AHI (pronounced “eye”), the acclaimed Candian roots singer/songwriter, expertly walked a tightrope with his first two albums. Conscious of the world’s tendency to box in Black artists, AHI pushed back via his emotive lyrics and trademark gravelly vocals. The results were remarkable—AHI (whose stage name is derived from the initials of his full name, Ahkinoah Habah Izarh) is a Juno Award nominee and performed on NPR’s coveted Tiny Desk series.
This year, however, AHI is leaping from his tightrope and freefalling into a reservoir of self-expression. More specifically, AHI has set his thoughts and feelings loose in the studio for his latest project. The artist’s third studio album titled Prospect is set for a November 5th release, and today (September 10), AHI is dropping another single off of this record called “Coldest Fire.”
“Coldest Fire” is a powerful anthem that goes toe-to-toe with his inner turmoil. Inspired by the events surrounding Geroge Floyd’s death, AHI sings about the difficulty of knowing how to respond to an impersonal world. Have I become a lesser man / ‘Cause I don’t want to fight nobody’s war? / They said I’m living on the fence, / But they don’t see the war within my heart, AHI sings.
“It’s a weird time to really have a political opinion,” AHI tells American Songwriter, “because everything is monetized. Everything is dissected, everybody has an agenda. But it doesn’t mean you should stay quiet. So [‘Coldest Fire’] came out of that, just being in this in this duality.”
In addition to AHI’s sensational sound, the artist is releasing the music video for “Coldest Fire,” which is set in Ripley’s Aquarium. This video features AHI’s family against the backdrop of various sea creatures, portraying the duality of familial closeness and earthly vastness. “The people that I found comfort in was my family. My wife, my children, in the end, they gave me some solace,” AHI says.
The remaining tracks from AHI’s forthcoming album, Prospect, are just as dynamic. AHI worked with Grammy Award-winning producer Paul Mabury to breathe life into the record. “We wanted to make sure that this record had space for my voice to shine, and for my voice to rise to the surface,” AHI says.
“I feel like every one of these songs has a thread of relationship and humanity in them. So for me, how we connect to each other is so important. The stories that allow us to be human are important,” he continues. “[On this album] you go from a song like ‘Danger,’ which is about a mother who loses her child to gun violence, to a song like ‘Until You,’ which is about me meeting my wife and her changing my life.”
Other standout tracks include one of AHI’s favorites from the record that he wrote on the piano, “Say It To Me,” in addition to the title track, which is a phenomenal account of belonging to something bigger than one’s self.
Pre-save Prospect here, and listen to AHI explain the story behind “Danger” below.