Annimeanz (pronounced “Any Means”) started selling crack at age 11 and spent his formative years between the tough streets of Cudahy, a small city in Los Angeles county, and a prison cell. With a father who died of a heroin overdose and a mother who also struggled with drugs, he was often left to fend for himself. Realizing that a lifetime of incarceration was inevitable unless he changed his ways, he decided to pursue a career in music. Initially, he was a part of Glasses Malone’s Blu Division Crew, but has since decided to venture out on his own and the result is significant artistic growth for someone looking create a long-standing legacy which is based on someone making a change for the better.
Ironically, at first glance, Annimeanz latest offering, The Murder Business, looks like the same hardcore Left Coast Hip-Hop that listeners have been accustom to for years. However, the verses he spits do anything but glorify the pitfalls of the hood and instead serve as a harsh reminder of the grim realities of gang-life.
Sonically, the influence of California is all over this project. From sounds similar to DJ Mustard on one track (“Back Out”) to even flipping one of the same samples Dr. Dre did for “Let Me Ride” on another (“Like the Westside”), The Murder Business’ production adheres to a few different tried-and-true formulas over its 14 tracks. And while the beats overall definitely don’t disappoint, they don’t break any new ground either.
Fortunately, Annimeanz is far from an artist who leans on dope soundscapes to get by and his words are where he really shines. One of his social media bios even indicates that a goal of his is to become the top Latin lyricist. If this material is any indication, he could claim that highly-coveted position sooner than later. On an album standout, “Dope Head Rental, he says, “I done seen hard times, no role model / Had to drink water out an old Coke bottle / Put the rock in my mouth if the Ds comin‘ / If you see somethin’, you probably shouldn’t say nuthin’ / Yeah, cause them young boys got guns / And you can get your s**t spun if your mouth run.”
Many have tried, but few have succeeded at painting such a vivid picture of life in the inner-city. Annimeanz is an emcee who fits into the latter category and that is wonderful gift that he will hopefully continue to use to speak for those in his community. Some records do fall short because they’re just about getting money (“F**k You, Pay Me”) or calling out gold diggers (“Never See You Broke”). And because he is clearly capable of more, those tunes are a bit of a let down.
Another highlight is the Jus1-produced “Turnt Up” which masterfully takes that popular phrase and puts it in perspective of what it could mean in the streets as opposed to how it is commonly used in the clubs. “On this block, motherf***ers get shot / And ain’t nobody out here trying to call the damn cops / Look, you don’t wanna see it turnt up / Nah, you don’t want to see it turnt up.” He then goes on to criticize those who project a fake persona to look tougher than they really are. “You rappers is all liars with multiple front priors / You can get lit quick with the fire like Richard Pryor.” Those type of things pack a more powerful punch than the tired Hip-Hop gangsta rap cliches that he sometimes relies on. In the future, I would look forward to him expounding on his experiences even more with detailed stories rather than general scenarios.
The Murder Business shows a lot of potential. Musically, it knows how to attract an audience and lyrically it can be truly captivating. The pros considerably outweigh the cons. I get the the feeling that this is just scratching the surface too and I eagerly await more material and depth from someone who is wise far beyond his years based on the life he has lived.
In a world where Hip-Hop now touches every facet of popular culture, it is important to be reminded how powerful rap music can be, and considering it was created as way of giving a voice to the voiceless and the oppressed, Annimeanz is clearly a mouthpiece for all the residents of Cudahy and every ghetto around the world like it. No matter how big Hip-Hop gets, this voice should never be ignored because with so many people listening, the time is now to spread awareness about problems that are still so prevalent. And who better educate those who need to know than someone who has been through the struggle himself and survived?
Hip-Hop doesn’t get any realer than this. Respect due.
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