Introducing Anesu, who makes meaningful hip-hop with their debut single, Black Girl
The Perth musician's debut single merges poetry and hip-hop with lyricism on Blackness and identity.
Perth/Boorloo-based musician Anesu is someone we've been keeping our eyes on for a while. They're a talented and multi-faceted performer with an imprint across the city's live music space, whether that be as a musician performing potent hip-hop and R&B in venues throughout Boorloo, or as an activist striving for visibility for the fellow queer people of colour, and empowering those that they work alongside. They're an incredible and inspiring addition to the city, and one that will no doubt be around for a long time to come.
Today, however, we're celebrating their work as a musician, as shown through their fresh-minted debut single Black Girl, which arrived earlier in the week. It's a single that fuses the aforementioned two sides of their work, creating striking and impactful hip-hop - the type that stops you in your tracks and demands your attention - that packs a lyrical wallop, leaving you emerging the other side of the song not just more knowledgable on Anesu and their music, but also the stories they bring to life through their music - Black Girl included.
In the case of their debut single particularly, Black Girl initially came to life as a poem in tribute to a lost brother, performed at last year's powerful Black Lives Matter protest. Since then, however, they've infused the intimate and upfront poetry with a hip-hop backbone that breathes musical life into it; classic rap production swaying amongst touches of R&B and soul to create something that sits somewhere in between Sampa The Great and Ms Lauryn Hill - albeit distinctly Anesu at the same time.
It's a work of wonder that's touching and empowering at the same time, capturing the heart of Anesu's potent songwriting and the tapestry of sounds they're using to bring that to life. Black Girl is just the start of Anesu exploring that combination, and with shows alongside JessB and more music to come, they're someone definitely worth introducing yourself to if you're not acquainted.
Do so below, while you dive into Black Girl now:
Tell us about yourself?
I wear a lot of hats but right now I’m a 23-year-old, non-binary musician & activist living in Boorloo (Perth). Using they/them pronouns. I was born in Zimbabwe & raised here in so-called Australia. As a black queer trans artist, I think it's important to use your platform to tell the narratives of those who often have their voices silenced.
What’s your music like? What does it sound like? What kind of themes does it usually cover?
Being raised in Zimbabwe & Australia, my sound is heavily influenced from both those worlds. I'm still experimenting with my sound as an artist. But currently, I’m really into old school hip drum sounds with soft soulful vocals & some honest bar spitting. Themes of my songs often include political stuff & some queer love songs as well. Influenced by the likes of Lauryn Hill, Frank Ocean & Kehlani. Music for me is just another outlet to express my most vulnerable self, without fear of judgment which is what I try to emulate into my own music too.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
OOF. My writing & production process is all over the place, it's whenever the inspiration hits really. Which often happens when I’m outside or on the go. I just moved into my new apartment & was going to use my 2nd room as a studio but because there's no light, I was writing way too many sad songs. I had to move my set up to the lounge room with open space. I guess when writing, having a safe environment is vital. My songs usually start with a random beat or melody that will come out of nowhere, which I’ll then immediately record on my phone wherever I am. Then I’ll later go & add lyrics I've either written in my notes app as a poem or add new lyrics completely. There's no liner process.
Can you tell us a bit about your debut single, Black Girl?
My new single was initially written early last year in 2020 as a poem, in tribute to the loss of my late brother P. Which I performed as part of a speech during the BLM protest in June 2020. It's about my experiences of what it's like to be black & the intersection of gender that is also at play. It's honest, cutthroat but also a huge vibe. The lyrics “you're pretty for a black girl” is often told to so many black women as a backhanded compliment & insult by men who believe that black women aren't beautiful. This me claiming back that phrase & using it in a way to empower others to use their voice in a world that often encourages them to do the opposite.
What do you have planned for 2021?
For 2021 I’m planning on having more music releases & videos. Although music is my first love, visual art & photography is my second. I really want to get some more visuals out with the music I make because I feel like music videos have become a lost art. Also opening up for Jess B with Halfqueen for her new mixtape release, so hopefully will be performing more big shows this year.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
Connection, vulnerability. That there are so many other people out there that feel the same way you do, you're not alone & your voice does hold so much value.
If one person hears my music & connects to it in some way, then I've done my job.
Where can we find more of your music?
You can find my new single on Spotify & Apple Music.