By Alex P80 Parks
DC emcee AnkhleJohn has certainly played an important role in this current renaissance and has helped to revive a lost element of artistry amongst underground rappers and emcees. He knows what fans what to hear and is able to deliver that without compromise. On wax, AnkhleJohn presents as a huge, imposing figure. But despite his short physical stature, AnkhleJohn posses the voice of a giant on the mic, a larger-than-life persona with an aggressive vocal delivery. Since his emergence on the underground scene, he’s captivated fans and cultivated a devoted following for his witty, care-free attitude with plenty of polarizing bravado and debauchery.
Rife with murky soundscapes crafted by Vinyl Villain, AnkhleJohn returns with his latest project A Cold World. With moods that vacillate between detached and foreboding, the grim sonic canvas is perfect for AnkhleJohn to spit his harsh bars on.
If you’re newer to AnkhleJohn, his voice will surely pull you in with gruff, strained vocals and his signature ad-libs(“Sweatagawd! “Sick, sick, sick, sick” “talmbout”). He has maintained a steady presence in the underground with his multiple projects from 2018 and myriad of features on records for other artists. Producer Vinyl Villain is coming off a hugely successful project with Eto and continues to get his hand in the works of top- quality emcees. It comes as no surprise that they put out a high quality product.
Deeply Rooted reached out to AnkhleJohn and Vinyl Villain to see how A Cold World came to fruition:
Ankh: “we had already built a chemistry.. we had a show in Philly(Slime Beach), so we built together. It was him and Michaelangelo. We definitely all had fun that night. I kicked it with them guys that night. We cooling and bonding.. We even had to travel together as we went from Philly to NY so we was able to build and shit on a personal level.”
VV: “We been working on this since we first linked at Slime beach, summer 2018, for the Estee Nack and Daniel Son show ”
Ankh: We created that bond beyond just sending me some beats out, just no internet shit. He coulda just sent me beats and done it back and forth.
VV: “And we were gonna end it at 7 tracks but I sent another pack and he ended up writing to 4 more joints which is how we ended up with 11”
Ankh: “Villain sent them fire ass beats. I was real inspired and just went in.”
Ankh: “I thought of the concepts, and wanted to include the fashion with it, cuz that’s one thing I love.”
Pulling the title from Tupac’s character in the ’92 film Juice, “Bishops return” opens up the album with AnkhleJohn’s typical grimy swagger over a wobbly guitar sample evoking a feeling of uncertainty. Vinyl Villain lays an atmospheric, pulsating sample with pulsating effects on “TwoForFifteen” as AnkhleJohn displays an array of rhyme topics across a single track. On joints like these, Ankh really pulls you into his world spitting rhymes like:
“Those who know don’t talk,
Those who talk don’t really know
Necklace really gold, In a Fendi robe
You know how that semi go (dududududududu)
That n***a life’s worth bout a penny roll
All my life I been that elephant in the room
I feel like Jesus out the tomb”
“No features pt 2” sports a menacing piano loop and snapping drums. Check the Video for it here:
Featuring a delicate and very melodic strings loop and beautiful vocal sample “Blood Diamonds” shows Ankh focused on women and finer things here.
“I’m very young and defiant, short but still a giant
And my opinion is biased, if it’s concerning clients
And my cypher don’t believe in Shit, we deal wit science,
Put the suppressor on hammers just to keep the silence
You see the pressure I’m applying? It’s vibrant”
“The Informant” shows a story-telling Ankh detail how the life is “cutthroat.” Vinyl Villain elevates a nervous mood here with chopped piano notes. “The Mob” is slightly psychedelic and sincerely paranoid as the effect is slowly amplified, creeping then receding. Vinyl Villain builds on that with the peak anxious vibe on “Kane Mask” as flute notes spurt and sputter in panic. On tracks like this, for Vinyl Villain, it’s where he lets the sample ride out at the end, with grating violins that embody the intended tone. Ankh capitalizes with his raw voice and unadulterated lyrics. “Voices” is an 80’s B horror movie soundtrack, but with banging drums and synth effects. The eerie tone is perfect for Ankh to describe the voices that linger and those that incite him to continue to rise.
“Everything’s a choice
Blade slice ya throat, cut off ya voice
Pop Moet, get the pussy more moist
Roc ya shit like Marciano
Extort you every month like a car note
African queen come from the Congo”
Providing a throwback sound with a slight west coast vibe, “Hitman Holla” hits the low frequencies with vibrating effects, pounding bass and dusty drums.
Ankh: There’s no features whatsoever on this one, it’s just me holding my own.
“A Cold World” With a wailing hard rock guitar riff, the title track screams sinister and ominous with a condemning tone. Ankh attacks those with a lesson filled with the realities that this world truly is cold, so now you’ve been warned. To close out the album, “Body Bags” is the most melancholy of the tracks on the album, as Vinyl Villain pulls a sample from the Blade Runner score with somber piano notes.
Ankh: I wanted to drop it earlier, when it was actually cold outside, you know? like, in the midst of the 3 degree weather. I mean this is the epitome of hoodie and Tim’s music. We was supposed to drop this not long after the Eto joint. But it took a minute. It took me longer cuz of stuff goin on in my personal life. There was some up moments and some down moments, which play a part in all the music. It all connects to my personal life. I wish I could take you into all that.”
Clearly Ankh and Villain make a great pairing. AnkhleJohn states that “Villain is one of my favorite producers, man.” While VInyl Villain equally praises his emcee’s work: “The project just came together effortlessly.”
The album shifts from tracks that are straight verses to some joints with hooks as well. Content varies from shit-talking to nasty sex-talk, to one-ups on crumb rappers. His jewels are sprinkled throughout; some are only for those with knowledge of self, while there are still plenty of gems left for the rest. There’s even some enhanced storytelling as well on this album. AnkhleJohn’s devoted following continues to grow as he works with more talented producers, stratifying his sound that much further. This project shows Vinyl Villain’s strengths in developing and varying moods throughout the project. He utilizes a wide array of samples and sounds to accomplish that feat, never detracting from the vision and overall feel.
The album is available to stream everywhere, purchase physical copies here: