ANSON RAP$ might be a new name in the local music scene, but that’s not stopping him from diving in head first.
Born and raised in Boston, ANSON RAP$ — whose real name is Anson Frazier — is looking to blur the lines between visual art and music. From designing his own posters to incorporating his photography into his marketing, it’s clear that Anson is an artist in all respects — and happens to be wildly talented.
His latest project is a curated music experience at Sonia in Cambridge this Sunday, November 5. With names like Oompa and Billy Dean Thomas on the bill, this show is one of the season’s highlights.
We caught up with Anson via email to chat about how ANSON RAP$ came to be, his latest song MVMNT, his creative process, and, of course, the show. Check out what he had to say below.
Allston Pudding: How did you first get into music? Has it always been a passion of yours?
ANSON RAP$: My passion for music started at 10. I wrote a song with my mother and my older brother for his music class homework, which led to me and my brother constantly making songs in our room all through high school. I used to skip my 7th period study to go sneak into his music class to record and we both continue to write almost daily.
AP: How has your love for visual art and music intersected? Have they impacted each other at all?
A: At first they were separate entities. I would never be in an art space and tell people I rapped and vice versa, maybe out of fear of being judged as a show-off or an overachiever. But as my art and music matured, I began to incorporate my love for art as a tool of visual artist development and my newfound love for photography in the way I market myself as well as designing mostly all of my graphics for show posters and promotion materials. I am pushing to be a staple for what art and music look like when they marry each other. If you really think about it, hip-hop doesn’t exist without the two coexisting.
AP: You’ve talked about dropping out of art school at Framingham State. Did leaving school enable you to pursue music in a greater capacity than before?
A: Art school was an amazing experience, imagine four teachers educating the entire art curriculum. They knew us and we built tight bonds. But after leaving, that blanket of security school gives you vanished. The “real world” teaches you lessons very fast. I was actually drawing about eight hours a day after I left school. I would ride trains for hours trying to quickly sketch a passenger before they got off at their stop, that was the hardest drawing class I ever took.
I kept in contact with my 2D & Advanced Drawing teacher Tim McDonald, and he pushed me to merge my mediums of photography, illustration, and music, which was the beginning stages of the rebranding of ANSON RAP$.
AP: Tell me a bit about your song MVMNT. What was it inspired by and how did it come together?
A: MVMNT is basically a PSA to myself saying: stop trying to impress everyone else and impress yourself first. Either they’re gonna rock with it or they’re not, simple as that. This was the biggest shift in my self awareness as an artist. I spent a long time writing songs wondering whether or not someone would like it or not.
The song was produced by Marco Marcel of MEGAZOYD
, a longtime friend of mine and a producer of a lot of my work. I heard him playing this song at a session & I began mumbling the chrous, which led to me grabbing my rhyme book and scribbling stream of consciousness until I ran out of a beat.
AP: Talk about your approach to songwriting in general. What is that like?
A: I only write in composition notebooks! It’s been a tradition since I was 10 years old. Something about the length of the page and the feeling of filling one up inspires me to write more. Generally when I really like a beat, words immediately come to me. Other times words come with no beat, they may come from an enviornment, maybe a trip to the arboretum. Something about isolation in nature helps me form stronger concepts. There’s a book I study called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which talks about this thing called your “daily pages” where you freewrite whatever you feel for three pages every morning and keep it private. It helps you get the filler ideas out of your heart so when it’s time to produce art you are sharp and concrete. That exercise navigates my ability to react in real time during times of inspiration.
AP: How did the show at Sonia come together? Did you help choose the lineup, and if so, why did you choose those artists?
A: SURPRISE! A Music Experience is a dream come true. Amanda Schaefer (my manager) and I wanted to do something with full curation abilities. We picked the artist, built the production team, designed the flyers, and developed our marketing strategy for the show. We are both fans of every artist on the bill and they all have new music coming out around the same time, so we figured it would be the perfect SURPRISE mashup.
AP: What do you ultimately hope people take away when they listen to your music? Are there messages you’re hoping to share?
A: I hope they feel the energy. I am a pretty reserved person that puts all of his feelings and passion into the art. The message I want to cut through with my music is: EXPRESSION should not be a luxury, it’s a necessity. Do it in every form you can possibly think of, you need it just as much as you need water for survival in this boxed out world.
AP: What sort of plans do you have for your music? Anything we can look forward to?
So many SURPRISES! Expect new visuals and new musical collaborations with artist like Dutch ReBelle
, Treva Holmes
, Cyrus Brxxks, Oompa
, NuMero, MEGAZOYD, and more!