The Come Up: Antwon

Antwon Featured

Antwon is a multilayered ball of personality who lives mainly off of love and fun. Over the last couple years, the San Jose native has had to shake of B.I.G. sound-alike tags while crafting a beautifully chaotic mesh of 90’s pop r&b, hardcore and hip-hop. Adding to his unique musical palette, Antwon’s background is one that includes more hardcore & punk music and visual art than it does rap. “We toured a lot of California and the Northwest, but I honestly didn’t know what I was doing at the time,” he says, remembering his first punk band in 2008 before he fully entered the world of rap, which he’d secretly been doing for some time. “I don’t really do anything outside of music. I’m from San Jose. Basically, where I’m from is just wide open suburbs with nothing to do. Music is what my whole life revolves around.” Even with the genuine love for his current medium of expression, Twon, in his early career, has already faced the possibility of calling quits from the rap game: “I was signed to this local label that wanted me to do an EP under them exclusively with one of their producers. So I said screw it and decided it was worth a try even though I had producers in mind already. We did one song and after it had gotten some write-ups online I looked it up and found that they never included my name. After I brought it to their attention, they still didn’t change it so I felt like forget it altogether. I’d put so much energy into the stuff I was doing for them that I felt like it may have been my only chance.”

Though his sound isn’t much like Biggie’s, his hyper-sexual lyrics and comfort with being a big dude are both pleasing flashbacks. On “3rd World Girl,” from his most recent project In Dark Denim, while in pursuit of his new love-interest, he looks back at failed attempts to hook up with other chicks: “Always reached out, but never got back/ Now they tryna rub my belly, ‘cause I guess I’m all that.” Sex and love are actually Antwon’s biggest selling points: “I’m very much a romantic. A lot of rap, and the image of men in general, is about flexing your masculinity and fighting but I’m not about that. I’ll defend myself of course, but I’d much rather do some real shit with some ladies. I voice the unspoken from a guys point of view; shit that we’re not supposed to say or that we think of and push them down instead of articulating how we really feel kinda how Drake does it.”

Twon wins in the arena of accessibility. With his brand of post-punk rap, there’s a burgeoning scene of artists similar to him (check out Cities Aviv and B L A C K I E, too) that places personality, image-to-music agreement and internal qualities over the visual gloss that, while much more turned down in the 2010’s, is still prevalent in the rap game. He prides himself on never being “larger than life”. “I feel like a lot of people try to do weird sounding things but it still ends up sounding like just rap. I always wanted to avoid that and bring something fresh. Another thing I put a lot of value in is maintaining image agreement between your music and your actual personality. I’ve met so many artists whose music I loved and they turned out to be really shitty people, which really bums me out because I had so much respect for them prior. Even if I feel myself being too egotistical on Twitter like going on some self-righteous rant I’ll stop myself because I never wanna be one of those people.” With such a strong emphasis on staying true to self, there’s also been a realization that certain press may not be keen on a sex-crazed, hardcore-loving rapper from suburbia. “I grew up kinda being left out, in a cultural sense; black kids I went to school with never seemed to fully accept me, even the ones who were fairly nice to me. So, basically, I’ve gotten over caring If I’m included by mainstream media. I always felt that the publications who support me and the people who do listen to, get it. Some publications just don’t get it. That’s just what it is.”Lawrence Burney (@TrueLaurels)