Label Profile
Anticon
Oakland

what’s hip-hop got to do with it? Everything and nothing for the Anticon collective and label. Trading rhyming couplets for free verse and soul samples for their own beats, the group has carved a specific niche in the hip-hop world. One that is not constrained by genre names or stereotypes, but instead charts a new avenue for hip-hop.

A loose conglomeration of eight Bay Area artists, the Anticon label proper took off in 1999 with the release of the Music for the Advancement of Hip-Hop . Appearing on the disc were many of the members of what is now the Anticon stable of artists: Alias, Sole, Doseone, Jel, and the Pedestrian. Odd Nosdam, Passage, and Why? are the producers and MCs that round out the current label. The compilation, due to its title and the music contained within, caused a small degree of controversy among underground hip-hop fans. Far from overflowing with battle raps and inflated ego-trips, the album showed a naked honesty among a large group of the MCs, as well as some interesting character driven pieces (Alias as God on “Divine Disappointment”).

In a February 2002, Doseone summarized the guiding principle of the label simply: “That's our only clause: that we try to be honest.” In chasing the nebulous aesthetic of pure honesty on record, the label has released a collection of solo records by members Sole, Alias, Odd Nosdam, and Why? (forthcoming), as well as group efforts by Them(selves) among others.

At the same time, Anticon does little to limit the recording efforts of its roster on other labels. Both Mush Records and Lex have commissioned work from members in groups and solo over the past few years. As a general rule, it has seemed that the more closely aligned to straight hip-hop has been released on the Anticon label, as opposed to the ventures heard on Mush. While this is true, expect the unexpected whenever you pick up a new release by Anticon: there is no definitive Anticon sound.

What can be defined, though, is the roots of the label. "We were all die-hard hip-hop heads at the start," says Adam Drucker, aka Dose One. "But as soon as we realized we were making music, not hip-hop, everything changed. Hip-hop got us into making music, and making music got us into making art" in a September 2001 interview with Beat Magazine. In taking hip-hop as a jumping off point for the mostly free-verse style poetry found on much of Sole’s recent albums, as well as Themselves latest release, the label has come to define a certain pretentiousness that a large amount of underground fans love to hate.

To counter this sort of argument Sole points out that, in fact, “there is a certain amount of pretentiousness” inherent in any art form, yet the only reason that the charge is leveled against the group is because they refuse to conform to the expectations of a purist hip-hop aesthetic.

And, to be honest, what’s wrong with that?

Website: http://www.anticon.com/

Essential Releases:
Buck 65- Man Overboard
Themselves- The No Music
Sole - Selling Live Water
Sage Francis – Personal Journals
Alias- The Other Side of the Looking Glass


By: Todd Burns
Published on: 2003-09-01
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