Yaneisha Franklin, better known as “Sasha Go Hard,” earned her stage name around the time Beyonce unleashed her alter ego, Sasha Fierce. That was no coincidence. The Southside, Chicago native was always a creative multi-hyphenate. She danced, drew, was good with computers, and always loved music, having heard her older siblings play Missy Elliott, Aaliyah and TLC growing up. Franklin’s uncle began calling her “Sasha Fierce” in homage to her many talents, and when Franklin realized she was on to something as a rapper, she figured she’d keep Sasha as a moniker, and added “Go Hard” to the end — a twist befitting an ambitious girl from the Southside of Chicago.
“When I first started going to the studio, everybody that heard me kept saying it was hard. That’s what I remember hearing and I was like if I’m finna get serious with this then my name is going to be Sasha Go Hard,” Franklin tells American Urban Radio Networks.
Franklin was just out of high school when she began riding the then-burgeoning drill music wave. She came across Chief Keef on Myspace and messaged him with questions about how he was making his music. The then unknown Chief Keef was gracious and told her where he recorded, and eventually, the two began working together on songs and sometimes appearing in each other’s videos.
“When I reached out to him I didn’t have the mindset that I wasn’t going to be successful. I just felt it was easy and like, okay, let me just hit him up. But that’s how I’ve always been. I’ve never been afraid, or I never let something stop me from taking that step so I’m glad I did reach out to him,” she says. “Even just being around him before he blew up, Fredo, all of them, they were always encouraging, they pushed me.”
While Chief Keef, Lil Reese, Fredo Santana and Lil Durk are the most popular names associated with pioneering drill music, there were women in the now worldwide movement making noise too. Sasha Go Hard also built her buzz alongside Katie Got Bandz, Chella, and Dreezy.
“It’s definitely a sisterhood. We have our amazing support of showing love like I just had a show, and me and Katie were there and we held hands and it was just all love,” says Franklin. “We’re not perfect, we definitely deal with each other’s attitudes and we all have different lives but it’s love, it’s a real life sister family thing.”
Drill music always reflected the state of an inner city riddled with violence. That’s the story that tends to make the headlines. However, it has also helped artists—adolescents in the thick of urban drama—escape the perils of life in chaotic and decaying neighborhoods. In Sasha’s case, her 10-plus year grind has taken her places beyond her wildest dreams.
She has recorded several albums, while intentionally remaining independent of a record label, mastered how to make the type of anthemic tunes you need to hear when you want to big yourself up or get amped up for a night out, and worked with popular producers such as Young Chop, DJ Kenn, DGainz, and Diplo, with whom she also toured Europe in 2013. She appeared on Netflix’s Rhythm and Flow in 2019, in Spike Lee’s Chiraq (2015), and her music has been featured on TV. Her song “Golden Pussy” was featured in an episode of “Insecure,” and she wrote the theme song for HBO Max’s “Southside,” which recently made her a clue on “Jeopardy.”
“I’m very humble with everything that I accomplish and I still feel like I have more to do, which is pushing me to keep going. But it feels really good. I’m so grateful,” she says. “I don’t know how I got on as a clue on ‘Jeopardy’ but that was dope.”
Franklin’s work thus far is a reflection of her diverse interests and skills. She got her start on the drill scene, but that’s only one element of her artistry. She recently produced a kids fashion show, landed a new movie role, which we will find out more about in the coming months. She has also been steadily releasing new music this year, building up to a new album, while also raising her 7-year-old daughter.
“I have more in me than just drill music,” she explains. “There’s nothing wrong with trying something new. People might make it seem like you have to be this certain way, but it’s unlimited when you’re independent.”
Franklin keeps her team tight knit, with mostly family helping her manage her business. The business savvy she has learned along the way comes from a mix of trial and error, aligning herself with the right people, intuition and survival skills acquired while growing up in Chicago. It also comes from her will to achieve higher heights, and her resolve to be the girl who gets everything she wants. Her determination and ability to check goals off her list are proof that champions are made, not born.
“I’m the type of person that has to feel good about it in my stomach. And trust me, I know sometimes everything is not going to feel good, sometimes you gotta take risks but God got me,” says Franklin. “I built myself up so strong. I’m successful right now without a label. It’s hard for me to put my life, put my name and brand into somebody else’s hands.”
If you take nothing else from Franklin’s journey, at least note that you can’t help where you’re from, but you can control where you’re going.
“I’m not ashamed of where I’m from. We all come from somewhere and we have to try to get something better.”