11 Things You Need To Know About Anfa Rose

This young Sydney rapper with a worldwide sound is about to be a huge deal.


If you're not up on Anfa Rose yet, he probably doesn't mind. The mysterious 22-year-old behind the project wants the music to speak for itself, and for his art to grow organically. There's no major machine behind some of his songs receiving more than 50,000 plays on SoundCloud. While he still remembers the days he was excited to get 300 views on his tracks, these kinds of statistics don't really resonate as a marker of success for him – he's really just looking to make timeless music.

The Anfa Rose project saw its beginning about two years ago at Dream Big Studios in Sydney, and has spurred the release of both a 2015 EP called She Been Waiting, as well as the rapper's most recent full-length drop Debauched. The latter is another one of those projects that deftly blurs the line between what is a mixtape, and what is an album. Its fully-formed and cohesive sound is perhaps attributable to the rapper working for a year and a half on material with producer and close friend Dopamine, who Rose says is one of the most musically talented people he's ever met.

While he was born and raised in Sydney, Rose is very well-travelled – something he owes to both his parents and some of his pursuits as a teenager, allowing him to visit almost every corner of the globe apart from South America. It may be for this reason that the sound of his music is so decidedly international. While Aussie hip-hop has certainly broadened its horizons in recent years, it's really never quite sounded this effortlessly universal. Rose has cited the fact that regardless of the city you live in, the relationships you have, or the friendships you keep, there's something on this album to relate to.  

To uncover some of the mystery shrouding Anfa Rose, Complex AU got to know our country's next big prospect a little better. Check out Debauched directly below, then scroll down for the 11 things you need to know about the enigmatic emcee.



"All my family is from there. My parents, every generation before me was born there. Me and my brothers are the only ones who were born here. We have a pretty strong connection with Morocco, we go visit there every year or two."

"I went back and started researching [my heritage] and found Anfa is actually the name of the ancient city where my dad's from. I thought that was a pretty cool name, so we ran with that. And then, as we were researching, we stumbled across this one sentence that said 'Anfa rose', as in rose, the verb. Then we highlighted that and we're like 'Yeah, let's run with it'. It was kind of a coincidence that we stumbled across a cool-looking couple of words and decided to run with it."

"My mum, I guess at the time, kind of forced me because I was an ignorant little child, but she would force me to play instruments and do piano and keyboard lessons. I even learned saxophone, so from a young age I had a musical background. I probably started playing keyboard and piano, from a really young age, maybe six or seven. And then I kind of swapped between instruments, I moved onto saxophone next and then I played that all throughout the start of high school. And then after that I got into guitar. I think all the different instruments kind of helped me. I always listened to a wide variety of music as well, I think that's because of the fact I played different instruments."



"I was playing State League [football] since I was like under-11s, maybe 10s. I had, I guess you'd call it a manager or coach that I trained with who was an ex-professional, and he kind of took me to different places in the world and I got trialed at different places. That was really good. I was about to move to Spain and play soccer [there] at the age of 15, so it was a bit heavy at the time. But I guess it just didn't work out, it fell through.

I recently kind of stopped [playing football] because I started to take the music a little bit more seriously. I mean, when you're in the studio until four in the morning you can't exactly wake up for training in the morning, so I kind of stopped that. [This was about] six to seven months ago when my manager Ziggy was like 'Yeah, could get serious soon' [laughs]."

"My Pinterest is just full of different artists that I'm messing with at the time. In terms of artists that are timeless for me, I'm really into modern art, so the impressionist era. I just like Monet. I remember when I went to see his works in the Louvre and even in New York, the MOMA stuff. There's something special about those artworks for me, just a lot of expression, and they don't have to really show much but it's just very powerful. For some weird reason, that's just the art that connects with me most."

"We were looking for an artist to do the work for two months. and we couldn't really find anything, but in those two months I was still kind of messing around myself and just making a few things here and there. Then I remembered something we studied ages ago at art school, just some colour study thing. It was real basic, it had nothing to do with anything in particular, it was just some exercise they got us to do about creating colors that go together and creating a mood. So, I was just messing around with that and I came up with something, and as soon as I finished it I was like 'Yeah, I just wanna run with this', so we stopped looking for another artist [laughs].

There's a couple different hidden meanings in the artworks, just in the squares and the numbers and stuff but I don't know if I'll get too much into that. Just in terms of the colours, the background, the tape itself is pretty dark, sonically it's pretty dark. But I wanted to create something that could kind of accompany that but wasn't on the same level. I just wanted something that you could be quite relaxed looking at, but still hold that meaning behind it."

"We'll kind of be ready to work in the the studio from about 10PM. But in saying that, sometimes even when we're actually physically in the studio we won't start actually working on something until maybe like 1. It just depends, sometimes we'll hit it off straight away, sometimes we won't hit it off at all, other times we'll hit it off real late. And then, I guess it just depends on when the energy kind of runs out. Sometimes we'll go till like 7, 8, 9 in the morning. The last two weeks for example, I've been in the studio with [producers] Dopamine and Miracle, and we've been in the studio till 7 or 8 in the morning. I guess it's just when the creative juices are flowing."

"I think [that album] made it okay to put yourself completely out there on the track and just leave yourself vulnerable emotionally. It also changed the sonics of the genre, in terms of having minimalist beats and heavily 808-influenced trap drums with singing melodies. I feel like artists like Drake, Bryson [Tiller], Tory [Lanez] and that, I feel like that kind of album or sound Kanye created or popularised, and really opened the door for that. And also it's just like one of my favourite albums ever. Sonically, it's just amazing."

"I haven't written a rap in a year and a half; and that was a conscious decision that I made. It's all off the top. It just works better for me. I found that while I was writing I was thinking about things too much, and I kind of stopped myself from saying certain things. I'd say certain things just because they kind of sounded good, or because I wrote them well. Our process in the studio, or even if I'm on my own, is just to have a beat as a canvas and then I'll just map my way around it. Whether it be just throwing down a melody, throwing down a couple of words that I like and then just building on top of that and working from there."



"I'm very open to different types of music, but in saying that I'm very particular. I know exactly what I like as soon as I hear it. I listen to the widest variety of music. I may be coming home in the car and I'll be playing, say, Young Thug's Slime Season 3 or something like that. And I'll get home and then I'll chuck on like a John Mayer record, or a John Butler Trio record or something like that.

I guess the thing that people would be most surprised by is that one of my favourite genres is jazz. I love jazz and I think Miles Davis is one of, if not the greatest musician in my opinion. Just the way he can bounce around on the track and just change the mood in a second. Just his cadences and stuff on the trumpet is next level for me."

"I feel like a lot of artists–and this is not a negative thing but this is just what they do–a lot of other artists package everything together and just do things for the sake of doing it. They have a song, they make the song,  and then they're like 'What do we need next?'. We need the artwork, so we're just gonna package this with it. We need a video so we're gonna put the video out.

But I always wanted to make sure that everything had a purpose and it could stand alone on its own without anything else. Whether it be the music, you could listen to music without the artwork. Whether it be the artwork, you could view the artwork in a gallery and not think 'Oh, this is rubbish', you could actually see that and it could be a standalone piece on its own. I think that makes everything a lot stronger."

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