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Anxious: Winner of the New Artist Showcase 2012 Presented by The Source and Perfect Music Awards (PMR) in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

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He's Anxious, Baby!

Although I consider myself a fan of all music, I will be the first to tell you I am a neophyte when it comes to dissecting and analyzing the nuances and intricacies of rap music. I find much of mainstream rap to be trite and overprocessed much like their counterparts, the cheesy pop songs that frequently top the iTunes charts. It's a sad state of affairs in the music business these days, that's for sure. As someone who prides herself on gravitating towards music that is a little left of center (to borrow a phrase from Suzanne Vega), I find myself turning more and more to indie and small label bands as I find the end product tends to be more organic and entertaining.

Anxious first tumbled onto my radar screen after seeing him in a few youtube videos where he appeared with his buddy, Jonny 5 from the Flobots. I was immediately taken in by his effervescent personality and infectious grin. With a smile that creeps up to his eyes and out the top of his head, he came across as genuinely exultant. I couldn’t help wondering what he was about. Clearly a talented rapper from the short clips I viewed, I was excited when I discovered he had released a new EP, Spittin Fire.

I've often said that indie musicians are modern day orators to be revered for their talent and bravery in putting forth their voice in such a static filled, auto-tuned world. Indie and small-label rap artists are no exception. Anxious is a powerful example of the tenacity required to be successful as an artist.

I decided to listen to the album while at the gym as a) I needed the distraction from watching the machine tick away the seconds painfully slow, while I was busting my ass in preparation to climb 1,311 steps and 2) although not "mellow", I had listened to the iTunes preview and knew this album didn’t scream "get your ass moving, you have 1,311 steps to climb!". As it turned out it made for a good workout mix without giving me a heart attack in the process.

Some thoughts on each of the tracks:

"Chandelier" - Balls-to-the-Wall personal mission statement, exclaiming his presence on the scene w/ obligatory shout-outs to his hometown of Denver, CO. This is a strong opening track that makes you want to keep listening.

"When It All Comes Down" - Beautiful example of 21st Century rap which could very well be a future Top 10 hit that will set the standard for others. I love this track so much, that I keep coming back to it again and again. This is an introspective declaration of never-ending drive and bravado, which again are necessary qualities to be a successful artist in any genre. The female vocals are powerfully exquisite, and complement the gruff richness of his spoken word. "Can you see what I found in you?"

"Rooftop" - Clearly, this is a dude who's taken his licks...and is now putting the world on notice. The track has a mellow flow, in spite of hard hitting vocals that belie Anxious' youthful appearance. Left me wondering - how old is this guy, anyway?

"Beautiful Day" - Good composition that tells the tale of why he loves what he is doing...and it shows. Reminiscent of Ice Cube's "Today Was a Good Day".

"Beverly Hills Cop" - samples the title track from the movie of the same name. Fun song that calls to mind long summer days driving down the beach, with the volume up, pissing off all the old people.

"The Return" - "My name is Anxious, and I love makin' music" Ummm, yeh!...that's obvious. If I had one problem with this album it would be the one metaphor used in this song comparing his skintone to cocaine. But that's just me. Otherwise this was a cool track.

Overall, this was an amazing effort! Anxious seems to be one of those really fun, happy guys who has found his passion in life and who drives forward to achieve the riches he has coming to him. I recommend this album without reservation, even for the most neophyte of rap devotees.

Stay strong, Anxious!

Ryan Hyde doesn't come off as nervous, worried or scared. In contrast to his chosen stage name, Anxious, the MC actually seems pretty confident. So much so, in fact, that he says he will battle anybody, anytime -- and win. So far, he has the record to prove it. He's won every battle he has entered and made it past the local judges in the tryouts for NBC's America's Got Talent (he's still waiting to hear if he gets an audience with the bigwigs).

What started off as a love for drawing a crowd while playing sports turned into a solo show pulling rabbits out of hats. When he was twelve, Hyde took up magic, turning up at parties and events and performing for whoever was willing to watch him.

Hyde moved on to music in high school, playing in a punk band. When that band broke up, he turned his attention toward hip-hop. A natural performer, he began drawing small crowds outside of East High School with his creative rhymes and off-the-top punchlines, and he's been perfecting his craft ever since.

When he's not working as a paralegal, he's spitting rhymes and trying to make a name for himself in the scene. We spoke with the MC recently in an effort to find out a little more about this promising up-and-comer known as Anxious.

Westword: So why the name Anxious, anyway?

Anxious (Ryan Hyde): It's just the way I am. Anxious is like the feeling you get before the best things in life. I am anxious and excited to do music. Music creates a feeling, and I want to create the same feeling.

How would you describe your style?

My style is different from everybody else's. I rap about Michael Jordan and green chile burritos, but by the time I'm done, everybody's going to want to listen to it. I can speed it up, sing a little with autotune, and it's diverse. When people think of a rapper, they don't think of me.

Who are your influences?

Rise Against and the Flobots, because they have shown me that I can follow this dream all the way 'til it comes true, from a garage show to Red Rocks. People say I sound like Bizzy Bone or Ja Rule. I think my delivery is like 2Pac, my speed is like Bizzy, and my punchlines are like Eminem -- the old stuff.

Which would you rather do: battle or rock a show?

A show, for sure. Sometimes you have to prove yourself in a battle, and that's cool, but shows are more popular. You're on stage, and an entire room full of people is watching you. When I'm stage and I get to share my songs that I put my heart and soul into, there's nothing like it. Doing shows is like a reflection of myself. When I'm on stage, my personality will shine all day.

What's your earliest memory of hip-hop?

You remember that song "Crossroads"? Yeah, I loved that song. Dangerous Minds had that song by Coolio, too. I remember walking by some lady and her kid on a stoop, and she was playing 2Pac from a stereo. She was just chillin' with her baby and seemed so relaxed listening to his words.

If you could do a collaboration with anybody, who would you pick?

Maynard from Tool and Christina Aguilera... that seems like a broad spectrum. Locally, I really like Lunalilo DaVinci, True Ali, Working Class, Johnny Denver and Hunit.

Any last words?

I got a whole new world of stuff for people to listen to. And I will battle anybody.