Album Review/Artist Spotlight: Be Yourself Never Anybody Else- A.M.A.R
It is safe to say that relatability is one of the most sought-after qualities in music today with just about every artist and genre trying to tap into it. Such attempts are often so desperate that they come off forced and turn away listeners more than bring them in; these contrived projects fail because the creator tries to predict what audiences want rather than simply being themselves. This is exactly what rapper A.M.A.R avoids on her debut album, Be Yourself Never Anybody Else.
Just from the title alone, it is immediately clear what the Las Vegas-based emcee’s objective on this record is: self-love and perseverance. Clocking in at almost an hour and a half, Be Yourself Never Anybody Else is a sprawling catalog of everything from somber reflections to braggadocious flexes.
The album opens with “Problems”, in which A.M.A.R calmly raps over a trap beat driven by a grim piano sample. This track effectively sets the mood for what is to come. It details the dark place A.M.A.R is currently in- a place where depression and pessimism constantly lurk around every corner but never fully conquer her tenacity. She cites God, her ‘fam’, and her own moxie as allies in this contest against adversity.
A.M.A.R continues to chronicle this internal, and sometimes external, battle over the next several tracks. In her distinct stream-of-consciousness-like flow, she describes late nights full of self-doubt, the double-edged sword of drugs, and desperate loneliness. These images cut even deeper with their melancholic piano samples that linger in such a way that suggests these issues will always remain with her, no matter how many times she may defeat them.
Her willingness to put these issues and shortcomings on display proves that she is not trying to satisfy anyone but herself; Be Yourself Never Anybody Else is just a cathartic outlet for A.M.A.R- in fact, it reads more like a personal journal than a rap album at that.
The lo-fi, unpolished production contributes to this intimate feel as well. Rather than projecting a façade of an unflappable celebrity through shiny pop-trap beats (an already oversaturated trope today), A.M.A.R favors gritter, drearier alternatives. This choice feels more appropriate as it shows an awareness of her status as a still up-and-coming artist- she will take what she can get and work with it. Overall, this rugged sound paints an honest picture of A.M.A.R and her situation; it shows all the struggles of her current situation and, in doing so, makes her come off as genuine and relatable.
Still, as much as adversity has a presence in A.M.A.R’s life, so too does her unrelenting confidence. Be Yourself Never Anybody Else is not a straightforward take on sorrow, rather, it is a tale told in two parts. As alluded to before, the first several tracks focus on these lows and their toll on A.M.A.R’s life.
The B-side, however, plays out totally the opposite as she embraces and revels in her strength and integrity. We first start to hear this mentality on “Dreams” in which A.M.A.R battles the present but looks hopefully towards the future. As the album progresses, she starts to ‘win’ more and realizes this, progressing from reserved self-praise to full on gloat. Tracks like “What Do They Know” and “Be Rich” are full-on blowhard anthems that serve as adequate foils to the record’s previous half.
By presenting this dichotomy, A.M.A.R reveals herself fully. It allows us to see her at her highest and lowest, rather than just presenting only one of her many aspects and attitudes. Additionally, the album’s tendency to never settle on A.M.A.R’s ‘wins’ or her ‘losses’ reveals a further complexity within the artist: that the struggle between the two is ongoing but never fully defeating.
A.M.A.R never lets up on the record either. Just when listeners make it out of one episode, we are immediately thrust into the next. This persistence enables audiences to experience and understand the claustrophobia of her life. She has never had it easy, constantly being beaten down; but at the end of the day, she stands tall and unrelenting.
At its best, Be Yourself Never Anybody Else is a showcase of potential. A.M.A.R has barely scratched the surface of her capabilities with this debut- she has much freedom to expand her sound, develop her style, and sharpen her edges. And if this record has suggested anything, it is that she is more than ready to tackle these challenges. It has proven her ability to not only be tenacious in her drive and delivery but her willingness to be vulnerable, traits that too many established artists fear backlash for- all of this on a project whose length those same artists would not even dare to attempt.
All that this album has shown listeners should come as no surprise, however. A.M.A.R has been writing music since childhood with life preventing her from finally taking the final step to professionalism. And this step, a large one at that, was only inevitable.
Be Yourself Never Anybody Else is A.M.A.R’s first strike in the cutthroat boxing ring that is the music industry. It is a daring and brazen take that shows off the persistence, character, and ability of an up-and-coming emcee. Throughout the twenty-two tracks, we suffer through A.M.A.R’s struggles and revel in her victories; the presentation, however, is not a distanced, objective one- it is a first-person perspective that allows us to truly experience her many trying episodes. Whether it be unrequited love, mental health, or doubt, we are alongside A.M.A.R as she roughs through and endures an unforgiving world. Listeners are not given much space to breath- a privilege that A.M.A.R was never granted- making the album all the more an immersive undertaking.
With her first album under her belt, streams constantly increasing, and the support of one of the fastest growing labels I've seen in a while. Daniel Cantrell Owner and C.E.O of Unrivaled Records. Is doing all the right things and making all the right moves when it comes to discovering and cultivating rising tallent from places we've never seen before. The young emcee must now look to the future. What direction will she take her sound? How will she hone her abilities? How will she follow up this bold debut? Her answers to these questions will demand her to endure the test of time but if we have learned anything from Be Yourself Never Anybody Else, it is that A.M.A.R can persevere.