June 4, 2024

Photo by Christopher Davila

Can we talk about art, can we make art, without the confines of labels?

For three local musicians- Kashionfilla, Nozoki, and WhoLovesRashan- the answer is a simple rejection of all limitations, and it's the foundation of their entire mission as artists.

This feature project was meant to be a look into Austin’s underground rap scene, but a community and vision far beyond that was discovered, something deeply human and larger than life at once.


“I describe everything as art, because that’s what it is to me. My whole life. I believe we are the architects of our lives,”
says Rashan. “My purpose is to live and express to the maximum to show that there is literally no such thing as fear. There’s no such thing as a box. The mind is unlimited. We are GAHD*.”

*GAHD is an acronym Rashan coined, meaning “Gifted Artist Has a Destiny”. Beyond a title or brand, GAHD is a lifestyle. It is “being completely free and fearless with expression”. It is the constant strive to capture the “Near Life Experience” through art, which Rashan describes as “the heart of his personal style.”

These artists consider themselves genreless and experimental. They only care to create original art, without restricting themselves to familiar labels. Kashionfilla takes sounds from every genre he enjoys, from heavy rock, to punk, and even country. “I don’t like saying I’m a specific genre,” he explains. “My inspirations are from everywhere. I feel people put themselves in boxes, and freak out because they don’t know how to get themselves out of it. No- live, learn, fix, and correct. Be a god.”

Nozoki is similarly inspired by all the genres he grew up listening to. “I want to make everything at some point. There's a different soundtrack for every part of a person's life which they’ve experienced and felt.” With music ranging from screamo, to trap, to EDM, and beyond, his songs reflect an appreciation for diverse styles. “There’s no reason you should be scared of finding out who you are, what you are. People label everything, but you shouldn't let a label define what’s not done.”

Photo by Christopher Davila

A constant source of motivation for these artists is Lil T3ch: a fellow artist and close friend of theirs who passed away in early 2023. He was an inspiration through his energy and commitment to their community and mission. “When Tech passed away, that changed everything in my mental,” says Kash. “It went from ‘Okay, I’m making music, I’m having fun’ to ‘No, I gotta do this’. It clicked because now it’s no playing. Everything we’re doing is for Tech now.”

“He was a huge inspiration for me, as an artist, as a friend, all of the above,”
Nozoki says as he discusses Lil T3ch’s legacy. “He’s a huge part of the reason I’m still going, still doing this. He’d explain to me that people have to see a meaning in things to peak that interest. ‘Could be helping someone and not even realize it’ he’d tell me. I hold that to such a high respect and power and I push his name strong because he was a strong individual, never let anything get in the way, and that’s what I’ll embody forever.”


Kashionfilla, Nozoki, and WhoLovesRashan are close-knit in their community of artists, and have been performing together and collaborating for several years now.

For Nozoki and Kash, their performance careers began with an underground festival called “Freakshow”. They didn’t have music released yet; it was just a group of friends getting together, performing, moshing. After the first successful event, they continued with a series of “Freakshows'' and other similar events with different local artists.

“My first performance experience was with an OG in the Austin scene named Shirt Off Fe, who to this day is my big brother,”
Rashan recalls. It was through building relationships with local artists and promoting his music on socials that landed him his first show with Fe, called “The Kickback”, which opened up a world of opportunities since then. He joined Nozoki and Kash by Freakshow 4.

The Freakshow series eventually dissolved in late 2022. “It was a lot of young people, a lot of new experiences, but we still created something even though we were all amateur at the time,” Nozoki comments. Above all, they took their first experiment as a learning experience. “We did what it took. We sat there and listened, learned, understood, and now we’re getting to move forward- getting venues, doing more professional shows, perfecting the image.”

“You do it and you love it, that’s what it should be. That’s why all of us are locked in,” says Kash. “We all want to learn, reach better positions in life.”

These artists have come a long way in their journeys.

WhoLovesRashan recalls his beginnings. “I started making music at 15. Used to keep a diary of all the ways I was feeling but couldn’t explain or process the meaning of. After hearing ‘Go Hard’ by Kanye and Tpain, and ‘Man on the Moon’, I started making music.”

Since then, Rashan has seen great milestones. He’s performed at Empire twice, opened shows for NLE Choppa, Fatmankey, and Wifisfuneral, and has released a multitude of original projects, his biggest accomplishment being the release of his album R!SK. “I take the most pride in being an all around storyteller. I don’t just make music. I make statements. I paint pictures. Every show of mine, I literally play an album, show a collection of clothes, show a film, and curate the whole space.”

Photo by Christopher Davila

Rashan tells stories through his art, in part by putting on different personas in his music videos. He explains one of his characters: “Mr. Smith is someone that tries to fit the mold of perfection, who doesn’t know who he is, so he people-pleases to be accepted. People just want to be accepted. I’m here to show them they just need to accept themselves.” His concepts are deeply thought-provoking and creatively executed, and his upcoming project will be nothing short of ingenious: “The next art from me will be called GOTI, that stands for GET OFF THE INTERNET // GETTING OUT THE IDEA. It’s a conceptual multi-version project.”

Nozoki has seen huge growth in his career as an artist and performer, and quickly. He’s been proactive in curating quality self-hosted events. Some of his biggest accomplishments have been executing a show this year during SXSW- performing with Matt OX, WHOKILLEDXIX, and Acid Souljah- and holding his TX MASSACRE Tour, where he flew in Deathproof members SUMMER ALONE and Mazerot to perform with himself, Kashionfilla, Abstractgenesis, Lil T3ch, and Hxnry throughout Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio. He explains the mindset that’s given way to such productivity and community reach within the music scene: “Never miss an opportunity that comes. If you never hop on it, you’re failing anyways. I’ve said it since the beginning: the people that really want this, they’re gonna keep evolving. The people who don’t, they find themselves slowing down, struggling. You have to find that potential, and you have to tap into it.”

