Sunset Selections is a curated collection of original songs written exclusively for this mixtape by our favorite breakthrough artists of 2013
A lot of people contributed to the making of Sunset Selections, so I decided to write this post as a thank you note. It feels dumb writing it, so if you feel dumb reading it, understand that that is okay. First and foremost, I would like to thank the artists who were a part of this mixtape for being so accepting of this idea and all-in with this project. You guys surpassed my expectations on that front and then met my expectations with the awesome songs you sent (my expectations were really high okay–that’s why we asked you to contribute). I would also like to thank the Sunset Fam for working their asses off for me and this idea. Without getting too sentimental, I love these people more than my own family. Just kidding. But they are cool, and it’s cool how Lydia set up a submissions page, Eric made a legendary trailer, Alicia let me use her collages, Jordan and Andy got artists on board, and they all listened to me vent about all the bullshit and awesomeness that took place while heading up this project. I really think the mixtape does its job of capturing this moment in time, but more than that, pieces of it are timeless. Oh God, that was ‘cheez‘-y. Fuck, I can’t stop. Just… let this mixtape soundtrack your 2013 and then your entire life.
Over the past few years, I’ve known ANTHM (back when he went by Anthem) as the artist behind one of my favorite party songs with his brilliant Bag Raiders flip “God of Joy.” Last year, I began to know ANTHM as this dark, brooding character with a charismatic persona and an ear for indie-sampling beats–featured proudly on the eclectic Joy & Pain EP. Today, I’m proud to know ANTHM as a rising hip-hop star in the same vein as Kendrick Lamar, and much like Kendrick, ANTHM has a wide array of points-of-view and much to talk about. Finally, it seems on Handful of Dust these characters and concepts have come together for an exciting, hopefully important project in hip-hop. Stream it in full below, and own it by paying whatever you want.
After premiering “Black (Waves)” on Sunset last week, ANTHM is back with another new song called “Debbie” today. This is a really heartwarming song written in honor of ANTHM’s little sister Debbie’s birthday. The beat is also incredibly catchy, shouts to Blu on the production. From ANTHM himself:
I picked this as my second release to celebrate my sister on her birthday. She turns 11 today. Anyone who has ever been close to me knows that we have a special relationship. It runs deep. I hope this record remains as timeless in her life as our bond will be. Happy birthday, Debbie.
And from the Sunset Fam: happy birthday, Debbie!
If you don’t know much about ANTHM, he’s been a long-time Sunset favorite. Ant and I went to Duke together, and after he graduated, he got a job on Wall Street. His journey into hip hop is unique: he quit the job on Wall Street to pursue a career in music. His song “Be Still” tells the tale of what he went through in that transition best. It’s a great story, but definitely a tearjerker. We’re counting down to the release of ANTHM’s next EP, Handful of Dust, fully produced by Blu.
Sunset favorite ANTHM just sent over his rendition of Joey Bada$$’s “Waves” as a precursor to his upcoming Handful of Dust EP, which is produced entirely by Blu. Let me just say this track is a gem. True hip-hop at its finest. Listen below and try to follow along with these bars. And then hit repeat when you realize it’ll take another few listens.
This song is dedicated to the life and ideas of Malcolm X on the anniversary of his untimely passing.
#RIP El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz. A powerful thinker, evolving at a rapid rate just as his life was cut short. #Malcolm (May 19, 1925 – February 21, 1965)
BONUS! Ant also recently annihilated the “1 Train” instrumental.
Originally premiered by our homie, Confusion, Gilbere Forte, ANTHM, & Deniro Farrar remix the interlude-ish, “Somewhere,” by JSMN and shit just got real, real fast.
ANTHM, a Sunset favorite (side note: I feel like I say “Sunset favorite” a lot, but it’s simply because we like good music and there’s a lot of good fucking artists out there), Gilbere Forte, & Deniro Farrar turn this into a gem. JSMN created an all black horse riding through the night, and these three guys made it into a rapping black horse . I’m not confident that that made any sense.
ANTHM has given Sunset permission today to premiere the music video for the third song off of his Joy & Pain EP, “Siren’s Song.” The video is dark, and a bit reminiscent of Kid Cudi’s music video for Mr. Rager. What I potentially like better about this one is the introduction clip that features ANTHM in his apartment listening to “God of Joy,” and the exit clip that shows ANTHM coming back to life as “Deliverance” begins. In between the bookends is a visual story, potentially not safe for work, of ANTHM in a dark (though eerily beautiful) abandoned space filled girls who might be on bath salts. They begin to eat away at ANTHM, which one can only assume is physical and literal. It all goes back to the theme of Joy & Pain. On the track before (“God of Joy“), ANTHM tells a celebratory and upbeat story of a night spent with his entourage and a flurry of beautiful women. And unexpectedly, he switches into “Siren’s Song” and suddenly these women are the subject of his nightmares. It’s something I imagine many of us can relate to, which makes it all the more appealing.
Beautiful production by David Gross and direction by Nat Prinzi.
I’ve seen ANTHM (previously known as Anthem) grow from a small-time Dukie who liked to freestyle at night, to a Wall Street employee who worked days and nights to support his family, to a friend who quit his high-paying job to pursue a career in music, to a rapper who was trying to figure out exactly what his path would be, to an aspiring artist crafting his sound and seeking my advice on how to get heard by the masses, to a rapper who found his sound and proved he still has the Wall Street work ethic when he performed at a show I put on and he rehearsed his performance for hours in the green room, to a successful young artist supported by the likes of 2DopeBoyz, who are now the official hosts of this EP, Joy & Pain. That’s a run-on sentence, but ANTHM’s journey has been long and it’s been fluid, so it feels okay to break the rules to get that sentence out. It has been incredible to watch ANTHM grow and find his path in this crazy music industry. But this EP proves to me, and should prove to you, that ANTHM has found himself and he is here to stay. I will tell you up-front, and I will repeat it at the end of this review, that this EP is one of the best collections of songs and stories that I have ever heard. Joy & Pain is truly incredible.
1. Fortuna (5/5)
ANTHM opens the EP with a beautiful and smooth introduction to his story. It’s a story of contradictions and juxtapositions. Heaven and Hell. Sunshine and Rain. Angels and Demons. Happiness and Misery. Triumph and Failure. Joy and Pain. This track is very short (1:18), but it does everything it needs to do in introducing the EP. Heaven may have seen us/ but Hell is still between us,/I mean this/ Though my hands aint the cleanest/ I’m tryna build Heaven on Earth/ I’ll observe it through that Joy & Pain.
2. Siren’s Song (5/5)
Again, a song that is easy to listen to. Great use of a sample, and smooth rhymes from ANTHM. He has a bit of a raspy voice on this track, and it sounds perfect. The message is consistent with the theme of juxtaposition; the story continues. It was 1:15 on the dot/ woke up and I was screamin’ a lot/ Nightmares and I’ve been dreamin’ a lot/ And I asked her, ‘Are you a demon or not?’
3. God of Joy (5/5)
This has been one of my favorite songs since it came out. To this day, I can play this Bag Raiders-sampling song on repeat, and it’s been out for quite some time. It doesn’t get old. The flow is perfect, the sample is flipped incredibly well, and it inspires me to go out and seek joy every time I hear it. Oh, I predicted the game right/ I would get so addicted I can’t fight/ I gotta respect your love/ Roll 5-deep like the breakfast club/ And I do know who you are/ Even though I’m a bachelor (uh)/ God damn you’re a shooting star/ And I really wanna capture ya
4. Deliverance (ft. Janelle Kroll) (5/5)
I was honored to be able to premiere this song on Sunset when it first came out. As I said when it first came out, this song represents the entire theme of Joy & Pain. It’s a battle between the two emotions. It’s dark. It’s alluring. It speaks to me, and something tells me it might speak to you too. Please don’t think less of me/ When I drink so aggressively/ Can’t let it get the best of me/ Feels like demons are possessing me/ Seems like I’m waging a war/ Damn, who praised anymore?/ Lost my faith trying to save the allure/ I’m like a werewolf/ Pure rage at the core
5. Be Still (5/5)
With my first listen of this song, all I could do was put my head down and listen. I did it over and over again. It made me cry. I cry a lot in life, but not much for movies, hardly ever for songs. But I cried. It hurt to listen to this song. Perhaps I’m biased because ANTHM is a friend of mine, but this is heavy, it’s deep, and it’s really fucking sad. But it’s heartfelt, it’s real, and it’s, in a strange way, uplifting. That right there is how I know that ANTHM has succeeded in not only writing words about contradictions between joy and pain. Sure, it’s clear that in the pursuit of joy, ANTHM has hit a wall of pain. This song describes that better than any other. But there’s very little of an uplifting message in this song, but in my heart I can feel that ANTHM has it in him. He will make it. His family will make it. His little sister will smile. His mama will be okay. I feel it, even without the words to prove it. That right there is an underlying message that ANTHM has delivered through his emotion on this track. That is REAL. This might be one of the better songs I’ve ever heard. I cannot believe I am saying that, but I really do mean it. I’ll carry it with me forever, as a reminder to myself that despite the feeling of hitting rock bottom, it’s possible to stick your chest out and make it. Hit the jump at the end of this review to read the full lyrics from Be Still.
6. Polaris (ft. Blu) (5/5)
I have loved this song since ANTHM sent me a preview of it in December of 2011. It goes beyond the fact that ANTHM got one of my favorite rappers (Blu) to submit a verse for this track, and it goes beyond the fact that he sampled one of my favorite indie artists (James Vincent McMorrow). It’s more about the rhymes from ANTHM that tell a story about success. Polaris is commonly known as the North Star, so hearing this song as a single seemed exciting. But now, seeing this song come right after Be Still on Joy & Pain, it’s more than exciting. It’s triumphant. One day the dark nights might fade us/ At least I got to shine like the greatest/ Today the dark nights might fade me/ But the shine never made me/ It was the heart of a lion/ See, a man’s vision/ Praying in the church of ambition/ Amen.
7. Joy & Pain (ft. Freddie Gibbs) (4.5/5)
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Freddie Gibbs. I think this track could have been better with ANTHM alone on it. But it’s still great. It wraps up the Joy & Pain EP perfectly. It acts as closure to an emotional EP, but for ANTHM’s career, I think it acts as an open doorway. This EP proves ANTHM’s ambition and his skills are beyond what most can show off today. I was set to perform/ In a world so cold/ Never expected it warm/ I rejected the norm/ Swagger-jackin Jesus when I slept in a storm/ But I woke up to the sunshine/ At peace like a Buddhist/ Surrounded by 12 people, each one was a Judas/ But the truth is, I had to go through this … I feel that joy & pain/ Through what I overcame.
I once had to tell ANTHM that his lyrics were hard to really catch and listen to, because perhaps they were too intelligent. Or too deep. Or too packed with metaphors that weren’t quite in layman’s terms. I wont venture to say that ANTHM has pulled back, but I think he has found a style of delivery that hits home. He has maintained his intelligence, continued writing metaphorically, and at the same time figured out how to convey a message that can resonate with all of his listeners. I try not to say this much, because it’s an incredibly bold claim and it’s hard to back up, but I honestly think that this might be one of the best EPs I’ve ever heard. When I was capturing lyrics to quote for songs, I felt the desire (and need) to write down every word of every song. Picking one part that stood out the most was a challenge for every single song. This EP is timeless. I encourage you to keep it with you on your journey toward your dreams.
ALBUM RATING: 9.9/10
Just last year I heard ANTHM (then spelled Anthem) for the first time, and it was with this song. I don’t really have a specific story about the song; I just love it. And I put it on almost every mix CD I made for my friends last summer. It’s just so perfect. The Bag Raiders beat is perfect. ANTHM’s quick-witted verses are perfect. And do you know what else is perfect? The timing of this music video. Let’s just say “God of Joy” is going back on repeat this summer*.
*Note: It is also the perfect late night driving song aside from the Drive soundtrack.
Look out for Joy & Pain on June 12.
ANTHM sent me a preview of this track a couple months ago and I was sworn to secrecy about it and the feature on it. Listen to this song for yourself and keep in mind that Blu (one of my favorite rappers) is featured on a track with my buddy, and imagine having to keep that to yourself for a significant period of time. Oh, and it samples James Vincent McMorrow. Let’s just say shit was hard. And on that note, ANTHM and Blu both go hard. I absolutely love this track.
Shouts to 2DBZ for the premier!
ANTHM is back, bringing us “Deliverance,” featuring Janelle Kroll. We’ve been given the honor of exclusiving premiering it right here on Sunset in the Rearview.
This storyline right here continues the juxtaposition, or maybe better to call it a battle, between joy and pain that ANTHM has been delivering all throughout his Joy & Pain EP releases. The lyrics are deeper than most hip-hop songs you hear today, and dark enough for fans of Kid Cudi and Kanye West to drool over. Deliverance has all of my favorite ANTHM elements: a flow that keeps you guessing, mentions of his little sister, a big hook that gets me dancing, a “baby” that reminds me of Biggie, and lyrics that tell me a story. I can immediately tell you guys that this song will be on just about every single one of my upcoming playlists.
Life is a bitch, I heard/ Gotta run away real quick, I swerve/ Not on the one that they pave/ Ran on foot like a runaway slave/ Deuces, never coming back/ Under the moonlight there’s something I crave
ANTHM has put out new visuals today for his track “Can I Live.” It’s a gritty view of his beloved Manhattan, and the light production allows us to just focus on ANTHM and his ability to spit some ridiculous rhymes. This is my favorites of ANTHM’s 2012 tunes thus far. Shout out to the original performance by Black Rob Feat. The L.O.X. circa 2000.
If you’re heading to SXSW, be sure to check out ANTHM performing at SOB’s 30th Anniversary Show on Wednesday, March 14th.
Woah. ANTHM went ham on this one. His flow is out of control. The one criticism I have is that his hook sounds too similar to many of his other hooks, but as for the rapping? Incredible. I love the concept behind this song and the delivery is perfect. Aside from a hook that could certainly improve, this might be ANTHM’s best song since “God of Joy (Dionysus).”
Official site: http://callmeANTHM.com