Friday, March 5, 2010

Jams Behind The 5th-Anthem-The R.O.Y. EP

All the artists that we've posted about so far have made it: they've reached their dreams, they're world famous, and they have, at one point or another, made some damn good music; at least to our ears. 

But a lot of the times the best story is not about the someone who has made it, most of the time it's about the guy who's making it. For the last "Jam Behind The 5th," we bring you an artist with a unique story, an artist who gave up job security to follow his dreams, an artist who is doing things the right way, and with a little luck, and artist who we could be hearing about for a while. 

The rapper Anthem, straight outta NYC, is opening up for BoB and Lupe on the 5th (with help from our boy and DJ of the upcoming Jamandahalf/Red Bull party DJ Asoyolo). This is the second time he's been to CMC, after opening up for the Cool Kids at the 5C Music Festival back in October (which he says was his favorite performance yet). Back in October he started off with a crazy 5C freestyle, and promises to use energy this time to connect with us. I was lucky enough to have the chance to interview Anthem.

Anthem came to the US from Ethiopia with his mom when he was 3. Graduating from Duke (although no collabos are on the horizon for him and fellow Duke grad, Mike Posner), he felt the need to help his family out during some rough times and got a job on Wall Street, working as a trader. He's got a line on his song "Here I Go Again" that talks about the lure of a Wall Street paycheck, rapping "most I'm gonna make without a windmill dunk," an updated styling of the famous Biggie line (either slang crack rock or you gotta wicked jump shot). Although he said he liked it alright, he felt that he wanted more, and being young gave him the opportunity to put Wall Street aside and throw himself into something that he loved. He says that even if he doesn't make it big, “I believe in me, I would have done something for myself, and made some good music,” all the while following his dreams (his story mirrors a slam poet I saw a couple years back, the incredible Daniel Jose Custodio). 

Making music while working his day job as a trader, Anthem shipped his music around to some A&Rs, got some positive feedback, quit, and since then has been on the grind, working nonstop to perfect his art. Ever since then, Anthem has been lighting up tracks with his lyrical dexterity and wordplay. You never know when he'll hit you with a subtle metaphor or a slick rhyme. Like BoB, Anthem is part of a new movement of rappers emphasizing content. Speaking on this he says that, "An artist like myself never would have made it before. The horizon of content has been broaden." Thinking back to the state of hip hop a couple years ago, we definitely agree. 

A question I have for all artists is what their passion is, why they write, why they perform. I'll let Anthem take this one:

"My personal narrative. Leaving security to pursue an ambition. People identify with this. Everyone dreams, everyone wants to be better tomorrow than they are today. Music is a way to be relateable, and you don’t have to make a song that says 'you can be all you can be.' I'm just trying to be an example, I want my career path to be an example in and of itself. I want to be an idea. What inspires me know is looking back and seeing how far I’ve come."

Anthem's got everything needed to make it. He has the motivation (“I don’t do it for the cash, I do it for the craft/I left a lucrative job, because I’m stupid on the wax”), the flow, the skills, he's got it all.  The future is bright for our man Anthem (see his R.O.Y. 2010 EP below) and we here at jamandahalf can't wait to see him tonight, and hopefully for years to come. 

    Anthem  by  jamandahalf

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