“Eminem’s style was so free and I always wanted to have that in my music. I liked 50 cent’s arrogance. Then you have the conscious types like Kendrick and J.Cole…I incorporate all of that in my music.”
F.A.A.N.A.N. — an acronym that means Forever ABOVE the Average, Never Ask for Nothing — is a 26-year-old artist from Ensley, which is one of the roughest parts in Birmingham, Alabama. A self-described laid-back guy, he tends to describe his sound as backpack, as opposed to trap or gangster hip-hop. People who know him say he rolls down a similar lane as Wale, Chance Tha Rapper, Childish Gambino. How can you not be intrigued?
His latest release, Contradiction, is interesting because it seems like an apparent contradiction to his personal description of himself, whether he meant it to be or not; it’s anything but straightforward. While it has some classic hip-hop songs/elements intertwined throughout the thirteen tracks, there is also some sexy radio-ready R&B, a few moments that border on neo-soul, some southern vibes, and — of course — some of the bassy braggadocious sounds of the day. There isn’t much filler on this LP, and it seems well paced and produced.
He proves himself as a lyricist off the rip, with the horn-filled intro, “True 2 Me,” which actively positions his skill level, and depth of socio-political awareness. He starts to seemingly switch up focus over the next few tracks, from the ‘things won’t change’ themed “Never Quit,” to the focused female records that follow [and dominate a heavy portion of the project’s first half]. That’s not a bad thing, though. “Pick Up,” and “New Things,” are two of Contradiction’s highlight [IMHO]. “New Things” actually puts me in the mind of “Marvin’s Room” by The 6 God, Drake, from his Sophomore release. The project — lyrically — is full of truths, experience, and soulful, glimmering positivity.
The must-listens here are the soulful “Feels Good,” the jazzy “Golden,” and the “Bumpy’s Lament” sampled “Playing In The Wind.”
“I want people to see the hard work I put into every song I make. Every work you hear on my song I wrote and came up with myself. Even if I have a singer featuring, I wrote the melodies and the words. I put a lot of time into making sure I am competitive with those already in the industry because I don’t feel that being unsigned is an excuse. I want people the listen to my music and hear the lyrics and understand that you can have a conscious rapper and still enjoy the music at the same time.”
F.A.A.N.A.N.’s Contradiction [his third full-length release] seems incredibly well put together, well produced, and well packaged. You’ll wonder why he isn’t much bigger; well, the music industry is a crazy place. He sounds like he’s one chance meeting or good look away from the next-level. Somebody sign this kid, ASAP. Head over to Apple Music to stream/buy the LP.