SWFL artist, AHZUWOP, debuts hip-hop album with original art showcase

Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:
Ahzuwop performing at listening party. CREDIT: Adonis Romero

AHZUWOP, AKA Anthony Leto, an artist based in Southwest Florida, debuted his new hip-hop album at an exclusive listening event that also showcased his handmade artwork.

The album/release party

The show was a low-key event at a photography studio in Fort Myers last Friday.

AHZUWOP stood and sat on a centered white block while wearing a mask under a spotlight as his new album played to attendees who encircled him.

AHZUWOP during listening party on March 8, 2024. CREDIT: Adonis Romero

“Earth Baby” comes almost a year after 2023’s “AJ Hand Me Down.”

The album features songs that didn’t make the former album, and instead of releasing a deluxe reissue, AHZUWOP compiled a new seven-song tracklist.

The album is shorter than the former, an intentional choice by AHZUWOP.

“My last album was 15 songs, and it was just a long listen, and like this one, I want to be very short to the point, have some groove to it,” he said.

“AJ Hand Me Down” focused on topics such as heartbreak, depression, loneliness and even police brutality. However, “Earth Baby” has a different focus.

“The album hits on knowledge, love, having fun and having a positive message,” he said. “That’s kind of what I touch on the album for the most part.”

AHZUWOP during listening party on March 8, 2024. CREDIT: Adonis Romero

Even though the album can be filed under hip-hop, AHZUWOP said that its beat selection is diverse.

“It’s like a universal thing, honestly. If you really dive into my lyrics and stuff and even the instrumentals, you’ll listen to them, like, this is very diverse. At some points, it sounds like a reggaeton beat, but at the same time, it’s a hip-hop beat,” he said.

Prior to the album, AHZUWOP released “Another Year,” a birthday-released single that reflects on the trials and tribulations we face as we grow up.

AHZUWOP’s listening party. 3-8-24 CREDIT: Abigael Williamceau

Pain leaves you crippled, the emotions bounce back like the oceans ripple AHZUWOP, “Another Year”

The art

Before the show, attendees were welcomed to see his art showcase, which was all for sale.

Artwork displayed at listening party. CREDIT: Abigael Williamceau

AHZUWOP said that the artwork was various pieces he created over the past five years. It included paintings, collages, one-of-a-kind clothing pieces, props and more. All of which were made by hand.

Handmade clothes displayed at listening party. CREDIT: Abigael Williamceau

“I work to inspire through my art and produce fun, interesting pieces to look at. I also hope my art helps the viewer to think a little deeper than usual or let loose and not think at all. My intentions with these pieces are to honestly display and sell them to build revenue, so I’m able to create bigger products on a greater scale,” he said.

Artwork displayed at listening party. CREDIT: Abigael Williamceau

The community came out to support not only the music but the artwork.

“I’m just so grateful to be tapped into that, for real, and to have the support, too. It’s really organic. That’s the best part about it,” he said.

While AHZUWOP is stationed in SWFL, he hopes his brand reaches a greater distance.

“Music or in art, I’m trying to take it global,” he said. “I’m trying to get all over the world with it. I really love what I do, and I feel like the field that I’m in with art and music, it’s a longevity game, and it’s about leaving a legacy, and that’s my end goal, is just leaving a legacy for Anthony Leto, my family and to also even feed off of this.”

The SWFL scene

SWFL’s music community is small in size but big in scope. The community constantly shows up to events such as these and supports local artists, and that’s something AHZUWOP notices.

“To be an artist in Southwest Florida means to keep your feet planted but also move around and get with your community. It’s all about community. I feel like without your community, you’re just gonna be another artist as well. There’s a lot of us out there. I think just being original, for me at least that’s the most important,” he said.

AHZUWOP at listening party on March 8, 2024. CREDIT: Abigael Williamceau

The community’s support has helped AHZUWOP continue making art in all forms.

“When I first started presenting myself as an artist, I had no idea because I was just surrounded by my friends who were skateboarders and stuff. I had no idea that here in Southwest Florida, there was such a huge scene of artists that are on the same wavelength,” he said.

AHZUWOP talked about the authenticity of SWFL’s scene.

“Everyone’s got their own character and personality. No one’s really trying to bite off anyone’s style. It’s like everyone’s got their own thing going, and I think that’s dope,” he said.

When not making art, AHZUWOP works with the social media team at the Quality Life Center in Fort Myers. He and DelaRose–part of the SWFL-based R&B collective Billie Rose Music–are planning on starting up a program that teaches kids how to produce and distribute music.

The album was recorded at Trackout Studios and Indapendant Studios in Fort Myers. DelaRose helped master the album and add bass lines.

AHZUWOP at listening party on March 8, 2024. CREDIT: Adonis Romero

Click here to learn more about Hippie Circle, a local entertainment agency that promotes and educates independent artists through development, which AHZUWOP is affiliated with. It’s also a publishing and event management cooperative.

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