Antwon is Cool With ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and His Mom, But Not Online Racists
A chat with the San Jose MC before he smoked some mid and went to see lucha libre
With musical trends and tastes fluctuating at a moment’s notice, seven years online can seem like a whole damn lifetime. Art, memes and even the almost daily tragic events we are bombarded with appear out of thin air, mindfuck us and then seemingly disappear before our focus shifts to the next attention-grabbing item. As the texture of the digital landscape completely morphs and changes, creative individuals find themselves at a perplexing four-way intersection of art, music, commerce and relevance. Antwon is one of rap’s most unique voices who dares to stand in the middle of oncoming traffic, ignoring the signal lights and scoffing at perceptions of what a rapper should be.
Having emerged on a national level with 2011’s Fantasy Beds Mixtape, Twon has consistently evolved with each outing, redefining his musical style with forward thinking production, often vulnerable songwriting and the understanding that there are no concrete rules when creating music. His latest offering, Sunnyvale Gardens, is a wide-ranging 14 track collection, featuring production from DJ Lucas, Shlomo, Kaytranada and Froskees, as well as guest spots from Matt Ox and Lil Peep. After he performed at Mexico’s WIRD Festival in San Luis Potosi, I was able to catch up with the San Jose native in Mexico City to discuss Sunnyvale Gardens, video games, smoking mids y otra cosas.
Why’s the name Sunnyvale Gardens for the new project? What’s the importance behind that name ?
It’s named after of Sunnyvale.
The town between San Jose and Palo Alto?
Yeah, thats the one.
What’s so special about Sunnyvale?
Everything. It’s where I lived until I was eight years old. Real Bay Area shit. It use to orchards and communities, then it became the heart of the tech boom.
The yuppies gentrified it with their tech cash?
Before it was mad people from different countries. Now it’s mad expensive.
That’s the common story recurring everywhere though, especially in places like L.A.
Yeah, it happened to Highland Park.
That’s right. I remember the crib you shared with Lee [Spielman] and Alex Spit. There used to be a bunch panaderias and places to get pupusas.
Yeah, now there’s hella white people. And they’re always walking their dogs.
I think it’s a status symbol thing. You have to let your ethnic neighbors know their days are numbered by walking your Pomeranian 10 times a day.
Sunnyvale was also an area in the Saints Row video game.
Oh shit, I don’t remember that. I just remember the part where you have to kill all the aliens.
Saints Row was too extra. It wanted to be Grand Theft Auto sooo bad.
I fuck with Grand Theft Auto.
What’s the best GTA in your opinion?
Five. Five is the best.
Aren’t you a professional gamer?
I’m a fake pro gamer. I just play with all the homies online.
You’re only real pro if you got a sponsorship and win cash tournaments.
I’m nice enough to be pro though.
I can’t relate. I don’t play online. Too many white teens calling me beaner or the n-word.
Those kids crazy.
Those are the types of bad kids that tell their parents to shut up. I would never. I love my mom.
Same. I love my mom too.
The WIRD Festival show seemed to go well.
It was lit. The kids were fuckin’ with it.
I saw the video where you got them to do a fuck Donald Trump chant.
They were into it.
It’s becoming a national pastime here in Mexico. I also saw some of the comments and reactions to that video.
Yeah, some weirdo telling me he loves my music but doesn’t agree with my politics. Like, what the fuck?
It makes zero sense. Fans are acting like these are some crazy militant politics and demands.
It’s really not. Racism sucks. Cops killing black people sucks. I’m just saying the obvious and I got dudes from Canada criticizing me. Get out of here.
The Latinos fuck with you.
You know they do. You’ve always stood up for them and supported them.
I fuck with the Mexicans.
What are your initial thoughts of Mexico City? Is it what you expected?
I feel like I have to spend more time here, but I’m surprised by the size. I didn’t expect so many buildings.
Yeah man, we have a skyline. It’s the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world—21.3 million people in the metropolitan area.
Being from the Bay, I grew up around lots of Mexicans.
Is that where a lot of the influence for your Nature World clothing line comes from?
Some of it, yeah. The Old English and cholo style. You see a lot of that growing up in the Bay. The communities are all together: Filipinos, black people, Latinos. Me and Andre [Martel] design it all.
That aspect of Nature World really reminds me of some of the shit my older brothers used to wear.
Yeah, hella Cortez sneakers and Laugh Now/Cry Later cholo shirts. Coming from a hardcore and punk background what do you think about all the kids appropriating that style of dress?
You mean wearing all these band shirts and shit?
It’s weird. Now you don’t have to actually like or know the band to wear their shirt. You can just wear it for looks and people will fuck with you if it looks cool.
Agree. There is zero accountability.
Like back in the day people would quiz you. They would ask you to name songs and who is in the band. The other day this girl asked me if I actually listen to the band whose shirt I was wearing. I was like, “Yeah, why wouldn’t I?”
Lil Uzi got all these teens wearing Marilyn Manson shirts. It’s strange…
Especially for us, cuz we already been through that. It’s like all of a sudden Marilyn Manson is cool again.
I think people are more infatuated with Manson’s image, not his music.
Yeah, that’s weird.
How are you gonna spend your last night in Mexico City?
Gonna smoke this mid and go see lucha libre.
You got a favorite luchador of all time?
I fuck with Super Crazy.
Ahhh, SUPER BRAZY!
And the dude with the skeleton mask.What’s his name?
Yeah, he was a big ass luchador. He had all the dance moves and the played the chair like a guitar.
He’s a legend.
He still wrestles, huh?
Yeah man, he’s gotta be in his fifties now, easily.
Before we go, you got a favorite song on Sunnyvale?
All of them.
All of them?
Yeah, all of them are my children.