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San Jose Rapper Antwon Rides The Success of ‘Helicopter’ Video

In Music
San Jose rapper Antwon performs at Homestead Lanes in Cupertino on Saturday.

San Jose rapper Antwon performs at Homestead Lanes in Cupertino on Saturday.

In February, unknown San Jose rapper Antwon released the video for his song “Helicopter,” which quickly became the subject of music blogs all over the internet, most notably spin.com. It’s now creeping up on 80,000 views and counting.

What made “Helicopter” an Internet sensation was how seamlessly the director mashed together scenes from the Steve McQueen 1960s car chase flick Bullitt with footage of Antwon and his crew walking around those same San Franciscan streets.

But the real gem in the video is the song itself. It’s a unique hybrid of party-rap, stoner-rap, emo-rap and nerd-rap, without actually falling into any one of these pre-existing rap genres.

“A lot of people will tell me, ‘oh you’re an Internet rapper.’ My stuff got big on the Internet because I couldn’t get it big anywhere else,” Antwon says.

In fact, the majority of music blogs that wrote about Helicopter were not rap-oriented. Antwon has yet to get much interest from the hip-hop community.
“Rap music has its own media, like The Source or XXL, but a lot of rappers don’t fit into that mold. It’s easier for me to get into Fader and stuff like that. My audience isn’t a really strong hip-hop audience. They are people that listen to a lot of different stuff,” Antwon says.

The music for “Helicopter” is actually an instrumental song called “Helicopter Does Not Exist,” which was produced by Walsh, for his own 2010 EP, Smoke Weed About It. It’s a funky, dissonant electronic track with an authentic retro vibe that could easily pass for a cool soundtrack to a ’70s action flick that never existed. Antwon contacted Walsh and asked if he could rap over it for his mixtape Fantasy Beds. Walsh told him yes.

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