Word of Mouth: Anycia Wants You To Feel Good

Rising Atlanta rapper Anycia exudes confidence on her debut album 'PRINCESS POP THAT'....

Word of Mouth is a new rap music column by Grant Brydon, CLASH Editor-at-Large and author of ‘Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’. It coincides with our playlist of the same name which you can listen to on Spotify and Apple Music

Anycia is in New York, doing back-to-back press, a week prior to the release of her debut album ‘PRINCESS POP THAT’. She’s applying make-up in preparation for her next appointment while talking to us over the phone.

“I feel like everything I do is to give that confident statement,” says Anycia. “The point of my music is honestly to help people gain their confidence. I try to find ways to put the way that I’m feeling into a song and make a negative a positive. Instead of me taking my emotions and turning it into a sad story or whatever, I like to incorporate it in happiness, fun, fulfilment, just getting a groove back. So I feel like, even whenever it gets a little cheesy and girly and emotional, [the album is] still reminding you to be that bitch!”

While it’s normal for albums to exceed 20 songs and be released out of the blue, ‘PRINCESS POP THAT’ is a confident, carefully presented, 14 track statement, of which 6 of the songs were already in circulation prior to the release date. Named after her Finsta alter-ego, the album serves as an introduction to Anycia – and catches new listeners up on her existing catalog, including breakout single ‘BRB’, ‘SPLASH BROTHERS’ with rap bestie Karrahbooo, and ‘BACK OUTSIDE’ her co-sign from Atlanta’s reigning Queen, Latto. 

Born in Atlanta, Anycia’s has familial roots in Barbados, New Orleans and Los Angeles, which resulted in endless flavours of music surrounding her from childhood. Her mother has always closely followed new music (they regularly go to shows together, having recently attended Usher, Summer Walker and Beyoncé) while her grandma put her onto the classics. “My mom was the queen of going to get a mixtape from a store,” she recalls fondly. “My cousin used to burn CDs and stuff – remember Limewire? My Mom influenced a lot of the stuff that I listen to still to this day. I’ll be playing music and she’ll be like, ‘You used to be in the backseat listening to that.’ [My family] literally put me on to everything I know!” Even now, as she forges a promising career in rap, she considers herself “an R&B girl at heart.” But says that as a creator, rap is more suited to her personality. “I genuinely don’t know how to sit and make a sad, lovey dovey song, or a sliding-down-a-wall, please forgive me song,” she admits. “I only know how to spice it up! That’s my way of making myself feel better.”

Anycia’s earliest involvement in music came via a few opportunities at school: from freestyling in class she was tasked with rapping about Jesus at an elementary school performance, and in middle school, at an all girls preparatory academy that offered classes in calculus, Mandarin and robotics, she signed up to take an audio engineering class. “I remember being like 15 or 16 and going to the studio with all my friends,” she says. “I made a song called ‘Queen of Atlanta’ – it was awful!” Studio sessions became a cathartic experience for Anycia, and she would drop by friends houses after work to record. “It was an outlet at first,” she explains. “A lot of it was just based off just having fun and being authentic, and then things just worked itself out honestly.”

The husky, nonchalant style of rapping that she has landed at feels close to the way that she talks. It’s deceptively simple, and took some time to find. “I wasn’t comfortable with embracing or dropping music [at first], because I felt like it wasn’t 100% me,” she exploans. “I needed to figure out exactly what I want to be, what I want to sound like, or how long I want to last – because I feel like all that matters. I’ve always wanted to be the girl who sets the trend, that’s always been my forte.” Things started clicking into place when she realised that the key to originality could be in embracing her natural timbre. “Once I learned that I can just rap with my voice, things got easier,” she says. “I just went to the studio and was like, ‘Girl, it’s not even this hard.’ I was thinking way too deep the whole time.” 

Anycia believes that even before birth our paths are already aligned, our responsibility is not to stray from them: “I feel like if you’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing and you’re not moving maliciously, you’re not being a terrible person, everything is going to fall in your lap – as long as you’re walking in your truth.” Once she found the sound that reflected her truthfully, things started falling into place. Her first taste of success came when ‘So What’ a GoPro video for a still unreleased Popstar Benny-produced song went viral. “It was literally like a clip on Twitter. I didn’t think too much of it. It was just me having a good time with my friends,” she says. A friend edited the clip and she posted it without expectation. Now the song itself – which samples Field Mob and Ciara’s song of the same name –  has a cult status amongst her fanbase; she’s asked about it in most interviews, and fans campaign online for it to be uploaded to streaming services.

While at home in Atlanta, Anycia records consistently – usually with her go-to producer jetsonmade (DaBaby, Jack Harlow, Playboi Carti) – and when it came time to release a debut album she had a vault of songs to choose from. She first met jetsonmade after he heard ‘BRB’ on Instagram. “He just came out of nowhere and posted me, and was like, ‘This girl is it.’ Immediately supported me and got behind me, ten toes,” Anycia recalls. “We ended meeting at the studio and we been locked in ever since.” The pair connected on musical taste and work ethic, and have become great friends and close collaborators. “We’re very honest,” says Anycia. “He gave me that extra boost of confidence that I needed to embrace the music that I was making. He taught me to explore different versions of myself and not be stuck in a box. He’s able to help me figure out and give me direction, basically.” jetson’s encouragement is to thank for many of the tracks we’re getting to hear, including the Latto-collab ‘BACK OUTSIDE’, many of which she admits she “probably wouldn’t have dropped,” without him urging her to tweak and finish. 

Anycia is heavily influenced by the early 2000’s, when she had less responsibilities, and wants to provide others the opportunity to escape the worries of adult life. “It’s just a good feeling,” she says. “The goal is always to give you the confidence that you need, but the nostalgic thing is the most important.” While her beat selection sees her cover a spectrum of contemporary regional sounds – Atlanta on ‘BACK OUTSIDE’, Detroit on ‘TYPE BEAT’, New York on ‘THAT’S HARD’ and LA on ‘BAD WEATHER’ – there is a hazy dream-like texture to much of ‘PRINCESS POP THAT’ which gives it the quality of a throwback sitcom. The creative direction around the album adds to this, capturing Anycia and friends in a pink Y2K bedroom. “It’s the type of room that I’ve always grown up in,” she explains. “My whole idea of everything is to create a safe space for people, and what’s more of a safe space than your bedroom?”

‘PRINCESS POP THAT’ is the first chapter from an artist playing a long game. For Anycia, success is about working toward something that lasts: “you created a foundation for yourself, you’ve created a life-long happiness, you’re comfortable, you’re happy, you’re healthy.” But that also comes with sacrifice. She has grown apart from friends as she evolves in a different direction. “I’ve learned that you gotta be a little selfish,” she admits. “And nine-times-out-of-ten you’re going to be on your own. I’ve learned to put every emotion, no matter what the emotion is, or how bad what I’m saying sounds, just put it in a song.” While her goals are long-term, and she isn’t shying away from difficulty, Anycia is finding time to celebrate her triumphs each step of the way. “My mom got to see me perform for the first time Rolling Loud, which was pretty cool,” she reflects. “It was overwhelming for me. I definitely had a few mental breakdowns but I got over it, it was a lot easier than I thought. I was overthinking the whole thing, but once I got it done, I felt good – I felt like I accomplished something.”

Related: evilgiane And New York’s Rap Renaissance

Words: Grant Brydon (@grantbrydon)

Photo Credit: Apex Visions

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