Number One Candidate: AntsLive Interviewed

“In my opinion, what comes next is important…”

It’s not everyday you see a rapper galloping gracefully on a horse through the Dolomite Alps. Sounds like a cringey perfume advert, right? Thankfully, it wasn’t. AntsLive, the North London rap riser turned heads in January with his epic ‘Number One Candidate’ music video, leaving supporters and tastemakers quick to name it 2023’s finest. After months of feeling frustrated about not being heard, he channelled his energy into a track that changed his entire trajectory. “The song was a way of me saying I’m next up… and I am sick and tired of people not taking me in. I wanted it to be an anthem so that’s why we went with horns and a big-sounding production,” he says over Zoom. Quickly solidifying himself as one-to-watch, his distinct tone and brazen delivery have left the public waiting in anticipation for his next move. 

Ants’ infatuation with music sprouted from a young age. Growing up in the capital with the dream of becoming a footballer his plans soon changed and his love for music took over. “My mum listened to a lot of different genres that I wouldn’t necessarily gravitate towards. She played classical music but also a lot of Motown and soul, and when I visited my pops, he was listening to a lot of Latin music. Having that exposure to a variety of sounds when I was younger fuelled my love for different sonics.” 

What started out as poetry eventually changed into songs, as he explains: “I started writing poetry before I started writing rap! I was writing poetry when I was around six-years-old. I used to write for my grandma. I started writing rap when I was around 13 or 14. I was playing football at the time, and I think it was around then that I knew I probably wasn’t going to make it as a footballer”. From his opening single ‘Brown Liquor’ in 2020 up until his debut EP ‘Just A Matter Of Time’ he wound a never-ending path of experimentation. Having finally cracked the code, AntsLive has formed a sound that embraces across-the-board genres.  

‘Just A Matter Of Time’ is a body of work that challenges contemporary music by blurring sonics, all whilst staying true to himself. Asked about what was most important to him when putting this project together, Ants explains: “It was just about trying to convey my authentic self without trying to hone in on one sound. I really wanted my audience to grow with me and that’s why you have nine songs that all sound so different.” 

From selling out his headline show in London, to supporting Aitch in Ireland, becoming the face of a JD Sports campaign – and that’s just for starters – AntsLive is now on a mission to prove he’s not a flash in the pan. “I have a bunch of good people around me that keep me grounded but also help me to understand that there is a lot of work to be done. We’re nowhere close where we want to be! In my opinion, what comes next is important. What I drop now… seeing as everyone has eyes on me, they’ll be looking to see if I am a one-hit-wonder or if I am consistent.” he explains. Recently gracing supporters with the release of his latest single ‘Ooh La La’ – a teaser from his next project slated for release later this summer – the track’s infectious energy is the perfect set up for a wavy day out with your friends. Boisterous and poetic, we’re sure this isn’t the last you’ll hear of him.

Words: Elle Evans
Photography: Zeyaad Ahmed

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