In Hip-Hop and Rap nowadays, everyone seems to be doing the same thing. Everyone has the same gimmick. Everyone has the same subject matter. Girls, clothes, money, cars, drugs, etc. The list goes on. Rarely do you see a rapper talk about who he/she REALLY is or what they REALLY went through. That's one thing that makes Antonius Da Great different. And the best part about it is that he isn't afraid to tell you. He's not afraid to tell you who he truthfully is and what he went through and that's a huge plus. He's not afraid to tell you that he's heavy into anime, video games, basketball, etc. Truth in music is a lost art and it's something Antonius holds onto dearly and prides himself in. I mean, look at this. He considers "Return of the Mack" by Mark Morrison the greatest song ever recorded.
After living in South Florida his entire life and then moving to Los Angeles last year, Antonius is doing work in several fields. He acts, he raps, he blogs. And that's just a few. I met up with the wordsmith from Miami and asked him a few questions about his music, life and his love for the game.
So, you just moved to L.A. a year ago. But, where are you from?
I was born and raised in South Florida. I spent some years in Miramar before moving to Miami. I've been living in Miami since I was like...5? So, I don't even remember my Miramar years. I've been 305 for as long as I can remember. Dade County. Miami gardens to be specific. I currently reside in LA. I'm pursuing my acting and rapping career out here. Having moved from Miami, you develop a deeper level of appreciation for the Sunshine State, the city specifically. Ya know, for the palm trees, the access to the beach, the downtown area. The further downtown you go, the more you experience. So, I always feel like Miami is a city that has grown and adapted with me as I got older and I'll always appreciate it. I never felt like I've outgrown Miami, necessarily. In the aspect of exploring other places, I feel like I've outgrown Miami in that sense. But, like, it hasn't been for a lack of experiences. Miami has had different phases and changes that I experienced. Miami never lacked exposure.
Idk if there's going to be anymore #insertsonghere challenges but I think I'm going to do these for a little while longer,in between releasing my own material. What y'all think? ? #THatpart #thatpart #antoniusdagreat #schoolboyq #freestyle #rappersisrolemodels #music #rap #hiphop #gettoponthephone day #259
A freestyle Antonius did over ScHoolboy Q's "THat Part."
Got it. Very interesting perspective on this city. Now, tell us about you. Who is Antonius Da Great? Describe yourself.
That's always a question that stops me the most. I think I'm at a phase that I'm becoming the most comfortable with who I am. So...maybe if you asked me that 6 moths ago, you would've gotten a different answer. But, I feel like Antonius Da Great is a black man that knows his worth. I know that I cannot speak on the behalf of everybody, every black male or everyone in my age range, but I feel like.....in any type of regime. Take Africa for example. In Africa, they have kings with various tribes and I feel like as an artist, the time has come for me to lead my own tribe in my own way. You know, to kinda send out a message to anyone out there who;s willing to listen to it. I feel like I'm a person who speaks for the creative who doesn't really associate with any specific type of dub-genre. Growing up, I always felt like I could maneuver through different crowds of people, depending on what the subject was. Like, I'm a guy who could have a 2 hour conversation about anime, Dragon Ball Z. Then, turn around and have a 3 hour conversation of Lupe Fiasco's The Cool album. And then talk about the latest video game that just came out at the same time. But, I don't particularly identify with any specific crowd, per say. At times, it has worked against me. Someone would ask me "Who do you make your music for? Who's your crowd?" and I wouldn't know (chuckles.) Like, I have an idea but I don't really know. At times, I do feel like I'm a jack of all trades, but a master of none. I can dabble in several musical sub-genres and be good at them, but I think I don't really have a set sub-genre. I don't really have a set label.
Very, very interesting. Next, how long have you been doing this? How long have you been writing, rapping? Gives us a history.
I started rapping, in the writing aspect, when I was 13. It was kind of like....I felt like a lot of things, Hip-Hop wise, kinda influenced me all at once. Growing up, especially during middle school, my favorite rapper was Ludacris...IS Ludacris, to be honest. I always appreciated the fact that he could be funny, he could be witty, he could be himself. His subject matter would be all over the place. He would make these ridiculous music videos, but nobody took him as a joke rapper. You know, he's the same person that would rap "Yousa Hooooeee," then turn around and hop on a song with Nas and almost wash Nas on the "Made You Look" remix. He wasn't this persona. He was kinda like this is me. I make jokes sometimes and I also rap seriously. That was when Chicken & Beer dropped. But, when Kanye dropped College Dropout, that's when I thought "Hey...I can do this thing." That's what kick-started the writing process. I thought, "Hey, I think I'm kinda funny, I can make jokes." I didn't come from a street background. No guns or drugs or anything. I can't be witty about those things. But when Kanye dropped, I said "Oh..I can just be witty about wit. I can be witty about regular stuff. Cool. I'm gonna start rapping." And that's where it started. I didn't really start taking it seriously until I was a sophomore in college around 2008. I had a DJ app on my computer and that's when I started recording with my partner I-Seem Black (together, they makeup the duo called Bullet2Knowhere.) So, I've been writing raps for about 14 years now.
