When I was contacted to officially review the latest musical offering by NatStar it was a request that I did not take lightly for multiple reasons. For starters, as an artist NatStar has managed to provide the unofficial soundtrack to my life. When I'm making moves throughout my day there's a small list of artists I listen to that serve as my inspiration to keep striving for greatness. You have Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nas, Kanye, Drake, and NatStar. But of those artists NatStar is the one that has yet to amass the level of fame and fortune as the others mentioned. And that premise serves as the concept behind his latest album "Anatymous". He just may be the greatest artist you've never heard of.
When I was told I'd receive an early copy to review before it's release the anticipation instantly started to build. The buzz around the album is that it is his best piece of work to date so upon hearing those whispers I thought to myself how is that even possible? I say that because his discography vividly paints the picture of an independent artist and the struggles and triumphs that come with it. He's bared his soul and has been transparent about everything in his life to create the best art possible. He's set the bar higher with every release showcasing his growth as a multi talented master of ceremonies. He manages to rap, sing, write, produce, and arrange all equally on a high level. So when I received it and so carefully placed my headphones on to hear every lyric, instrument, and 808, here's what I came up with.
The title track sets the tone for the entire offering. You can hear the frustration of an artist that has been putting out classic material for years while patiently waiting for the mainstream audience to catch on. From there it goes into "Roulette", in which with it's scathing lyrics and melodic vocals is a testament to the practice of the law of attraction. This song could have been titled "Rulers of the Unseen" which is repeatedly sang throughout the song. At that point it transitions to what I feel may be the best song on the album, "F*** Hollywood" featuring constant collaborator Grammer. It starts with a sample of legendary mogul Dame Dash and his thoughts on Hollywood, and ends with a sample of Dave Chapelle speaking on the sick environment of Hollywood. I realize I may be just a bit biased about this being the best song on the project due to me being an independent filmmaker, so I'll just say it's my favorite. It speaks about truly being independent and not selling your soul for fame and fortune. But to me in this song Hollywood doesn't just mean the town we've come to know that makes movies, it represents an institution that has been monopolizing and taking advantage of those who wish to be successful as artists and/or entrepreneurs. But with where technology is at this point in time, we as artists/entrepreneurs have the power to connect with our audiences directly without the "Big Machine" taking advantage of us and can conduct business on our own terms. So yeah, F*** Hollywood. Next up on "2 Kold" he is in true lyrical exercise form switching up his flow multiple times over angelic vocals that provide the perfect contrast. At this point I'm thinking to myself he just may have pulled it off. Then "No Lie" featuring "The Most Beautifullest" lyricist in the world Keith Murray comes on. This is a moment as a Hip Hop purist when you realize you're witnessing greatness. The ability to balance pure lyricism all while providing music for the masses has become something that NatStar has managed to do without compromising who he is as an artist. In fact, it actually showcases who he is as a multi faceted performer that won't accept being put into a box. This proves to be truest on the infectious leadoff single for the album, "Dagga", my other favorite song on the album. What I also noticed is that there seem to be more collaborations on this project than on some of his previous work, but they all mesh with the feel of the album. This is showcased on "Gone", "PSA", "Smokeout", and "GW3". He even has a special appearance by John P. Kee speaking on the brotherhood he had with the late great Alvin "A.C." Stowe, NatStar's father.
All in all when you listen to this album and this is your first introduction to NatStar you will get a great look into who he is as an artist. If this isn't your first time hearing him and you've already been a fan, this album will show you growth on all aspects. But what I suggest is for you to go back and listen to his previous projects so you can determine for yourself just where "Anatymous" ranks. Start with "Change" (2011), then "Art With No Easel" (2012), to "Dreamer" (2013), followed by "The Re-Up Collection" (2015), and then "2 Kingz" (2016), a joint album with Grammer. Once you do that you'll see that his body of work rivals any of the artists I mentioned in my small circle earlier. So make sure you download the "Anatymous" mobile app, or pre-order your copy from i-Tunes because this Black Friday, Nov. 25th when the album officially drops you will want to be able to witness the greatness of an artist that some have called "Music in the Flesh".