Interview With Ryan Anthony

“I’m just a lowkey, hella regular dude that grew up in San Diego.”

Photo credit: Jay Manning @Jays_Visions

Barely See the Beach is a socio-political statement. Spring Valley’s Ryan Anthony has chosen to be the voice of “all the inner cities in the city,” and has done so in convincing fashion. Southeast San Diego is a 30-minute drive from some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, yet the beautiful people there, as well as those in many other culture-rich regions in San Diego and beyond, barely see the beach. The beach is an icon of luxury, while the “inner city” is usually synonymous with hard working, blue collar lives, often bearing the weight of systemic racism, the school to prison pipeline, unjust policing, gangs, and an array of other pressures related to these, leaving little time for the luxury of sand between your toes. The title of Ryan Anthony’s first and second EP’s bears the weight of all of that and more. His lyrics do a much more in-depth, poetic, nuanced job of expressing such; he does it so well that he is almost guaranteed to be a local “Legend” and that even if he “might not be sh** to the world… [he’s] always gon’ be that n**** in [his] city limits.” Not only does this young wordsmith make a lot bold statements lyrically, he has created his own bold soundscape to carry those statements to your ears, and both have earned him respect from SD’s greats, including the face of ThaWrongkind, Mitchy Slick – a San Diego legend and member of Blacksmith Records‘ Strong Arm Steady. With love for every nook and cranny of the city/county, references to cultural landmarks throughout SD, and the weight of the collective struggle on his back, Ryan Anthony has set out to be the voice of San Diego, with hopes of being a unifying figure in our hip hop scene as well as in our city’s culture at large. SDLHH caught up with Ryan Anthony somewhere in between embarking on the journey and becoming one of the most legendary figures in San Diego hip hop; read up of the young and hungry artist as he attempts to speak the latter into existence.

NW: Who is Ryan Anthony?

Ryan Anthony: This will forever be the hardest question for me to answer. I never know how to answer it. But in general, I’m just a lowkey, hella regular dude that grew up in San Diego. I’m a family man… I make music.

NW: “LEGEND.” What a track to lead off with on your second edition of Barely See the Beach. What makes you legendary, whether in our city/county limits, nationally, or worldwide?

Ryan Anthony: The content and the impact that [my music’s] having on the city.  I look at the people that we consider to be legends within the city, and I feel like the projects that I’m putting out will put me in the same category as the greats. The song “Legend” was just speaking it into existence. Although my legacy is just starting, I’m on that path.

NW: “…I glorify the city proudly, ‘cause the city needs the glory/and I give all the praises, to all the OG’s that came before me…” These two lines stood out during my first few listens. Can you explain why San Diego needs “the glory”? Who are some of the “OG’s” you look to as coming before you?

Ryan Anthony:   We’ve been overlooked for so long, and there’s so much talent that we have to offer. It’s time that we get the respect that we deserve.  We have such a diverse and rich culture that I feel like the world should experience.  I’ve traveled to many different cities and countries, and San Diego is by far the most diverse.  As far as the OG’s, I’d have to say, Mitchy Slick, Big June, Criccett, Jayo Felony, Damu, Googie Monsta, Lil Rob, etc. etc.  Anybody that had any influence on Daygo music, I have a lot of respect for.

NW: I don’t usually jump into the current music so quickly. Let’s look back a bit. I think the best question I can ask to begin getting a feel for your upbringing and you’re coming up in the ranks in SD’s hip hop scene is, how did you become a “Square Ass N****”?

Ryan Anthony: Growing up in Spring Valley and going to school in the southeast in the early 2000’s it was a lot of gang bangin’ goin on, and I was just not about that life. But when you in that environment, your friends get influenced by that, and you just find yourself in situations with the homies that you don’t want to be in. So as far as music, I’ll never take on the tough guy role, just because I was never the tough guy. I’ve always tried to avoid confrontation and keep shit peaceful. I feel like I’ve gained a lot of respect being true to myself and being honest in the music. San Diego has always been prominent with the gangster rap.  Anybody that had any buzz was always gang bangin’ or trappin’.  My perspective is coming from being around the shit, but always trying to steer away from that shit.  

NW: Dope. Okay. So, some people might not know, but you produce everything on your EP’s, right? Who introduced you to beat making? Can you tell us the story of the first time you made a beat you were proud to share with your circle?

Ryan Anthony: I made my first beat in 6th grade.  Middle school is around the time when I first started saying, “I’m going to be a music producer when I grow up.”  I have no idea where the inspiration for that dream came from, but my cousin happened to have Fruity Loops and he let me download it onto the family computer. So I started figuring out how to make beats. They was all hella wack. I started exporting the beats, burning them to a CD and taking ’em to school. I’d play ’em in the PE locker room and let the homies listen to ’em.  

NW: Anyone who has heard you rap knows you have versatility and are dedicated to the craft. When was the first time you wrote something that resembled a rap? When was the moment you realized you truly have a gift with words, and that your words may have the power to change people’s mindsets, or even lives?

Ryan Anthony: I never wanted to be a rapper. EVER! I always wanted to be behind the scenes. I’ve always been lowkey and never talked much. I was making beats and engineering sessions for different artists around 2009 and just started having song ideas. I would write down concepts and write down a couple of raps here and there but never really formed a whole song. Around that same time, I was working with Gee Gee B. Stone and making all of his beats and engineering all of his sessions.  One of the songs that he did, I sampled one of the lines that he had in a verse. I created a beat around it and chopped up the vocal sample and made it into a chorus. I played it for him, and he told me I should put a verse on it, and he’d rap on the second verse. We finished the song, put it on myspace then we started getting hella plays and started doing hella shows just off of that one song. That was when I knew I could make a career out of this music shit.   