Wow, 14 years. That's a healthy amount of time to be writing. Next, a more difficult question. What is your favorite musical genre and who is your favorite musical artist all all-time?
Well.....my favorite genre of all-time is R&B. Period. The reason it's my favorite genre because when it was at it's peak, there were so many creative ways to sing about things that it was mind-boggling. The time period I grew up in, as I think back, is like...the fact that I know Ron Isley's "Contagious" verbatim was just amazing. He basically made a soap opera with R. Kelly and I thought that was incredible. I feel like R&B is such an underrated genre because it gave us classic after classic and we didn't realize it at the time. Now, as far as my favorite artist, It's Kanye West. Hands down. Throughout every genre. I feel like Kanye presented his music in such a way that I had to go and do my homework on the music. For example, when I heard "Touch the Sky," I feel like I had to go and research the sample he used. That led to me hopping on Google and finding out that he sampled Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up." So, he made me appreciate a lot of old school songs. He indirectly expanded my horizons in music.
Decided to share some thoughts over @realcoleworld #ataleoftwocities about the #brutality that we've been made more and more aware of over these past few months... the #shooting of #charleskinsey resonated with me the most, especially with it being from my city... #antoniusdagreat #ataleof2citiez day #267 #rirm #rap #hiphop #jcole #foresthillsdrive
Mr. Antonius spits a tough freestyle over J. Cole's "A Tale of 2 Citiez"
Lol, I love it. This is dope. So, you have a project your working on called "Rappers is Role Models." What inspired this project?
It was a mixture of things. At the time, I was working on the Bullet2Knowhere project "Am I Cool Yet?" and the concept of that project was attacking the stereotype, in a sense, of what was considered cool in hip-hop at the time. You know, you have the track about the women, the money track, the track about God, etc. basically, the typical type of tracks. The club banger. What does it take to make a cool artist? It was partially because of that. I feel like Hip-Hop gets attacked unfairly. It's definitely not the first genre to have controversial lyrics, but it's attacked like it is. People tend to blame a lot of things on hip-hop when it's just like a movie or something. It's entertainment. At the same time. music has a bigger influence. For example, people always talk about hoe Scarface is a classic and everyone loves it. I'm not gonna watch Scarface everyday though. I'm not gonna having Scarface playing in the background while I'm chilling. I can't play Scarface in the car. Music is that thing I'm going to be playing everyday while studying, chilling, driving, etc. Technically, it derives from a lyric Kanye said in "Jesus Walks." He said " We rappers in role models. We rap, we don't think." Rappers are role models whether they know it or not. They may say that they don't control what this person says or does, but they forget that maybe this person doesn't have a positive figure to look up to or guide them. So, whether they think it or not, they influence more than they think. One one hand, as an artist, I'm able to paint a picture I wanna put across. On the other hand, it's not up to me how it's interpreted. Rappers don't always say positive things, but sometimes they do and people listen.
Deep. Very deep. So, do you have any plans for the future? Any singles, albums, projects, etc?
Actually, I have a single I plan on releasing this weekend along with a short film called "Act Right." So, watch out for that. I've been working on Rappers is Role Models for 3 years now. I've released a few singles already. I have one on my Soundcloud you can listen to called "A Day In The Life Of Anthony Ryan Grant." I also plan on releasing the rest of my singles in a non-traditional way. I wanna release a single, along with a video and maybe some merchandise, and then wait about 2 weeks and then do the same thing for the next one. The 2 weeks is to allow people to sit with the song and enjoy it properly. I want it to be respected as art. I don't just wanna release a project and say "here's my album, tell me what you think." We've allowed hip-hop become too disposable and I wanna change that.
I like it. That shows how much confidence you have in your work. So, what other projects do you already have out right now?
People can feel free to dive into the Bullet2Knowhere discography. That includes our first tape titled Procrastinators Anonymous and our EP “Yeezus No Yeezus” Am I Cool Yet? Sampler. I also have a solo project titled Simply Entertainment and a compilation album titled The CuffTape Chronicles. They can all be found on my website AnotniusDaGreat.com.
Perfect, thank you. I will definitely check out. It was a terrific interview and I appreciate you taking the time out and talking with us. Before we go, tell us where we can reach you. Social media, email, etc.
Snapchat, Instagram: AntoniusDaGr8
Thanks for taking the time out to read my piece. Tune in next week Friday where I will interviewing another independent artist.