This Night I Wanted

It looked as if people were having a blast. I suppose being drunk would have helped. Maybe if I were rolling like the ecstatic, fur-laden lady in front of me, then I would have gotten into the music. As it was, I pumped my fist and went with the flow, wanting to be more than a napkin pole for the sweaty couple next to me. For all it is worth, I wasn’t there to see LMFAO. My expectations were low. And I’m glad – they played their whole arsenal in under an hour. It felt more like a Mardi Gras party than a concert with all the confetti and Party Rock promotional tokens. That’s what it was: an expensive investment in pleather pants and belts branding an inebriated experience, not quality music. I could go on but you get the picture, the Mexican Jumping Bean on stage did not pump my adrenaline.

I went to Bridges Auditorium Saturday night to see Anthem. You might remember the guy, maybe even kicked it at the apartments with him last year after he opened for B.o.B. and Lupe Fiasco. Surely you’re aware of the name. I wanted to hear him live again, hoping for the same sort of vibe he hit hard a year ago. That memorable night my good friend Austin Soldner '09 (Asoyolo) spun the beats behind Anthem and I thought damn, we are witnessing the next big rapper right here.

Anthem’s 2011 tribute to CMC was short; he played five or six songs, half an hour max, spitting with his standard skill in a white hoodie and v-neck. Drawing attention to the lyrics, not the flair. I saw him point to me midway through. His eyes said, “Sup A Mitch, glad you made it.” I was glad to be there, pissed at the lack of support from 5C students. Who could blame them though? The show started at 8pm. March Madness was on. Grandparents were still eating supper. I could tell when he left his enthusiasm was knifed down by the seat-abiding students, their energy nowhere near what it was last year.

I was bummed when I heard Anthem went back to LA for the night. I had this idea in my head that we’d kick it and drink. I’d been practicing my freestyling in the car so I could try to hang with his excellence. Making lyrical conclusions about CMC like, “The phenomenon of artistry is lost to likes at CMC / that’s why I do this verbally / I know you all have heard of me / read the words I speak / once more frequently / but I’ll bouncing quick / leave the language to the kids / so I drop an ounce of poetry so you know did – or maybe that I could / pushing through the campus under hoods…" then continuing on with more fragmented, self-righteous narcissism much less coherent than above. Why? Because I was excited to chill again, to feel close to some sort of genius I saw, and still see, standing on the verge of a fat rap career. Like when I heard Kanye’s Through the Wire, I know Anthem, Ant, will be huge.

His mixtape, Manhattan Music Vol. 1, is almost there. His style is eclectic, moving from the type of song you’d pregame to (God of Joy), to the gritty illness that sounds reminiscent to mid-nineties Nas and AZ (Inception Intro and Manhattan). With Kanye’s beat from Devil in a New Dress, Ant kicks down the backdoor with an internal monologue of personal fears on Note to Self. I’m not an annotative wizard when it comes to breaking down the complexities of music (leave that to Dan Evans), but I know that when it feels good, it feels good. And the fluidity of his flow, the intelligence behind his lyrics, drops my head into a rhythmic nod. It feels good.

How do I know he’ll be there on a stage making millions? I don’t. But I see something in him that I see in CMCers every day: an intense motivation to be successful. To work relentlessly for something, like you did in high school to get to this school. CMC might not have the most artistic atmosphere, but a certain creativeness has gotten you to where you are now. In an interview with Aleksis Psychas '10, Ant said, “I’m not the best at what I do, but no one’s going to outwork me." People who succeed are those who fight for it. And this, what Anthem has, what you all seem to have, not only impresses me immensely, but concretes my estimations of your future successes.

So is this a concert review, an Anthem pump up article, a corny, inspirational message? I guess all of the above. I wanted to tell you about Anthem, the man has an interesting story. Some have already told his story though (you can find Leks’ here, and Lewis’ here). Maybe I just felt inspired - that’s what creativity is anyway, right? The difference is between those who follow inspiration, and those who leave it decaying in the past. Whether it’s leaving a prosperous Wall Street job for a career in rap like Anthem, or writing an article with only the goal to make someone act differently than they would have before reading it, success is wholeheartedly following a vision.

Nothing’s given, gotta take it like you own it / I may seem flagrant in the moment if you want it / I ain’t the opponent that you wanna f*ck with / pardon me b*tch can’t you see that I’m carving a niche / the beginning, but I can’t rest on the seventh day / 'cause at that pace I know my records will never play. – Anthem .

His music is here.