Fly Anakin And His Virginia Rap Collective Mutant Academy All Have Super Powers

Pop Music Critic

Fly Anakin isn’t keen on earthlings.

The Richmond, Virginia-based rapper has been slowly and steadily making a name for himself as the kingpin of a freak hip-hop clique, aka the Mutant Academy. Over the last several years, via a slew of Bandcamp releases that are mostly compilations, Anakin, and his first and most frequent collaborator Henny L.O., have established themselves as the de facto leaders of this ten-man-strong group who favor old school samples with eerie twists, and nasty, funny flows that speed by, expertly rapped, either in close proximity to one another or solo.

This year, in particular, has been good to his Mutant Academy crew, whose breakout album Chapel Drive finally began to prick up ears outside their Virginia locale. But Chapel Drive is just one of a host of projects Anakin and his co. released this year; quickly followed up by People Like Us and Panama Plus, with plenty more on the way.

With four MCs and six or seven producers, Anakin’s crew is able to create a sound that’s cohesive, but wildly variant, emerging as one of the most interesting young collectives of the year. There isn’t a trace of trap or mumble rap here, but even the traditionally boom bap beats and sometimes slower flows build off the genre’s history, updating it in small, precise ways. Slot their sometimes gritty, sometimes woozy output alongside rap experimentalists like Shabazz Palaces, New York’s Rat King, or World’s Fair of Queens.

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