Antwon is the right dude. I picked up that term from the Deli Status crew and nothing feels more fitting. The Nature World ruler had a homecoming show recently at Bay Area dance club 120 MINUTES after moving down to LA from San Jose – and the event invite read: “Antwon is THAT mothafucker... that homey you chill with... the dude on the couch smoking blunts and playing video games... he ain’t asked to come over, but it’s cool because he brought some cute white gurls wit him and he funny as fuck...” Seriously, the tape-made chosen one in that Corolla, on his broken Motorola. The right dude!
Heavy Hearted in Doldrums is Antwon’s first, in his words, “album-album” – and he’s already in the studio working on his next, which is meant to be the two-punch to this release. “Those albums you listen to while you sleep and shit… I made it to be like that,” he says. You can lay all night listening after downloading it for free here.
I met up with Antwon before his record release party (Alexander Spit played too) in conjunction with UNIF, who he just dropped his latest album Heavy Hearted in Doldrums and merch through. My friend, writer/rapper Senay Kenfe (I know, we’re joined at the hip) came through to shoot the photos below and Antwon, Senay, and I all chopped it up about the latest album, Diddy water, keeping it 100 emoji-wise, his mom’s top shelf taste in music, and just coming at life au naturel without that hustle (#NATUREBOYZ).
ALINA: So you just moved to LA from San Jose. Why? Do you like it here so far?
ANTWON: Yeah, I moved ’cause my manager is out here and we’re gonna be working together more. And I’m helping with a shipping company. I’m in Highland Park. It’s kind of hot right now and my room’s like hot, and I don’t have shit in my room, so it’s kind of depressing. I was laying down in my room before I came here and you could, like, close the blinds. I don’t know, I like it. I didn’t have that at my mom’s house.
Which side of your family is Filipino?
ANTWON: My mom.
How was growing up and living with your mom?
ANTWON: It was cool. I grew up Filipino. You know what I mean, most Filipinos don’t really leave home and shit. When my cousins left their mom’s house, they moved into an apartment right next door. You know those apartments where you drive in and there’s a bunch of houses? They all live right there. So it’s just party in the back.
It was just me and my mom, you know. She’s a single parent. It was just easy to help her. It was cheaper, I was saving money at the time. But it ran its course living where I lived.
You’re an only child, right? How was that?
ANTWON: I had to use my imagination. We didn’t grow up with a lot of money so we had to play make believe and shit. I used to like watch TV all the time. So I’d pretend that I was putting on shit for a show and stuff. I think that’s what helped me play live. That shit was weird. I noticed I liked being alone most of the time. Even living at the house was cool, but I had to kind of lay down and sit by myself to be alone once in a while.
Can you talk a little bit about the new album Heavy Hearted in Doldrums? Let’s start with production.
ANTWON: With the production, I tried to make it more cohesive. Like an album-album. Like it would feel like a dream – a dream state. If you were to lay down and listen to an album and you go in and out of sleeping. Those albums you listen to while you sleep and shit. Heavy Hearted in Doldrums is one of those albums. I made it to be like that.
SENAY: What made you think of [sings] “I came to the function”? [from the track “Don’t Care“]
ANTWON: I wanted that to be a country song. That was like my country song.
ANTWON: I kept saying that when I recorded it. It’s funny. I’m already recording another album right now. Everything’s hands on. We’re co-producing a lot of the stuff and I’m doing production myself with adding and taking stuff out. Co-producing it with Lars Stalfors. He played in Mars Volta. It’s just me and him in the studio, but then people come through and we get stems for stuff. We just did some with Johan from Iceage, my friend Kerry from Deafheaven. We did some shit with JonWayne. That’s for the next album. Heavy Hearted in Doldrums is pretty much kind of like a pre-track, showing what’s coming next, but most people don’t get it. They don’t see it. That’s why I sang on “Don’t Care” – showing a little bit of dynamics of what I want to do musically.
How did this Unif collab happen? Did you help design it?
ANTWON: I actually got hooked up through my friend Kali – and I think Christine really liked the “Dying in the Pussy” video, so she hit me up to have a meeting. It wasn’t about nothing, it was just a meeting, you know? Then my manager thought up a good idea for the release with the record, merchandise, and stuff. The slippers and shit. I drew [the designs] – I had to draw it on a piece of paper. I drew it, took pictures, and emailed them with descriptions of what color it would be. Like the jersey, the arm bands being black. I drew the 143 and explained that it was supposed to be a 100 emoji.
[Laughs] I wanted to get that emoji tattooed ages ago!
ANTWON: We was trying to do that shit! To get Manface to do tattoos tonight, but it fell through.
Let’s talk about corporate sponsorships [laughs].
SENAY: Yeah, what’s up with AQUAhydrate, I see you with that gear on Instagram I was like whoa!
ANTWON: This dude knows my friend Mark, they was like friends. I guess this kid hooked me up with him on Twitter and they sent me things. But it’s all at my mom’s, so I’m just gonna leave it there so she gets free water and shit. When we went on tour, we got like hella water and I was like, I’m taking ALLLL this shit.
SENAY: Diddy like you. Diddy tryna put you out there.
ANTWON: I fuck with Diddy, dawg. “Senorita” that’s like my favorite Diddy song. Hell yeah.
[Laughs] Does your mom also fuck with Diddy?
ANTWON: Probably. I think so. Nah, she fucks with random shit. Gospel shit. She used to listen to PM Dawn.
BOTH: OHHHHHHH SHIIIT.
ANTWON: When she was cleaning and shit, she’d listen to like 12 Play, Mariah Carey Greatest Hits. That Michael Jackson album, the one where it’s just his eyes on the crazy black cover [Dangerous]. Those were the last albums I remember her having. I always heard those growing up.
