: Fly Anakin on How Ghostface & Curren$y Made Him the MC He Is

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For our latest First Look Friday, we spoke with Fly Anakin about his album Frank, the Mutant Academy, giving pep talks to Jay Versace, and more.
Sleeping in on Sundays at the Walton household was unheard of. As a child, Fly Anakin — born Frank Walton — would wake up every Sunday at around 9 AM to the sounds of Lenny Williams’s soulful “‘Cause I Love You,’ ‘ accompanied by the smell of eggs on a hot skillet. With all five senses triggered , it was always impossible for Frank to go back to sleep, especially when his Dad was singing along with the vigor of a stage performer. Soul and R&B classics from Earth Wind & Fire and Gerald Levert became vital as they vibrated the walls with love and passion.

As High School came along, he passion for music developed. Frank would jam-pack his iPod with as many Wu-Tang albums as he could — including their solo LPs — as well as any other golden age hip-hop he could get his hands on. He eventually transitioned to the more stoned-out and hazy raps from Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y. Wiz’s raps became less relatable as his career progressed and Frank aligned himself more to Curren$y. “I couldn’t really relate to Wiz’s new shyt as much,” Anakin told Okayplayer during a Zoom conversation. “He was just talking about champagne, so I listened to the Curren$y shyt a lot more and he was just hitting them notes that I needed to hear.”

the early 2010s, Frank, along with his friends dubbed the Mutant Academy, embarked on a journey to become MCs themselves. Since 2014, Frank would release a total of 17 projects compiled of albums, eps, and collaboration tapes. Most notably, Fly Anakin would release a series of tapes under the moniker FlySiifu with his partner in crime, Alabama rapper Pink Siifu. Frank wears his influences on his sleeve, tapping into east coast legends every time he picks up a mic. When Frank raps, his voice becomes distinctively nasally, relaxed, and medicated from the weed smoke. Despite the serenity in his vocals, his bars cut like katanas through sheets of paper.

Frank’s official debut album is self-titled for various reasons. Frank started to work on the album back in 2019 where he was working in a retirement home. Frank took the plunge, he decided he was done working miserable nine to five jobs and pursued his passion full time. Then the pandemic happened and Frank decided to shelve the album, waiting for the perfect time to drop.

Last month, Frank was finally released via Lex Records. It’s his most definitive work to date. Frank is filled with beautiful chops and soulful loops, mixed in with hard-hitting moments that leave the iron mic stained in blood. The production is handled by his brethren in the Mutant Academy and the features consist of Nickelus F, Pink Siifu, Billz Egypt, Madlib, and more.

A couple of days after the release we were able to connect with Fly Anakin — who was smoking a joint and fussing with his cat — on Zoom. We discussed growing up in Richmond, Virginia, the Mutant Academy, and his newfound success.

How would you describe Richmond, Virginia in comparison to, let’s say, DC?

Fly Anakin: There’s some drastic differences. The main difference with Richmond and DC is that Richmond doesn’t have a Metro system. So it’s a little harder to get around unless you ride or like you taking a bus or shyt. But there’s way more shyt to get into than DC. There’s way more opportunities. Probably still not that many opportunities, but it’s a little more. We got more resources out there. There are better venues. I think DC got it in agriculture. I mean, they got it in certain aspects, but Richmond is just like one of those undeniable cities that you could go to and live really well and have a lot of good. You can have a great experience in Richmond depending on what you are doing and who you are dealing with.

When I first heard you, the first thing I recall is Ghostface.

As much as my influence comes from Ghostface and Wu-Tang, 50% of it goes to Curren$y. So it’s halfway New Orleans as much as it’s New York. I’m a Curren$y fanatic, bro.

The Stoned Immaculate dropped the day before my high-school graduation. So Curren$y was with me that whole time. When I got my first tattoo I was listening to fukking Pilot Talk. He’s like my family member in my head.

It’s Curren$y and Ghost. Them nikkas did the most for me, as well as Erykah Badu. Erykah is a big influence. Seeing how she could write a song bro, I bought a couple of her albums and shyt and some of the albums she got the lyrics written out. In certain songs, it’d be like three or four minutes long and there’d just be like seven, eight bars long. You’d be like, how the fukk does she stretch all these lyrics out to the point where I felt like she wrote a full song?

A big pillar with you is obviously your friends in Mutant Academy. How crucial is holding onto that friendship and keeping it together?

It’s very crucial bro. Everything I do is to uplift Mutant Academy. Every time I’m being honored on these publications or being introduced to these shows and shyt they be like, “Fly Anakin of Mutant Academy” or “Mutant Academy’s own… ” Definitely Mutant Academy is the most important part of our career. That’s like my baby basically.

We made friendships based off of our love for music. It’s being on SoundCloud, rapping here at the same time. It was like a sense of community being built through SoundCloud. A lot of people from SoundCloud kind of make that shyt permanent. Like we found Ohbliv on SoundCloud. Ewonee was from SoundCloud. Foisey, SoundCloud. fukking Sycho Sid, Unlucky b*stards — all these people we met ’em on SoundCloud. And Koncept Jack$on hit me up on Twitter because of some shyt he heard on SoundCloud. So a lot of that shyt was just built off of that. Just having a community.

First Look Friday: Fly Anakin on How Ghostface & Curren$y Made Him the MC He Is
 
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