Locals: Hip-hop troupe Mr. Anderson finds inspiration in after-school program

From the April 24, 2014 edition

About two years ago Eric Rollin, MC of Columbus hip-hop troupe Mr. Anderson, quit his full-time job at a credit card company, suggesting it was an undesirable gig.

“Working for the monetary system just got worse and worse,” said Rollin, 30. “Just to watch people get ripped off every day, it was unbelievable. I had to go in a different direction.”

Luckily for him, he quickly got work with After-School All-Stars, an organization dedicated to providing activities as a safe outlet for kids after school. Among other spots, Rollin can be seen weekly at Hannah J Ashton Middle School in Reynoldsburg, teaching the music business or songwriting skills.

Rollin's departure of his then-day job is lucky for us, too. Mr. Anderson — a name vaguely inspired by the nemesis of “The Matrix” — and Rollin's conscious, positive lyrics are somewhat influenced by his work with kids.

“I embrace positivity, because it’s important to spread to our younger generation,” Rollin said. “I incorporate that in my music because I try to live my life that way. I incorporate it in music because that way I can teach it to kids.”

The Mr. Anderson EP, released in February, is the first dose of published material from the group. Among its four tracks, the instrumentation hangs its hat on Count Basie and the cooler of the Modern Jazz Quartet, while staring wide-eyed at The Roots. Normally a five-person lineup, Mr. Anderson's set to be a six-piece Saturday, adding a saxophonist to perform with its MC, bassist, guitarist, drummer and keys.

“For the most part, it’s real mood music. It’s driving music,” Rollin said, and laughed. “Live, it’s amazing because all those things are working.”

Though there's only one EP to Mr. Anderon's name, Rollin's experience with the group has been top-notch.

“I’m excited to come [out] with a project that I’m very invested in and put (the EP) out,” Rollin said. “I know it’s quality. This is the first time I’ve done something where I’m so invested in it that the experience has been surpassing everything else I’ve been doing.”

Photo by Meghan Ralston