In many ways, Alex Anonny is a student of music. For a longtime, the Eastside-bred artist has embraced the local Hip-Hop community, while also taking his own journey in music exploration. From his early days as an aspiring lyricist and melophile to now – a Rap album collector, learning bassist and fully formed artist – Anonny’s meticulous ear for music, and progression as a rapper has led him to create his most recent passion project, Man Of Mettle. The 9-track EP released this passed January, reconfirms the rising rapper as a detailed wordsmith and lively storyteller who carries weight in Buffalo’s evolving rap scene.
“I wanted to make an album about me progressing from my environment, explained Alex Anonny.
A play on words, Anonny’s project title, Man Of Mettle signifies his resilience as a person who grew up in a notoriously rough part of the Queen City. Living on the Eastside of Buffalo, the future rapper was often exposed to street life, but practiced a lifestyle far from it – An aspect he credits to his parents. Raised in a religious home, Anonny’s most pivotal moments comes from his upbringing as a child.
“I wasn’t allowed no real parental advisory albums in the house. Moms’ wasn’t going for none of that. My parents wasn’t going for none of that,” Anonny enthusiastically explained. “It was legit Will Smith- that was the only album I was ever able to get. Anything that was clean…So when I got to spend time with my aunts and my uncles, it was clip for all of that. My aunt use to ride out to Illmatic, It Was Written, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot, Southernplayalisticcadillacmusic…My uncles were big DMX, Ja Rule, Jay-Z fans. I knew when I was going over there with them it’s about to get raunchy.”
Limited access to music made him both a curious and observant child. While soaking up all the musical influences of his extended family and around his neighborhood, young Anonny became obsessed with writing rhymes. Throughout his school years he would write raps and get feedback from friends, and this went on for 5 years before he actually started rapping himself. In the midst of his transition from being a songwriter to a recording artist, the rising rapper also developed an interest in different eras of music.
“I’m a gamer and I wasn’t even playing video games at that kind of prime in my life…I’m just in [my] room studying music that was so much before me,” mentioned Anonny.
Prior to emerging as an artist, Anonny lived a short time in Atlanta, Georgia which contextualized his music taste even more. Exposed to unedited, explicit rap music on the radio for the first time while in the south, gave him a new perspective as an avid listener. Getting hip to a large catalog of modern rap music at the time, intrigued Anonny to study earlier rap artists as well. Mentioning that he “started going back further to the Public Enemies and KRS – Ones and Rakims,” made him eager to make his mark on the Hip-Hop scene.
Moving back to Buffalo in 2002 at the height of the Dipset/ G-unit Era was yet again another moment the future rapper immersed himself in. Exchanging, listening to and exercising to mix-tapes was a highlight of his youth and was a catalyst for his earliest collaboration. With his cousin, Johnny Proper as a source for beats and music partner, a young Anonny made it known he wanted to pursue music to his parents, and despite his father disagreeing, he used that energy to write more.
“I wrote like 200 bars just off of him saying no,” Anonny explained. “I never stopped. I’m still the kid in the room with headphones on writing.”
Since making the choice to be a rapper almost 15 years ago, Anonny has been apart of a a short-lived rap group called Originality Lies Within, that released 2 projects in the mid-2000s, dropped his own self-titled project in 2012, took a 5-year hiatus from rapping and since re-entering the Hip-Hop community, has dropped a handful of singles and a 5-track EP, The SonRise. Experiencing the different stages of his progression as an artist, Alex Anonny’s creation of Man Of Mettle comes at an opportune time.
Establishing early connections with now notable rap figures like Jae Skeese and 7xve the Genius (who used to produce all his older music), Anonny’s placement in the rising Hip-Hop Community and recent music offerings makes him one to watch; And it’s just not because of his proximity, but because of his skill. Referring to himself as a “tactician,” Anonny’s approach to rapping is very detail-oriented. From the flow, to the cadence, to the ad-libs, the rising rapper is tedious about building his songs and executing his raps- a characteristic very evident in Man Of Mettle.
“One of the big elements of being an emcee is being able to tell a nice, cohesive story. I didn’t want to be rapping just to rap or say outlandish things, because I don’t believe in talking just to talk,” mentioned Anonny.
The 30-minute EP highlights Anonny’s signature diction and colorful wordplay with a fresh, confident energy. Tracks like “Mettle Intro,” “Walks On A Sunday,” or “Can I Kick It” elevates the rising rapper’s lyrical firmness as a result of his life experiences rather than a one-dimensional stereotype. Also sharing quick-witted opinions on the current state of Hip-Hop, specifically on those mentioned tracks, Anonny balances out his musical disposition with tracks that calls for his own introspection – Songs like “Next Door To The Trap,” “The Grace Of Dorothy,” and “Idle Eyes” featuring rapper Pengame Classic re-evaluates the rising rapper’s struggles and lessons as a catalyst for growth. The rapper’s handpicked line of guest features also doesn’t disappoint; whether it’s celebrated staple lyricists like Jae Skeese, Gaine$ and L-Biz or talented newcomer, Francs, blazing an energetic 16 bar, Anonny’s purposeful elevation of artists with lyrical integrity pushes his narrative further.
Another major contributor is Casso Beats. Producing every song on Man Of Mettle, the longtime beat maker whose produced for some of Hip-Hop’s most popular artists in the industry like Snoop Dogg and Lil Wayne, achieves a flourishing soundscape that is both adventurous and timeless. Mixing an upbeat integration of Lo-Fi and Boom Bap beats for Man Of Mettle, Casso Beats plays into Alex Anonny’s strong profile as a progressive rap purist while also leaving room for the rapper and his features to move their weight around. A longtime collaborator with Alex Anonny, Casso Beats‘ quality of sound and to a certain degree, rhythmic aesthetic adds another dimension to Anonny’s style.
“I don’t go outside with production because he [Casso Beats] knows how to make everything…I feel like Westside Gunn in that sense because he has Daringer, explained Anonny.
Tying Anonny’s sound and style together, the album art for Man Of Mettle gives another texture to the rapper’s instinct as a storyteller. Created by local rapper, graphic artist and comic book creator Kevin Delgado, also known as Frigid Giant, the album image, which depicts Anonny as a cyborg superhero in the back alley of a city, plays into the rapper’s message as a person who consistently exhibits fortitude, no matter the circumstances. “Confident in his [Frigid Giant] artistic ability,” Anonny’s admiration for and collaboration with Frigid Giant is further evidence of his quality to emulate and elevate the multiple elements of Hip-Hop.
Bringing his own story and new energy to Classic Rap with the help of Buffalo’s heaviest hitters, Alex Anonny’s Man Of Mettle cements the longtime emcee as both a talent and purveyor of Buffalo Hip-Hop’s unique culture. With new music in the works, the rising rapper is stepping into the limelight to bring his own brand of rap music to the forefront.
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