When I get really into a genre of music, my favorite thing to do is dig for the deeper gems, the lesser known artists. These are the artists that should be getting their shine and accolades for their thought provoking art. Sharing artists with friends has been one of my favorite ways to connect with people and help promote music that should be more popular, but isn’t due to how the internet and mainstream music works. Anti Lilly and Phoniks’ most recent joint venture That’s The World not only checks all of the boxes for a great album, but is a huge fan favorite in my friend circle.
I first found out about Anti Lilly 2 years ago roughly when Phoniks, Awon and Dephlow released Sleep is the Cousin of Death. That album, to me, was flawless, and I subscribed to the label on BandCamp to check out any future releases. Few months later, Anti Lilly dropped It’s Nice Outside, and I admittedly slept on it. Fast forward to the night of That’s The World’s release date, and I decided to give this album a listen. I turned off all the lights, tossed my headphones on, and just sat in silence as Anti flowed over some of the jazziest production I’ve ever heard, and rapped some of the coldest lyrics of all time.
The way he opens up with the album with the album’s self titled song and says “Stop thinking the world gon’ give a damn about you, gotta get it yourself.” just hit me in the chest. I literally had to pause it just to smile and roll it back, now knowing what the album was going to sound like. My first cursory of album of the listen was just a smooth ride. I paid more attention to how he flowed and the production versus what he was saying. My second time around, I solely focused on the lyrical content. Man, I just don’t know where to start with the content. It’s self-deprecating, it’s hopeful, yet depressing, it’s as if you’re sitting in a room with him and he’s just airing out his thoughts, but as if he spent his entire life crafting the proper soliloquy to express how he feels.
On The Fall when he said, “I ain’t proud of myself for not taking enough pride in myself”, you get a sense of longingness in his voice to want to improve, to be happier and live up to the expectations his family has for him, in conjunction with himself. Father’s Day is a gut wrenching letter to his father, discussing his trials and tribulations with his father. He waxes on how he hates his father for what he did to his mother, but that he learned a lot about life and how to carry himself from his father. What to do and what not to do were instilled in him from his experiences with his father.
The last point I’d like to bring up are the features. They are sparse, yet when they are present, they hit hard. I appreciate the strong presence of features because I get to learn more about Anti himself. His experiences and life choices and of course, the stories that brought him to where he is today. Every feature on the project was well placed and did their thing, but my personal favorite was Bigg Fatts off of The Ecology Pt. 2. He snapped on that Phoniks beat and flowed effortlessly on it. He sounds inspired by DMX and Busta Rhymes in terms of his vocal approach, but the way he closed his verse was perfect.
Phoniks on the production is nothing to overlook either. Having been hooked on his production since Sleep is the Cousin of Death, his jazzy production and drum choice have been top notch and he has quickly become one of my favorite producers in terms of that jazzy sound. His sample choice and the pockets he creates with the bounce his beats is fantastic and after 3 albums with Anti, he’s still pulling tricks out of his sleeve.
I can almost guarantee no one has heard of Anti Lilly or Phoniks, and that needs to change. Anti’s rap and flow are on another level, and he needs to get bigger placements and shine. I dislike making comparisons to other artists, especially because each artist is their own person and they create their craft for themselves, but he reminds me so much of MURS in the best of ways. The introspective lyrics, killer flow and overall great rap voice make for a great project. Check out the album below and definitely cop it if you can and also check out other Don’t Sleep Records’ artists. They are all dope and deserve praise for their hard work in hip hop.