Anti-Lilly & Envy Hunter: REdefinition

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Photo courtesy of Grant Tucker

Photo courtesy of Grant Tucker

Houston rappers Anti-Lilly and Envy Hunter came together in 2014 to record an 11-track album called “REdefinition’. Solo artists at heart, Anti and Envy joined forces for the purpose of giving listeners a different taste of what they’re used to hearing come out of H-Town.

REdefinition is produced by Phoniks, Andrew Lloyd, Christo, RicandThadeus, G Cal and features appearances by Scolla and Plus.

The Real Hip-Hop chatted with Anti-Lilly and Envy Hunter about the beginnings of their union, their standing in the Houston rap scene, and their new album, REdefinition.

TRHH: How’d you two get together and decide to record this album?

Envy Hunter: We knew each other through mutual friends. At first we had chemistry as far as being friends. Everybody isn’t fit to do an album together. They wouldn’t mesh. It just so happened that we meshed.

Anti-Lilly: We actually met through my friend Express. He’s also an artist out in the city. Me and Envy didn’t really record any music together at first. We’d just hang out and get into some shit. One night we just came together and said we gotta kill some shit real quick. It was real organic. It didn’t seem forced or anything. We’d just be chillin’ and go cook up some music. It’d be a pretty quick process after that. That’s how we got REdefinition.

TRHH: What was the recording process like? Were you guys competitive with each other at all?

Envy Hunter: Of course we’re gon’ compete. It’s always survival of the fittest, but it was more of working together. It was a collaborative thing. We sat down with each other and went through things. We wrote things out like a script. We didn’t just turn some music on and come up with something. We thought of the concept, he came up with something, and I came up with something. We let each other know, “You should probably say this right there.” It was more like a teamwork environment.

Anti-Lilly: I definitely agree with that aspect. The energy was so crazy. It was competitive in a sense because I’d write something and Envy would be like, “Oh!” and vice versa. He’d say, “Anti, I wrote this crazy verse, check it out,” and I’d be like, “Man, let me start writing.” The energy just got so hot through the project that I haven’t had this much fun recording in a while.

TRHH: Is the title of the album taken from the Black Star song REdefinition?

Anti-Lilly: Yeah, in a sense it is. We kind of put a double meaning to it. That’s just flat out, I’m a fan of the craft and the culture. The whole Black Star album was crazy to me. I wanted to get that same vibe and at the same time it made perfect sense to me to use it as a title because of our region. When most people think of Houston or the general down south area they think of one or two things – swangin’ and we got the drank. Yeah, it’s true, we got that but we kind of wanted to shed light on the other stuff. We came up with REdefinition because we’re redefining the city. We’re not saying we’re through with all that old stuff we’re saying it’s a whole ‘nother spectrum to this thing.

TRHH: I’m a lot older than you guys so when I think of Houston I think of Geto Boys

Anti-Lilly: Yeah, most definitely.

Envy Hunter: That’s pretty much what we wanted because we felt that Houston hasn’t had that impact since the Geto Boys. You can say UGK – Bun B and Pimp C but they’re from that era. I personally feel that with the passing of Pimp C and Scarface going through his legal stuff, that sound didn’t get a chance to soak in with the new generation. Everybody adapted to the drank and the swangas and this and that, but that’s where the title REdefinition comes from. We’re not trying to say this is the new Houston because everybody say that – it’s a cliché. What we’re trying to say is we don’t sip drank, we don’t swang ‘lac’s. We know what it is, it’s part of our lives but at the same time we come from a whole different side of a spectrum. We’re just trying to mix it up a little bit rather than being a cliché and coming out like everybody else.

Anti-Lilly: It goes back to the energy we have. We’re just two regular ass people. That reflects in our music. We’re human and we really focus on bringing that human aspect. That’s why the album has so many different aspects to it because not every day is the same. You experience something different every day so we wanted to really draw on that aspect and show that artists from Houston can really do that. No offense but most artists from Houston are our friends that are coming out, but the music that’s coming out of Houston recently is nothing like me and Envy are making. We just wanted to show the people it’s more to the city.

TRHH: Are you guys accepted in the Houston rap scene?

Envy Hunter: Yeah, we’re very much accepted. Everybody knows who we are. It’s not a secret. We’re very much respected. If it’s not respect it’s that thought in the back of their minds that, “If this dude get the opportunity…” It’s always somebody waiting in the shadows to take your spot. We get that respect but it’s more like a fear. I always say just because you rap fast don’t mean you a good artist. I feel him being him, me being me, us being young, and growing up on the type of music we grew up on we have that edge. It’s not a fear as in ‘we’re the shit’ it’s more like they know who we are and what type of talent we have.