Nozoki has big plans for this year. A big step will be releasing a collection of past projects that he has kept to himself over the years- to get his art out there before moving in a new, unique direction. “I’ve got a line of visuals ready to get the youtube kicked off, and ideas for the merch line in motion.” Above all else, his most important long-term goal is to fulfill Lil Tech’s dream of continuing “$litthroat”. Nozoki dives deeper into the concept: “Back in around summer ‘22, Tech fully released his idea and went public with it on instagram, creating the official slitthroat account. He didn’t want $litthroat to be dragged down to a name or a label, he didn’t want it to be a collective, it was more so a family first. It’s upsetting that we don't get the full spectrum of what he wanted it to be, but all the DMs of him telling me what $litthroat was about and who he wanted to inspire, that’s gonna stay forever.”

Kashionfilla has accomplished taking his local career across state lines. He started performing shows in Austin and San Antonio, before getting his first out-of-state opportunity with DIRTYBUTT’s album release show. He went on to perform on the Rippers Club Tour as well as the TX MASSACRE Tour. Yet one thing rings above all else when Kash looks back at his journey. “My biggest accomplishment is where I’m at mentally. Everyone’s looking at what’s right in front of them, but I’m looking ahead. Your mindset is the most important thing as an artist, as a human.”

Photo by Christopher Davila

One of Kashionfilla’s primary focuses for the future is a collective he started called OCTANE. WhoLovesRashan, who’s a part of the effort, describes it as “Some creative GAHDs that have their own vision, and we all create in different mediums. Our mission is to curate an elevated, more fruitful experience for other artists and people to widen their lens and open their minds.” Beyond the collective, Kash is currently working on his fist full project, also titled OCTANE, which he is planning to creatively release on New Years. “I’m planning two unique listening events for the release, an experience for everyone to listen in a setting where you have to surrender your attention to it. With this tape I want to change the trajectory of how people perform.”


“A lot of people’s God is fear,”
says WhoLovesRashan.

The reason these artists create, the reason they’ve chosen the musical and performance industries, all comes back to their belief in rejecting limits. Rejecting fear.

“Imagine the idea of a ‘crazy’ home,”
Rashan continues. “It’s described as this padded room where you’re alone with a straight jacket and just your thoughts. They say you’ll go mad and start writing on the wall or whatever. But if I told you the story about the Egyptian tombs and the hieroglyphs, it’s very similar through that lens. It’s all perspective.

My aesthetic and brand are extremely important to me because that is me- the idea that I put out into the universe. So I always make sure it’s a message of love and light. GAHD expands past clothing or aesthetics. I live this way. I’m a walking Basquiat, or actually Im’a walking Kameron Melik.”

Kashionfilla expresses what it’s all for, and what it’s all about: “My goal as a human is to reach my highest potential, break barriers. Just being able to transfer the energy I’ve always had, and give it off to people, and see it affect them in positive ways through my performances, that is super cool. That’s why I love performing so much.

Everyone can be a God when they want to be, and if they choose to be. And what I mean by being a God, is being the highest form of yourself. People hear me call myself a God, and they take it in a narcissistic way. No bro, with all the evil that happens in this world, you need to believe in yourself. You have to think that highly of yourself to accomplish something.

We know the work we’re putting in. At a certain point it stops being a matter of if we’re gonna accomplish certain things, it’s just a matter of when. I know we’re all gonna be where we want to be in life. A lot of these copycats, doppelgangers, they’re gonna get weeded out. Everyone’s going to earn their rightful places. I want to put as many people in the right direction as I can.”

Nozoki shares in that sense of motivation and confidence: “This team here, all these artists are extremely unique in their own way, and they got something going on in their brains that’s gonna spark the world, it’s gonna change things for sure.

Open every single cortex, every single part of your brain. The body is just physical. Gain those superpowers. Just wake up and start.

Everyone’s gonna go through trials and tribulations. Everyone’s gonna have a ‘falling off’ at some point. That’s just a way that people have chosen to describe and label something to limit themselves. It’s a journey.”

Kash adds onto the idea: “We’re rockstars. I don’t mean that in a conceited way. We really are. I’ma move how I move, keep moving with OCTANE, and people are either gonna love it or hate it. If they hate it, that’s because they hate themselves. *laughter* If you don’t like what we got going on, you’re just a hater. Not of us, just of humans. Because all we’re trying to do is better ourselves and better the people who listen to us, support us. You can’t be mad at the world. You have to take that negative energy you have, and put it somewhere else.

Photo by Christopher Davila

A lot is wrong with the scene right now. All this stuff that happens in the music world is just taking away from the substance. Especially as someone who’s such a fan of rap, we should be doing everything in our power to keep this alive. A lot of these people don’t realize that they’re killing music, but they are. I want to change that. And I feel like we’re really hitting that point where we can start to shake things up and actually change things. I feel it. The whole Austin scene is cool and everything, but I’m trying to take over the world.”

“And even more,” Nozoki says. “I’m trying to inspire my other selves in different universes and the kids on different planets.”

Kashionfilla, Nozoki, and WhoLovesRashan are unique talents on the come-up that are bringing original, thoughtful projects to the Austin music scene and beyond. Gifted Artists Have a Destiny, and this is just the start of theirs. ■  

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