How Anfa Rose spearheaded the Australian Trap R&B movement
Anfa Rose is a name synonymous in the Australian hip-hop and R&B scene with an unmatched assurance of sound and style. A pillar in an Australian scene still forming its own distinct sound, Anfa has been pivotal in paving the way for the Trap R&B crossover that has become increasingly commonplace both globally and domestically in the years since his arrival onto the Australian scene.
Born of Battutan heritage, Anfa’s name spawned from discovering that the eponymous ‘Anfa’ is the name of the ancient city his dad hails from, further adding ‘rose’ in the verb sense to signal his oncoming elevation to a greater musical echelon. Traversing a sensual array of contemporary R&B and dark R&B stylings, with an unparalleled Trap flavour, Anfa’s rise to stardom has been achieved whilst remaining authentic to his roots as he incorporates the use of Arabic-influenced instrumentals, melodies and vocals into his music. Subsequently, this has ensured that he’s become a drawcard both internationally and locally within the Arabic diaspora around the world.
Anfa drew instant attention from releasing back-to-back projects in the form of a 2015 EP entitled ‘She Been Waiting’ and a 2016 full-length mixtape called ‘Debauched’ on Soundcloud. From there, ‘What Happened’, the official debut release of Anfa Rose, blended an ominous rap essence with heart wrenching R&B refrains, making it immediately clear that Anfa sought to bring a unique flavour to an Australian scene craving pioneering musical efforts.
An early pioneer of contemporary R&B and Trap music in Australia, Anfa has become known through both his solo work and landmark collaborations with some of Australian hip-hop’s elite talent like BLESSED (and Miracle), Manu Crooks, B Wise, Ay Huncho and i.amsolo. His feature on Manu Crooks’ track ‘Fuego’ received acclaim both domestically and abroad, and for many, ‘Fuego’ signalled a moment in Australia’s hip-hop history by effectively bridging the gap between local and global whilst ushering in a whole new generation of listeners. Without a presence like Anfa’s, the Australian scene as we know it today wouldn’t have the momentum it currently has.
Backed up by Australian production pillars like Khaled Rohaim, JOY. and DOPAM!NE (whose influence in shaping the Anfa we’ve come to know and love cannot be understated), Anfa’s impact on an Australian scene craving a figure like him deserves greater recognition. Highlighting Anfa’s versatile and magnetic discography is a feat in of itself, particularly because whilst everything he does is deliberate, the core of who Anfa is, is very much built into the fabric of these releases. And his core is made up of such immense variety and fearlessness in broaching new sounds. 2017’s ‘Cabana’ evokes that effortless Trap R&B sound that Anfa is capable of expertly honing with finesse and boldness. 2018’s ‘Interiors’ is like no other release I’ve heard, with its haunting ephemeral vocals gliding through the production delivered by an unstoppable trio of JOY. DOPAM!NE and Khaled Rohaim. 2019’s ‘Eyes On Me’ shines with an infectious Arabic energy in the instrumental, showing Anfa’s capacity for introspection and dance-inducing homages to love and lust.
All of this lead up to the arrival of Anfa’s perennially underrated debut album ‘Mermaids’. A landmark project in Australia’s hip-hop and R&B history, ‘Mermaids’ saw Anfa fully encompassing himself throughout the 19-track. The purposefully enigmatic Anfa laid bare his innermost thoughts, pairing formidable heaters like ‘Fingerprints’ ahead of bossa nova influenced lovelorn tracks like ‘Sin’ and songs like ‘Ifli’ which perfectly demonstrate his flair for Trap R&B as an innovator in the genre here. Thematically, ‘Mermaids’ was unapologetic in diving deep through Anfa’s precise lyrical brevity into his loves, losses, frustrations and ambitions.
2021 saw Anfa return after a one-year hiatus, delivering an impressive collaboration alongside West Sydney crew ONEFOUR entitled ‘Hot Minute’ where Anfa’s silky Trap R&B flow oozed with confidence and gave J Emz and Spenny a chance to strut their confident rap delivery. He further displayed his continually rising potential with the releases of ‘Nicely’, ‘Petals’ and the braggadocious ‘SILK ROAD’ throughout 2021.
Anfa has the opportunity now to lead the R&B movement in Australia, particularly through collaborating with similarly-placed local and international acts such as on his latest spellbinding release ‘STILL GOT IT’. Featuring Brooklyn artist Eli Sostre, the track appears to signal Anfa letting not just that special someone, but also his fans, know that he’s still unrivaled in the space of merging enchanting R&B with dynamic Trap soundscapes. As Anfa emerges again in 2022, we look forward to seeing how he shifts an Australian scene in need of his peerless sonic nous.
Words by Matthew Badrov