Aliah Sheffield, an artist delivering soulful lyricism to the next generation
By Tiara Starks
Photo by Dominique Hill
Aliah Sheffield has moved around a lot. After living in different cities including Savannah, Atlanta, and even Newark, New Jersey, Sheffield is finally considered an LA transplant after she signed with Def Jam Records in 2022. The artist now has her hands full with the recent release of her EP, “These Songs Are For Anyone Sick Of Earth,” and her viral track, “Earth Is Ghetto.”
“Earth Is Ghetto” is an honest but humorous interpretation of what it means to live in our earthly society in the present day. When you hear her lyrics, you’ll think about the current issues affecting the world: starvation, homelessness, and political corruption. Topics like these are really hard to sit with but Sheffield revealed that there’s no particular process to songwriting, especially with this track.
“I don’t really follow a formula or a routine, I could be walking down the street like I was when I wrote ‘Earth Is Ghetto.’ I could be in my room, I could be in an Uber, I could be sitting at a piano, but I usually don’t follow a formula,” Sheffield said. “I just keep my voice memos app around me at all times because it just flies in my head or doesn’t.”
Sheffield also spoke about the music video that accompanies it. She aligned with her director, Max Grant, to make her visuals reflect the storytelling present in the song.
“The idea came from listening to the lyrics and trying to experience the lyrics in a different perspective,” she said.
When asked if there was any deeper meaning to the imagery of the music video, her answer was quite humble. Instead of telling her audience what to think, she encouraged personal interpretation.
“I like to give people the chance to make up their own minds about [what they think the song is about]. I tend to do that a lot with stuff; Just let people think whatever they want to think because if you start trying to explain or trying to be too deep with stuff...” she trailed off, illustrating the open-ended notion of her visual work.
Sheffield also touched upon her love for movies that are open-ended. She said she is a “fan of psychological thrillers and mind-bending movies.”
Sheffield’s calling card is her flow and intricate lyricism. Whether she’s talking about navigating a relationship or just commenting on the state of the world, when you listen to her music, you immediately feel pulled into her perspective of life.
When asked about where she draws inspiration from, her answer was more relatable than you would expect. She said her inspiration “could literally be anything,” from reading articles to binge-watching movies. Even “this Zoom call could turn into a song.”
Being an artist also means making that eventual leap from wherever you originally hailed from to LA. To stay grounded, Sheffield enjoys listening to the same music she’s always held close to her, along with being open to new music recommendations from others during her downtime on her daily walks.
A few albums that she listened to during the crafting of her EP include “To Pimp A Butterfly” by Kendrick Lamar, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” by Lauryn Hill, and “Acoustic Soul” by India.Arie. She also shouted out “Ctrl” by SZA as an album that, last year, she “obsessively listened to.”
Her feelings during the recording sessions were also noted.
“Figuring out if I was recording the right songs which is sometimes difficult to decide if you are because I have so many songs; Being a little self-critical and stressed most of the time.”
Sheffield’s musical persona and overall message of her music is always maintaining authenticity and being human, which means being OK with not being perfect all the time.
“I was also watching some people that I consider heroes go down their ‘villain era’ on social media and online and stuff like that,” she said. “We hold people and put them on these pedestals and we really have to stop doing that because we’re all human ... I’m not trying to be a saint and nobody should expect everybody else to be a saint either.”
Keep up with Sheffield on Instagram and Twitter, and listen to her latest EP, “These Songs Are For Anyone Sick Of Earth,” on Spotify.