It’s unlike anything I think many of us have ever seen, and the overnight sensation burst onto the scene when a video was posted by RadioWV of him performing his song “Rich Men North of Richmond” last week.
Since then, it’s been quite the whirlwind, to say the least.
Of course, though, the Virginia native’s meteoric rise hasn’t been without controversy.
The song is a scathing rebuke of DC politicians (the “Rich Men North of Richmond”) failing to look out for the working men and women of the country.
But many people online have taken exception with the line in his song accusing people of abusing welfare (I’m sure you’ve seen the fudge round memes by now), and some have even accused Anthony of being an industry plant who’s got a secret team of backers behind him to promote his music.
The line about the fudge rounds goes like this:
“Well, God, if you’re 5-foot-3 and you’re 300 pounds,
Taxes ought not to pay for your bags of fudge rounds”
And on it’s face, it’s not hard to see why some people are bothered by those words, with many people (mostly on Twitter), saying he’s “punching down” with those lyrics.
Anthony took to Instagram earlier to defend, or maybe the better word is explain, what he meant with that phrase and why it matters in this context.
He says that it has to do with the way “our government likes to throw money at problems,” with many people who are on welfare only having the option to buy junk food, like fudge rounds, instead of healthier, fresh options those with more money and means have access to.
He continued, saying our “farming industry has been corporatized,” making all kinds of food astronomically expensive, putting farmers in a tight spot and hurting almost all Americans as a result:
“Our government likes to throw money at problems, without conceptualizing real solutions that connect to the individuals involved.
The lyrics contrast that some are left without any, and others are only left with the option of living on junk food.
Meanwhile our farming industry has been corporatized and sold out. Food is entirely too expensive, especially in a nation with abundant farmland. In politics, it’s all about keeping people who are dependent, dependent.”
It seems clear that his intention wasn’t to insult those on welfare, or even those who like fudge rounds, but I don’t know if this explanation will necessarily change any minds who have already decided what Anthony meant with those lyrics, but there ya have it.
At the very least, judging by the response of people to those lines, I don’t think you can argue that they were quite powerful, but whether that’s in a good or bad way is certainly up for interpretation by the listener:
Oliver also recently revealed that he’s turned down $8 million offers from different record labels since his viral fame:
“People in the music industry give me blank stares when I brush off 8 million dollar offers. I don’t want 6 tour buses, 15 tractor trailers and a jet. I don’t want to play stadium shows, I don’t want to be in the spotlight.
I wrote the music I wrote because I was suffering with mental health and depression. These songs have connected with millions of people on such a deep level because they’re being sung by someone feeling the words in the very moment they were being sung.
No editing, no agent, no bullshit. Just some idiot and his guitar. The style of music that we should have never gotten away from in the first place.”
And if you’ve somehow missed the original video from RadioWV seen, almost quite literally, around the world, you can watch it here: