The Rapidian Home

Assorted Anonymous: The Masked Men of Local Hip-Hop

Underwriting support from:

Stay in the Loop!

Next Show

Friday, Feb. 11, 2011, doors at 9p.m.

The Rocket Lounge

608 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids, Mi.

21+ - $3 Cover, 18-20 - $5 Cover.

wsg. Syntac Vernac (from Orange County, Ca), and The Munch Boxx Kidz.

 Video for "Pub Crawl"

Assorted Anonymous on Facebook!

DJ Trax on Facebook!



Assorted Anonymous

Assorted Anonymous /Mr. Smith

Assorted Anonymous. From Left: NVious, Norm Biz, & Mr. Smith

Assorted Anonymous. From Left: NVious, Norm Biz, & Mr. Smith /Becky Spaulding

Assorted Anonymous, Performing.

Assorted Anonymous, Performing. /Becky Spaulding

The Grand Rapids hip-hop scene is larger than one might think, and there are new artists emerging all the time. Each one differs from the others in some way, and Assorted Anonymous is looking to change the face of hip-hop…by putting a mask on it.

Assorted Anonymous consists of Mr. Smith, Norm Biz, and NVious. They write their own songs, build their own stage sets, and rap over original beats. On stage, they’ve been known to don dark sunglasses, hats, masks, and mummy wrap along with their nondescript trench coats or suit jackets.

“[Anonymity] makes it more about the music, and puts more emphasis on the art itself,” said group member NVious. Initially a producer creating beats for other emcees’ music, NVious sparked the idea for Assorted Anonymous when he insisted that were he to get behind the microphone, he’d need to hide his identity.“Before this started, I said I would start rapping, but only under the condition that I wear a mask and am anonymous,” he said.Norm Biz took this idea and ran with it, coming up with the group name and recruiting fellow emcee Mr. Smith to join them.

All three, though they have different backgrounds, share one thing: A love for music.

“I came from a musical family,” NVious says. “And my sister introduced me to a lot of bands when I was younger. When I heard ‘Never Mind’ by Nirvana…I just fell in love [with music].”

Norm Biz never had a specific moment, he says, but has always been interested in the art. He was supplied with Big Daddy Kane and Slick Rick albums by his older brother, much to his mother’s chagrin. “It was stuff that I’d kind of have to keep under the mattress, and if my mom found it she’d break my tail,” he says. Part of the appeal was the idea that it was something he wasn’t supposed to have.

Mr. Smith says that he became interested in music after meeting Norm Biz in 2002. “I just started writing my thoughts down and learned how to record, and I fell in love with it,” he said. “Now I spend hours in the studio.”

According to Norm, it’s their differences that help them to work so well together. “We are assorted like…berries of different flavors,” he said. “Every track sprouts from a different idea. Some are more laid back, some are funkier – we touch on the dark side, and we touch on the light side.”

As far as inspiration goes, the guys all agree that their lyrics come from “anything…everything around us.” They write about anything from the news to their jobs to a joyride on a spaceship. Their lyrics are just as varied as their backgrounds are.

Assorted Anonymous recently recorded an album with DJ Trax, a drum-and-bass producer and DJ who lives in the United Kingdom, and whom NVious met on an online music community called Subvert Central.

“Although I write many styles of music, hip-hop has always been my first love,” Trax said. “NVious knew about some of my history and he sent me some tracks he’d been working on. I really liked his style and lyrical content and we discussed working together on a track.”

NVious introduced his groupmates to Trax, and they began to collaborate.

Thanks to file sharing and e-mails, they were able to complete a 13-track album titled “The Invisible Plan.” The group is currently seeking a label to distribute their album.

Although DJ Trax lives overseas, Assorted Anonymous’ performances have been strictly local so far, frequenting small local venues. The group likes to think of their shows as more of an artistic statement than just another rap show, they said.

“We try to put more into shows than just raps,” Smith said. “We try to use artwork and visuals…basically anything you can make out of household products like cardboard and duct tape. We want to make it visually stimulating.”

A typical Assorted Anonymous show might consist of a variety of robots that they build and paint themselves, banners, different costumes, an ever-changing array of lights and, of course, the music. “The mood [on stage] will fit certain songs, reading like a page in a comic, basically,” Norm Biz said. “We have different characters. We flip our styles.”

“And we make the most out of our very small budget,” NVious added. “We try to set it apart from anything else you’re going to see [at a show]."

Disclosure: The writer knows the members of Assorted Anonymous.

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.