NW: There are hundreds of people making beats and rapping in San Diego, but few play their hand. What initially motivated you to begin taking your music seriously after you realized it was possible? Now that you have put out two well-crafted EP’s, featuring some of SD’s finest, like Mitchy Slick, what keeps you hungry to keep growing what you’ve begun?

Ryan Anthony:  Music has been my life focus since I graduated high school. I got a college degree in media communications with an emphasis in audio production. Got a couple of different music certifications as far as pro tools and engineering. I’ve put everything into making music my career. I’ve come way too far to not take this shit to its maximum potential. And it’s what I love to do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else at this point.

NW: Speaking of the Wrongkind figurehead, Mitchy Slick, what’s it been like working with one of San Diego’s most well-respected hip hop artists? I feel like his endorsement is his reciprocated respect for your movement. Why do you think he respects what you’re doing?

Ryan Anthony: You can’t talk about San Diego music and not mention Mitchy Slick.  He’s been the face of Daygo since 2001, and maybe before that.  Being able to work with him is hella dope.  If he wouldn’t have agreed to do the song “NEVER BEEN” I would’ve never put it out.  The only way I could make a song repping all sides of southeast San Diego, I had to have Mitchy Slick a part of it. I’m glad he understood my vision and trusted my judgment.  

NW: The last time I saw a picture of you and Mitchy Slick was on your IG feed, and Nick Cannon was in between you two – I think it was for a video shoot. That tells me that there may be talks of a deal on the table. Are you able to share anything regarding some potential avenues/platforms for you to take your brand to the next level?

Ryan Anthony: For the moment I’m trying just to be independent. I enjoy the hustle and the grind of being independent and having complete control over everything.  

NW: Okay, that’s super respectable. As you maneuver the indie music scene, what does “success” look like? What is that point where you feel like you’ve accomplished all you set out to achieve?

Ryan Anthony: Doing this shit for so long, and going through all the hardships and the let downs and the struggles and the losses, I’ve learned to not expect anything.  I always just make the most out of what I have. As far as success, I already feel successful. I have merchandise that’s selling out, CD’s that are selling out, I’ve built a dope ass fan base in these streets, I got people asking to take pictures with me when I’m out with the family (which always trips me out), I got people asking for autographs. What more can I ask for? I’m doing everything that an artist dreams of doing. To say I haven’t achieved success would be hella ungrateful. Now it’s just a matter of being consistent and continuously growing as an artist.  

NW: Speaking of accomplishments, you’ve done so much and had some hits on your hands. With all of the attention your music is getting, why does it feel/seem as if you’re keeping a fairly low profile? Is it purposeful? Are you more of an introvert? Why haven’t we seen you on stage much?

Ryan Anthony: I’m super low key and have always been an introvert. I don’t like being the center of attention. I get social anxiety. I just want to put out dope music and dope visuals and keep a low profile.

NW: Perfect. Back to the music. I dig “The Real”. Can you break the concept behind this track down a bit for us?

Ryan Anthony: As I was saying earlier, I’ve never been about the extras.  I’ve always been respectful and carried myself as my individual. When you carry yourself a certain way, you don’t have to say nothing. Regardless of the situation, I’m going to be solid and try not to crack under pressure. Treat every loss as a learning experience and bounce back.  

NW: I could keep going for days, diggin’ into your story, but I want to respect your time. I want to open the interview up for you to share anything that’s on your mind/heart right now.

Ryan Anthony: Shout out to [Nate Whitsell and Candid Chronicle] for the continuous support.

NW: Of course. As we begin wrapping up, what’s something you’d like to share with San Diego Hip Hop?

Ryan Anthony: Keep going! Even when it feels like nobody is paying attention, keep going! One song can change your whole life.

NW: I love what you are doing to bring about some sense of unity in all of your music, but I feel like how explicitly you do so with “Da[y]go” is super bold. Why is it important to you to sit in a space where you’re showing everyone love, and in response, a space that feels like your respected by most if not all?

Ryan Anthony: I’ve taken on the role as the voice of San Diego. I can’t be the voice for the city and not include everybody. When I put these visuals together, I’m real specific on what needs to be portrayed. Not only do I represent the city, but I try to include other people that also represent their specific parts of the city. To make it so that everyone feels represented is very important to me. There are sections of the city that are 15 minutes away from each other, but they feel like completely different worlds: completely different vibes, completely different demographics, completely different cultures, completely different mind frames and different worldly views.  And that is what makes San Diego so unique. So I try to encompass all that San Diego is within this music.

NW: One emphasis of these interviews is to see a heightened level of unity in the San Diego Hip Hop community. Can you point to some other artists who you see as comrades, and who you also see as helping to progress the scene?

Ryan Anthony: There is so many.  90% of the music I listen to on a daily basis is San Diego: Hardini, KT Foreign, Yabbie, Don Elway, TC Doe, Mitchy Slick, Mac Phly, Lil 5ive, Ocean, Big June, Tiny Doo, Lil Gino, Shawn Rude, 12 Gauge, Damu, Odessa Kane, Rob Stone, Adonnis, Von Dreaam, Lil Grifo, Saviorself, C-Hecc, Mikey oOo, Rossi Rock, Eddie MMack, Googie, Joey Trap, Poodeezy, RG, RIOT, Dezzy Hollow (Oceanside), Bowers … I know I’m forgetting people but I mean there’s A LOT of music coming out of San Diego.  I’m always looking for dope Daygo music to listen to.  I rock with everybody.

NW: Finally, where should readers go to connect with you?

Ryan Anthony: @SpringValleyRyan on Instagram. Or the Facebook: Ryan Anthony.  

You can get Barely See The Beach 2 at:
Google Play

Peace, Love & Hip Hop,
Nate Whitsell