Arts & Entertainment

ALBUM REVIEW: Ashnikko’s ’Weedkiller’: A fallen faerie’s guide to surviving the wastelands

Ashnikko’s certified platinum debut album brings us through a fantastical and brutal journey that encapsulates the queer & femme experience of living in a near-dystopian society.

During this school quarter, I’ve written about several unique and extremely talented artists, while also learning about many others that I hadn’t been familiar with. But this week, I will be reviewing an artist that I am extremely familiar with. It is my pleasure to be able to share their talent with the students of UWT, as well as readers from around the world.  

Ashley Nicole Casey (She/Her/They/Them)– better known as Ashnikko – is an American rapper, singer and dancer who is most widely known for their 2019 and 2020 hit singles “Stupid” and “Daisy”. These songs went viral on TikTok in the early days of the app. They have also become quite an acclaimed LGBTQ+ genderfluid icon through their gender non-conforming makeup and style. They have continuously been very vocal in advocating for the pro-choice movement, ecological conservation of the earth and the Black Lives Matter movement.  

Ashnikko holding a vinyl copy of her “Weedkiller” debut album. | Photo by @ashnikko via Instagram

Their latest album, “Weedkiller,” has been what they have described as a labor of love. For years, Ashnikko had been working on perfecting this 13-song debut album, even during the production of their EP “Demidevil”. Going a step further, they chose to polish not only the lyricism and musicality of this album, but also the visuals and aestheticism.  

Due to their passion for mythology, horror and nature, Ashnikko designed and recorded visuals even before releasing this album,dropping teaser trailers for months and further intriguing eager fans. In this new album, they took on the form of a mutilated faerie surrounded by a dry, hellish wasteland. Their album cover demonstrates the beginning of this rogue fae’s adventures through a dystopian hellscape as they survive and even tame the beasts that come to hunt them down. 

Although there is not much more specificity to the plot, it can’t be denied that the artistry encapsulating this beautiful behemoth doesn’t go unnoticed. This can be seen in “Worms,” one of the first songs of this album released as a single. It served as a strong introduction for the rest that was to come. This song in particular was the first to get its own music video and had its own unique CGI and stop-motion animation.  

This was specifically used to animate the entire set surrounding Ashnikko: the hellscape, the fae’s new demon army, “riding through the desert with a sword on (their) back” in a monster truck, and the enemies they are going into battle with. If you also happen to be an anime fan, you might find these enemies to seem familiar. And though it was never officially confirmed, Ashnikko has admitted to being an anime fan themselves. You can see the similarities of their designs to some popular sci-fi anime’s. 

Every single song is catchy, memorable, and powerful, each in their own way, but still fits into the theme Ashnikko took so long to curate.

These mecha-robot-like enemies look a lot like the monstrous angels from the anime, “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” while the demons look like Yokai from Japanese folklore. This mixed in with the post-apocalyptic clothing, the landscapes and epic battle scenes makes this feel like a fully fleshed out world. These combine seamlessly with lyrics that tie together the emotions of the 21st century femme presenting individual in a near dystopian world, one that is plagued by war, misogyny, and rampant capitalism/consumerism. This is represented when they sing, “The world is burning, I got worms in my brain. I’m gonna bleach my eyebrows, change my name. The world is burning, and I laugh at the blaze.” 

“Worms” focuses on the spiral of helplessness when the world around you feels like it’s on fire. You do the little things to help you stay afloat, and you consider fleeing from society and changing your name to escape from the weight of it all. However, the rest of the album focuses on taking action. This is embodied in the “Weedkiller” single, which can be considered a modern war cry.  

Ashnikko embodies a fae whose wings have been ripped from them in this album. Here, she stands up to the enemy (the mecha-robots), which I believe to be a representation of those in power in our world that have taken their wings from them, such as politicians, business conglomerate owners, oil tycoons, high profile celebrities, and those who directly have a hand in taking our own wings (in other words, our freedom of choice). Hence the name Ashnikko gives this character, “Weedkiller”: “We always knew that it would come to this. That I would be the one to eliminate you, Weedkiller. Running with scissors. I made knives out of broken ribs. I will be the one to eliminate you. I’ve been training for murder.” 

We have songs like “Possession of a Weapon” and “You Make Me Sick!” that speak in the collective voice of femmes’ past experiences in romance. While “Possession of a Weapon” acknowledges the power the female body holds, proclaiming that women are in “possession of the p*ssy weapon”, it also touches on how when a woman acknowledges this power within herself, she is ostracized, ridiculed, and even villainized. Ashnikko has embraced inducing fear, specifically adding in body-horror imagery to her lyrics in response to a classic straight man pick-up line: “Say you want my body, let me give it to you. Is that what you want, blood and guts? P*ssy teeth to imprison you.”  

Ashnikko performing “Dying Star (feat. Ethel Cain)” in St. Louis, October 13, 2023. | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

This intimidation and feminine rage are only further amplified in “You Make Me Sick!” An absolutely sick twist on the classic revenge breakup song. Ashnikko shows off some gritty metalcore vocals with ruthless burns that don’t pull any punches. They sucker punch any poor fella in the gut: “Hello waitress! I want his head for dinner, silver plate it. Cut his tongue out first, let’s hear him go and try to say sh*t. I’m abrasive? I’m a dragon, animorph and shapeshift. Fire-beathing, break sh*t, brain-eating amoeba coming for you. I’m contagious, ruined what was sacred. I was living good before your locusts and your plagued it.” 

Overall, this album might sound brutal on paper, but it is an absolute blast to listen to at full volume. Every single song is catchy, memorable, and powerful, each in their own way, but still fits into the theme Ashnikko took so long to curate. I’d say their effort well paid off, as I’ve been listening to it on a near daily basis since its release. So, if you happen to be a fan of alternative rap, hip-hop and art pop; I highly recommend this album as your next listen. “Weedkiller” is out on all music streaming platforms, but I also strongly encourage you to check out the albums four music videos and all its music visualizers on Ashnikko’s YouTube channel.  

Ashnikko’s YouTube Channel: (5) Ashnikko – YouTube