Smoldering and spiritual, heartfelt and cathartic, AHI’s beautiful third album ‘Prospect’ resonates as a stunning, soulful work of raw humanity.
Stream: “Danger” – AHI
It’s a trip, how someone you never know can be buried in your DNA…
“I just want to live like someone before my time is counting on me,” AHI sings at the top of his third studio album, “and walk beneath the wings, like someone from another life is looking out for me.” Intimacy radiates off the singer/songwriter as he connects his ancestral past with his present, immediately inviting listeners deep into his world and fostering a space for reflection and wonder, honesty and understanding, human connection and vulnerability. It’s but the beginning of a beautiful journey for artist and audience alike, as the singer/songwriter proceeds to explore himself and embrace his roots, his drives, his dreams, his loves, and his community through ten songs full of heart, compassion, desire, and intent. Smoldering and spiritual, heartfelt and cathartic, AHI’s Prospect resonates as a stunning, soulful work of raw humanity – one in which the artist unapologetically embraces himself, shares his truths, and dwells in his own visceral, depths.
Timothy was left on Adelaide
to lay there cold in his own blood
Shadows fall down endless alleyway
A fiendish pain where bullets struck
Ricochet laws, innocence don’t shield your skin,
protect your fragile bones
Single teardrop gazing into dusk
as he looked up and he cried
I feel danger
Hear me calling
Be my savior, Lord
Hear me calling
I’m afraid here
Night is falling
Don’t let me die alone
I feel danger
Lift my breath, my heart, my soul
Lift my breath, my heart, my soul
Released November 5, 2021 via 22ND SENTRY / Thirty Tigers and produced by Paul Mabury, Prospect is a boundless aural compendium of intimate experience and emotion. Following 2017’s We Made It Through the Wreckage and 2018’s In Our Time, the third studio album from Toronto’s AHI (born Ahkinoah Habah Izarh) finds the Canadian singer/songwriter taking full advantage of both space and cinema: His songs are catchy and cleansing, blending elements of folk, soul, roots, pop, and more to create a signature sound brimming with warmth and passion. From hopes and dreams to scars and wounds, AHI is an open book on Prospect, delivering some of his most honest material to date as he allows himself to delve deeper than ever before.
“Prospect is the perfect introduction to who I am as an artist,” AHI tells Atwood Magazine. “I pride myself in being honest above all else, and this is definitely my most honest offering to date. For the first time, I just let the music flow, without worrying about what label, genre, or category it might end up in, and the resulting fusion is unapologetically me.”
This record is admittedly a long time in the making, arriving nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to that, AHI was riding high, coming off a grueling but successful set of tours that had him exposed to more ears than ever before. “Before the world came to a halt, I spent nearly two years touring across the US and Canada, playing sold-out shows at such iconic stages as Radio City Music Hall, Red Rocks, the Greek Theatre and Massey Hall,” he says. “In the majestic nature of these spaces and the overwhelming response to my performances, this life-changing opportunity helped me to see the true magnitude of my voice for the first time, and that realization definitely influenced my songwriting on Prospect. Anyone familiar with my music will hear a distinct departure from the less refined indie-folk/Americana feel of my previous efforts, but Prospect has brought my voice and storytelling to the forefront of every song, with a bigger sound and pop sensibility, and yet without sacrificing the warmth and raw grittiness that my audience has come to appreciate from my live performances.”
“I had originally planned to record this album in early 2020 in the hopes of having something ready to release by festival season, and I was really looking forward to Summer 2020 being most impactful tour schedule yet. Of course, the pandemic hit and completely derailed my plans, but when it all stopped it actually forced me to go deeper into myself and reflect on the work I had created. And that’s when I realized there were some important things that I still hadn’t yet said on this record, so I used the unexpected time off to keep writing new songs. It just so happens that some of the very last songs I wrote have now become my favourite ones on the entire record.”
AHI describes this record as “reassuring, honest, and powerful.”
It’s not that he hasn’t been true to himself in the past; in fact, tracks like “Ol’ Sweet Day” from his debut and “Breakin’ Ground” from his sophomore LP (along with many more song) showcase his natural proclivity toward the personal, which he’s always done without sacrifice. Prospect is an evolution in this series; it’s AHI doing what he does best, at his very best. He explains how the album’s name itself speaks to its meaning and substance:
“I called my album Prospect because I learned that I have more control over my destiny than I realized. So don’t ever let anyone’s judgement of who you are dictate what you can do or how you can express yourself. That’s why I write the music I do. I want my words to empower and my voice to uplift. So please shine your light because you and I are the Prospect.”
