A.N.O. (Ain’t No Other) is a 16 year underground artist from Virginia that released his first project in 1998. His career followed a long collection of solo and group projects and then took a 4 year hiatus after his 2008 release titled “Yellow”. Experimenting in various genres he released various projects under the stage name of Leon Coles, returning to the scene again under Ain’t No Other with his release “The Album I Threw Away” in 2012. A.N.O. spent the next couple of years touring with The Outer Circle before his 2014 release, “Never Really Broke”
“Never Really Broke” is both reverential as well as super modern musically. A.N.O. hasn’t hopped on the bandwagon of rap trends like having a girl sing all of his choruses or making the beats all dance tracks, but he is also not stuck in the past. His beats are clean with subtle touches that really elevate them like. Also, A.N.O. very smartly pairs himself with some great collaborators like the Jonzie, Phil A Gee, 6 Sense, Trakz, Poe Mack, Monte Gill, Douglas Brown and Ceege who all provide a contrast to his rather deadpan delivery.
The lyrics are telling and they are relative, while the production values of the tracks show integrity. A.N.O. stays true to himself and his fans, as he delivers content heavy material over creative beats that take you on a story telling journey, one track after the next. I found myself listening to the album, not skipping one song. The blend of the last track and the first track easily transitions you into listening to the album again and again.
In an era of untalented, unoriginal clones and sound-a-likes, A.N.O. brings originality and substance. If you’ve become disenchanted with the modern hip-hop scene this album should quench your thirst for quality hip-hop.
The album starts out strong with “Devour”, a heavy footed track featuring a mix of cocky braggadocios rhymes and introspection, a perfect embodiment of A.N.O. as an artist. On each track that follows, he goes to a deeper level and brings back the true meaning of hip-hop through the beats, his lyrical content and great collaborations. This album is a very complete effort that leaves you hooked. It’s creative, yet back to the basics.
There are many themes and metaphors that string together from song to song and fit in with the title of the album. Musically speaking the production is diverse enough to cater to a wide range of hiphop fans. Lyrically it’s an A+, enough said.
Standout tracks include “Devour”, “Stay Away”, “Royalties”, “Heat vs. Lakers ft. 6 Sense”, “Cook For Me ft. Trakz”, “Hard On Myself” and “Taught You That ft. Monte Gill”. So far this is the best work A.N.O. has put out. All I have been listening to in the past few days, is this album, it’s addicting and so easy to relate to. I definitely recommend it!