I was just talking to Senay about how a lot of the things that you do have a natural movement to it. For instance, the Diddy water, the Unif collab, even with the album, it seems like you have a natural, non-hustle type approach. Have you always been that way?
ANTWON: Yeah. I like things to come naturally. I don’t like to push a lot of stuff, because every time I do, it doesn’t really work the way I plan. I let things be and shit. But I’m like stressed out all the time, too. I just smoked up, I can’t deal with no stress right now.
SENAY: You gotta get one of those stress balls.
ANTWON: Shiiit. I really should though. Today, I stressed fuckin’ crazy trying to get a band to play. But they couldn’t play because their bassist was stuck in Salt Lake City and they’re trying to teach someone else to play the songs. Then we were trying to get Iceage to play, but then they were too drunk. Their tour manager hit me up – he’s solid as fuck, Jamie Getz shouts out, that’s the homie. He was like, I’m gonna round all these fools up, but they were just too faded. Too much drinking in the sun. Tired and shit.
That’s what happens. It’s fuckin’ hot.
ANTWON: Hot as fuck.
What’s new with Nature World?
ANTWON: I got Nature World clothing coming out. Rugs. We got two shirts that are gonna come out. We’re trying to do a tour in the summer. We just got a new booking agent, so he’s kind of doing his thing right now.
How would you describe Nature World in 3 words?
ANTWON: Natural. Friendship. Community.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
ANTWON: No. It’s not that I don’t wanna collaborate with people. I want to collaborate with people I feel a natural connection with. Where it feels comfortable with us making music together.
You’d rather it happen naturally.
SENAY: Like the shit you did with Lil Ugly Mane.
Yeah. The thing was we had a mutual friend, my friend Jane. She lived with him in Philly. I used to stay at this house when I used to go to Philly. In that song “40 Bag“, that 1016 McKean. He was one of the last residents there at 1016 McKean and that’s where he recorded Mista Thug Isolation. He recorded it on this janky ass old computer with a fan on top of it. He’d record the song, mix it and master it and put it on a CD, then delete all the shit. That’s how he did every song. So there was no stems or anything to remaster it.
Is it through Travis [Lil Ugly Mane] that you connected with Ormolycka? [Ormolycka is the tape label that released Death Grips’s first tape, Antwon’s End of Earth, and Lil Ugly Mane’s upcoming final release and boxset] I interviewed Jason recently.
ANTWON: Oh Jason Baker [who runs Ormolycka] crazy. My friend Griffin from Sewn Leather said, “My friend Jason wants you to do a show in a cave in San Francisco.” We never met, just talked over text and email. I was chilling at Radio Bar in Oakland and that’s how I met Travis. We met that day and chilled the whole next day and stuff. It was cool because he’s into music like I am. We’d just talk about music like nerds was. Like aw, have you heard this? This shit is crazy. And like yo, I’ll send you this shit. Then we played the show together and chilled. It was never like, “Yo, we need to do music!” We were just friends. He was like, “Yo, I’ll send you this thing. Imma record a verse. You record a hook and a verse.” I did it and he sent it back remixed and reversed and it was “Underwater Tank“. [OFF THE RECORD STUFF] He’s working on a bluegrass record that’s part of a 7″ collection that Ormolycka’s putting out. I met Ohbliv through him. That’s his old production homie. He hit me with that beat [on Heavy Hearted in Doldrums‘ “Break Yo Back”].
What’s the reception been like for the new album?
ANTWON: I think people like it. When people don’t get it, I think they’ll get it later. I won’t know.
You ever read reviews?
ANTWON: Yeah, but they don’t really talk about nothin’. They don’t say nothin’ that’s some like actual thought from the heart.
Yeah, it’s all referential. You know they’re all just trying to flex.
SENAY: Like [announcer’s voice] “BAY AREA STALWARTS. ANTWON COMING HI’A WITH THE NEW SOUND AND THE INTERNET AND CLOUD RAP.” How do you feel about that when people label you that way?
ANTWON: [Laughs] Cloud rap! Yeah. I think it takes away from the listening experience. It makes people like, “Aw, this is just another thing.” I’ve written so much music in my lifetime and that’s stuff I love now. I don’t feel like it promotes any thing. I feel like it promotes people not wanting to listen to music and discover new music and shit.
ANTWON: Yeah, it’s real alienating. It’s fucked up! It’s crazy the way shit is. Or I’ll have people break down or try to break down my music. It’s so fuckin’ stupid.
I was telling Senay how I noticed in a lot of interviews with you, they love talking up your hardcore background. That’s why I didn’t wanna ask anything.
ANTWON: Yeah! That’s some like, you don’t even know what the fuck I went through, so why do we gotta talk about it. I’m glad you haven’t asked me about that. I’m so glad you haven’t asked me anything about sex either. People ask the hardcore thing, then the sex thing, then they talk about fuckin’ Twitter. They try to use my Twitter and ask me stuff about shit I’m saying on there. It’s like, yo dawg I just write these things when I’m high and I feel crazy and I wanna just let out this little thought. [They ask] like, “How do you feel about women’s eyebrows?”
[A car drives by and honks] YOOO MOHAMED. That’s the homie Mohamed. Denmark. When I went to Denmark that fool held me down.
He came all the way for you?
ANTWON: All 25 of them came from Denmark for 13 Torches for a Burn.
SENAY: Last summer you did FYF [Fest]. That was a good look. How’d you feel about that?
ANTWON: FYF? That was cool. That was actually really fun. I took molly the night before and I took it again and I was like, feelin’ really down. But everything else was fuckin’ tight. Everything else was tight as fuck.
SENAY: Would you do it again?
ANTWON: Yeah, I would try to take molly again. I, like, try to enjoy my time and shit.