Sasha Go Hard has already established herself as a fierce rapper—and that goes beyond her stage name, inspired by Beyonce’s Sasha Fierce alter ego. The Chicago MC’s staccato flow hammers each rounded syllable squarely on the beat, giving even her most conventional utterances weight. On Monday, Sasha dropped The Realest I Know, where she portrays herself as an independent woman who stays strong even when things seem bleak. “Alone,” for example, is a dedication to those who’ve felt abandoned, and Sasha fuels the song’s sense of uplift with an empathetic understanding of the experience.

One of the most striking tracks on The Realest I Know is “Dear Yaniahl,” Sasha’s tribute to her young daughter. Two lines in the song’s hook are especially powerful: “When you become a woman / Hope you don’t forget me.” Sasha is far from the first MC to make a song about unconditional love for a daughter, but her gesture feels different from the way male MCs tend to talk about women in their families—daughters, sisters, and mothers go in a category separate from the other women in their raps. One group is to be protected; the other, well, it depends on the circumstances. This contrast places their loved ones in a box as surely as it does the women who get dismissed as bitches or gold diggers, and the end result is that it’s harder for the rappers in question to imbue any of those people with a sense of humanity.

Sasha, on the other hand, grants her daughter the right to exist independently of her mother’s love, and the ability to make her own mistakes—even if that means casting Sasha aside. The MC doesn’t let her affection cloud her understanding of the importance of independence. In giving her daughter the room to live out her own future, Sasha lays a foundation that will make it easier for Yaniahl to choose her own battles.
Leor Galil writes about hip-hop every Wednesday.