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Over the course of the past decade, ANTWON has made a name for himself with rowdy live shows and making music that’s sometimes brooding, often hilarious, and always rooted in human relationships. His latest effort, the DOUBLE ECSTASY EP, touches on all of the San Jose native's favorite topics: sex, successfully navigating clubs, the dri-fit shirt you can’t quite fit into, and more sex. But just when you think you’ve stood in line outside this venue before, he turns on a dime—these aren't the same characters you’ve seen before.
"I feel like this record is a rebirth,” ANTWON says. Where he’s spent the last five years writing and recording in isolation, DOUBLE ECSTASY finds him fully collaborative with producer Lars Stalfors. “This record was definitely the most fun to make,” he adds, “it showed me why I started playing in bands and collaborating with other people.”
The results are superb. He oscillates between “Luv”’s strip club hugs and “100K”’s nightmare-induced oral sex, between “I drink tea in the club, you drink pee in the club” and “I done sold my soul so I got a rack.” He’s the only person on either coast who could slide Beauty and the Beast onto an EP that otherwise sounds like it would be banned from all Disney properties. “Girl, Flex” sounds like Outkast’s “Gangsta Shit” if it was was left out in the rain.
Raised in Sunnyvale, a 14-minute Caltrain ride from downtown San Jose, ANTWON cut his teeth at punk and hardcore shows. That’s not only evident when he’s making bouncers fear for their lives and flouting noise curfews. It’s an attitude that seeps into his work even now. You can see it in how he mastered hip-hop’s finer technical points only to break and warp them to suit his own purposes.
Since his breakthrough mixtape, 2011’s Fantasy Beds, ANTWON has been praised by critics for his ability to blend aesthetic innovation with a viciously funny personal touch. SPIN has called him “electrifyingly eclectic”; Pitchfork wrote that his last album, Heavy Hearted in Doldrums, was “his boldest collection yet, grounded in improved production and his characteristic schoolboy wit.”
Clocking in at fewer than 20 minutes, DOUBLE ECSTASY is just long enough for the Uber ride to whichever party your best-connected, least responsible friend has promised to sneak you into. When, on the closer “Dri-Fit,” ANTWON raps about Molly binges, it’s hard to tell at first if the manic vocal take is supposed to feel like the high, or if the beat’s grey tones are supposed to be the come-down. But that’s the point: depending on who you’re with, they might look just the same.