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Song Background: “It’s so Fresh” featuring Ashley Nicole

in Lyric Breakdown & Background by

Most of my songs are about family, Detroit, friends, and hip-hop (I often opened shows sharing this). “It’s so Fresh” captures all of these dynamics, and more. I share names and experiences that have shaped my perspective of family, women, and cool.

I wrote “It’s so Fresh” in 2003. It was originally on my unreleased album “Mama’s Kid.” “Mama’s Kid” sampled exclusively Motown music. Upon advice from everyone I knew (especially my Entertainment Attorney Stephanie L Hammonds, Thank You!) I never released that album. Withstanding the time was the content. I’ve always enjoyed the lyrics from the album, particularly the lyrics used for “It’s so Fresh.” I feel the writing was remarkable. I always remembered the lyrics. I believe if I write a good song, I should have the ability to remember it verbatim. If I can forget a lyric, I should not use it.

Originally the song was titled ‘Baby Boy.’ It was recorded on my Roland 1880 Digital Recorder at the Track Cave Studios. The Track Cave Studios was the recording studio in my basement. The Track Cave welcomed a host of talent from Detroit. Recognizable hip-hop artists such as Off-Rip, Early Mac, Mike Posner, Supa Emcee, Danny Brown, Tone Tone, Finale, Kaunn, and a host of other acts all recorded in my basement. It inspired me to write, record, and produce more of my own music.

Ian & his brothers: Casey, Khalid, & Robb; Ian; Ashley ; Ashley & her son Ray
Ian & his brothers: Casey, Khalid, & Robb; Ian; Ashley ; Ashley & her son Ray

Working on my soon to be released “If Detroit were Heaven,” album with producer Ian Sherman, I wanted to include a song that had an offering of a past styling in which I wrote lyrics. Listening through Ian Sherman’s music I landed on the music to “It’s so Fresh.” I feel the texture of the synths and drums used capture an optimism that’s reminiscent me of the joy of my childhood. Matching this music to a story about my childhood is sonically balanced. Ian challenges me to create with a purpose. Therefore “It’s so Fresh” is one of the greatest pieces I feel I’ve made.

The chorus for “It’s so Fresh” was originally written for a song I was making with Lola Damone. We drafted a series of songs in the summer of 2012 (Lola, if you’re reading this we still need to do a 5 song project ASAP). One of the best ideas to come from these drafted songs was the idea of playing with old hip-hop sayings hence: fresh; dope; flyy; phat; and def. These adjectives are dated, but match my childhood in which the story I’m telling takes place (though I still use flyy … I’m a fan of Ron O’neil). That foundation matched up to create the chorus for “It’s so Fresh.”

Soon after writing the chorus I invited General Population band vocalist Ashley Nicole to sing the chorus. She delivered an amazing performance which is what you’re hearing. One of the best things about the performance was Ashley brought her son Ray to the session as well. I always feel children are the best ears for music. Ray loved “It’s so Fresh.”

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