Originality can be defined as the ability to express oneself in an independent and individual manner. The term “original” would be the way to describe the music made by ANTHM. After giving it a thorough listen, I was confused. Most of the tracks he rhymed over should be played in dance clubs. The subject matter? Not so much. On Joy & Pain, ANTHM made music that is confusingly honest and real.

 

 

To be frank, ANTHM’s music is a mixture of spiritual searching, club grooves, and the fight of carnal desire over the flesh. To shorten it up, it’s a mixture of what makes us “human”. “God of Joy” goes through a story about trying to “get with a pretty female” during a festive night of intoxication. “Siren Song” bounces right off of “God of Joy” with his talk of fighting his lust demons. “Deliverance”, with quotes of “not trying to dance with the Devil/ but he shows up at the mistletoe”, details the strain of struggle. After three songs, and seeing all the contrasts and conflicts of interests in the music, it all appropriately “works”.

 

 

 

The rest of the EP goes towards the same direction. “Be Still” allows him to reflect through more pain over synths, as he beckons for peace within himself and his life. “Polaris”, which features Blu, is probably one of the peaceful/mortal songs to come out this year. The EP ends with “Joy & Pain”, which deals with “sunshine and rain, yin and yang” as Freddie Gibbs fits his rugged style over the soothing production. With his message clear, ANTHM makes an understanding of his personal plight.

 

 

Joy & Pain could be seen as “a gospel rap album made by the devil”. The subject matter deals with fighting for one’s soul and finding peace. Yet, the language and the danceable track say otherwise. I guess “joy & pain” is the pure dichotomy that ANTHM wanted present. The piece is so conflicted and contrarian that it works. In truth, Joy & Pain may be the most astoundingly innovative, and creatively conflicted, piece of work this year.

 

 

Review submitted by contributing writer, Mark A. Harris.

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