If you listen to Kendrick Lamar, then you’ve heard Anna Wise, a backing vocalist and touring singer for Kendrick’s past three records. With the platform she needed, Anna tackles the issues of gender equality and female empowerment on her official debut, The Feminine: Act I and the follow-up Act II. Channeling the melancholy-pop of contemporaries such as Lana Del Rey, Melanie Martinez, and Lorde, Anna Wise has utilized the emerging style to incorporate more of a message into her music than say, Lana’s recent “Lust for Life.” The Feminine isn’t just a title like it is for Mac Miller or simply a platform for templated club music to rest on however, but a full-on assault on a very important issue in society through the lens of the most accessible genre in music today: pop.
Anna isn’t tip-toeing around anything, as the seven-track EP tackles issues such as the image of women as fragile property on “Precious Possession,” the double-standard of women’s sexuality on “BitchSlut,” the ugly truth of catcalling on “What Would You Call a Dog?,” and the differences in both beauty standards and paychecks for women on “Decrease My Waist, Increase My Wage.” Despite the blunt and no bullshit lyrical material however, the music is anything but, though with some darker qualities looming over the otherwise Katy Perry-ready dance anthems.
Her second effort, Act II, however, is way less direct, though more musically diverse. It doesn’t have the “oh shit” quality that the chorus of “BitchSlut” presented, but tracks like “Coconuts” offer similar messages to a less overtly angry attitude of delivery. If The Feminine: Act I was the declaration, then Act II is the conversation. The pathos following the ethos, if you will.
Act II might not be as much of protest music as Act I was, and tracks like “Stacking that Paper” and “Self on Fire” seem to lean towards the worst possibility for Anna Wise’s direction to go into moving forwards, but on Act I, Wise presents some of the most enjoyable, poignant and pressing musical material on women’s issues of the past decade. If she can mold the musical aspects of Act II smoothly into the forthright and upbeat nature of Act I, I think Anna Wise can bounce off the heels of these two EP’s (and her contributions on DAMN.), into one of the biggest darker-pop singers of today.