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

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Antwon’s lyrics, particularly on “Helicopter,” seem to bounce back and forth between confessional, comedic and straight up party lines. One moment he’s rapping about smoking weed and hitting on dangerous women, the next he’s talking about self-medicating with food.

“I try to be honest, with little hints of actual thought. Most people eat their feelings. That’s real shit. People don’t want to talk about that. If you can put a little humor on it, it’ll be easier for people to hear,” Antwon says.

In the video, Antwon has a larger than life presence, yet it’s not in any familiar hip hop way.

“I’m not portraying some guy. I’m just being myself. I don’t have anything super crazy about me. The only thing I have is my personality. It’s better to be yourself and to not even to try rap like another rapper,” Antwon says.

A lot of where Antwon draws his inspiration for his music is from going to punk show as a kid at the Gilman, which he did nearly every weekend.

“I feel like I have a punk rock spirit. That’s why my songs are so short. You can get a really strong feeling across in three minutes,” Antwon says.

In particular, he tries to channel his punk rock vibe at concerts. In his opinion, most hip hop artists are lacking in the live show department.

“I don’t like shows that are just non-energetic. My crowd are mostly kids into raves or kids that go to punk shows, so they’re used to being in really packed crowds. I can play a show and people will mosh. Since the hip hop heads are outnumbered, all they can do is adapt or stay in the back,” Antwon says.

Antwon pursued a “standard” rap career back in the mid-2000s, which garnered him some attention from an indie rap label. When that fell through in 2008, he quit rapping.

He returned in 2011 with Fantasy Beds and an open mind towards how he could approach rap as an expression of himself. With little promotion, Fantasy Beds made became a underground sensation. Antwon quickly reached his download limit on Soundcloud and moved it to Bandcamp, where he charges $13 per download, which people have been happily paying.

Shortly after Fantasy Beds was released, filmmaker Brandon Tauszik contacted Antwon via Twitter with interest in shooting a video for “Helicopter.” Just like with the success of Fantasy Beds, Antwon put almost no effort into promoting “Helicopter” and yet people quickly found it and shared it with their friends.

Antwon has yet to play a South Bay show since his return to hip hop last year. This Saturday’s show at Homestead Lanes will be his first.

“I grew up right down the street from there. The first time I ever smoked weed was behind Homestead Lanes,” Antwon says.

ANTWON performs Sat, July 21 at Homestead Lanes, Cupertino, 8pm; $8.

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