When you hear the title Say Anything, what's the first thing that pops into your head? Is it the iconic shot of John Cusack, boombox hoisted aloft, blaring Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes" to win back Ione Skye's affections?
Yes, we've almost certainly all been there. However, for hip-hop fans, the title of Cameron Crowe's much-beloved 1989 film will soon have shared significance: Local hip-hop standout Stoney Bertz's upcoming LP with emcee/beatmaker/producer Elimence, Say Anything, is due for release Friday. If you've been fortunate enough to catch one of Bertz's live performances, you know you can expect something dynamic.
Bertz first tried her hand at emceeing merely four years ago, but has already developed a reputation as a formidable talent at the microphone. Fellow performers speak of Bertz in reverent tones, and she's taken first-place awards in the Solo Hip-Hop category of the Indy Music Awards in both 2014 and 2015.
"I first made the decision to start emceeing around the beginning of 2011," says Bertz. "I had just dealt with some big changes in life, and felt a little lost, I guess you could say. I had always been creative privately — I wrote poetry and little songs here and there — but never thought about actually deciding to rap. But when I did, it kind of just took on a mind of its own, and now here we are."
Bertz says her initial move into rap was inspired by hearing Minneapolis emcee Slug coming over a record-store sound system.
"I always listened to all different types of music when I was growing up, but one day, I was at Independent Records, and 'Gotta Lotta Walls' by Atmosphere came on. I bought one of their albums that day, and that was the planting of the seed, I think, to open my mind to hip-hop.
"Slug is my favorite emcee, but I had to brush up on my history, and I discovered I was a fan of a lot of East Coast hip-hop, like Nas, AZ, Biggie, Mobb Deep. ... But I always try to stay well-rounded and not fence myself into one type of hip-hop."
If you've caught Bertz live this year, you've probably heard some of the songs featured on Say Anything. And judging from the work previewed on the Trailer EP at Elimence's Bandcamp page (elimence.bandcamp.com), it's bound to be a satisfying studio release. Elimence's production is populated by relaxed, down-tempo loops that wouldn't be out of place on an album by, say, Boards of Canada. Airy synthesizers waft through the songs' topography, punctuated by soulful choral bursts and snippets of dialogue from the film, including Cusack's memorable "I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen" monologue.
The entire affair is led by Bertz's rhymes, which possess a remarkably relaxed fluidity for the rapid-fire syllabic delivery. As is true of her idols' work, you'll probably have to give the album a couple listens to take in Bertz's lyrics, after you've been dazzled by her technique.
"I initially approached Elimence about doing a project together, and I already had the idea for Say Anything," she says. "It was kind of a loose framework based on the film. We had already established that we worked well together; it was just a matter of getting in the studio and laying it all down.
"We didn't really want to do the normal [process]: He sends me beats, I write, then we record. A lot of the tracks folks will hear, we took the time to sit together and just vibe, see what came out organically, and just built around it. He really made me step my game up on this one, 'cause he is an amazing producer. It only pushed me that much harder to make something special, and I feel like we accomplished that."
You can catch the release party and pick up your own copy at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 27, at Zodiac.
"The main focus right now is getting the release party on and poppin'," she says. "We are super-excited to share the project with everyone, and we have some amazing talent for the show, like Teqnik G, Idris Goodwin, and Che Bong. ...
"My next steps after this," she adds, "are to get the ball rolling on another project, of course, to keep that consistency. But I really am now trying to focus on putting a tour together, getting out of the state, so I can maybe show some of my music to the rest of the world."
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