He pauses, adding, “Prospect is the title track of this album, and it’s also the opener. As the hook says, “I just want to live like someone before my time is counting on me…and walk beneath the wings like someone from another life is looking out for me.” For me, this song, like the album itself, is a reflection on our shared humanity and what it means to be a link in a chain that stretches both forwards and backwards through time for generations upon generations. It may be a heavy concept to wrap your mind around, but the way I see it, we are positioned at the centre of eternity: Whether we realize it or not, all of our ancestors are rooting for us, and all of your future descendants are counting on us. This universe can often leave us feeling small and insignificant, but I truly believe that our lives are part of something bigger and more meaningful than we understand. You and I are the prospect, and our impact on each other is far more immense than we can ever imagine.”
It may be a heavy concept to wrap your mind around, but the way I see it, we are positioned at the centre of eternity: Whether we realize it or not, all of our ancestors are rooting for us, and all of your future descendants are counting on us.
The album’s art further speaks to its personal import, as well as AHI’s message of being true to yourself and embracing all the parts that make us whole: “As a Black man, I’ve always been very conscious of the ways people can pigeonhole you before they’ve even heard your music,” he says. “I made an intentional decision not to put my face on my first two albums because I wanted people to listen to the music before they made any kind of judgments.”
“I thought by hiding my face I was tricking the industry, but I was really cheating myself,” he admits. “The decision was rooted in the fear. The fear of not being given a fair shot because of what I looked like. But honestly y’all, I’m done letting others dictate my decisions. That’s never really been my character until I got into this “music industry.” Prospect is all about shining both literal and metaphorical lights: On the cover, AHI’s silhouette is barely visible against the jet-black background, but for a small ray of light hitting his face and outlining his head and chest. It’s not enough to see his full self – leave that for the music, let’s say – but it’s enough recognize he is owning his story, turning now to face the camera fully, and holding nothing back.
Highlights abound within this expansive 34-minute volume, from the timeless album opener “Prospect” and the heavy-hearted, impassioned “Danger” (a poignant song full of urgency and fragility), to the unrelenting, joyous reverie of “Until You,” the radiant, soul-baring connection of “Say It to Me,” and the heart-on-sleeve love and endless devotion rippling through “Full Circle.”
“This is the first record where I can honestly say that there’s not one track on here that missed the mark,” AHI says, beaming from ear to ear. He cites the songs “Say It to Me” and “Full Circle” (“If I absolutely had to choose“) as his personal favorites, further citing lines from two other songs as some of his proudest lyrical moments:
“Fighting teardrops, mama’s intuition fighting back as she cried, I feel danger…” – Danger
“It’s a trip how someone you never knew can be buried in your DNA” – Prospect
“I would hope that this music can bring people the comfort and the reassurance they need to know that none of us are in this life alone, their life has purpose, and they can overcome whatever challenges it might throw their way,” AHI shares. “In the process of making this record, I learned that no matter how deep you think you’ve gone inside yourself, there will always be a deeper layer you can reach if you’re willing to go there within yourself to create something truly meaningful.”
Everything I’ve lost is all I’ve got
There ain′t much I can give
But I’ll give you everything
Anything you had
You gave me half
When I was living with nothing
You helped me believe in something
Didn’t know where to go, was alone on the outside
Everyday I was waiting to say it′s about time
I find one to keep me warm
I was one of the wandering
Trying to fight through the elements
Time stood still when you first walked in
Fate made plans I could never predict
I was empty, lost without a clue
Until now, until you
Press play on any one of Prospect‘s songs, and you are sure to hear an open soul and a ready heart. With songs of healing and liberation, reckoning and renewal, Prospect offers a soundtrack not to escape, but rather to rediscovery. AHI’s music feels at once timely and timeless; it’s his extraordinary level of intimacy and honesty that ensures we’ll be coming back to this album time and again for many years to come.
Experience the full record via our below stream, and peek inside AHI’s inspiring Prospect with Atwood Magazine as the singer/songwriter goes track-by-track through the music and lyrics of his latest album!
I called my album ‘Prospect’ because I learned that I have more control over my destiny than I realized. So don’t ever let anyone’s judgement of who you are dictate what you can do or how you can express yourself. That’s why I write the music I do. I want my words to empower and my voice to uplift. So please shine your light because you and I are the Prospect.
Stream: ‘Prospect’ – AHI
:: Inside Prospect ::
I was looking out the window of the 161 bus in Toronto as I passed by Prospect Cemetery when the first seeds of this song came to me. To locals, this cemetery is like a vibrant park trail right in the middle of the city, and riding past it that day I couldn’t help reflecting on a time when I was wandering through the cemetery and stumbled across my own grandparent’s tombstone without even knowing they’d been buried there. I immediately had all these flashbacks and thought What if we knew our ancestors were depending on us from the afterlife? What if our fulfillment could also be their fulfillment? This universe can often leave us feeling small and insignificant, but I truly believe our lives are part of something bigger and more meaningful than we understand.