Anti-Lilly: I can paint a perfect picture for you right now, Sherron. Me and Envy we perform together we’re gonna kill it every single time, brother. But when we finish we’re not going to get that much applause, but we’re not going to get anyone booing us. People’s faces are just like, “What am I processing right now?” You got the old heads in the back and they’re going to be the ones to show us love every time. Guys in our age bracket they’re not used to hearing this type of sound. We have contemporaries in the city that are doing things right now, but our sound is quite different. We’re in the same spectrum as those other artists, it’s just a different lane that we’re in. I wouldn’t even say it’s harder to break through. We’ve got a different sound so it’s really redefining the city saying it’s more than one sound. We’re trying to bring the full diversity back to how it used to be.

TRHH: Tell me about the single ‘Gibberish’.

Anti-Lilly: [Laughs] We were chillin’ at my house… like I said we’re human. We work a 9-to-5, we have families, and we go through our everyday trials and tribulations. We were smoking at the house and Phoniks sent me a care package of a couple of beats and I was like, “Envy, you gotta listen to this.” It took us a good 30-45 minutes to put the pen down and that’s what we came out with. Personally in my verse everything from my little brother getting robbed, to my sister’s issue with her tires, all of that is real. I use music as a sense of self-expression so I had to express it and vent that out. I want to show a piece of myself and I want people to see a piece of their self when they see me. I know I’m not the only one that’s in that position. The reason we called it ‘Gibberish’ is because if you just bring that up in everyday conversation people are so quick to play it off like these type of things aren’t goin’ on when it is. That’s what people hear it as, gibberish. They’d rather hear a facade or a fantasy life when that’s not what it is. We’re all going through it. We ain’t got Bentley’s and chains and shit. We got rent, bills, and gotta get groceries on the table. That’s what it’s all about, surviving out here.

Envy Hunter: Gibberish wasn’t about a specific topic. It was a whole rambling about a bunch of realistic shit that happens in our daily lives. That’s where the title came from, just rambling about as much stuff as we can in a 16. Just trying to cram it all in one 16 and get our point across.

TRHH: I’m a big Stevie Wonder fan. The reason I love Stevie is because of the stories. He sings about real stuff. This person I was talking to said they didn’t care for Stevie. They said, “I don’t wanna hear that sad, depressing stuff about living just enough for the city.” I think that’s where we are as people. We live it, so we don’t wanna hear about it in our music. We wanna hear about poppin’ bottles and bitches – the fun stuff, not the sad stuff.

Anti-Lilly: That’s an excellent point, man. I honestly think it needs to be a ‘lil more balance. You got people saying, “I don’t wanna hear that,” but on the other side I won’t see my best friend until I’m 30. He’s locked up right now and that’s motivation for him to let him know he’s not the only one going through it. I got people who can’t pay their bills out here. Some of my peers from elementary, middle school, and high school don’t have no where to live right now. That’s motivation for them. It’s not just us saying, “Shit’s all bad,” we’re saying we gotta get better. I can understand if we’re just trying to beat the same point into your head that shit ain’t all good. Like I say, it ain’t all good, but it’s all good at the end of the day.

I feel like if you have that platform it’s important to convey the message the best way you can. It’s not for everybody. You just have to accept that as an artist. I had to accept that a long time ago, especially being in this city that my music isn’t for everybody. But for the people that it does touch I’m thankful that God gave me the platform to be able to be a blessing for their lives. I just want to keep that same mind state that it may not be for everybody but shit, I don’t pop bottles every night – it’s expensive. I bought two bottles for my dad and my cousin for Christmas and it was like $40 each. I can’t pop bottles every day [laughs]. Me and Envy represent the every man. I don’t think most American’s in general are out there like that because we have other responsibilities we have to tend to.

Envy Hunter: We are able to make that transition and make that kind of music if we wanted to. Being the type of artists we are we can. We showed that on one of the tracks on there, ‘Worried ‘Bout Me’. We are able to go out the box if we had to do it. I feel like being an artist and staying true to yourself you really don’t have to go outside the box because you can look at the Kendrick Lamar’s, J. Cole’s, Joey Bada$$’, and Big K.R.I.T.’s – I mean, they’re them. J. Cole is gon’ relate to the nigga that got $5 in his pocket and he trying to figure out if he gon’ catch the bus with this $5 and get something to eat or whatever. For one person that don’t like what you’re doing I feel like its 5 or 10 that do like what you’re doing.

