Label: Anticon
Genre: Hip Hop
Online: Artist Website


After crisscrossing the country in Greyhounds and U-hauls, among other passenger seats, throughout his teens, pedestrian - a native of both southern Virginia and southern California - eventually moved to San Francisco in 1998 with longtime close friend sole and together they began to implement what they had jointly dreamed up as "Anticon." pedestrian's ceaseless traveling and rare appetite for rap had made him, for a time in the mid-90's, one of the leading figures in the cassette tape trading of experimental and independent hip-hop. The spirit of those tapes - their outright hostility toward the music industry and joyous trampling of genre boudaries - became a major influence on the anticon aesthetic.

pedestrian's fascination with ignored and forgotten music has, in the six years since anticon was formed, expanded into an outright obsession with pre-WWII North American folk and gospel music, traces and quotations of which surface throughout his album. The fixation has also led to pedestrian's side career as Evangelist J.B. Best (which is his real name, incidentally), a secular preacher who weaves together poems, folk tales, and gravel-voiced exhortations.

So that we might fulfill a bio's inevitable shortlist of the artist-in-question's influences: pedestrian routinely nods to his "holy quartet" of L.A. rapper Mikah 9 of UTD, folk revivalist and radical Woody Gunthrie, the great poet, Galway Kinnel, and Swedish genius Ingmar Bergman. And perhaps the most vital influence of all is the one made perfectly clear in pedestrian's challenge, "any white American approaching rap needs to be extraordinarily interested in the larger African-American culture that produced it in the gut of a profoundly racist country. Period."

Background can only go so far in explaining one's work, however, and this is particularly true for an artist who's described his discography as a series of "tiny stinging regrets" and even included a typewritten formal apology with one release. It might be more useful to conclude with what amounts to pedestrian reciting a divine ordinance of his own authorship:

"My music is purely personal in the sense that it's almost never about me - it's really an anti-diary in that way - instead it's generally about how it's possible to take on any voice as long as it's done sensitively enough and with the principle that Galway Kinnell powerfully describes as 'the dream of all poems and the text of all loves, ' which is 'tenderness towards existence'".