Japanese anime is the most original animation technique with the least original name. It combines thrilling story lines with bloody massacres and crazy twists and turns. Some of these comic books and movies are stunning performances of talent and creativity, but they are balanced out by a whole bunch of crappy productions that don’t even deserve five minutes of your time. The first album – or album-teaser should I say – by an MC that has the same name as those crazy Japanese guys is a perfect reflection of that extreme quality variation within.
There is unmistakable talent to be found on “Highly Anticipated Volume I,” but the casualness that radiates from this CD-R is very annoying. Many well known artists keep their fans happy nowadays with compilations of cameos, b-sides and freestyles while they are working on their upcoming album. Anime chose to do a comparable format, which is an odd choice for an upcoming artist. To my knowledge this is the first tangible musical product he put out onto the market, and even taken into account this is an independent production, MC’s need to get their name out on the streets AND are trying to get some radio airplay, real dedication is missing where you would be expecting it.
One of the main causes of my exasperation were the abundant freestyle sessions, which should be showcasing Anime’s superior lyricism, his witty wordplay and sense of humour. To a certain extent, his improvisation skills are present, but because the tracks go on and on, boredom strikes like a B-52 when you’ve heard the next line in the incessant set of bars. This MC from Fall River, Massachusetts should be either doing these freestyles in front of a mirror or a crowd, and save the real gems for his studio material.
Luckily, Anime managed to pull some of these gems out of the swamp and rushed them to the recording studio. Cunninglynguists’ DJ Kno was sitting there and helped out by providing Anime with a gripping beat on “Guiding Light.” A friendly bassline hooks up with a bluesy piano riff over which he drops rhymes that deal with doubts about pursuing a career as an MC:
“Never once did I plan to be twenty and not in college
Never once had my hand around a not a lot of dollars
Never once figured out I’d be dead broke and looking for skrill
I’m twenty years old and I’m mistook in this rail
And it’s a crooked ordeal, how I feel stay standing up
And I ain’t got a bachelor’s, so I will be %@^*^#- for amateur
Can’t afford the luxury, so credit cards are anted up
And I’m supposed to pay you back with a job as a janitor?”
When he hooks up with a gifted producer like Kno, the true talent of Anime comes out of the woodwork a lot better. With his aggressive, slightly drawling voice he sounds like Esoteric in his younger years. Just as his Boston counterpart, Anime has Caucasian written all over it, but it doesn’t give him a disadvantage to others. On the songs where Anime puts in a real effort, his delivery is on-point, and although he doesn’t possess an awe-inspiring metaphor arsenal, he does his thing without being a total bore. His style is best displayed on the battle-esque “Pull Your Socks Up!” Over a militant, staccato battlefield beat, Anime proves to be an MC with a rattlesnake bite in his flow. Focused, he drops:
“You talk with a lean, like you walk with a weapon
I talk what I mean, it ain’t even a question
Look on your face like you seen what you stepped in
Have the paramedics on the scene in a second
I gleam when I’m flexing: it’s progression
All-city king, man; the dream of a peasant
My team, never less than spectacular, is macking you
Pissant MC’s in the grill with a catheter
You have half of the track, as a matter of fact
Half of your shit is average, yo, and half of it is wack
Still the spitting image of what happened to rap
Cats is itching for a deal like they’re catching the clap”
Apart from these two quality tracks, there is not a lot of ear candy to be found on this Volume I. Anime leans too heavily on well-know productions that were originally aired by legends like KRS One or Jay-Z. Again, this is customary on this type of record, but even then it isn’t very impressive and it doesn’t give you an edge compared to the army of aspiring artists out there. First impressions are lasting ones, and even though Anime sometimes irritated the hell out of me, I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. He could be a valuable addition to the indie backpacker scene, and if he can step up his game a bit, he might even achieve that. Back to the drawing board.