If ANTWON didn’t exist, no one could have invented him. The former hardcore punk, unabashed hedonist, and Nature Boy leader is what you’d get if Bad Brains spent their summers balling on a budget. ANTWON isn’t a contradiction; he’s a man of complexity. You might catch the San Jose native flexing in BMWs chauffeured by freaks, but he’d prefer to be low-key in a Prius. You might catch him in the club sipping tea and smoking the highest caliber of weed. He isn’t weird isn’t for the sake of being weird. He’s weird for the sake of being raw as fuck.
The former member of power-violence punk outfit, Leather, ANTWON first burst onto the scene in the early years of this decade, blending slightly nostalgic fluorescent raps with gritty industrial dirges, and live shows so rowdy the bruises still haven’t healed. He’s collaborated with Wiki, Heems, and Lil Ugly Mane, Suicideyear and Pictureplane—effortlessly shifting between styles and genres without losing the lecherous wit that made him instantly stand above from the sea of Tumblr struggle rap.
With his lo-fi druggy summer anthems, ANTWON emerged as the missing link between Kid Rock and the Great Rock N’ Roll Swindle, The Misfits and Martin Lawrence. He was ostensibly too raunchy for the punks, too punk for the hip-hop traditionalists, and not chill enough to be chillwave, but he still built a die-hard cult—one of music’s true originals, idiosyncratic, off-beat, blunted, and always with a bad chick hanging off of him.
The Fader said, “ANTWON has a gift for making filthy-fun-times rap songs with people who don’t usually produce rap.” Spin compared him to like a teenaged Biggie in that famous street-corner freestyle resurrected as an ex-hardcore dude.” Pitchfork claimed, “ANTWON’s heavy voice mourns the people whose lives are growing stagnant and not progressing…like Death Grips if they showered up and decided to write the vast majority of their songs about oral sex.”
He’s too smart and self-aware to try to be the voice of his generation, but his raps embody the spirit of the masses that refuse to fit into any classification. He’s the music nerd and the class clown, the punk and the pervert, emotional and aloof, the rap kid sampling Metallica, old funk, and 80s synth-pop.
After a handful of mixtapes and one solo album, he’s signed to Anticon—the ideal fit for a label that never catered to obsolete notions of genre or what a rapper could or couldn’t be. ANTWON couldn’t give a fuck even if he wanted to—an original artist that’s always evolving, swerving recklessly in the lane that he built.