“.Who are you, who are you in your city, who are you on your street, who are you to the youth that are surrounding you? Who are you to the adults, who are you to your family? To your friends at your job? You know that’s what our minds should be on. How are we living examples?” – A.I. The Anomaly.
A.I. the Anomaly is a 2020 Rapzilla Freshman, an exceptional storyteller with the gift of metaphor, a teacher to the youth in her community, a photographer, a filmmaker, an entrepreneur and an overall creative operating solely under one name – Jesus.
I got to peek into some of the many ways A.I. shares the beauty of the Gospel, music being just one of those tools.
As a lyricist, A.I. works to paint a picture for the listener. She talked about how when she sits down to write a song, she tries to make all the parts coexist and create a type of ecosystem that works together.
She walked me through her process of writing a song:
“For me, I’m reflecting on whatever is going on around me. We could grab a song, for example, like ‘Miss Me’. I was dealing with self-doubt around that time there was this competition that I was part of, and I entered into the competition doubting myself. No one else was doubting me. No one was saying, ‘Yeah, you can’t do that. You shouldn’t do that. Go sit down somewhere else. You’re not ready for something like that.’
I was the one speaking that to myself. I was the one saying those things to myself. And then I went through this competition and earned the biggest prize, the biggest honor, the biggest award, and I shocked myself like, ‘oh my goodness’. Well, what else am I holding myself back on? And because I’m a musician like the way that I reflect and the way that I express myself is through music. So I said, well, I need to make a song. Let me make a song about this circumstance to encourage myself. But also, I’m sure there are many other people that feel the same way…”
I then asked A.I. about her personal connection to her own lyrics, and which ones stood out. She said one song was “Journal Entry Four: In Memory Of” which was written after seeing a fellow CHH artist, Sevin, being a true example of Christ in the streets of Buffalo, NY.
“…His ability to connect with the individuals in our community was inspiring. And I felt so inspired about how he and the ministry looked at the importance of what they were doing. I just felt compelled like I need to check myself and refocus because sometimes as Christians, we get so caught up in just regular life. It’s like, ok, I’m gotta go here, I gotta go there. And sometimes we’re not thinking about being intentional with our moves. And I just felt like they’re so intentional about their moves.
So, yeah, I then wrote a song in memory of and it’s literally in memory of those that were before us, the disciples. How did they move? How did they move from day to day? Jesus, how he moved from day to day. And if we’re supposed to be examples of them, then we definitely need to check our hearts and make moves and make changes if we need to. So that was the heart behind it.”
She also shared her connection to songs that talk about her biological mother:
“I remember being in a space where I couldn’t say her name because I felt so heavy, but then I came into a space where I could say her name in confidence and not feel like: Who are you? What have you done? Why did you do this?
It’s more like, I love you. And though you made decisions that affected my life in this way, I don’t think I would have it any other way… I’m pleased to be used in this way. So when I listen to songs that deal with my biological mother, I’m just like, wow, I’ve grown so much. And I’m really appreciative of the journey that God has me on.”
To continue, we talked about how music along with other things can be a tool for evangelism:
“You have the ability to do whatever it is that you can do with a Christian mindset, with a Christian focus, and you have the ability to be the light.
That’s what we should be doing. We should be light. We should be the salt of the earth. This is what the Bible is telling us to do so that people are ignited, something is ignited in someone, someone is enticed by our movement, by our actions. What is it about her? What is it about him that he goes or she goes through life with when it seems like it’s ease?
…We need to have joy through these circumstances. People are watching us. That’s the living example. So, music is a tool. My business and how I move in my passions: those are tools for evangelism. And everyone can do their thing within the gospel.”
Now switching titles, as a teacher, A.I. shares the lens of storytelling with her students. She detailed what this looks like:
“I teach youth about the magic of photography and how to capture creatively and how to tell stories, but really pushing them to work collaboratively with one another and to unify with their peers. And when they come into circumstances where it gets difficult because it is difficult to work with personalities or things like that – it gets difficult helping them get through that process. But as far as the surface is concerned, teaching them about photography. So they’re taking photos. They’re learning about the elements of photography.
They’re learning about how to capture stories through the lens and how to put their words together to tell the stories and how to work collaboratively doing that. And then at the end of most of my workshops, residencies, you know, it could be either six, eight to ten weeks long. I design a book. And that book is a collection of photos and stories that the students have work together on. Then each student gets a book, and they get to walk away with this book.”
A.I. explained her motivation behind this work:
“All I’m doing really is reflecting, it’s a reflection of what I was taught. So when I was in my teens, you know the story, I went through these things when I was younger. I lost my mother at a young age. It was difficult for me to express myself with words. And then the community became involved – it takes a village to raise a child… My adoptive mother, she was very, very wise in giving us opportunities to be engaged in cultural arts. If she felt like she couldn’t give something, she would get us involved in something within the community.”
Further, when it comes to upcoming projects A.I. talked about how she is utilizing every aspect of her album, BLNKNVS by doing events that unpack the content. She creates these events as an interactive experience for an audience. From events where the audience is invited to paint a canvas and focus on one song from the album, to discussing and watching music videos, to ones that deal with specific issues found in her songs – these events create a space where the conversation is open and everyone is welcome. She speaks about the hope behind it:
“So what I’m trying to do is utilize the skill of hip hop and then create a platform in which community can be connected, and we can talk about real-life issues. I’m hoping that it can raise awareness and build community and just combat against these things. That’s really my hope and desire when it comes to this music.”
Lastly, A.I. shared her encouragement to the CHH community:
“I’d say focus on the walk that you have to live and let your success be in Christ. In order for you to understand that it is imperative that you seek His will. What you’re going to do. You’re going to find in His word, God is forever speaking.
His word is now. So if you read His word and really, really seek to understand truth, your heart in any space is going to be chiseled and molded into the way in which you would need to be.”
Listen to A.I. the Anomaly Below:
If you’re interested in supporting young adults within their skill please consider Young & Fokus’d. Young & Fokus’d, is a movement birthed under Get Fokus’d Productions which aims to connect young people to the resources that will empower them to continue to develop in their art and talent. Within every contract, A.I. earns she is working to put aside investment into these very resources.
**You can contribute by purchasing A.I.’s merch, CDs, plus bookings (all of which provide a portion to Young & Fokus’d). A.I. can be booked with youth in your city to do similar programming to what she does in Buffalo, NY.**