Anonymous {And.On.I.Must}
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Anonymous {And.On.I.Must}

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Hip Hop Spoken Word


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"A New Voice of Truth on the Rap Scene"

I met Christopher Gabriel Nunez aka “Anonymous {And.On.I.Must}” when I was asked to read a part in a staged reading at the LAByrinth theater company directed by Shira-lee Shalit. The play, Meat Puppet, was about the effects of pornography on a college student and his peers. I was reading the part of the porn star. I enjoyed reading the character, but not only because it was fascinating as an actor to explore her mindset and history. Nunez' language was visceral, aggressive, and challenging.

As an occasional songwriter/poet myself, I recognized within his dialogue something particular to those who love music. Full of clacking consonants and juicy, unforeseen vowels, his dialgoue was so full of rhythm the words became a rapturous pleasure to say, much less perform. One read and I knew there was something special about this guy. Since then we've had several deep conversations about writing, pornography, human nature, playwriting, and the politics of relationships.

In between rewrites of his play, Nunez has also performing his version of hip-hop around the country. Curiosity and the powerful impression his play reading had made on me, inspired me to don my leather jacket and haul ass downtown to see him perform his new album at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York City. In two, sweaty, thrilling hours my 40-something, over-culturalized, suspect-of-all-things-other aura was replaced with excitement and respect. I watched a young man take his self-prescribed role as a playwright into brave and dangerous territory. Ladies and Gentleman, Chris Nunez has something to say.

In preparing to write this article I thought of sitting down with him and asking stupid questions like, “When did you first know you wanted to be a rapper?” and “Why do you think you want to perform in this style as opposed to rock and roll or R&B?” I realized that those types of questions would be too easy, too lazy. Instead, I asked him to tell me about his influences and to send lyrics to a few of his favorite songs, especially the one I liked the most, the title track for his latest album, Cough Syrup for Your Offspring. I read the lyrics to his entire album over and over, and researched all the performers he told me about. It was quite an education.

The journey of an artist is always an interesting one to me; how a person is influenced, and by whom, and where that influence hits the artist -- it all tells a curious outsider not only about the individual, but about the society in which they live. Nunez told me he is drawn to artists that focus on a personal, human reaction to the overwhelming media/political machine that our culture has become. He is interested in the moment he is experiencing right now: youth, in the midst of being hammered into shape by a culture. A culture that cares not for the person's point of view, or their reaction to the dehumanizing effects of consumerism, or their need for meaning or spirituality or purpose, but rather a culture that exists to make a buck off their instincts.

No song makes this point clearer than “Brick Layer”:

We make our way in the slant light, no lantern governs our path
We veer left --- ain’t that right? Don't waste a way, or a word, or a will
Last testament, broke nail scribbled in brail, they yelled:

"Sight to the victor!" and we swallowed what they gave us
No pill under tongue, we marched lock step to graveyards
Now we kick the dirt and blame mother for how she raised us
We shovel shit for our brethren who betrayed us.

So put a smile on that face and place faith in something
Be it your neighbor or your weapon, cocked back assumption
Fall, empire, fall, a matrimony of filth, our hands scrubbed clean
While the capitol's built.

In the midst of this socio-political rage, this scream against the brutal squelching of instinct and potential both social and personal, Nunez reflects on another source of anger: the numbing effects of commercialization. He talks about our pharmo-suicidal tendencies and our ability to numb out through drugs, sugar, and media over-stimulation. As a result, he too spins into the madness.

From “Cough Syrup for Your Offspring”:

While a grip of kids in Ciaro, David/Goliath widescope
Charge straight gat-less at rubber bullets and rifles!
Shirts vs. skins? Cool, rad, new tab
Seven-gram rocks and tiger blood? How you do that?

Let the news feed soothe me, Sunnis, Shiites and groupies
Paparazzi, tag! Mubarak? Shit is a doozy ---
Tutti fruity lunacy, cooties, movies, the looming:
Sense, that I got none ... dun dun dun.

The beats are set deep in the roots of classic hip-hop, but they also contain rhythms from punk, ska, death metal, New Orleans Jazz, turntablism, flamenco, and world music. His beats are colored by the poet rappers: Matt Embree’s reggae sound, Aesop Rock’s stream-of-consciousness flow, P.O.S and his punk shout power, and the quiet doom of Slug of Atmosphere. Pushed on by slam poets like Saul Williams, Nunez makes his own mark as his nom de plume “Anonymous.”

