From humble beginnings at house parties to touring the country and climbing the independent charts, Minneapolis rapper Sean Anonymous has taken his passion for music and ran with it. Rooted in the art of freestyle rapping, his style makes a conscious effort to create fun, energetic music with a message, ideal for both headphones and the dance floor. While still a member of the acclaimed groups Wide Eyes and Bottom Feeders, his 2012 solo debut Anonymo displayed his full range of talent, quickly gaining attention from college radio and hip-hop fans nationwide. It rose to #6 on the CMJ charts and remained there for twelve straight weeks, leading to a highlight slot on the 2012's CMJ Music Marathon in New York. He's achieved everything from a strictly DIY standpoint, building success off pure passion, drive, and raw ability.
The shows have gotten bigger, including his premier headlining the historic First Avenue and performing in front of thousands at the Pizza Luce and Memory Lanes block parties in Minneapolis, to hitting the road for national tours with Warped Tour two years straight and 2013's Joy Ride Tour, which hit spots across the country for three weeks before landing at SXSW for a slot opening for Macklemore. The media, locally and nationally, have started to pay attention. Sean Anonymous has been covered numerous times in his hometown, with a full-page article in Minneapolis paper Star Tribune, an appearance on Kare 11's Music Monday, and live performances on The Current; and he's been a face of the Minneapolis scene for national outlets, like on MTV's This Is The Place or Andrew Zimmern's Appetite For Life. Sean Anonymous has definitely hit his stride recently, with a few new releases - the Wide Eyes and Phillip Morris collaboration for joint EP The Sick and the Dead, with all members on every track, and his first vinyl 7 inch for "Cold Shoulder" and "Sultan of Swat" - continuing the momentum of releases dating back to 2005.
"I knew music was my passion for a long time," Sean says, recalling feverishly buying up any hip-hop album he could get his hands on while in 6th grade. Having always played music to some extent, from singing in a choir to playing assorted instruments, freestyle rapping with his friends on the school bus began to spark a certain flame within. While his early favorites like Tupac and Ludacris built a foundation of fandom, discovering local Minneasota rappers like Eyedea and Heiruspecs became the turning point from fan to artist. After transitioning to an alternative high school in 11th grade, he gravitated to like minds Tony Phantom and Dimitry Killstorm, known in the school for making and recording their own hip-hop. Freestyling together became more serious, and eventually led to an invitation to join their group Wide Eyes. Over the course of four days in 2005, they recorded the Seasons EP, which wound up in the hands of Big Zach from Kanser, who saw the spirit behind the rough edges and began to help them get gigs around town. As albums continued to be released - from 2007's Situation, 2008's Inside, 2009's full-length Hands Tied, and 2011's Follow Through - Wide Eyes have continued to build a fanbase and have cemented themselves as a name to know in Twin Cities hip-hop.
"It's really fun being in a group; I like bouncing ideas off each other, people always have different perspectives on where to take a song. But there's a lot of pressure to do certain things, or you have to pressure people to get things done, it's a lot of people's schedules," says Sean of working with his crew. "I've always liked the group mentality, it's a fun way to work. But through the years, I've kind of been taking the solo stuff more serious, it's a little more fast-paced." Originally thinking his first solo venture would involve Wide Eyes producers, Sean instead opted to work with Cincinnati's DJ Corbett - known for producing multiple tracks with Saigon as well as tracks with Bun B and Royce Da 5'9 - to prove he could do something independently from his group. Endless nights in the studio led to the beginnings of what would become his debut Anonymo. "If he was taking the time to work with me, then he believed in the music that we made, probably even more so than I did." Some songs were two years in the making, while some were more spontaneous, but the project came together to a cohesive whole. Features from Abstract Rude and Blueprint on "No B.S." drew some looks from uninitiated rap fans, and the eventual release surpassed initial expectations. Highlighted by CMJ, Bandcamp, and CD Baby, the album set forth Sean Anonymous' business infrastructure to begin his career as a successful musician. A nearly sold-out two night CD release show in Minneapolis in July of 2012, featuring separate shows with a live band backing one night and DJs another, Sean Anonymous officially made his stamp on the local Minneapolis scene and beyond.
A standing run with the sprawling improvisatory live band Dream Crusher, which started from the occasional on-stage jam session of freestyling with the band at their residency at Cause in 2011, has led to a more fixed position in the band and some high-profile shows. From the huge response to their set for the First Avenue's Best New Bands in 2012, Anonymous' natural free-flowing energy melded so well with the group's that he is now essentially a full-fledged member. He's formed a solid connection with the artists in the Minneapolis scene, and was even picked as the city's representative for Warped Tour's "Bring It Back" stage, allowing him to choose from worthy members of the Twin Cities scene to represent the flourishing musical hub on the 2012 show. "I love hip-hop from all over the country, but I think we support each other here more," says Sean of his homebase in Minneapolis. His independent spirit is rooted in the vibrant Twin Cities underground scene, but it's clear from the noise he's made so far that he's certainly not bound to it.