Asa Weeks
Asa Weeks Credit: Sahil Ranjhan; @sahil.shotit

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A new contender has entered the ring in D.C.’s local music scene. Asa Weeks, a 22 year-old rapper from Frederick, Maryland, will headline his first show in D.C. on Nov. 27 at Pie Shop. Weeks introduced himself to the city at the same venue in April and has since proven himself an energetic artist with much potential. His song “N.Y.C.” has been played a little over 27,000 times on Spotify and, on Oct. 31, he released a single called “MOE TOWN” to the surprise of his fans.

Weeks began his young music career when he released his first EP, Who Knew, in October 2020. Though it may seem ill advised to kick off a music career during a pandemic, Weeks found the experience therapeutic. “It was very, very freeing,” he says. “That was my one thing that kept me going.”

When Weeks began to perform live in 2021, he started getting serious about making a career out of his music. His first performance was on Juneteenth of that year at the Frederick Arts Council, where fans crowded around him for the first time after he finished his set. He followed up with more shows at Frederick venues New Spire Stages and Sky Stage, the latter of which Weeks sold out as the headliner.

“It’s no longer just some kid who’s doing this,” Weeks remembers thinking to himself after the show at Sky Stage. “Everything that I had been doing was justified.”

His success in Frederick led him to pursue a spot in D.C.’s music scene. Early this year he became involved with MadeInTheDMV, a think tank for local artists and brands. On April 26, he was part of a multi-artist concert that the organization held at Pie Shop. His next D.C. performance was at Union Stage on Sept. 2.

“Everything’s happening so fast that it’s hard to compartmentalize,” Weeks says, looking forward to the upcoming show. “I started writing songs in my friends’ bedrooms and my bedroom, and now I still do those things, but I also will end up in a really big, expensive studio with really renowned music professionals.”

Born to Liberian parents and growing up involved with his church, Weeks first discovered music through his father’s piano and his mother’s voice in the local choir. Weeks still recalls how, as a child, he would often try to hit the piano keys as his father played. “One thing that really drives my spirit and makes me feel connected to God is music,” he says. “There’s nothing like some gospel music.”

Weeks found his passion for rap in his early teens when he began listening to Childish Gambino, Lupe Fiasco, and Kid Cudi. He continues to lean on them for inspirations today.

Weeks’ songs are personal and relatable and touch on his family heritage and his experiences as a young Black man in America. Aimed at his Black listeners, Weeks says the core message of his music is “Don’t let anyone take your dreams.”

“In history, things get taken from us … whether it’s your life, whether it’s land, whether it’s a number of things,” he says. “But your dreams, those are the one thing that you got to hold on to.”

Even among the diversity of talent in D.C.’s rap scene, Weeks aims to stand out. Some local musicians have house music influences and others rap with rage. Weeks’ flow is more chill and draws from jazz influences. His discography includes a range of sounds from slow songs to upbeat ones, and his mastery over his own voice allows him to switch up his flow multiple times within each track.

Taken together, the final product helps convey Weeks’ story. “For a listener who appreciates art and appreciates passion in their art, they’ll find that I am as pure and honest and real as it can get in my music,” he says.

That passion is most apparent on the 2021 two-track release Black History Month. Weeks put a lot of himself into the lyrics that discuss his experiences as a Black student in private school, what he currently wants from his music career, and the fight against assumptions based on skin color that he and many others face.

Weeks knows he’s a young artist, but the pressure he feels means there’s no time to waste. He has to remind himself to stay present in the moment and self-reflect. Weeks says he plans to release new music, merchandise, and visual elements but won’t commit to sharing more details—for now. “The long-term stuff, that’s between me and God,” he says.

Asa Weeks performs at 8 p.m. on Nov. 27 at Pie Shop, headlining the No Holds Barred showcase. pieshopdc.com. $12–$20.