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Artist of the day, revisited: Anonymous


Back in March, we named Chris Nunez, a.k.a. Anonymous, one of our very first Artists of the Day on Soundcheck. The 18-year-old rapper-poet has been on his grind ever since, and this weekend, he's dropping his first record with a party at the Orpheum on Saturday night.

We thought this would be a good time to check in with our man to see what's shakin'. After the jump, check out Julie Garisto's interview with the man they call And.On.I.Must. And click here to check out an mp3 of his track Telephone Telephone.

In name only: Recent Plant High grad Chris Nunez, a.k.a. Anonymous (And.On.I.Must), began pursuing hip-hop music full time last year after playing in a ska band. He took guitar lessons from Blake Yeager of Tribal Style; competed successfully in spoken word competitions; and befriended Mudd, Red Tide’s Lazy and B.C. and sound guy Jeremy Rowland, all longtime employees of the Orpheum, in turn establishing himself among the Tampa hip-hop elite. Nunez got word of mouth for his incisive wit and rapid wordplay.

CD: Sincerely, Anonymous, on ZeyeOn:PDG, his self-created label.

Home life: Nunez grew up in a tight-knit family in Davis Islands, raised by Colombian-born parents. He’s aware of his privileges and has a healthy sense of humor about his suburban upbringing, not going to extremes of denial. “I’m second generation spoiled,” he jokes, but credits his parents for being “bottom-up” achievers and setting a good example. “They’ve been to every show,” Nunez says. “They’re stupid supportive. My parents have been to every dirty bar. They’ve been to the Uptown, Pegasus … they’ve seen fights, mosh pits, blood and driven me home in their minivan!”

Lyrical style: “I definitely sit down and write concepts out … but I mean as far as what to write about, a lot of it is derived from observations. … Never really had a dry spell about what to say. It’s always been more about studying the art form, being economical.”

On his media player: “A lot of Aesop Rock, a lot of P.O.S. … Kanye West and Lauryn Hill for studying purposes. As far as similarities are concerned, that’s where the Aesop comes in. A lot of his stuff is very stream of consciousness. ... I’m just trying to learn as much as possible. Lupe (Fiasco) is the perfect artist. He’s not my favorite MC, but he definitely makes that crossover from being lyrical and having aesthetic appeal. He’s ahead of the bell curve. He’s a beacon of hope. ... Another beacon of hope is that Aesop and Atmosphere are on MTV now. They’re making money hand over fist.”

Mainstream vs. underground: “I feel like there is a certain dissent, I guess, from mainstream. At the same time, you do your best not to come off as pretentious and not to do different for the sake of being different.”

Man behind the scenes: Matthew Edwards of Left Field, who just produced the Basiqs. “I got really lucky,” he says. “Those beats on that album are worth two grand a pop.”

Give and take: “If I tell (Matt) I don’t like a beat, he’ll change it. But I mean, he’ll do the same thing to me. He’ll say, 'Rewrite that whole song. It’s garbage.’”

Instrumental textures: Anonymous performs solo and with a backing band. His friend/co-MC Mike Mass performs live and on the album, as well as guitarist Ross Campbell. Also on the CD are vocalist Kristina White, trombonist Phillip Jacobs and Dallas Albritton on violin.

Why be Anonymous? “Any fame that I have is immediately ironic. It’s just dumb, pointless. I find that to be humorous, and the tag 'and on I must,’ means literally traveling or constantly trying to progress.”

Hear him: 7 p.m. on Saturday at his CD release party, performing with DJ Brother Caymen and MC Mike Mass, with Tribal Style, Breakdown, Dynasty and others, at Orpheum in Ybor City. (813) 248-9500.

-- Julie Garisto, tbt*

[Last modified: Friday, June 5, 2009 7:00am]


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