx, a Toronto producer who I knew from his work with the Toronto collective Freedom Writers.

She sent it over, and I was floored by the guest list that included verses from the likes of Masta Ace, Planet Asia, M.O.P., D.I.T.C. Alumnus O.C., Havoc from Mobb Deep, Ras Kass, and even the late Sean Price among a host of others. In fact, there are two verses from Sean on here, so fans should hop all over it.

I was immediately intrigued as to how she was able to amass such a respectable list of artists and decided to sit and chat with Steph. Her story, though, was much more profound than I could have imagined and gives a whole new dimension to the project, which I’m comfortable referring to as a pretty timeless collection of fantastic music from some of the artists I grew up idolizing.

“I’ve always been a lover of music—particularly hip-hop,” Steph tells AAHH. “I grew up in the projects in Toronto after my biological father was killed in a car accident. My family lost everything and had to start over again. And that’s where I grew up like I found the community embraced me … I would just listen to hip-hop all the time.”

Her relationship with producer Big Sproxx began to show her the ropes in the studio, and her production chops began to develop organically. “It just snowballed from there,” she says.
She got heavily involved in the podcasting game after various guest appearances. “People were surprised; people were like ‘wow, this girl knows they’re a hip-hop.’ From there I started,” she says. She began doing interviews on her platform, Supreme Ultra Radio.

“I just wanted to keep the culture alive.” —Steph Dash Nash

“My first interview was with Pete Rock,” she says, “I was nervous as hell, but it came out well. Then I did one with Diamond D; I did one with General Steele, Ken Starr … a lot of underground artists. I made a lot of the connections—it’s (largely) how I was able to be able to bring the artists together for this album.”

 
Three years ago, she was awarded an Ontario Arts Council grant to help complete album, which she had begun working on it back in 2014, with the hope of releasing it in 2015. However, that timeline didn’t pan out as But that didn’t pan out as she was diagnosed with Glioblastoma, which is the most aggressive form of cancer that affects the brain initially.

“It’s the same cancer that Gord Downie just passed away from,” she says. “It’s also the same cancer that Senator Edward Kennedy passed away from — and the one that Senator John McCain is battling right now as well.”

“I had to hold back a little bit, but I was determined,” she continues. “I was more than halfway complete the album before I was diagnosed. So I had to put it on hold … they only gave me anywhere from six to nine months. But I’m going into my eighteen months now. I’m quite the fighter.”

In recent months, Steph has become an outspoken advocate for Glioblastoma, which is not only the most aggressive, but most underfunded form of cancer. From speaking live to writing multiple letters to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, she’s highlighting the need for allocated funds for research that could save lives of others — like herself — receiving the grim diagnosis.

“It’s [almost] like they feel because the mortality rate is so grim — that you’re going to pass anyway — that they don’t need to expand the necessary resources,” she explains.

“I was [recently] invited out to San Francisco; there are two surgeons that I befriended over the last couple years,” she says. “They’re husband and wife team … they’ve been working on a cure since they were nineteen. They’re not the only ones. There are very brilliant doctors working on this cure.”

“They’re trying to get me into a trial out there,” she continues, “because out here there is no funding.”

With every reason to feel broken, Steph remains a beacon of hope and courage. Though difficult, she pushed to complete True Grit, which served as a motivational factor to help her move forward — as Hip Hop had often done throughout her life.

“I just pushed it out and I mean I wanted to do more,” she says, “I wanted to have some more songs on it, but I had to be wise as well because I don’t know how much time I have — even though I’m very positive. I have to be realistic too, right?”

One of True Grits’ songs was a catalyst for Steph’s fighting spirit, “Strange Fruit” by O.C. — a one-time fav rapper who became a close friend. “Genetics passed down had that domino effect, but I refuse to accept…push to break the cycle even if it takes my life — or a lifetime to rewrite the rules,” he raps over the head nodding boom-bap sample.

“This song has assisted me with fighting this monster that invaded my brain. I guess you could call it my ‘Rocky Anthem’ to continue fighting,” she told writer Mike Cook of Hype Fresh Mag back in September.

Listen to True Grit here, and be sure to follow Steph’s journey on Twitter and Medium.

 

Riley here — father, artist, videographer, professional writer and SERIOUS hip-hop head. I'm a member of the Universal Zulu Nation, and I think everything is better on vinyl. Add me on Twitter! @specialdesigns
Related Articles
Uncategorized

You Should Be Excited About Rich the Kid’s Debut Album

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good

Atlanta via New York City rapper and Rich Forever Music founder Rich the Kid is set to drop his solo debut full-length in 2018.

After years of mixtapes and collaborations with artists such as Migos, Young Thug, and 21 Savage, Rich invested in himself and founded his label, Rich Forever Music, in the early spring of 2016. The first artists to hop on board were Chicago rapper Famous Dex and producer The Lab Cook, with whom Rich collaborated on the label’s first two tapes, Rich Forever Music and Rich Forever 2. In the fall of 2016, fellow New York City spitter Jay Critch signed to Rich Forever and, less than a year later, appeared with Rich and Dex on Rich Forever 3 – one of the best mixtapes of 2017, in my opinion.

https://twitter.com/richthekid/status/949364231475834880

Concerning his solo work, Rich signed to Interscope Records last summer and got to work on his full-length debut. The hype only grew in September when Rich dropped one hell of a single, “New Freezer,” with Kendrick Lamar. The landmark track rides an icy trap beat and showcases Rich’s talent as a hook-writer. Oh, and Kendrick snaps. Hard.

Only a few days into the new year, Rich announced via Twitter that Rich Forever 4 is on the way, featuring the same trio as its predecessor. On January 7, he posted an Instagram video of himself rapping along to an unreleased track with the caption “Finished my album last night now what should I call it?”

