It was about two months ago that I first heard of the Anonymous. I went to this Doc Waffles show; you know how I feel about him, at a space in Woodbridge. After Waffles’ set, I left. But because I paid to get in – I rarely use my “guest list” privileges – I was handed two recordings: a 7” split of Noman/Summer Pledge and a CD of “Why Am I Grinding My Teeth” by the Anonymous.
It sat in my car for a few weeks before I got to it, but once I started listening to the Anonymous – it’s been pretty much a daily part of my rush hour rotation.
The first thing that will attract any born and bred eastsider to “Why Am I Grinding My Teeth?” is the cover – the iconic bull’s head hamburger stand on Mack north of Conner.
It’s closed now, but the bull’s head still holds guard over that section of the eastside.
Moving on to the music, the Anonymous have had some time to work on this album and their craft. According to their facebook page, the group started almost ten years ago in the suburbs with Goldzilla! (Kwesi Akaah – the mc) and Some Kid (Paul Wilson – the dj & engineer) starting out in freestyle events and basement parties. In 2005, the duo put out an ep titled “Love is Not an Orgasm” in 2005 and, another, “God’s Day Off” in 2006.
This new record brings together tracks from 2007 to today. One would that it could be a messy production affair – varying quality, no real through line – but that is not the case. If you sample and purchase “Why Am I Grinding My Teeth?” you will find it high polished but not antiseptic.
Among the key tracks to my ears is the opening, “Searching for Kid Calamity”. Not only is the flow smooth and the beats bounce funky, the end of the track showcases the time these cats put into building their ideas. A montage of references to “anonymous” in other songs and culture even includes Howard Stern giving a shout out to “the Anonymous” – the hackers group, of course – but it’s still great fun.
If you are not sold on them by the time you listen to the second track, “Hammerhead Shark”, hang it up. Because if you can’t pick up what Goldzilla’s throwing down, you might want to reconsider your interest in hip-hop in general. Especially when he’s preaching the truth:
“Since when did vampires go from Nosferatu to asexual teen heartthrobs? You see, back in my day they would have got bombed.”
Goldzilla’s themes range but frustration – sexual, professional and even at McDonald’s – seems to take center stage. Even though he seems frustrated by circumstances, Goldzilla’s voice is bright, fun and seems to be winking at you – letting you in on the joke – and that’s evident with his references. Goldzilla’s piles on geek troupes like comic books, Star Wars and video games, but never heads into nerdcore. He also can spin a great couplet out of current affairs – equating one’s inability to be sneaky to the President of Iran:
“Like Ahmadinejad in the synagogue trying to get it on on krypton with nothing but slippers on.”
Great images, funny and true.
Some Kid’s simples and engineering style is quite tasty – preachers, off kilter beats, Goldzilla play hype man and counterpoint against his own flows. I also especially like Some Kid’s delightfully twisted use of earworm chart toppers like Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” and Modest Mouse’s “Float On”.
The Anonymous played at the Magic Stick on Thursday, May 24th. I was there for the show and captured the set. Take a listen:
The next Detroit show for the Anonymous is in early June. Details pending. But stay in touch through the Anonymous facebook page. Also, the group is heading out on the road this summer with other Detroit favorite Passalacqua. Dates and cities beyond Detroit – possibly near you – are coming soon.
From my perspective, if the Anonymous continues on with the recipe found on “Why Am I Grinding My Teeth?” they won’t be unknown beyond Detroit for long.