Philly-Bred: My Interview with Lou Anthony
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When you listen to Lou Anthony’s music, you can hear “The Struggle”.
Yes, The Struggle is a proper noun.
The Struggle consists of people, places, and things. This demographic is often ignored when we speak of urban America. Sure, urban music glorifies the foreign cars, exotic women, and piles of money that seem to be the sole dream of young urban dwellers.
The Struggle contains the untold stories of the people who died trying to reach that pipe dream. It also contains the stories of the survivors. The survivors who escaped, moved on to better blue-collar jobs, or in rare instances, actually achieved phenomenal wealth.
Lou Anthony is a product of this struggle. As you read his words below, you will understand his drive to achieve better. You will get a glimpse into the mind of an artist, whose family and community is a big part of his motivation to build an empire. The other half? Well, as Lou says, to paraphrase 50 Cent…
“Get rich or die trying.”
Lou Anthony what’s good! You’re from Philly and you are following some really iconic rappers: Freeway, Beanie Siegel, and Gillie Da Kid, and most recently, Meek Mill. How do you step out from the shadows of these rappers to becoming the dope, new emerging artist…the next big thing from Philly?
I grew up in the era of Beans, Freeway, the whole Roc-a-Fella movement so if you were from Philly, that’s just what the hip-hop scene there was about. You respected the Roc-a-Fella/State Property clique because they were from where you were from. They made it and now they’re putting on for your city. Then guys like Gillie, Cassidy, and Reed Dollaz started a newer millennium in the way that I saw Philly rap. Those are the guys that drove me to wanna make music. At first, being a 4th grader, I soaked up everything I heard from them – violence, gunplay, sex – and I wrote about that. As I got older, I realized that I couldn’t rap about those things anymore because I wasn’t doing those things. So today, I step out of their shadows by being me. Rapping the way I wanna rap, about the things I wanna rap about, singing melodies, etc. I’m from Philly and I respect my pioneers but I get inspiration from lots of other artists from all different backgrounds and genres and I think that’s the key to being a great musician/artist. Then, they can’t classify you as just a rapper because you’re much more than just that.
You are an actual lyricist in an age where it seems like lyricism isn’t important in hip-hop. I can almost don’t need my crystal ball to tell me you came from humble beginnings. I can tell by listening to your music and recognizing the accent of poverty. Was it your surroundings that made you start rapping? How much of an influence did your environment have on your music?
I definitely would say it was my surroundings. I grew up in a house dominated by women. My mom, grandma and aunties, with my sister and girl cousins. So as a young kid, all I knew was Gospel and Shirley Caesar. Then, as my older brother started to be home more, I got into his rap collection. I heard Nas, 50, Jay, Pac, etc, and I never turned back. Junior High only put the nail in the coffin. Everybody was tuned into the Reed Dollaz & Meek Mill beef. We all used to go to computer class and completely disregard assignments to watch them two guys spit diss freestyle videos on YouTube. All the attention they were getting from my peers inspired me, because I felt like I could put a few words together too and get the same kind of love. However, as I got older, my environment inspired my music in another way. Philly was the murder capital of the country for a while, man, and all the violence and murdering that was happening just wasn’t OK. I saw families get torn apart damn near everyday. Something clicked in my head as to tell me, “Stop promoting this! It’s too much of it going on already, rap about something else.” So, I don’t rap about murder and guns and stuff like that anymore. Sometimes I do have to remind people with my lyrics that ain’t nothing sweet about me. I may drop a couple tracks, or even a whole album for the ladies… or even of me, “in my feelings”, but I still handle mine. I don’t say that to promote violence, but sadly people look at you as a punk when your music is different from everybody else’s.
What is your motivation in the present day? What drives you to keep pushing?
I wanna be rich. My family…we struggled for too long. I saw my mom cry too many times. We went too many days without true meals, you feel me? We deserve this. I GOTTA make it. I’m so far along that I only have two options: Get rich or die trying, like 50 said. A normal life, a Nine to Five, is out the question for me now.
Let’s talk politics for a second. Alot of younger people aren’t involved but, you made it clear on “Do What I Want” that you don’t like Donald Trump. Do you support anyone in this Presidential election? If so, who?
I love Bernie. Bernie is the man. I’m in love with his spirit, his character, and his plan to do something about these college loans, man! I do like Hilary too, but Bernie is the top guy. Regardless of what anybody say, Obama is the G.O.A.T.. It was gonna take more than 8 years to fix what Bush did to us and people give my guy Barack a hard time for that.
What is your main goal as an artist?
My main goal is to speak to my people. I wanna show the kids that dreams come true, that there ARE educated and sensible artists in hip-hop. I wanna be like Pac. I wanna do for my people in the 21st century what Pac did for his people in the 20th century. Music is my platform to do that. Feel me?
Who is your favorite emcee out right now? Of all time?
My favorite artist right now is J. Cole. Phenomenal talent, phenomenal swag, he’s just him. He’s natural and he’s a real dude. That’s what him and my favorite artist of all time, 2Pac, have in common. They are real n*****. Kids think being a “real n***** means being violent, having no remorse, being down for whatever, or having all the ladies. Nah. To me, being a real n***** means you stay true to who you are, where you came from, and trying to bring others up with you. Also, taking care of your family and your business. That’s a real n*****. Cole and Pac are some real n*****. That’s why I love and respect them without limit.
Every artist I know has a studio kit. Whether it’s bottled water and a blunt or a 6 piece wing. What are your necessary items to take to the studio with you?
When I hit the studio up, bro, I need at least 2 blunts and a pizza menu, because the munchies are no joke. After that, I’m in my zone!
It seems like these days, more and more artists are bucking the record labels. Artists like T.I. and Kanye are opting for distribution only with companies like Tidal. How do you feel about this independent revolution?
I love the independent revolution. Labels take advantage of guys. When I was younger, I would have died for a record deal. Now, I wouldn’t go near a record label unless my lawyer gives me the go-ahead. Labels suck, man. It’s so many schemes they run to try and get over on people. That’s also when artists have to change their music styles and images, [to please the company]. So, this independent movement, I’m in love with it.
If you had to pick a song to be the soundtrack for Lou Anthony, what song would you choose?
It’s great that you ask that because the whole album, “Forever 20”, is the soundtrack of my life. That whole album is me. It’s where I come from, it’s who I loved, it’s what I learned, it’s ME. If I had to pick one song…I’d go with “Love Me For Me”. It’s the last song on the album and it illustrates my progression as a person and as an artist.
When is the next mixtape/album coming out?
I don’t know when the next project is coming out just yet. I’m always working on something, I’m always active. All my previous releases can be found on my website louanthony.webs.com. The fans who follow the site and my Twitter know I post updates as they come. I like to drop singles and freestyles every now and then to keep my supporters well-fed, until a new project emerges.