With her second album, Sasha Speaks in the works, Yetunde Alabi, better known as Sasha has been busy. Taking a break from shoots and recording, the 26 year old speaks.
What have you been up to lately?
Working on my album. We are mixing, mastering and working on concepts for the album cover. Basically, Sasha Speaks, the album, is in its final stages. I worked with Mo'Cheddah, Omawumi and Asa.
Why Sasha Speaks?
Well, because most of the songs on the album are my personal opinion. When I began to work on it, I didn't want to tailor it towards hip or club songs. I wanted to be inspired by stuff I want to really talk about. I'm very excited about all the songs because they are very different and talk about so many things. No two songs sound [alike].
Will we see sides of Sasha we've never seen?
I'm not sure if there will be things you've never seen before but people who listened to the First Lady album will not be too surprised when they hear the new album but they will be excited because I have more songs. I write music with a message and this album has a lot of messages which is the main core of the album. [It's] real talk this time; the dominant themes are positive and straight talk.
What has changed about you and your sound since 2001 when you began?
I've grown up (laughs) which I don't like to admit. They say experience is wealth so I'm wealthy experience wise. I know what I want to sound like and how I will sound in a few years time. I have got direction so I know what my subsequent albums will sound like.
Has music always been ‘it' for you?
Professionally, no but I know I had always wanted to be a voice to be reckoned with. I always said I wanted to be a voice in my generation, a movement so to speak and such wanted to be a reference point for good in future. I grew up in a very musical family and for a long time I used to think I was Getrude of Sound of Music. I'm the last of eight kids and imagine seven adults in front of me who were very musically inclined. My mum and siblings were in the choir but nobody did it professionally. My paternal grandfather used to be a drummer for the Police band and my mum is also a great dancer and basically I was exposed to a lot of music growing up. I used to perform at family functions and we used to have a lot of parties where I would command everyone's attention with my performances.
I called eLDee of the Trybesmen commending the group's work and [told him] I rap. Back then many girls didn't do rap so he made me come over to the studio [to] freestyle but I said I could only free write (I wrote as fast as you can rap). I performed for him and the next day he sent me a contract which I was supposed to sign in two weeks. It just started from there. It was meant to be.
Tell us about the collaboration with female Mozambican rapper Dama Do Bling on "Put it Down."
We wrote the song together but the verses separately because I don't speak Portuguese. We were in the studio with Frenzy here in Nigeria when he played us some beats and we found this one. It was important we found something people would enjoy here in Nigeria as well as Mozambique. We used to hear about each other but had never met, [when we did] we joked about being rivals. Even though you don't get to hear what we are saying most of the time you could vibe to it. It was shot in the Alexandra Township in South Africa. It's a buzz record, a collaborated effort and was also on her album released in November and on my Sasha Speaks album. It was a good way to start entering other African countries.
What about your fashion line, Ecletic by Sasha?
It was borne out of the need to create outfits I could buy. When I started my career, I had photo shoots and performances where I would come up with concepts like, ‘I want to [be] a fire woman' and you can't find that anywhere. My mum had a fashion house called Poise Fashion, so I learnt to make stuff for my dolls out of the scraps and fabrics, so I know how to cut. I started with chiffon, making ponchos and people liked it. So I do bespoke and have done stuff for students all over Nigeria but I have slowed down over time. However, Eclectic by Sasha is a retail line in the making and hopefully before the end of the year you will be able to walk into a shop and buy it.
What's your take on the influx of female rappers on the Nigerian music scene?
I think it's overdue. Just like women were not afraid to say I rap unlike in the past, now you don't have to be a tom boy to rap or a lesbian, it's no lo nger taboo.
Do male rappers pose any threat?
I don't like the ‘female rapper' tag because a rapper is a rapper. While I was with Trybe Records, I never met Blaise until we did the "Oya" video. The men don't pose any threat, when I used to rap with my family friends I was the only girl in the group. I was always around men and it was good because it helped sharpen my skill. I was always in friendly competition.
What is the worst thing ever written about you?
Not worst but the one that I was dating Naeto C. It was taken to be the truth so when they say ‘Oh, you're Naeto C's girlfriend' I am almost blushing because I am like no and they don't believe me. It's been on for so long and almost seemed true at some point. It did affect my relationship at some point. You know it's hard for people who are not in the industry to decipher when something wrong is written about you, apart from your close friends. You can't call everyone individually to explain. Celebrities are human beings so we get affected too. I may be very outspoken but I'm a very private person.
So is Sasha in a relationship?
No, I'm not and I don't talk about my private life. Even if I am in one, I will not talk about it.
Which memorable moment readily comes to mind?
My Channel O award for last year. I'm not sure if I should say this but I had one shoe off. Those were brand new shoes and they hurt. All of a sudden, they called me as the winner. I was so used to getting nominated that I never expected to win. It came as a very big surprise and so they hit me like ‘you won' so here I was hopping on one shoe and trying to go upstage to receive my award.