An “antihero” is a central character in a story who lacks conventional heroic attributes. This is exactly why Nefew’s story The Antihero Begins is so appealing. It is a story that so many people have faced. The story of a technically successful life denied of any personal satisfaction and fulfillment. However the Swiss duo, made up of childhood friends MC Polemikk and DJ/Producer PA-Double, has made the daunting choice to challenge everyday complacency and pursue their dream; music.
The album and its five “chapters” follow a linear narrative that begins with “Insight,” the childhood discovery of music and maturity, “Courage,” traces the necessity of a desk job and ends with resignation in order to pursue a music career, captured in the final chapter “Pride.” The story is simultaneously cross referenced by lessons of personal and creative integrity, “Truth,” and the struggles of making music in an industry flooded with uninspired material, told in the aptly title chapter “Ignorance.”
Polemikk has a slick, variable flow. His stories are easily relatable but kept dramatic through their delivery and complex rhyme schemes.
On “Alternatives,” he takes an irked glance back at corporate employment, “I had to be a banker in order to survive/ A college graduate, but still a corporate bitch/ No alternatives, I had to eat to live.”
“Focus or Fold,” champions the power of ambition and honesty in pursuit of success. The rhymes are as smoothly optimistic as they are satiric, “Let the others live with their lies/ Eat the American pie/ Before you ever comply, with something that you will hate/ See I’d rather be late/ If I could be something great/ Once I can no longer wait/ To switch my suit for a cape.”
I have always supported albums that musically and thematically share a similar genesis. The deeply shared trials, tribulations and success of the group are reflected in the congruity of the lyrics and the soundscape. The hard, crisp drums capture a similar musical reverence for the origins of hip hop as genuine as Polemikk’s line, “Nas on repeat/ Kane in the deck/ Jay in my sleep.” Scratched hooks, smooth samples, jazz keys and soul horns keep things classic, while original and poignant synths and strings are used to stress both the moments of disappointment and prosperity.
The title track, the albums curtain call, is an appropriately optimistic celebration of the journey thus far. It is self-celebratory testimony to the group’s determination and initiative. This open-ended finale observes all the attributes that make the groups journey alluring and heroic. And it is the perfect ending for a sequel, something I am excited to hear.