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Artist Spotlight – C.O. Any

by OSnapple on May 21, 2010

So Trav is still out of the country, and he deserves it! So in his absence I was fortunate enough to catch up with an artist that I first posted about On May 5th which you can read HERE.  I havent dont a lot of Artists spotlights for the WYDU Hip Hop but i have done a few for WYDU Rock. This interview by far was one of the best that I have had.  Not only is C.O. Any’s Music great, buts hes an extremely intelligent and humble human being, which in the world of music where everyone claims to be a internet superstar, it is a great relief.   You can purchase C.O. Any’s The Couch Sessions HERE.  Dont take my word for it, check out the interview below.

The Couch Sessions

WYDU: What’s Up C.O., in typical WYDU fashion why dont you give yourself a quick introduction to our readers.

C.O. Any: Right on.  I feel like the best representation of myself can be found in my music.  Not only in the lyrics but in the beat production.  At the end of the day I think I spend a disproportionately large amount of time producing beats (relative to time spent writing).  The beats I’ve made over the years are typically representative of how I was feeling at the time I made the beat, so I’m left with a array that spans the melancholy to the elated to the just plain banger.  I’m from the school that believes that clever rhymes and lyrics are wasted if they’re not laid over fitting beats. That’s the problem with so much hip hop today.  There’s nothing worse than when you hear some tight rhymes but scratch your head thinking “man that beat was shit” or “man that beat totally clashed with the lyrical message.” So I always approach a track from the beat first.  The lyrics that follow are an extension of that first effort of beat production.  At the end my goal is that the final product comprehensively represents the idea I’m trying to convey.  If the beat and the lyrics don’t jive, you got a mis-match that makes your music hard to identify with.

WYDU: Where are you from? Give us a little history on C.O. Any.

COAny: I was born in LA but my family moved to a Maryland suburb of DC when I was an infant, so I grew up an east coaster for sure.  I was involved in music fro an early age.  My mother encouraged me to stay involved in music and in the early yars that was tantamount to singing in the church and school choirs.  I’ve always loved a wde range of music and while I love hip hop, for my money you can’t find better music thanold Stax and Motown (Otis, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, etc). That said, my older brother ws always bumping hip-hop so I got turned on to the genre pretty early.  Around age 15, I started messing around freestyling.  Soon thereafter I found a little Eritrian club inAdams Morgan, DC that had hip hop open mics.  I’d head down there after class on Fridaysand drop freestyles with various DC cats.  I think that’s when I started to realie that I had a flow in me.  By the time I went to college my freestyling ability was prety well honed.  I did a fair number of battles in Boulder and started recording with a few electronica/jam band/dub-reggae artists.  At this time I wet my feet with production and picked up my trusty Yamaha RS700.  I haven’t turned it off since. The past 6 years I’ve been in Chicago, doing the odd show and DJing at a few clubs.  After several years of accumulating beats and rhymes for nothing more than the love of it, I set my sights on an album.  And here I am today, trying to circulate my project and get noticed but more importantly ready to get started on a new endeavor.

WYDU: It’s really cool that you were able to emcee is a few different places.  What are some of the differences or similarities you have noticed between DC, Boulder and The Chi?

COANY: I was 18 when I moved away from DC so I hadn’t matured much as an artist by that point. That said, I’ve always felt sort of amazed that more DC cats aren’t on the map so to speak…or at least to the degree I think they should be.  I guess the number 1 thing that comes to mind is that DC, MD and VA hip-hop (and go-go!) are hugely under-recognized.  I grew up going to see Asheru and Blue Black (of Unspoken Heard) play and to this day I think youd be hard pressed to find more intelligent and honest hip-hop than what those guys put out.  I’m glad WALE is bringing a spotlight to the district.  I hope that more District talent gets recognized as a result. Boulder was a fun place to do hip hop for sure and I was amazed at how many good shows came through there when I was going to school out that way.  I guess you could say that Boulder isn’t necessarily rich in home-grown acts but is very responsive to the genre as a whole.  The back-packy concept shit reigns supreme out there for sure but being a college town, you see an appreciation for the full spectrum of hip hop and a general finger on the pulse.  Chicago, by contrast, is rich with home-grown talent but at the same time, there’s more breathing room for hip hop artists.  In the sense that it’s not like LA or NYC where your next door neighbor is probably trying to put out an album at the same time you are.  It’s for that reason that I moved out here after college.  I knew I was stepping into a well established hip-hop scene that at the same time wasn’t bursting at the seams.  Chicago hip-hop heads know what they like.  They’re a well informed bunch.  And they’re not afraid to make that known.  Bottom line is you gotta come real in Chicago or you’ll get called out fast.  At the end of the day though, I think I’ve taken a little from each of locales I’ve performed in.  That’s one reason why I bring a variety of styles to the mic.

C.O. any in the studio

WYDU: Who artist wise out there current or old has influenced you?

COANY: Oh man, that’s a tough one to answer.  If I were to just rattle of some names I’d have to give some love to: De La Soul, Bush Babees, Jugganauts, Pep Love, Show & A.G., Outkast, Crucial Conflict, Pink Floyd, Sam Cooke and Air Supply (just kidding, although I did happen to see them live once – a ridiculous story for another time).  But there are so many different artists who helped shaped the tastes I have now that I know I’ll slap myself later for omitting some of them.  An ideal concert month for me would be seeing Sean Price and All Natural one night and Roger Waters performing the wall the next.  Variety baby.  Oh and recently I copped Freddie Gibbs’ new mixtape.  Absolutely off the hook.

WYDU: Aight man, so now I have to ask, What’s currently in your Ipod/CD Player?

