Posted by: brad – Jan 10, 2017
The relationship between rapper and producer is a sacred one within the Hip Hop community; this bond between two artists can yield some of the hottest projects in music (think Future & Metro Boomin or Gucci & Zaytoven). With Richmond ripe with talent, it’s a great thing that artists come together for collaboration rather than competition- Fly Anakin and BSTFRND , together as Yo Mama Boyfrnd, are a great example.
“It’s very organic,” said BSTFRND (Jefferson Harris) of the joint release. “It’ll usually start with me making a beat and then Frank responding a certain way… if it resonates with him enough he will write to it. From there it gets recorded, mixed and mastered.”
“All them joints were kind of instant. Like niggas just heard the shit, and I was like ‘I’m going to write to this shit’ then I write, then I record, then [a song is] done,” said Fly Anakin. “It’s all based off friendship type shit, niggas is the homie,”. The creative process and direction for Yo Mama Boyfrnd was so organic, “It was only about a day [to put together],” said BSTFRND.
“Some of the songs with verses were already recorded. Putting it together was like a picking and choosing process,” said BSTFRND. “Yeah only a day or two and shout out Nuk,” said Fly Anakin (Frank Walton).
How the EP came to be is more a story of friendship and traversing the underground Hip Hop scene through collaboration.
“Last July [I met BSTFRND],” said Fly Anakin. “No July of 2015,” said BSTFRND. “July 3, 2015 is when I met that nigga,” said Fly Anakin with BSTFRND agreeing. “It’s because we had a show, that’s how I met this man,” he continued.
Yo Mama Boyfrnd, a self-titled EP in a way, debuted on Soundcloud January 1st via a full EP stream. The project sits under the 13-minute mark with eight tracks. Both artists have production credits on the independent EP.
“I can’t express how I want the music to sound until I hear it- I am not easily amazed,” said Fly Anakin. “Is it real? Is it something I can feel? If it’s real, I know if I can rap on it within 30 seconds. I record with BSTFRND, Kahuna, Koncept. It’s always the homies cribs, everything organic. Everything is done in the crib. Nothing from us leaves Mutant Academy (their indie label) unless we put it out. Fuck everybody else that ain’t us,” said Fly Anakin.
Mutant Academy came together in 2011, with Fly Anakin and Henny L.O. being the first members.
“Essentially it was supposed to be a duo, but we started coming across more people and collaborating with more people and building more relationships,” said Fly Anakin.
2015 added Koncept Jack$on and BSTFRND, Ewonee, Foisey, Sycho Sid, Unlucky Bastards and most recently Big Kahuna OG and Graymatter.
“So it just ended up being more people in the group than [Henny L.O. and I] originally intended [and] it’s not a bad thing. Everything worked out for the best. We made a machine rather than just rapping. Niggas is a whole production company,” said Fly Anakin of Mutant Academy.
This is the first joint EP from emcee/producer Fly Anakin and producer BSTFRND but not the first time both Mutant Academy artists have created music together. The single i look pilipino in a headband was the first track to be completed on this project, having been recorded and released earlier in the spring of 2016.
“We ain’t listen to shit but [ourselves], for real. We didn’t specify a vibe. Raisins old as a mother fucker, that’s like a year old,” said Fly Anakin. Again, this joint release was a conglomeration of a long time team-up between the two artists.
“[It went like] ‘We made this one, its fire. We made this one and we’ll put that first,’. I made the sedate and yo mama boyfrnd in the same session from the records Brad Ohbliv gave me. Call him the homie,” said BSTFRND of the process.
Both these artists are no strangers to RVA Mag- you’ll remember their projects landed on the RVA Mag’s Best Richmond Hip Hop of 2016 list.
“It’s really cool to have so much Mutant Academy members on the list. In three spots, for Ocean Grown, [Grand Scheme of Things], and the soLuh! LP (Incredible Heat Machines),” said BSTFRND. “I worked on the cover art for Grand Scheme of Things and helped in the Ocean Grown artwork,” he continued. “I had verses on Ocean Grown and so did Rob,” said Fly Anakin.
