Tapping In with Soul Anatomy
formerly Dying Breed
Brittany Sneed | Monday Oct. 2nd, 2017
Some years back, I didn’t know that a lonely late night post would bring in to my life one of the most profound relationships I have ever experienced. Not looking to spend another night alone in silence, I simply Facebook’d “Anyone down to play some dominoes?” The reply of “Heck yes! But I don’t drive on ice so you will have to pick me up” came from Kendra Davis, who I will further refer to as Soul Anatomy. I’ll admit I was surprised by the response. I mean, who lives in Montana and doesn’t drive on ice? How else do you get around? So here we were, two females, months apart in age, hailing from the same 909 area code, stuck inside on a winter’s night and down to throw bones. As it turned out, Soul Anatomy and I had mutual friends who we were able to rope into a game and as the night progressed, I realized if time passed and we became friends, this one was for the books. That night Soul Anatomy took to rapping in what I viewed as an attempt to avoid forced conversation with unfamiliar folk; which was nice because as Pandora played on I was doing the same thing.
Over the years, we have continued to get together and let the music do the talking. There seems to be a bond between us where Soul Anatomy will ask “What do you think of this new song I wrote? I don’t have a beat yet, so I’ll just have to spit bars if that’s cool.” Every time, without fail, the new rhyme is my life, my struggle, my happiness, personified. I once stopped the track, tears rolling down my cheeks and demanded “Where did that come from? You can’t just use words out of a dictionary to write and say those things. It’s disrespectful unless it is your truth.” And like that a soul connection was formed between two girls, now women, lost and confused but finding our way through hip hop and the family we chose.
I love watching an artist hone her craft. The dedication is inspiring while the natural God-given talent is sheer beauty. The story goes that my mother first convinced Soul Anatomy to take the stage. She was quiet and reserved but left the crowd wide eyed in amazement as she flowed so effortlessly.
Now I have to admit, interviewing the woman who stays up cooking Thanksgiving dinner with you until 2:00am is a little awkward. But instead of having this all be my words, I figured breakfast and a few questions would benefit you, the reader.
Today Soul Anatomy will be shooting a music video with Colter Olmstead for her song “Dying Art.” Still doe eyed with the linger of sleep, we meet at the Kountry Kafe to catch up. I can already tell it was a good idea to block out my schedule for the day. This girl has a video shoot, meeting with models for an upcoming photo shoot, merchandise discussions with designers and an appointment to negotiate studio time for her EP. Make that a hearty breakfast! We’ve got a few irons in the fire to say the least.
BS: So wait a minute, your EP? What about the full album Days of Extinction that I still haven’t been able to get a copy of yet?
SA: Right now I’m finalizing the details for my record release date but the artwork is complete and CDs should be in hand in a few weeks. Bro, I am so excited!
BS: Me too! It’s not very convenient to want to hear a song and think “Would she mind just rapping to me if I called?” Cool, so what is the EP all about then?
SA: This one is going to be called Anatomy of the Soul. My goal is to have it be like an early Christmas gift to myself and get it out before the end of the year.
BS. I’ll take a copy from Santa. Thank you! The titles of the two projects seem so different. Tell me more about Days of Extinction.
SA: Well, I guess I viewed my style of lyrical hip hop to be a kind of lost art form if you will. I mean, it is making somewhat of a comeback with Kendrick and J. Cole, but for the most part, hip hop these days is based on not much more than catchy beats. But what caught my attention back in the day was the lyrical style of an artist.
BS: I don’t want to speak for you, but I know both of us have gone through some changes over the years since you first started working on Days of Extinction. In your own words, where were you at emotionally when you were writing these tracks?
SA: At first I was in a weird spot. I was definitely questioning whether or not to even stay in the music game. All together, you know girl, I was dealing with heartbreak, family issues, life choices between going back to school or not. Flat out, I didn’t know what I was doing. So everything was day by day. That made Days of Extinction as a whole very broad conceptually. Songs came off of what I was feeling in a moment and I just let the beat carry me.
BS: Was song writing a form of escape for you?
SA: Yes! It’s been that way since I was a kid though. Later on in life I became fascinated with the art of putting words in sequence that don’t belong together but fit perfectly in a rhyme scheme. This practice is what separates artists. Some will be simple and others more complex. I prefer the complex nature and playing with the vocalization that is dictated by a beat. The beat is boss though because it enables the odd coupling of words.
BS: And the next project, Anatomy of the Soul, what is the nature of the EP?
SA: I was lost when Days of Extinction came together. Now, I am in the best place I have ever been at in my life and have a sense of direction. Anatomy of the Soul is going to give listeners a microscope to see into who I am and what I’m made of. The songs are more on the soft side which will be different. Typically, I am a very rugged rapper. But the lyricism will still be there for sure.
BS: With the two projects are there any artists who you would say influenced your style?
SA: No. I actually avoid listening to rap when I am writing. It’s more likely I’ll be listening to Ingrid Michelson, Amy Winehouse or Jazmyne Sullivan which we can agree are like the opposite of what I do! If I do vibe on other artists within the genre though you’re probably talking Mobb Deep, Dead Prez, or Lauryn Hill.
BS: So you’re a rapper that doesn’t listen to rap?
SA: I mean, genres aren’t what matter to me. It could be anything really. If I hear something and it connects with me in some way, then I can respect it and in turn it becomes an influence in my life. What I do more often when working on a project is try to read poetry that ties in to the mood I am in. That reminds me, I need to go to the library after the shoot.
BS: What kind of poetry are you in the mood for?
SA: Probably love poems. I’m not too sure though. I am hoping something will jump out at me. I’ll know it when I see it. I also want to look at different books on anatomy. We have to figure out what direction to take with my merchandise designs today. So yeah, I gotta get to the library.
BS: I can’t wait to have a Soul Anatomy shirt! Other than the one I am having made to say “There’s No Pop Locking On My Couch Kendra KDUBB Davis!”
SA: Girl you are too much! I love you though. I’m going to run by my house and I’ll see you for the video?
Coffee fueled and excited to watch my friend perform to a camera, I make my way to a little church in Belgrade. No one in sight in an empty parking lot I stand back to watch Colter and Soul Anatomy do their thing. Out of nowhere I am confronted by a man who apparently works for the church. He is very aggressive and questioning what our intentions are. In a few sentences I find myself being told “If it is devil worship music you can get the hell out of here!” Well, luckily for us this isn’t a problem! As naturally as one could be, I explain to the man that the best thing about the friendship the artist and I share is our love for Jesus. And voila, access granted!
As the video shoot comes to a close, Soul Anatomy and I continue on our adventure for the day discussing everything under the sun from our family and beliefs to what makes for “the perfect booty!”
Undoubtedly, you will take my recommendation with a grain of salt; as you should. But if you find yourself not wanting to spend the night home alone and a Soul Anatomy performance is taking place, come out and I promise you will experience something you’ll never forget.
This artist is respected by her peers and has been acclaimed to be the best lyricist in the state. You will witness the true art form that is hip hop as Soul Anatomy taps in to the roots of the genre flowing to homegrown beats. Authentic is the only way to describe her style. And if you’re lucky, one of us will have a set of bones in our bag to throw at the after party. See you there!