Interview with a Songwriter: Ahmen

I met Ahmen at a set at Ella Lounge a while back, and there was an immediate mutual respect between the two of us. Since that time, my man A's been on a TEAR promoting his most excellent Hero Ball LP by rocking venues all over New York and New Jersey, and I've had the honor to step in and perform our debut collaboration track, Kaiju on a number of occasions. The big homey sits down to get deep on songwriting, and sends up a call-to-action for all you musical souls out there...

1. Do you have a songwriting method, or is it different every time?

All of my songs are driven by purpose. I need to have a clear sense of the message I want to convey and what I want to achieve. To get to that point, I'll think about a song for a week (or multiple weeks) before I even sit down to write it. I'll contemplate the story, the structure, the metaphors, and more. That doesn't mean it all just flies by when I finally put pen to paper. As a matter of fact, I might even be a slower writer now than when I first started. I'm more meticulous now and don't want to waste a single word. Every flow and every lyric is on purpose, and that's what creates my unique Ahmen sound.

2. Any advice for aspiring songwriters?

First off, no shortcuts. Think about how many cadences, metaphors, words, etc. suffer from Repetitive Stress Syndrome in hip hop (or any other style of music, for that matter). That's why music has gone stale. If you want to create something memorable, you have to deviate from the easy route. Second, find yourself. Outside of hip-hop, my day job involves working with youth in the Bronx, Queens, Harlem, and Brooklyn. I frequently run into aspiring songwriters, yet I'm saddened to hear so many of them create the same ol' stuff. Their stories are diverse and have the potential to be powerful, but their music succumbs to the pressures of conformity. Share your true story with the world!

3. What are your feelings on collaborations?

I LOVE collaborations. It pushes me as an artist to up my game, creates access to new audiences, and most importantly, it opens the door to magical synergy like the worldshaking "Kaiju". There's greater power in collaborations than thousands-to-millions of MCs just trying to go at it solo.

4. What’s your favorite song? Favorite Album? Why?

Well that's easy...Troublemaker (song) and Hero Ball (album) by me. OK enough of the shameless self promotion. My favorite song and album depend on my mood. The song could be anywhere from Sam Cooke "A Change Is Gonna Come" to Nas "One Mic". For the favorite album, if I had to choose one, gotta go with the Greatest Artist Ever: Michael Jackson "Thriller".

5. What’s your latest project/wanna shill anything?

On the note of collaboration, that's my current focus. I'm trying to work with as many artists as possible right now, and will pivot to a new project this year. If you're up for making some memorable music together, holla at me!

You can reach Ahmen via Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, and

BRBRCK is a rapper and producer (and blogger, obviously) based in Brooklyn, NY. Check out his musical stylings here.