COANY: Currently in the iPod.  Well, like I said I’ve recently been bumping Freddie Gibbs’ stuff (hailing from Gary, IN).  Dude is incredible.  For those who don’t know I suggest you cop his “Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs” project pronto.  Other than that, just looking at my recently played tracks we got: Missy Elliot (Her and Timberland are trouble…I just recently sorta re-discovered their jams), Infinito’s most recent project, King Most’s “The Obamix,” my boy DJ Meistro’s “Top Ranking” mix, Devin Tha Dude, Sam Cooke ( a week without some Sam C is like a day without sunshine), Slaughterhouse (Rocye 5’9″, Crooked I, Joe Budden and Joel Ortiz) and Errol Garner (probably the best natural talent on the piano of the last 50 years).  That said, the list is long brother.

WYDU: You’re not getting off the hook that easy, how in the world did you end up seeing Air Supply?

COANY: Haha.  Well, I started college at the genesis of the Napster era.  I’d spent hours downloading shit, which would be the soundtracks for parties and what not.  I used to take great pleasure in sneaking Air Supply ballads into the party playlist, much to the general bewilderment of everyone within earshot. I recalled the fanstastic cheesiness of it from childhood vaction trips where it was invariably popped in the tape deck of my folks’ Toyota minivan. One summer when I was home my mother and father mentioned that they were going to see Air Supply at a venue in Virginia.  I couldn’t pass it up so my buddy and I got lifted and went to the show.  I’ve never seen more middle aged women awkwardly swooning in my life.  I could barely stay in my chair it was so funny.  For the record, the Air Supply album cover with the hot air balloon on it is possibly that wackest album cover of all time (and therefore ironically one of the best covers ever made).  So there you go.  I see a mash up of a Big L acapella with “Making Love Out of Nothing At All” in my future.

WYDU: You just released “The Couch Sessions” in April, where did the name come from?

COANY: When I got my first piece of production equipment in college, I was living in a tiny one bedroom with no studio space, so I would just break out my RS700 on the coffee table in front of my couch and plug it into my receiver.  My first 3 years of making music where done this way.  It was only fitting for me to pay homage to the piece of furniture where I had planted my ass and made my first recordings over those first few years.  Fortunately now I have studio space but I think the mentality is still a scrappy flip it on and knock it out when the spirit moves you mentality, just like I had back then.

WYDU: The album has a plethora of different styles of flow, do you have a style that you’re more comfortable with, or does the variety appeal to you?

COAny: I think that one of the advantages I’ve always had is that I’m capable of manifesting over so many different styles.  The personality I’m presenting is consistent but I’m delivering it in so many different ways.  It keeps the art exciting for me that way.  I’m sure it’s easier to package yourself into a niche if you have one consistent style but doing that would simply bore the hell out of me.  I find that there is a huge frontier between the back-packy concept shit and the aggressive street banger.  I try to explore as many different styles in that spectrum as possible. Lately I’ve been thinking I’d be more successful if I emulated Justin Beiber’s style.  He seems to be experiencing some success.  Just playing.  But seriously what’s the point of doing something day in and day out if there’s no variety involved.  That would suck the joy out of it for me.

C.O. Any Making BeatsWYDU: I’m totally with you on the variety,  I think it keeps your ears and mind fresh.  What’s your personal favorite Track off “The Couch Sessions” ?

COANY: That’s a tough one.  Overwhelmingly “Get At Me” seems to be a fan favorite.  That said, personally I’ve always been partial to “Castaway,” track 2 off the album.  I made the beat with Mixarino over the course of a day or two and when I sat down to write it just rolled off the tongue so to speak.  I think I layed it bare on that track.  1 part introduction to C.O. Any, 1 part amorphous obervational vibe and 10 parts fresh in my humble opinion.  It’s probably the first track that I finished knowing it had to go on my first solo project.

WYDU: Do you have any videos or shows lined up to promote the album?

COAny: Wish I had more exciting news to report on this front but my head has been so wrapped up in getting the album out I’m just now getting around to arranging the official release show.  Should be coming up this summer in Chicago.  Guaranteed to be dope.  On the video front, I haven’t delved into making a music video just yet but its most definitely on the horizon.  Right now my track “Get At Me” is a front runner.  It’s emerging as the track that folks are most receptive to so I guess that means its good fodder for a video.  I will have clips of my recent performance at The Hideout in Chicago on Youtube soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

WYDU: Awesome man, well i appreciate all the insight into your mind.  Do you have any final parting words for our readers?

COANY:  I appreciate the awesome forum you provide for musicians and fans.  WYDU is one of a kind and I’m honored to be getting some recognition on the site.  In parting I’d like to say that while I’ve been making music for years, I’m really just getting started.  I’m proud of the work I’ve done on “The Couch Sessions,” and I hope it’ll be a great jumping off point for my career.  At the same time, I’m even more excited to move on to other projects cause at the end of the day it all boils down to a love of making music.  No matter what comes of it all, I know it’s something I’ll continue to do as long as I’m breathing.  I hope I pick up more fans and collaborators along the way.  So stay tuned for more shows, beats and rhymes from C.O. Any, people.  One love.

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Jordan Harvey May 21, 2010 at 1:36 pm

I’ve had the privilege of seeing C.O. any perform and freestyle; there’s nothing quite like it other than the blank stares of onlookers absolutely stupified at how this unassuming kid just totally shredded the mike. So happy to see him getting recognized.

d.butz May 21, 2010 at 8:37 pm

That’s my brother, motherfuckers! No seriously, that’s my little brother. The kid is an amazing musician and an even better human being and you can’t believe how proud I am. I agree with the interviewer that it is ever so refreshing to encounter an MC who doesn’t think he’s God’s gift to planet Earth. Go ahead and buy this record–you won’t be sorry

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