TRHH: Definitely. I’m one of those people. I wanna hear something I can relate to. My favorite emcees are Common and Ghostface. I’m from Chicago and Common really sounds like a dude from Chicago. He reminds me of people I grew up with…

Anti-Lilly: Man, I can listen to Common and close my eyes and I feel like I’m in the room with my uncles or something. It’s so much game that he tells. He always offers another side of the spectrum and that’s something I always appreciated about Common. That’s definitely one of the emcees as an artist myself that I drew direct inspiration from. It’s probably only been about one or two Common albums that I didn’t like, being honest. He’s definitely one of the ones that inspired me to put the pen to the paper.

TRHH: Anti, why’d you decide to release this album so soon after Stories from the Brass Section dropped?

Anti-Lilly: Man I’m an artist! I like to rap, man. I had a feeling we should have waited a little longer, but I think it did great. It’s still doing great. People need to hear this music. I’m not saying like I’m some A-list celebrity and I can get it out to a million people, but to the people I can get it out to I will. It feels good receiving emails from fans in another country saying this got them through their week. It’s no better feeling than that. If I have the platform and opportunity to release music I definitely will. I don’t like to hold back my music. REdefinition was kind of random. The chemistry just kind of happened. We could be chillin’ the whole day and only spend like two hours recording it. In those two hours it was real.

Envy Hunter: It was literally an accident. We started chillin’ because of how we met through the mutual friend. He lives all the way on the southwest side of Houston and we live on the north side of Houston. Since we live down the street from each other literally we just started kicking it. By us being every day artists we just started gradually making songs on accident.

Anti-Lilly: Eventually it was like, man we gotta put this shit out!  We dropped a couple singles at first and said we might as well make it a project. We had 3 or 4 songs together.  We just made it a little more solid.

TRHH: Whose idea was it to flip the Jay-Z joint, ‘Can I’?

Anti-Lilly: I’ll give that all to Envy. That’s all Envy’s idea.

Envy Hunter: I go through phases where sometimes I get stuck listening to a certain artist. At that time Reasonable Doubt was stuck in my head. I was listening to it no matter what I was doing. Everybody always remakes something but Reasonable Doubt was that forgotten gem. Reasonable Doubt didn’t even go platinum. Everybody forgot about Reasonable Doubt. Everybody always shows Jay-Z love but they don’t show him love from the things that originated Jay-Z and made Jay-Z. They’ll remake Big Pimpin’ or something but they wouldn’t remake Can I Live though.

TRHH: It’s impossible to have a favorite Jay-Z song but that song is in my top 2 or 3. That album did go platinum…

Anti-Lilly: Was it after the fact? Like after Blueprint?

TRHH: Nah, it was platinum that year. It came out at the end of ’96. It went platinum but it was so low key because it came out around a lot of other big records. 2Pac dropped two albums that year, Nas’ second album was that year and it was like triple platinum, Mobb Deep dropped, Ghostface’s first album, Outkast’s second album, and the Fugees’ big album…

Anti-Lilly: It’s just so much damn music [laughs].

TRHH: Reasonable Doubt wasn’t even in the top 10 of what people were listening to that year. Compared to other albums nobody cared about Reasonable Doubt, but it did go platinum.

Envy Hunter: Yeah.

TRHH: Will we hear a sequel to REdefinition?

Envy Hunter: Why not [laughs]? Like I said we made it on accident the first time. You know how you make albums and you don’t want them to sound the same? In our current lives we’re going through different things so shit, when it’s time, and after we do our respective solo projects, it’s getting its burn and this starts to die out who is to say we won’t be at the crib smoking and chillin’ again? The things we went through over the last five-six months might fall into a track or 10 or 11 of ‘em.

Anti-Lilly: Im’ma say it like this, man, Envy is my brother. Even if we didn’t make music that’ll still be my brother. Given the fact that we do make music and bounce off each other so naturally we could make a REdefinition in a week or two if we really put our minds to it. We’ll just have to see. We’ll always have songs together. That won’t ever stop. This wasn’t just some freakin’ cross-promotional deal. This my man right here. Anything is possible. We’ll just have to see.

Envy Hunter: We’re self-made, man. Everything on REdefinition to the videos we did it on our own. Who is to say we can’t do it again?

Purchase: Anti-Lilly & Envy Hunter – REdefinition

About Sherron Shabazz

Sherron Shabazz is a freelance writer with an intense passion for Hip-Hop culture. Sherron is your quintessential Hip-Hop snob, seeking to advance the future of the culture while fondly remembering its past.
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