Music comes to me in my dreams all the time. Danger was one of those songs where I dreamt I was singing the chorus to a huge crowd as they sang along to every word, and I immediately woke up and recorded it with a sense of urgency. Little did I know, my song told the story of a mother whom I would later meet for the first time, whose son had been lost to gun violence in a manner eerily similar to the lyrics of the song I had dreamt. Hearing that mother’s story affirmed for me that the solution and healing we are looking for is rooted in the realization that life is fragile and precious. Gun violence and gun laws are a hot-button issue, but that’s not what this song’s about; while some people are physically wounded by bullets, others are spiritually and emotionally scarred for life.
Lift Me Again
Sometimes my best moments in songwriting come when I let my voice and emotions lead the way. Lift Me Again was all about servicing my feelings and letting my voice rise to the surface in a way I’d never done before. At the time I wrote it, I felt like I was facing adversity, like my blessings were intentionally being stifled and no one could see it except for me. But night after night I was met with standing ovations on such iconic stages as Radio City Music Hall, Red Rocks and The Greek Theatre, and no matter how heavy things felt that crowd reminded me my voice could be powerful and healing. Lift Me Again is a call for help and strength when you feel like you’ve got nothing left in you, but you have to keep going.
I wrote this song in the middle of the pandemic, at the height of the protests. The world was more divided than I had seen in my lifetime and I’m often advised to stay safe and neutral with the hope of bringing people together. And I would normally take that advice, but sometimes it feels like a warfare inside when you bottle up your feelings because you don’t want your words to be picked apart and used against you. For me and countless other Black people, it can often feel like we are constantly living in a duality, where we have to silence a part of ourselves just to exist peacefully. Coldest Fire is the vulnerability that comes with that duality.
Say It To Me
Just when I thought I had written every song for this album, “Say It To Me” emerged and is now possibly my favourite song on the record. I know I shouldn’t say that, but I measure songs on how much I need them in my life. And I needed this song. Anyone who has had any kind of relationship with me knows I take pride in my ability to listen because I believe there’s a power in allowing someone to be heard. So there are few greater feelings to me than when someone is wiling to listen to me and let me be heard. I rarely ever cry, but when I finished recording this song the emotion in the studio was so heavy that I couldn’t help but shed some tears.
I was one of the wandering; trying to fight through the elements is more than just a lyric – it’s my story. But you don’t have to backpack across the wilderness of North America, trek through the tropics of the Caribbean islands, or climb the Ethiopian highlands without a penny to your name like I have, to understand the extreme weight of loneliness and isolation. In my experience, that weight was only lifted once I found that someone who helped me find myself. It’s as rare as some of the most remote parts of this vast earth; but when you finally find that someone, you feel like you’ve conquered the world.
I look at Echo as a kind of anthemic spiritual for a lost people. We are the abandoned ones… All my life I’ve felt like I was on the outside, but when you look at the world you have to admit that the disenfranchised and voiceless are usually in the majority. Now imagine if we all came together and sang as one people. Though once ignored, we will be heard. Til all of our voices ring as one… It’s a bit idealistic, but the image of us all chanting one unified song is simply beautiful to me – it’s everything I sing for and the reason why I create music at all.
Cool of the Day
I’ve always found the story of the fall of man to be so poetic and tragic. It’s a haunting love story. Cool of the Day represents a time when we were almost ignorant of how carefree and perfect everything was. Then we bit that proverbial apple, fell from grace, and now you look around and realize how far we’ve fallen. Regardless of what we’ve been through together, what if I don’t give up on you and you don’t give up on me? Can we find the way back to that place?
One of the best things anyone has ever told me is that man is lost without a good woman. That advice changed my life and ultimately led me to finding the most important person I’d ever meet: My wife. She is my anchor and my grounding. No matter how lost I feel in this world, she can always help me find myself again. When I feel like everything’s going wrong, she helps me get right. And if I ever feel like I’m drifting too far, she brings me full circle.
On Your Way
Life is about transitioning through stages; as one stage ends, a new one begins. I used to think that all the friends I had in school would be in my life forever, but there’s a joyful sadness when you realize that sometimes you gotta put your selfishness aside and let people go in order to let them grow. Now, I look at my children and think to myself, maybe life is a lesson in learning to let go, they same way my parents learned to let go of me. There’s a beauty in waving goodbye as someone graduates through life and becomes their greater self. It’s scary and it’s hard, but it’s a part of life that we all must eventually embrace.
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? © Caitlin Cronenberg
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