Skip to main content

Exclusive interview with RaShad Eas


Where are you from and could you tell us a little bit of your upbringing?

I am from Birmingham, AL. My upbringing was a typical church upbringing. However, coming up in a family that was very involved in the Civil Rights Movement, I learned a lot about US history, oppression, slavery, Jim Crow, and being from the south. 
As I matured, I explored Islam, and became very entrenched in religion and spirituality. 
Attending different kinds of schools growing up, I saw what it was like to go to a high resourced school and what it was like to go to a low resourced school. I learned to appreciate my community and where I am from.  
Lastly, I’m an outdoors person and I am an eagle scout. I believe in playing and respecting, parks, forests, and our natural resources.

What genre of music do you make and when did you first decide to be a musician?

I make music. Lyrically, its hip hop. However, as a trombonist, I also play Jazz and Rock music. I first decided to be a musician, watching my grandmother in church play the piano by ear. Then I also watched my grandfather sing in a quartet sharing gospel music with audiences. My mother and my uncles were in choruses, primarily in church, but I learned to love vocals. My uncle, Rev. James Orange is a well known Civil Right Leader and one of the contributions he made besides organizing, was coining some of the songs protesters would sing to stay encouraged while being on the front lines, risking their lives. 
When I was 11, after taking piano lessons since I was 7, I started with the Trombone and never stopped.

Who are some of the notable artists and people that influenced your career thus far?

People who have influenced my music are all over the place. Michael Jackson, Jackson Five, Temptations, James Brown, Little Richard, Marvin Gaye, Mahalia Jackson, Anita Baker, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Grover Washington, Jr., Freddie Hubbard, Earth Wind & Fire, Kool and the Gang, and Parliament all influenced my sound.

When it comes to hip hop the notable artists are: Dungeon Family, Native Tongue Crew, Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Rakim, Scarface, Ice Cube, KRS-ONE, Public Enemy, David Banner, Ludacris, Boot Camp Clik, Hieroglyphics Crew, Method Man & Redman, are the lyricists that I hold in high regard.

The heart in my music, I credit that to artists, writers and speakers, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Pauli Murray, W.E.B. Dubois, James Baldwin, Michelle Lanier, Dr. Elijah Anderson, Dr. Rupert Nacoste, Dr. David Washington, Dasan Ahanu, Nuri Muhammad, 19 Keys, Dr. Charles Stanley & Andy Stanley, Mickey Fearn, and Adrienne Charleston.

Could you tell us about your latest projects?

D.E.I. is my newest project that is 23 minutes and 7 songs. This project is a collection of songs from 4 other albums. The point of this project is to help people who care about diversity, equity and inclusion principles, to see the different angles one can approach DEI. However, I am also trying to show people that if we as a human race, do not hold ourselves accountable to one another, if we do not take a revisionist lens at history and if we do not humble ourselves, then we will destroy this planet, and one another. We all need love as children and more mature children, so this project is about uplifting people. 
Recently, I released three singles from my upcoming album, The Branch, which focuses on black children in the outdoors. When you hear this album you will enjoy the music, but the engagement between the characters in each skit.

What should we expect from you in the near future?

You should expect to hear more from my label mates that are on the Easley Branch, LLC. We specialize in making music with a message and we call it, “Save Your Life music” because if you apply what we say, your life will change. 
We have two more albums in the works as part of the Branch Series, and they are, The Tree and The Root. These two albums will continue the theme of talking about the environment.

Could you give us some advice that you can offer to someone who is just getting started in making music?

Learn music from all angles. Lyrics and using your voice is the easiest entry into music, but there is so much more. It would benefit you to learn about the style of music you love, and improve in your craft. Focus on music making if you are an artist that is expressing yourself. If you are artist that is looking for a place to succeed because school or having an 8-5 is too hard, I do not believe that should be the reason one gets involved in music. I also don’t think people that are just interested in music, should make music.

I believe if you have a message that you want to share, and you have created other platforms to share your message and music is one of them, your music will be more real, relevant to others, and it was come off as genuine.

Are there any important achievements you have gained since beginning to do music?

Yes, I have been able to open for big name artists like Big K.R.I.T. I have been able to spend time with those I grew up listening to, and see how they are outside of music and I am talking about the Goodie MOB. I was able to interview them on my podcast, Heartwood. 
Speaking of Heartwood, I have been able to speak to musicians and other artists on that platform. Being a professional that works in the academy, in the environment, as a consultant, and a performer, I can bring my authenticity to the work, without compromising who I am.

Besides music, what are some of the things that you are into?

I am into fitness. As a former, 300-pound weighing person that has lost more than half of the weight and maintained this health, activity and size going on 20 years, I love sharing and learning about health. 
As a former campus pastor, I still love reading the Bible and other sacred texts to learn about people, and to see how they worship. For me, my worship is my service to others. My curiosity is usually the entry way to growing a relationship. Therefore, I believe reciprocity is the way to live. 
I am a professor and an author. I write articles, and I have a published book, entitled, Mind Heart for Diversity. I lead a consulting firm with the same name. In this space, I am a facilitator, public speaker, curriculum designer and advisor to CEO’s, educators, and other types of leaders.

Are you currently on tour or planning to be?

I am on tour but not for music, but on a speaking tour. I work with numerous entities to address equity issues in their organizations and I help people remove barriers. This work is very important to me, and it comes out in my music, which is why I speak about topics like race, religion, sexuality, and being from the south. 
I’ll be doing more music performances as my music is now being integrated into curricula that teachers can use to educate youth.

Any last remarks?

Do not let music be the only thing you do. I remember when I was younger, I would often hear celebrities say, if you are doing music and other things, then you are not a true artist. Those celebrities quickly dropped from my watch list because I had to remember, I do not look up to anyone, and no one’s path is the same. Also, I have been successful in entertainment, education and working in government. Therefore, do not limit yourself to anything. Lastly pay attention to your energy and enjoy the journey. If you are not enjoying the journey, then you may be pursuing the wrong goals.

Check out his music here: