AllHipHop.com Breeding Ground: Annimeanz
Mexican rappers from California are usually put into two groups: cholo rappers that rap over lowrider funk or oldies samples and dark underground types. You rarely come across ones that aim for a mainstream or more commercial sound. Annimeanz from Los Angeles, CA is looking to change that as he’s decided to break that stereotype by going with a sound that is more in line with the artists that you hear on urban radio. His 2016 song “Like The Westside” featuring Jake & Papa received airplay on L.A.’s Real 92.3, Las Vegas’ 104.3, and stations in Palm Springs and Riverside as well as coverage XXL Magazine’s Fall 2016 publication. We caught up with the upcoming artist to talk about leading Mexican rappers in a different direction.
I come from a city called Cudahy, Ca. It’s a city in Los Angeles near Watts, South Gate, Lynwood, Bell Gardens - that whole little section. I started selling drugs at an early age because my pops wasn’t around a lot for us - he was in and out of jail. My mom didn’t have a lot of money so we lived in motels around my neighborhood. Eventually I joined the local gang and started going in and out of jail over the dirt I was doing. I had a cousin that was going to school for business management and we had a close bond through rap music - always sharing new stuff with each other. When I was in jail, I’d write raps for him and he would write them back to me and he’d always suggest that we start a group. The group thing never happened but he continued on with his school and I continued to go to jail. I had served a prison sentence and when I got out, he suggested I take the rap thing seriously because he had built up some music contacts which included a producer named Meech Wells, who’s made hit records with Snoop Dogg.
No regional rivalry division
I started writing raps seriously when I got out of prison but I didn’t even know what a 16 bar was or even know how to construct a song - I was just writing verses. I was real heavy into east coast hip-hop, so I’d just copy their style of hooks and verses. Nas, Mobb Deep, AZ, Big Pun - those were the artists that I was really into. Dogg Pound and other West Coast acts were ill to me as well but I never let the regional rivalries stop me from listening and getting into the music from artists out east. Growing up in the motels in my neighborhood the dealers would play whatever was hot at the time and that included east coast hip-hop and I became a big fan.
Getting into the game
My cousin and I started paying Meech Wells to record at a studio that he had set up in his apartment. The recording booth was in one of the bedroom closets. I met the artist Bad Azz there and paid him to hop on a song with me. I started to get noticed but at the same time I still didn’t know about things like ad-libs and nobody was really trying to teach me. That didn’t change until I met Rakaa from Dilated Peoples and he took me under his wing to teach me the ins and outs of recording. Plus, he never charged me - not even for the features. I reached out to DJ Ill Will, who was still doing mixtapes before he went on to bigger things. We met at the Dub Show and he agreed to host my first mixtape after hearing some of my bars. He was also the first one to tell me to start making my own original songs instead of rapping over other artists known tracks. He told me that people want to make memories to your music and they will never do that as long as you’re rapping over someone else’s beats.
Through Ill Will I met Hot Dolla and Guerilla Black and this was when Hot Dolla was doing big things out in Los Angeles. Even though I was breaking into the rap game still, I was more of a goon for Hot Dolla. It was myself and a few other cats that were around Dolla to handle any business if anybody tried to f*ck with him. It was all good too because I was just happy to be in the situation of being down with a rap crew - we were Dolla Figga . I was able to meet a lot of industry cats like David Banner and even Glasses Malone who I ended up working with down the road.
Linking up with Glasses Malone
Internal problems within the Dolla Figga crew began to develop and soon enough we were all beefing with each other, so that all fell apart. I ran into Glasses Malone and he was always cool with me whenever we saw each other. He had just left his situation at Cash Money and he invited me to come work with him at the Blu Division studio. I started hanging out there and helping out in an intern type of way - it was all good though because things were moving slow for me and I needed to get a good learning experience as far as how the industry works and I got that by being around Glasses. Most of the people from the original Blu Division crew were gone by this point as Glasses was rebuilding his career after the Cash Money split. The company and crew was rechristened as DMC which stands for Division Media Company. Glasses was able to rebuild himself by combining ratchet and gangsta rap. At that point I was still making boom-bap records but in watching him make his Glasshouse album, I listened to his records and learned the structure. I’ve heard people say often that if you’re a lyrical complicated rapper, then you can make any kind of record and that’s not really true. I’ve spent so many years trying to complicate my bars and then when it was time to bring them to a lower level of wordplay, it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Making commercial sounding records is a job and it took me a few months to get the formula down and that’s how I made the transition into the style I have now. Unfortunately due to creative differences, I left Glasses Malone’s camp and linked up with a fellow minded artist named Young Hu$tle who shares the same vision as I do.
Trailblazing new grounds for West Coast Hispanic rappers
What I’m doing right now is totally different. A lot of the Hispanic West Coast rappers that are still putting out music are still stuck in the old ways which is that old cholo rap Latino sound. What me and my partners are doing is totally left field from what’s acceptable from a Latin West Coast artist. Chicano rappers are put in a stereotype and kept in to a certain sound. It’s so embedded into the minds of people that a Mexican rapper has to be a cholo and rap over an oldies sample.The Los Angeles radio market is mostly a Hispanic crowd that’s listening to radio artists like YG and Ty Dolla $ign so it makes sense to move away from the old style into what’s out right now. Some people feel that I should stick to old stereotypical sound and I disagree. I believe I can create mainstream styled songs like others are allowed to. I make music for everybody to enjoy but if I have to be classified, then I’ll be a YG type alternative for Mexicans. I just want to break the stereotype that a Hispanic West Coast rapper has to sound like a typical cholo and can’t sound mainstream. It’s being embraced but at the same time I’m still battling with the media, the industry, and even certain audiences on what they feel someone like me should sound like.