Whatever title Rich settles on, you can rest assured that this album is going to be good.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdqhQ33hcgR/

Continue Reading
Uncategorized

Migos Announce “Culture II” Release Date + Cover Art

One year after Migos “changed the culture” with their sophomore album, they plan to do it once more. Migos announced…

One year after Migos “changed the culture” with their sophomore album, they plan to do it once more. Migos announced Culture II via Instagram on Monday night, with a release date of January 26, almost one year after Culture (now certified platinum), took the world by storm, moving 131,000 copies in its first week. The announcement comes after a late 2017 interview with Montreality, where Quavo was vocal about the group’s new sound.

“We’re creating a whole new sound [with this album.] Hip-Hop has changed in a big way, so you could mark this down as we changing.” –Quavo (to Montreality)

The album is led by the Pharrell-produced single “Stir Fry,” and the Cardi-B assisted “Motorsport” — both of which are tearing up the Billboard Hot 100. While little is known about the project, Quavo promises top quality production. “CULTURE II WAIT TILL U C WHO EXECUTIVE PRODUCED IT” the rapper tweeted back in October. Check out the announcement below, and pray the trio release the tracklist soon.

C U L T U R E II

A post shared by Migos (@migos) on

Continue Reading
Uncategorized

Lil Pump’s Team Finesses Their Way Out Of WB Deal

With a successful debut album under his belt and a “xan-free” 2018 ahead, Lil Pump is now entering the new…

With a successful debut album under his belt and a “xan-free” 2018 ahead, Lil Pump is now entering the new year as an independent artist. According to Billboard, The “Designer” rapper recently terminated his contract with Warner Bros., stating he was only 16 when he signed.

Famed entertainment attorney John Branca wrote a letter to the label on Pump’s behalf, reaffirming the age issue, and further arguing the contract was “never certified by the court,” Billboard states. Warner Bros. Larry Mattera, the labels VP of commerce and marketing, said:

“We, as a company and as a label, needed to build and establish more of a presence in the urban space. They (clearly) had insights and relationships on the urban side of the business in the network landscape.”

The “Gucci Gang” rapper is well positioned as an independent artist and is rumored to be fielding offers anywhere from $8 to $12 million, according to Complex. The young Soundcloud breakout is already a high-paid sensation. In December, TMZ reported that Pump received a $345,000 advance on his debut album, in addition to 15% royalties. The album moved 46,000 copies its opening week, and its lead single “Gucci Gang” is still moving. Former Warner Bros. CEO Cameron Stang Praised the rappers business savvy, telling Billboard: “They’re innovative spirits, and they don’t take no for an answer. Pump is an incredible artist; he’s got fantastic charisma and a huge personality, with lots of talent and no fear.”

Lil Pump isn’t the only one making serious moves in 2018. Fellow Soundcloud rapper and childhood friend Smokepurpp recently signed to Travis Scott’s Cactus Jack Records and is finishing up a highly-anticipated collab album with Murda Beatz. Pump recently released his latest track “Trap Jumpin” featuring Juicy J, which you can find below.

Continue Reading
Uncategorized

“Money Power Respect” Turns 20

It’s a glimmering artifact that marked the end of Bad Boy’s golden era.

1996, I’m up at 2 am on a Friday dubbing College radio — as was the routine at the time — and then I hear it, “You’ll See” by The LOX featuring the Notorious B.I.G. Over the repurposed instrumental of Faith Evan’s “Used To Love Me,” the trio (though obviously younger) had that signature chemistry that we’ve always collectively loved them for, and of course a flame emoji Biggie verse. The song was dubbed off that original tape so many times the tape popped.

“Money Power Respect” Turns 20

The following year, we became even better versed with the Yonkers trio, as they made incredibly high profile appearances; first on Puffy’s “All About The Benjamins,” Ma$e’s “24 Hours To Live” and then on Mariah Carey’s “Honey” remix. By the time “If You Think I’m Jiggy” dropped on white label samplers, the hype for their debut album Money Power Respect was tremendous.

20 years later, it remains one of those albums that has stuck with me; though dipped in elements from the grandiose height of Jiggy” era, which was stamped with big budget videos and shiny suits, the album holds up with its incredible production and (timeless) street-hop lyricism.

When I call an album timeless, I base that title on the ability to rock an album all these years later and still have the same impact as it did the first time I rocked it. To put that statement into perspective, playing the debut album by Das Efx today likely doesn’t create the same charm as it did back in the day.

The title track of this album can still be played anywhere — at any time — and garner a positive reaction. The shit is a classic. But, apparent hits aside, it’s B-sides like the Carl Thomas “Let’s Start Rap Over,” which is an homage to rap legends of the 80s, or the spacey “All For The Love” instrumental that genuinely carry this project.

Ending with the touching “We’ll Always Love Big Poppa,” a tribute to Biggie, the album ultimately stands up as the end of the golden era of Bad Bay Entertainment. With Ma$e’s eventual departure from the game, Biggie returning to the essence, and Puff’s solo career taking on a new life of its own — on top of The Lox’s campaign to be released from the label — shit was never really the same. The label had hits and had a more than a few new “superstars” on its ever-changing roster, but nothing felt as powerful and impactful as their original run.

Money Power Respect is a classic album. Plain and simple. Whether you’re a Young head wondering how The Lox came to be so revered, or an old head who hasn’t bumped this album since your teens, It’s worth revisiting — in fact, here it is. Press play and let it run.

Continue Reading
More in Main, Stream
Combat Jack: A Legacy Of Journalistic Excellence

Yesterday (December 21) the world was shocked to hear of the untimely passing of one of the culture's most prominent...

Close