“If Giver Taker was an album of prayers, The King is an album of curses.” Anjimile won the world over
with the clear-eyed honesty of their first record – a meditation on spirituality and liberation. In 2019 he
recorded Giver Taker, a collection of songs written while getting sober in Florida. Giver Taker was
critically adored – Rolling Stone Magazine deemed it one of the best 50 albums of 2020. Since Giver
Taker’s release, Anjimile tested new material on the road while opening for artists like Jose Gonzalez,
Tune-Yards, and Hurray for the Riff Raff. In his sophomore album, The King, he continues exploring
what it means to be a Black trans person in America. The brutally honest reflection of 2020’s deadly
summer is less reminiscent of the pink cloud of early sobriety and more rooted in the reality of seeing
brutality with clear eyes.
“The King” is deeply steeped in the confusion, grief, and rage of being Black in America. Anjimile
pushes back against the tired adage, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” hissing, “What don’t kill
you almost killed you// What don’t fill you//pains you// drains you.” Anjimile says, “At the end of the
day, I might feel hopeless, but I don’t feel alone. I don’t feel alone in my Black rage, my suffering, my
depression. There’s something sacred about being a part of this tradition of Black artists channeling this.”
The King is an invitation into this tradition.
“Animal” is a departure from Anjimile’s typically angelic and agile finger-picking to chunky staggered
marching chords that match the energy of this protest song’s lyrics. The track begins with static as he
finds the radio station for his rage that shimmers beneath the whole song, surfacing with Anjimile’s
swelling voice at the end of every chorus and verse and lingering long after they finish.
The King showcases the perfect marriage between Anjimile’s lyricism and musicality and the power of
brilliant production. Anjimiile spent a year in LA working intimately with Grammy and Juno winner
Shawn Everett. Before entering the booth, Everett took Anjimile to different museums and had them
choose a painting for each track on the album to get a feel for Anjimile’s artistry and process. Everett’s
intentionality is evident in every measure – with brilliant ideas like using a sole instrument for the entire
album for sonic unity, to recording some tracks in every key before choosing a final version, and, finally,
creating eerie effects by covering a microphone with a condom before submerging it in water and
pointing a speaker at it. Everett’s past collaborator, James Krivchenia of the band Big Thief, hopped on
the track “Black Hole,” using his hands to drum back of an acoustic guitar instead of his usual skins,
adding an extra layer of haunting to the ethereal track.
Anjimile has been hustling for over a decade in the indie music scene, first hitting the stage in Boston
while he attended Northeastern University as a music industry student. Anjimile recorded several EPs and
albums on their own, and their star rose when their 2018 NPR Tiny Desk Concert contest entry was
deemed the best out of Boston. The King is the result of decades of hustling, centuries of survival, and
one artist’s honesty and bravery.