Chicago, a city of two narratives, Chief Keef and Chance The Rapper perfectly sum it up. A beautiful city where darkness looms. You can be riding through a suburban area straight out of a movie script, and in an instant, pass through an area similar to what Dave Chappelle described in his Killin Em Softly stand up.
ANXT (pronounced angst) comes out of this city as a true underdog, an outsider of outsiders. He doesn’t exactly fit the Chance The Rapper mold nor does he fit the Chief Keef/drill/trap rap mold. A fan of Aesop Rock, Earl Sweatshirt and Lupe Fiasco, ANXT is just that. His lyrics, ideas and concepts are a little more complex than your average millennial rapper.
I first heard of ANXT when he was going as Trill Yen circa 2012 via a Mobb Deep sampled track (song no longer on the net but it’s in my library though). “I keep the Mac next to my mattress like Apple fanatics,” the formerly known as Trill Yen rapper boasted on this neck breaking beat. A good kid from a mad city, since the jump ANXT has relayed the message, “I’m not into violence but don’t push me.”
4 years ago. A video for Trill Yen’s ‘Favorite Record’ track.
That Mobb Deep sampled track gave ANXT a buzz I don’t think he was fully prepared for at the time. That’s how crazy the net is, you just never know. A lot of us splashed onto the Internet making art because we loved it. We didn’t understand it was a business. I think he’s learned plenty since then. We all have.
Since that moment, ANXT has been riddled by the lows of the music scene. It is troublesome knowing the effort you put into your craft just to see publications promote those who could care less about the culture. Words can’t fully describe the emotions artists feel when stuck in this sunken place.
Sub Urban Mixtape from 2012.
Despite everything, this past year or so, has been a very good one for ANXT. He released some raps over electronic rap production as well as something geared to appeal more for the masses (sound-wise).
His music, to me, represents a constant battle against mainstream and sheep resulting from the Internet era.
I went out to Chicago in November of 2016 for an interview/documentary. Footage below.
Never got to meet ANXT due to a couple issues but it’s all good because our paths will cross in the future. Speaking with ANXT, this short video actually fits this post.
ANXT recently released a lo-fi project titled, Watching Paint Dry.
A sonically pleasing, colorful piece that touches the soul like Ether to top the wonderful run he’s been on. This 6track, 17min long project is something I can hear on Adult Swim, or paired with compilation videos of Anime, both of which he’s a fan of. Also, a wave I’m noticing a lot of people slowly pick up. I can hear ANXT scoffing “sheep” as I type this. If memory serves me correct, ANXT once said he wanted to make an anime or was working towards it.
It has been roughly 2-3 months since the release of Watching Paint Dry, and I have yet to fully decipher the true meaning behind each song. Instead I will speak on how it feels from what I’ve picked up so far.
Track1 (Alchemy prod E.N.C): Someone pressed and down on his luck, trying to stay hopeful but running out of faith/patience. He’s on the edge. Chicago’s violent reputation adds to this character.
Track2 (Dirt On My Teeth prod E.N.C): He is being tested so he has to show people what’s what. He is pacing around losing the mental war in his mind. He has his enemy tied in a chair as he torments him, more through fear and less through physical torture. “Get grimey when I need to, try me if you need to.”
Track3 (Necrophillia prod Donn $oulo): This is the torture, power and reign part. Here he is like the boss of the Mafia family basking in his glory (Al Capone). The darkness of Chicago has fully engulfed him at this point. He is off the edge and embracing it. The sample at the end of the song leading to the next is like a moment of clarity.
Since I started writing this post ANXT has revealed what he meant in this track:
Track4 (Godssential prod Save Allen): Love is in the air, but not about a woman (could be). It’s the city he once loved and falls back in love with. This is the beauty of Chicago. The moment of clarity that transitioned into this song could be like a situation that made him realize the big picture, “what am I really doing?” This song is that brief moment of clarity in full.
Track5 (Exhibit A prod E.N.C): His conscious is weighing on him. His soul leaks through a soulful sample. He is a stereotype now, just another statistic. But he intends to break out of this. He woke up this morning with a new state of mind, a creative way to live without using knives and guns.
Track6 (Sunny Side Up prod E.N.C): He reflects on his environment. How the trap is exactly that, a trap. How he was a victim of this. How he was almost a victim of this. How foolish he could’ve been. He challenges people to make real change. It doesn’t have to be his path but he challenges people to walk a different path from the norm.
Maybe a month or so since the release and he’s already back with new tunes, check that below.
I’m not a writer.