"Protect me Lord from all these vultures," Ashley "AK" King declares on Been Bout Dat, the first single from her I Go By AK EP.
King, whose musical influences include Three 6 Mafia, Master P., & No Limit began her own journey in Hip-Hop at just 10 years old, rapping alongside her cousin, for her mother and aunt. She knew from that point that she loved to entertain.
Growing from living room concerts to the Rap Fame app and YouTube, the Memphis, Tennessee native's journey in music has been filled with one learning lesson after another.
How has your journey with music been? Did you start by posting freestyles on social media or go straight into the studio to record? It's been a roller coaster. From knowing the true meaning behind it and knowing the role I could play is a big deal. I rapped throughout high school, quit and went back to school. I got two degrees and got a job and felt like something was missing, and it ended up being music, so I started back with music... on an app called rap fame. It's almost like a Facebook for rappers or something. My music started off doing pretty well so I created a YouTube, Soundcloud and IG and started getting to it.
How did “I Go By AK” come together? What’s the story behind the title of your project? I bought the beat for Been Bout Dat and said I had to go ahead and keep going. Next thing you know I was gathering beats together and came up with an EP. [It's] an overall summary of who I am, welcoming myself back in the game.... an evolution of me transitioning into Ashley King.
What about recording, did it take long to put together? The recording and getting the sound right took the longest. It took months due to Covid. Writing all the songs took like a week or two, beat selection was overnight, and production 2-3 month's.
New artist don't always know the complete production process. Did you always know how to book studio time?
I was recording at my cousin studio Paco [but] used to record in studios when I was in a group in high school...learned a lot with them. Just started booking at One Sound studio in Memphis and it was on from there. I already knew and understood how to book just from previous experience.
The intro to your EP features a drop from Memphis legend Gangsta Boo. What's the story behind that?
I connected with her through just grinding and paying for promo. It turned into us just connecting and her being a mentor on some Memphis shit and female empowerment shit. She slid me the drop and I was like, 'oooohhhhhh!!' Mane I was so thankful it was so dope cuz it was like she was giving me the key or just basically fw me and I was so stoked.
What is your favorite track on the project?
My favorite track is Mind Trix because I'm being vulnerable and expressing what I'm going through dealing with anxiety at the time. A lot of people deal with anxiety but be afraid to speak on it. I made that song for people to chill to, listen and smoke to & feel it.
On “Don’t Talk 2 Me” you address a lot of things, wanting to make money but not by ‘shaking your ass’, the need for validation, trust issues, and even the side effects of vaping. Can you elaborate on the thought process behind making the song?
So many thoughts were going on in my mind when I made Don't Talk 2 Me. It all just flowed during the creative process. I had no actual plan while I was thinking and writing. I felt like I was putting it out there with who I am, that I don't have to shake my ass just because I'm doing music, which is no shade to anyone at all, I'm just speaking my truth. The need for validation is real on social media. I learn to just be myself. And I was vaping at the time and was having serious throat issues but I figured out the problem.
Your project sounds almost like a testimony of sorts, can you provide insight on who/if the project is directed at anything/anyone in particular.
[It] isn't projected towards anyone but more of expressing and releasing all of the old things I've been through... putting it all on wax. It's definitely a testimony...because I'm addressing many parts in different songs about my life and how I felt and what I been through and how I've grown. I'm giving knowledge and game as well. I quit rap a long time ago due to my faith and trying to understand certain things. Now that I'm grown I have grown to understand who I am. I have [a] relationship with God. And I feel like it's ok for me to rap the way I do even though I curse because I'm telling stories and spittin a message.
What goals do you have for your rap career? Are you signed? Do you have a plan or are you just going with the flow?
I have plans to rise and be a dope, cool female rapper with a demeanor that inspires many men and women to simply be themselves. And no, I'm unsigned. [Right now] I'm going with the flow but my projects will be consistent. I love music so I'm doing this for the love of it. I don't have a manager [but] I wouldn't be opposed to having one if it gives me guidance. I was locked in with one but it just wasn't a good fit. [I want] somebody computer savvy and understands marketing and analytics. Knows how to research and keep up with the latest events to attend. I am enjoying being independent. It's a lot to learning and a lot of investing fasho.
Where do you get your advice from? What is the best advice you’ve received?
From my parents, friends, other artist and people in music. Do me, follow my gut.
We all have those moments where we want to give up. Have you had them? If so, how many times have you quit and more importantly, what happened to make you start again?
I have quit rap once in my life. I was 19 at the time and I quit rap and started going to church heavily. I was trying to find myself. I was learning a lot about the music industry. I didn't start back until now because I'm ready and have more knowledge about the industry and who I am. People were so mad when I quit but I'm not quitting anymore. The time is now.
Last thing, we often spend our present time focusing on our future and what we have yet to do opposed to reflecting on our past and acknowledging how far we have come. So picture yourself in 5 years (2025), you see this interview on Throwback Thursday and it’s you from  saying what to yourself?
To my future self I would say you didn't give up, you followed your dreams and look where you are now, accomplishing goals. Keep fulfilling your dreams and help others.
Check out Ashley's latest visual for "Mind Trix".