Lost, passionate, confused, smart, trying -- everything society tells him is going to work and doesn’t. Punk angry. Aware of being manipulated, “Anonymous” delves into “the truth,” which is not an easy place to go, because in order to be absolutely truthful, you have to list your own faults and limitations as well as others. This is what separates Nunez from other rap artists and is perhaps a nod to his playwright and acting training at NYU: he is willing to be soft, broken, wounded, wanting, and flawed.

From “Fingers in Wet Concrete”:

So if I throw up a tag on the wall outside the pharmacist
Am I less an artist? More a modern day narcissist?
I drop an album, under artist put "Anonymous"
Does that make my moral standing up there with the carpenters?
Or does it really matter what I'm doing if I'm honest?
The virtue of truth, is the sinners empty promise
So I throw my hands up when I go to introduce me
Cause who am I to you? A man or just my loose leaf?
Who am I to you? A man or just my what? The f-k am I trying to prove?

It’s just the beginning for this powerful young artist, but at least he has a sense of where he is trying to go. Drawn like a magnet to the Spanish/punk/flamenco/hip hop or "jipjop flamenkillo" -- as the band “Ojos De Brujo” likes to call themselves -- the future is fusion, a mix of theater performance, dance, spirit infused video art, and street sounds, all pulsing poetry to a beat.

At the concert in New York, Nunez first asked for the lights to be turned up, then he took off his shoes, then his shirt. The top button of his pants open, I mused for a moment on the possibility he was going to get naked. He looked happiest rapping on the floor with the audience, all of us jumping and moving close around him. Then he rapped while doing a handstand.

To make my point, here’s a piece from “Ground Zero”:

Yeah! We built this city from the ground up
Gears shifting' till aint nobody could stop us
We want: NO FAME, NO FAME,
just to pull the reigns on the night when it came cause

It seems passion is the point and the purpose of his rap name, “Anonymous {And.On.I.Must}.” Like a true poet, he does not want to be better than us --- he does not want fame. He wants to be one of us, and for us to realize how great a thing that is; just to be. How important it is to say what you really think; how important it is to not let anyone break you or take away your right to live your truth. How important it is not to self-destruct, or become violent toward others when you feel hopeless or unconnected.

Thanks, Chris Nunez for reminding me yet again of how honesty can both liberate and empower. Thanks for keeping me awake when I find myself equally overwhelmed and numbing out. Thanks for reminding me we are all in this together. -


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* - Artist of the Day, revisited: Anonymous

"For Rapper, The Plot Thickens"

Eighteen-year-old Tampa rapper Anonymous (a.k.a. And.On.I.Must) is a bona fide hustler on the streets of Tampa Bay. A two-time Artist of the Day on Soundcheck (March 20 and June 5) he's got a gift for easygoing self-promotion that belies his young age.

This fall, Anonymous (a.k.a. Chris Nunez) heads off to study dramatic writing at New York University. But before he goes, he's turning his hand to theater with Mr. Nobody at Point Blank Range, a black comedy he wrote and directed. It stages at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the Silver Meteor Gallery, 2213 E Sixth Ave., Tampa. $10, $12. (813) 300-3585.
Here's what Here's what Nunez had to say about the play in an e-mail to John Fleming:

"Mr. Nobody is a six-person, one-act play about Silo, a 19-year-old with no aspirations, no home life, a dead-end job and a roommate that only complicates matters. The plot centers around a robbery at the Quick E Mart, where he works, during which he is forced to make a sad realization at gunpoint.''

The cast includes Ryan Niven as Silo along with Paige Snyder, Alyssa Delio, Colin Fendrick, Elizabeth Fendrick and Nunez.

Nunez, a Plant High graduate this year, participated in the youth program at the Ojai Playwright's Conference in California over the summer. In June he released his first record, Sincerely, Anonymous, on ZeyeOn:PDG, his own label. - St. Pete Times


Cough Syrup For Your Offspring

Listen to the entire album here:



As an emcee I function beneath the moniker Anonymous {And.On.I.Must} I've been ryhming since I rose from the womb, joining a whirlwind cypher in a city full of punk rock, ska, and metal. The first time I got paid to rap was opening up for a death metal band on prom night, my band consisted of my ipod, a gospel vocalist, and a violin. When I played with Rob Swift of the Executioners he said some really nice shit, he called me "the future of hip hop in this day and age of trend following," that sounds like a little much to me, but I appreciate it. My first single "Avenue Drifter" appeared on VibraOnline's Top 10 and received heavy rotation in Varna, Bulgaria. I tour a lot. I've been doing it since highschool. I like performing with a band, sometimes I perform with a Dj, or a saxaphonist, or just myself and my noise. I feel like my only role is to be brave enough to show you that my heart beats so that you'll remember your own.