Interview - Kwesi / Goldzilla
There’s this rapper and producer loudly hiding out amidst the gentrified/shabby post-hipster culture klatches of Woodbridge.
Photo: Gretchen Gruenberg
“Does that make me a bass-head ‘cuz I’m turning up the Dolby
?” Goldzilla raps, “
in the middle of the burbs, at 7:30 in the morning? This is our gift to you / a few years past due / and if you’ve never heard of us, then I guess it’s all new?”
You’ve never heard of Goldzilla or Some Kid. They’re name, as an ostensible rap-duo (better known as Kwesi and Paul, respectively) says it all: The Anonymous. The
Anonymous. “When we first got started,” says Kwe, “coming out of high school, ya know, after growing up together, we just said: Let’s see what we can do. We didn’t have any direction.”
Paul began experimenting with production early, getting into DJ-ing before he could drive and Kwe found he had a knack for writing, an uncanny preoccupation with grammar, word placement and emphasis (which explains his biggest In into Detroit’s contemporary rap community being fandom for literary-rapper Doc Waffles’ thesaurus-searing four-dollar-word-heavy rhymes).
I wish I could tell you what took these 28-year-olds so long to get started just like I wish I could tell you why its taken them more than a year to follow up their subtly brilliant debut Why Am I Grinding My Teeth? They were steadily honing their craft, diffidently testing some rap waters with some live shows here and there. But once they hooked up with the eclectic music collective that was gestating in the gardens beside the distinctive Shack nextdoor to the neighborhood pub, they found a home – that home being: Woodbridge Records. Bands like Noman and The Summer Pledge embraced these quirky rappers. And they are, indeed, quirky – its part of the pair’s brotherly bond.
“I’m a big fan of music, all genres, really,” says Kwe, “I even love jingles in commercials or cartoon music. Music, art, animation, they go together in this way that appeals to me and Paul; we have the same weird taste in movies and video games and cartoons and all of this, so I think that unconventional art thing, itself, bonded us.”
But why such an un-Google-able name? We can’t be blamed for being slow to come around to Why Am I Grinding My Teeth, despite how eclectic the record is, on its own
Its author remains: Anonymous.
I’ve always liked to be outside the bubble,” Kwe continues. These guys are fed up with how formulaic rap music’s become. (Rappin - “who listens to rap anymore its so “urban”? / it’s just for those who roll 20 deep in tinted suburbans” –Presidential Suite).
And then there’s the names, the monikers of Emcees or hip-hop groups. “Rappers, with the names,” Kwe says, “can be so silly. When you’re a rapper, you wanna be braggadocios, that’s why I purposely picked the most braggadocios sounding name for myself (Goldzilla).” The idea of his moniker was to come off pretentious and thus antithesis of flashy, swaggering rap stereotypes.
Paul as Some Kid lives up to their Anonymous-esque ethos. “I don’t think we really subscribe to that sense of: -we have to have the awesome-est name or the awesome-est anything really. We just like to have fun. We take what we do seriously but we don’t take ourselves seriously.”
Lyrics rife with Anime references and upgrades available only in NES’ 1992 © Mario Bros. 3, along with the travails of just missing out on that egg-McMuffin breakfast while you’re fostering aspirations for a run at the White House seems to suggest levity, yes, but Kwe’s wordsmith side shines through more often than not, truly a studier of the more complex dictions (and social satire / commentary) of Doc Waffles (mixed with the more guttural, from-the-heart stuff of SelfSays). He’s got a voice, in tone and theatricality, that lends itself to a sketch-comedy vibe or an Adult Swim Cartoon. Pauls’ samples and beats seem to lean more towards an artier/indie-rock dance aesthetic, like Ratatat or Black Moth Super Rainbows leftfield funk styles storming in under snappy, stutter-step beats that could be subwoof-blasting ballads as much as it could be more intimate, headphone pacings in the empty, echoing gymnasium after school.
“Now that I’m older, I’ve come to realize that these names don’t mean anything.” All that matters is the writing. And having fun at the show. The writing, meanwhile, continues – as The Anonymous is currently completing a batch of raps for their next album. The shows – well, The Anonymous is just one small facet of the larger Blowout.
The Anonymous raps inside a record store – FOUND SOUND in Ferndale - Saturday May 4 - with the Raw Dealers, and Mick Bassett.