ATO Toasts New EP 'Side A' With Outsider Anthem "ziamonds !!"

ATO Toasts New EP 'Side A' With Outsider Anthem "ziamonds !!"

August 25, 2021

Over the past couple of years, Leeds rhymer ATO has made a mark on British hip-hop with his personal takes on the Black British experience, broadening the scope of what that means beyond London and the big cities.

With British, Ghanaian and Danish heritage, his childhood was marked by being constantly uprooted from New York to Seoul to Edinburgh, and quite understandably he never felt as if he really fit in anywhere.

That theme of not fitting in is the throughline of his new EP, Side A, five tracks of searing introspection that make you reassess a lot of your assumptions. In just a short space, he unpacks relationships, experiences of racism and mental health, family, and illness, all set against the backdrop of being a mixed-race boy growing up in an almost exclusively white area.

One of the key tracks is the latest single, "ziamonds !!", which puts the focus on mental health and the impact of wrestling with one's identity without guidance or understanding. Produced by Eden, it gets pretty abstract at points and can feel as disquieting as the very experiences he talks about, but there's a lightness to it that stops it from getting too crushing.

Sharing his thoughts on the track and what it means to him, ATO explains: "I have found the power of the imagination to be vital to rediscovering myself. You can learn a lot from things that are not real. When I wrote 'ziamonds !!', I was in a dark and confused state. The song blurs the line between reality and fantasy. It makes light of living with mental health issues and finds a silver lining to begin painting something brighter and forward-facing."

Take a look at the Tim Kellner-directed visuals at the bottom.

Words: James Keith
Photography: Vicky Grout