Young music mogul, driven student, and inherently persevering optimist – these characteristics come together to color the blooming career of one of The College’s most revered rappers, Anfernee Robinson. After dropping his latest full-length project, this ambitious young professional shipped off to Europe for a semester abroad, leaving Charleston ignited by the fuel of such fiery music. Anfernee is a creative force to be reckoned with; his drive to produce quality tunes while maintaining his academic course schedule is remarkable. Between classes and assignments, Anfernee finds time to collaborate with fellow local musicians, advocate for the homeless community here in Charleston and to sit down with fan-girl writers like me (and with local journalists for an article recently published in the Charleston City Paper).
Profile at a Glance: Anfernee Robinson, junior, marketing major, Florence, SC
Meredith Wohl: What has your experience at The College been like?
Anfernee Robinson: My experience at the College has been interesting… Everyone always says about college that it is what you make it, it very much is on an individual basis about how well you do or don’t do that makes your experience. As for me, I had a great college experience, and I utilized every opportunity what I could. I am excited to see what next year holds! I don’t feel like I’ve completely finished my time here yet.
MW: What do you think has best characterized your experience here at The College? What will you remember most?
AR: The biggest thing I’ll remember is the impact of the multicultural program SPECTRA here. It was my foundation – it was how I started off. It taught me everything from the ground up – how to be a student, how to study, how to be sneaky, everything. I learned a lot about how to be a college student and how to make the experience work for you. It gave me a good first basis on, okay, this is the situation I’m about to get into, how should I handle it? And from there, I made my plan on how to conquer the campus.
MW: What are you passionate about? What do you love talking about, what do you love doing?
AR: If you want to keep this a broad and conceptual thing, I feel like my entire purpose is to spread love in the pure essence of what it stands for. To spread love in all manners, all characteristics that I can. I just know the power of love. We’re humans, we’re social creatures, we’re born of this Earth to love. No one is born with hatred in their hearts, and I feel like if we all got to the root of who we are and learning to love each other for who we are, we could solve a lot of social stability problems. My goal is to spread love as much as I can until we reach that point, in whatever scale I can do it depends on me and my abilities.
MW: How are you going to spread that love?
AR: It starts with the music, of course! I feel like if I can reach a person when they’re feeling the least amount of love, because honestly that’s what happens to me. Whenever I’m feeling the least amount of love, I listen to a song, it’ll get me through at least to the moment when I can interact with another human being. It’s just a temporary piece of love that I can give to the world.
MW: Let’s take a few steps back. What have you experienced in your life that led you to spreading love through music? Tell me the origin story of your musical passions.
AR: Ohmygosh! Basically, when I was younger, I just had a lot of hardships in my life. I could go into detail, I could write you a book, or a mural… To get through those hardships, I had the care and love of other people, and at a young age I was very sensitive. I was always a sensitive kid. Even now I can say that if the wind blows the wrong way I’ll lose it, like “ohmygod, the world is over!” But, I picked up on a lot of things. Once I was picking up on all of the things that were happening to me on a greater scale and realized who I am in the world, I began to channel that into the only outlet I saw for me, and that was music. I had all these thoughts – I was a really anxious, wired kid. All of that energy got put into the music, and I’m glad it did, I’m glad it had somewhere to go.
MW: Now you’re an adult grappling with all that hardship and memories, and putting that into your art. What does it feel like to hone your musicianship as a craft?
AR: It’s really hard. It’s hard because once you hone that craft, other people really want to get involved and engaged in that craft. Sometimes, I don’t want to make the song about this or that with another person, and they’re so passionate about that project and I really want to help, but it’s so personal to me that I have to find something in them to make work with. It’s really difficult to continually put yourself out there as far as when people want [music] on demand. It’s really difficult for me if I’m not necessarily feeling something, then I don’t necessarily want to write. I can, but to put the same amount of emotion in it… on demand is what’s difficult for me. People have these expectations of you, constantly hitting you up to work with you, and then working with scheduling after that… I’m nobody famous yet! People don’t understand that I still have school, finals and things like that.
MW: In an ideal world, what would your perfect creative environment look like?
AR: I would have my templates set up with all my channels and stuff so that everything would fall into place when I’m ready to start my track. I would have my tracks together, and I would literally have surround-sound speakers – music all around me, completely immersed in the emotion of the song. If I were creating in that environment, I would need to be completely surrounded by my music to perfect all of the most minute details, and then release it.
MW: Are you a perfectionist?
AR: Ayyyyyyyy… I’m a perfectionist with my music, yes.
MW: What are some themes that you weave into your lyrics and your music?
AR: Constantly, at the end of the day, its always about how love is gonna get your through it. Stuff is hard, but we still care. I still care about you, people care. That’s a recurring theme. One theme that I’ve started getting into that I’m a little scared about are things not getting better at all. I’ve seen a lot of people in my life that have been broken, and broken, and broken. I see them smiling and continuing, and that enough for me is cool, but it still gets to me. So, I’ve started writing about that – its eye-opening, like opening the realist side of me as opposed to the dreamer side of me, which I grew up with a lot. It’s like meeting another person, but its opening up a different side of me, and he’s a little cynical.
MW: Do you think that you making music now is helping you find a balance between those two combatting voices of the dreamer and the cynic inside of you?
AR: Yes – I’m a Gemini.
MW: OH! There it is!
AR: I love the art of duality. When I was young, I constantly had battles of good versus evil. I saw that good would win a lot, but sometimes evil had its ways that worked quicker. My brain would constantly spar between the two. And even to this day, being a Gemini hasn’t changed much. Just constantly en guard.
MW: On that note, if you could present that internal dichotomy that you’re talking about as two people, musicians, pieces of art or literature, what would they be? Like, two completely opposing forces, or representative of your more optimistic side versus your more pessimistic side?
AR: To keep it on a very popular or relatable basis for everyone, I would say, and this is funny to people because you can see the similarities and differences of it all… But, Chance the Rapper and Kanye West. Chance, being the young, up-and-coming dreamer, has a lot of preciseness with all of his choices. He makes sure that every one of his words are positive and uplifting. He makes sure that he engages his audiences with every song and is so much of a dreamer. I hear it in his music, he’s a great dude. And that’s not to say that there isn’t some eeeevvilll in his music, as well. I hear Chance rap about a lot of things [questionable], but it’s still really good. A lot of people see Kanye as the old veteran who is very jaded. He also has a lot of hopeful dreams, as well, but people don’t see him as the same beginner perspective as Chance. A lot of his lyrics have a lot of hurt, more anger in there. It’s like the dreamer versus the jaded realist with them two. It’s funny when they come together on a track, and both of them are literally speaking about the same points but are using different perspectives. That’s what I love about music – when two people can see the same thing from different perspectives.
You can listen to Anfernee’s music here on Soundcloud, Apple Music and Spotify.