The California native is far from done.
It’s hard to speak on the current landscape of West Coast rap – or really rap as a whole – without the mention of the hard-hitting music of the Long Beach native A$ton Matthews. A$ton is very much a product of his environment, but never let his environment hold him back. At 18, he’s and lived more than most might in their lifetime. Before his career in music, A$ton was living a life influenced by the streets and his Piru alliances. It wasn’t until he dodged death that he turned his full attention to music. After being shot in the chest and being within an inch of his life being taken, his road to recovery included a life style change, and A$ton focused on music and left the street life behind him.
A$ton Matthew’s legacy is already as solid as most rap veterans – all before ever releasing a debut album. His come-up as a member of the Cutthroat Boyz, a West Coast rap trio comprised of Vince Staples, Joey Fatts, and himself, helped solidify A$ton’s core sound, and the friendship with Vine Staples helped connect A$ton to ASAP Yams. A$ton impressed everyone he came in contact with, and with Yams’ tutelage, the path was set for A$ton to grow as an artist and take a stronghold over in the genre.
A$ton burst on the national scene with his 2014 mixtape, ASTON 3:16, which featured the likes of his groupmates, Vince and Joey Fatts, as well as rising East Coast artists like Action Bronson, ASAP Ferg, and Flatbush Zombies. The fusion of some of the genre’s highest ranking rising artists of the time spoke volumes to A$ton’s talent level and skill. The mixtape helped A$ton link on to many national tours through the following year and set himself up for a nationwide fan base ready to hear more of his gritty, real life street raps.
A$ton is getting ready to release his official debut album, Chapovelli, sometime this year through Yamborghini Records, an obvious ode to one of his closest friends and confidants in ASAP Yams that A$ton had found through the beginning stages of his rap career. We spoke to A$ton to touch on his journey into this album, his journey prior, and the arrival of his first son. The interview coincides with the premiere of his latest single and music video for “Gettin To It” produced by P’ierre Bourne.
Congrats on the baby boy – what’s fatherhood like?
Its fire! Its one of the most selfless things to happen to a human. Nothing else matters but him. Any child is special, but having a son is definitely a different chapter in my life. Its a new start for me. To be able to come home after a long day and to see my sons face gives me life, a new life.
Your history in the music is well documented, but if someone was to just hear of you now, how would you describe yourself to someone who has never listened to your music?
I give you the raw. I give you the unfiltered version of the street. I give you my neighborhood as I see it. The good, the bad, the ugly. I don’t really care how you feel about it because it’s my reality. But it’s turnt, and it’s something there for everybody at the same time.
You’re born and raised on the west coast and came up alongside Vince and Joey as part of Cutthroat, but you’re equally as connected to the east coast via ASAP Mob – you were probably one of the first rappers to do that in this generation. What do you think attributed to that ability to go from coast to coast?
I can really rap. I can really rap, I respect everybody soil, and I’m given that respect back. The struggle is universal, what I’m going through is something that they could’ve been going through, we’ve all been through similar things in our life and we connected. But the initial glue was Yams, as far as all the solid connections I’ve made, they’re from him. A lot of the people he introduced me to have had similar beginnings. They can smell it. They can hear it over the beat. But the glue was always Yams, and we all bonded through his vibration.
It’s been a while since the world has gotten a full Aston Matthews offering – has that been a liberating break from pushing full length projects?
Not necessarily, it’s never been that planned out. I saw Yams die in front of my face, and it did something to me. It showed me something in the game that I didn’t like, it took all the fun away. It’s not like I didn’t want to record through that process, but the answers were stripped from me. The vision was stripped from me. I feel like when Phil Jackson left the Bulls, I had no answers.
How did you get that vision back after having to go through something like that, with Yams? What type of healing helped you and how did you mentally refocus on the music?
I don’t think that you ever get the vision back. You can never replace a visionary like Yams – so you never get that vision back. I guess you think to yourself, “What would Yams do?” and you find that growth in real life. You use that process to create a new push and find the new vision. I don’t think there is a healing process for what I experienced, I think what happened made me dive deeper into my own addictions – which I don’t advise. But taking my focus off of rap allowed me to see that I can never take my own talents for granted again. The perspective of seeing my own surroundings, and the people around me struggling was the only motivation I needed to get back to it.
With the lengthy break, what are some things you’ve maybe learned about the music business or learned about yourself?
Ain’t no friends. The relationships are here, they come, and they go with your status. It ain’t all what its crapped up to be, but its the same people you find in the streets: Fakes, Phoneys, some good, some bad, some people that fall through the cracks, but we maneuver. With that being said, I learned I’m resilient, and nothing will every break me. i know I’m making songs better than I made them before, I know that this music shit is in me. It’s one thing to do it, anyone can do it, but to have the music consume you is another thing.
What is one piece of advice that current-day Aston would give to yourself 5 years ago?
Keep your foot on their neck. Don’t let them breathe. Don’t think so much. Just go.
Community seems to be a big thing to you, from your affiliations and your friendships on the music side of things. Do you consider yourself a people person, and how important is collaboration to you?
I wouldn’t consider myself a people person but when I find a relationship thats genuine you got my 450% effort. But if its fuck you, then its fuck you. And as far as how important collaboration is to me, I’d say its not very, it all has to be organic to me. I would never just put anybody on my project hot or not, I gotta really smell where you coming from.
You’ve always been someone who has kept good company, between west and east coast rising stars, but you recently dropped a track with a literal legend in Prodigy. How did that come about?
Well me and Prodigy met at Alchemist’s crib multiple times and never worked. It was more of a respect thing at the time. And later on when the opportunity presented itself to work, he was 100% with it, it was an honor. He’s a legend, so to even have him acknowledge me, speaks to my legacy when its all said and done. To be able to even breathe on the same track as a legend really speaks to my lyrical ability, and for me thats all the validation I ever needed – the big dogs, the guys that I looked up to coming up. It’s definitely a top five moment in my life and in my career.
What can the world expect from Chapovelli? Will it have some familiar names that you’ve been associated with?
All I can say is that its coming, your gonna see some old faces and your going to see some new faces, but you gonna know its me when you hear it.
What is success to you in regards to music? How do you measure your own wins and what have you set out to accomplish as milestones?
Never losing who you are as a person, for personal gain, is success to me. To be able to put your family, friends, and loved ones in positions they’ve never been in, is success to me. To put your mother in a place to where she never has to set foot into work again, is success to me. I don’t even feel like I’ve won. I haven’t won until everything I just said has come true. Until that check list is checked the W hasn’t come. I just want to be a household name, I want you to look back when its all said and done and say, he’s a legend without question. I want to speak for my people, and make a way for people that look just like me – those are milestones in my book.