Ears Wide Open: Asha Imuno

Asha Imuno (Photo by Brandon Kwon)

Nineteen-year-old Asha Imuno has rapped his way right out of his native Moreno Valley and due west on the 60 Freeway to L.A., where he’s making noise as part of the Raised By the Internet collective.

After self-releasing the album “Full Disclosure” last year, Imuno has signed to the 4AD-affiliated imprint b4, a home for hip-hop, R&B and experimental pop founded by 4AD A&R exec Briana Cheng. The label originally was founded with a singles-first philosophy, but it will release Imuno’s new full-length “Good News” on Oct. 15.

Imuno has found a collaborator in 21-year-old Baltimore native Gidi, and the two have teamed up on the album’s second single “Caviar,” a head-bobber that’s best summed up by the quip: “I ain’t Peter Pan but I’m fly.”

“‘Caviar’ is the first time people get to hear how far Gidi and I push each other to make something hard and charismatic,” Imuno says in the “Good News” album announcement. “We made this record right after I first moved to L.A. It’s the soundtrack to my first over-indulgent summer.” Adds Gidi: “Making ‘Caviar’ was effortless. It’s a function-friendly take on a 2000s West Coast anthem, and makes me feel like I’m tanning in a drop-top ‘64 Impala.”

Imuno was a band kid in high school (piano and trombone), at the same time learning digital production. It took a while for him to be comfortable with a mic, though. “I hadn’t really sung since I was 6 years old,” he says. “My family has always been really musical, and my grandmother was a pianist in various San Diego churches. My mom led the choir, and my dad can sing opera.” What to sing, though, evolved as Imuno grew up.

“For a while,” he says, “it was hard for me to express truth, especially living at home in Moreno Valley, in a place where it was easier to make reckless decisions. ‘Good News’ is about the world around me now, my new support system, paranoia and karma.”

The album’s first single, “Big Words,” was released in August, and it reveals Imuno’s bald honesty and a magnetic personality, not to mention some winking truth: “I still use big words / And I wear my glasses when I drive around / So they think I’m smart / And that I’m not a threat,” he raps.

||| Stream: “Caviar” (feat. Gidi) and “Big Words”