Separately, both artists are busy building their discography and honing their craft. Not only has Fly Anakin been a major arbiter in the creation of Mutant Academy but he has performed at local Richmond venues such as The Broadberry, Strange Matter, and Gallery 5. He has also traveled to perform in Brooklyn, NY, Raleigh, NC, and South Carolina.
“The wavy side of music, for me at least, is traveling,” said Fly Anakin. “I’ve never traveled, like ever. Last year was like my first real time seeing shit outside Richmond,” said Fly Anakin.
Fly Anakin’s repertoire of music is continually expanding, with his first album Grand Scheme of Things being joined by his two mixtapes and countless other appearances on other notable Richmond artists’ music.
The 24-year old producer and VCUarts graduate, BSTFRND continues to work cross-platform to spread positivity through music. He has amassed a prolific amount of work as seen by his several solo releases as well as collaboration on all things soLuH!. BSTFRND most notably performs with the Satellite Syndicate at their residency with The Camel; the Satellite Syndicate and REC Room residencies are now merging to bring audiences even better shows and music.
The first joint show of the two groups, called Zero Crossing, happens 1/24 with Vanilla Summit, Scoop Kid and Nat Digga.
As for the Yo Mama Boyfrnd, it does well on three fronts: the flows presented, content explored, and production showcased. Fly Anakin’s vocals elicit head bobs and nothing less. The 22-year old emcee has a voice reminiscent of hip hop's past and applies lyrical pressure in the present. He raps like he knows he can; contrary to other emcees delivering bars that melt into beats- Fly Anakin makes sure to just snap every verse. His flow does not allow for laid back words or relaxed syllables. His advice on how to rap so effortlessly is succinct.
“Tell the truth. Use music as a tool to create a wave and don’t just follow some shit,” he said. “Believe in yourself and don’t be insecure about none of that shit- Keep it moving at all times.”
Yo Mama Boyfrnd isolates the elements DJing and MCing to place a well-deserved spotlight on both. The balance between the vocals and music is maintained throughout the project. Fly Anakin makes use of short time on the EP to speak on his growth as a rapper using witty word play and interesting similes. His brief commentary on the venue Balliceaux and the president-elect Trump can be surmised to be his reflections on the world we all live in.
The entire EP is not focused on just rapping, however, and is chock full of carefully crafted loops that make up textured beats. Yo Mama Boyfrnd also makes room for a soft and sultry feature from Richmond based singer Erikka J. Both BSTFRND and Fly Anakin are to be commended for the seamless transitions. The production value is high, with backing tracks, vocals, and sound snippets from the studio all come across clear. Songs from Yo Mama Boyfrnd elicit musical familiarity but stay original in the samples used.
With streaming music culture on the rise, it was interesting to find out how the new record will play into both artist’s growing notoriety.
“[I don’t encounter less-genuine people,] Nah just more weird people,” said BSTFRND. “…people want you to come out and do something for them, or be around you in a creepy way, on a celebrity status tip. We’re just real people,” he continued.
“We never expected this type of shit. I never did. [BSTFRND and I] are way more than twitter icons: I ain’t no @, I’m a real person with legs and shit,” said Fly Anakin.
Yo Mama Boyfrnd starts the new year off right and sets the bar high in terms of musicianship and friendship. Both Fly Anakin and BSTFRND’s organic perspective on music emanates from their work. Fans and new audiences alike can look forward to more authentic music from both artists together: “This is only the beginning,” said BSTFRND. “Stay tuned for more Yo Mama Boyfrnd, because we definitely aren’t done. This is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
Audiences can also catch the Mutant Academy artists performing and releasing other projects in the new year. soLuh! has a cassette-tape of their EP Neon Black in February(ish) as well as a second LP with no release date. They're heading out on tour to NC in February as well.
"There is another [project] that were keeping a secret right now, but expect 3 albums from me and Koncept Jack$on this year. [Mutant Academy] is trying to space everything out, the takeover will proceed as expected,” said Fly Anakin.
Words by Tico Noise