Anna Pepe, 16-year-old from La Spezia, is the new Italian rapper everyone is talking about. Never heard of her before?
To better understand ANNA’s success, it might be helpful to draw a comparison with one of the artists she is the most inspired by, Bhad Bhabie.
In 2016, Danielle Bregoli aka Bhad Bhabie became popular thanks to her participation to Dr. Phil and to her iconic line ‘Catch me outside, how about that?’ that went viral on social media. A few months later, the American 13-year-old exploited her momentum by signing a management deal and starting to produce music. Despite the backlash she first received by the music industry, Bregoli’s first single These Heaux reached the Billboard Hot 100, making her the youngest female rapper to debut on the music chart. Thanks to her single, the rapper got signed to Atlantic Records and started to receive endorsements from fellow artists, such as Kodak Black, Rich The Kid and YG.
Similarly to Bhad Bhabie, going viral at a very young age is what skyrocketed ANNA’s career. However, while Bhad Bhabie was first known for her attitude and a plethora of online memes, ANNA’s rap career started thanks to one of the very first songs she uploaded, Bando.
The tune was soon featured on Spotify’s Top 100 and Viral 50 charts, making the teenage girl from the small town of La Spezia one of the youngest artists to ever reach a similar accomplishment. Uploaded on 30th November 2019, Bando caught everyone’s attention thanks to its catchy sound and strong chorus that got stuck into people’s minds. From there, Tik Tok and radio plays did the rest and brought ANNA to the attention of major record labels and fellow rappers and producers, such as Sfera Ebbasta and The Night Skinny. Within less than two months from the release of the viral track, ANNA signed a record deal with Virgin Records / Polydor (Universal Music).
The huge success of Bando raised a debate within the Italian rap scene. The song itself is highly experimental, with ANNA rapping on an electronic beat that strongly recalls the Italian dance hits of the 90s. Moreover, soon after Bando went viral, one of the most popular and youngest Italian rappers, Shiva, released his new track Auto Blu, which samples the Eiffel 65’s iconic dance track Blue.
After the tracks escalated Spotify’s charts in Italy, Salmo, one of the most renown Italian rappers, took it to Instagram and highlighted the existence of this new wave within the Italian music scene. After Salmo’s IGS, two major pillars of the Italian rap scene, Marracash and Guè Pequeno, suggested that rapping on a dance track is nothing particularly new, since they experimented with similar sounds back in the early 2000s. Nonetheless, no Italian rapper has properly championed this sound as theirs and rapping on an electronic, house beat could be something that Italian artists can take ownership of, such as UK rappers did with grime.
Will ANNA be one of the exponents of this “new” wave?
As she explained to TRX Radio, she never expected Bando to be this successful. She recorded the track with the intent to challenge herself by rapping on an unusual beat that she found on YouTube and she put it out with a bunch of other songs, without thinking too much into it. Therefore, despite the success of the song, ANNA is now eager to show her talent by rapping on beats that recall the sounds of the American rappers and producers she is inspired by on a daily basis. A great example of what we can expect from her moving forward is the freestyle on DaBaby’s BOP that she recently posted on her IG when she took part to the COVID challenge started by Italian rapper Emis Killa.