Antny Rome—real name Anthony Jerome Brown—is a rapper currently living in the 757, originally from Prince George, VA. Last week, I talked to Rome on the same day Tha Carter V came out.
His thoughts on Tha Carter V, he said, would be off the record. No Lil Wayne disses in our direction.
Instead, we talked about his style, his influences, and his upcoming project, Castle.
DHR: How’d you come up with the name Antny Rome?
AR: Really, it’s a name I’ve always had. When I was growing up, I couldn’t pronounce my own name, Anthony Jerome, and I’d just say Antny Rome. In that way, I never really had to come up with it.
DHR: When did you first start rapping?
AR: I want to say sophomore year of high school. That was when I first started taking it seriously, like, “I’m really starting to feel this music.” Not just listen to it— really feel it.
DHR: Who would you consider your primary musical influences?
AR: When I first started out, the people who influenced me heavily were Kanye, ASAP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa—Lil Wayne would definitely be one of the top ones for sure.
Childish Gambino, Joey Badass, Chance the Rapper—Drake, of course.
I used to listen to trap music on and off, but I never latched onto an artist. Later on, I dove into other genres. I got more into psychedelic rock, indie rock, alternative rock. That got me more into psychedelic rap music, the Travis Scott-type stuff, the Thundercat-type stuff. Right now, I’m into Travis.
I’m into Young Nudy. I’m into a lot of young, up-and-coming artists— people who haven’t blown up yet. I like when I can listen to someone’s music and hear that hunger.
DHR: I’ve talked before about dog-whistles to psychedelia, but when I listen to your music and look at your page, it’s more like a psychedelic blowhorn. Do you conjure that up intentionally?
AR: I’m very aware of my references to psychedelic culture. Psychedelics have definitely influenced my sound. I wouldn’t have my sound without psychedelics, or psychedelic culture.
I wouldn’t have my sound without the artists who came before me and felt free enough to tell their stories and experiment in the way they experimented— the recent ones, and the older ones as well. Not only hip-hop, but other genres— the hip-hop artists are inspired by the rock artists, who are inspired by the hip-hop artists. Someone like Travis Scott is just as inspired by Jimi Hendrix as someone like Thundercat is by Travis Scott. We all bite off each other.
DHR: What psychedelic rock artists would you say have influenced your music and your thought processes the most?
AR: Honestly, Hendrix was the first name that popped in my head, but my biggest influences as far as psychedelic rock would be Radiohead and Pink Floyd.
DHR: Alright, cool. Switching gears, here.
Whenever we’ve talked, you’ve been very intent on shouting out your roommates, bandmates, people in your daily life. Who do you live with, and what do they do creatively?
AR: I live with a band called Sunband. The ones that don’t live here pretty much live here, because they’re always here. [Laughs]. They play psychedelic jazz, or something like it.
I don’t play any of the instruments, but I’m something of a creative concierge. If I’m in the room, I might have some ideas about visuals, promotion, or branding. My role is somebody who pitches ideas, who helps out in any way— just being here.
DHR: So a non-member member—like Robert Hunter.
AR: You know, my roommates love the Grateful Dead. [Laughs].
DHR: Do they collaborate with you on your music?
AR: We all collaborate with each other. I have certain parts of songs that they’ll mix for me—they’re all talented musicians, talented engineers. They all specialize in different instrments.
They’ll have ideas about basslines— “This right here would hit hard,” or “Let me get the stem here so I can play with this part.” That’s always great— anything to improve the sound. It’s not what I want all the time, but it’s what the song needs.
DHR: Do you produce beats?
AR: No, I don’t. All the beats in my upcoming projects Castle are made by a producer named Evil.
At the same time, Sunband has been such an influence on us that it’s a much darker sound. They make very dark psychedelic music, and Castle has a very dark, psychedelic, nighttime sound.
DHR: Sort of like Echoes [by Pink Floyd]?
AR: If I had to compare it to anything— I don’t think it’s comparable to this album— but if I had to compare it to something, I might say Days Before Rodeo [by Travis Scott].
DHR: Who have you enjoyed collaborating with the most?
AR: Oo, Tre Bill.
He’s from DC, with a completely different mindset than I have. It’s great to be around a different artist like that. This dude will freestyle over a beat, then we’ll mute it, and he’ll freestyle again over the same song and piece it together to make a complete song.
When he freestyles, he spits bars. I’ve never met someone who can speak that fluently off the top of their head, without second-guessing anything, just straight vibes all the way through.
I’ve learned from him— once you catch the vibe, don’t question it. Just run with it.
I have a whole project with Tre called After Lunch under the name 2WAYSZ. I think it’s a perfect clash of that gritty, drill, trap, D.C./Chicago sound with that experimental Richmond/Atlanta sound.
It’s on Spotify, Soundcloud— all streaming platforms.
DHR: Who’s your favorite producer to collaborate with?
AR: I like collaborating with Evil. He definitely cooks up in the moment. Every time we cook up, he makes a beat on spot, and I’ll record right there. Since we’re cooking up together— instead of him sending me a beat— he’s making the song with the vocals. Where the punchlines are, he knows that’s where the kicks need to be at. We’re mixing the beat around the vocals, mixing the beats around the vocals.
DHR: You’re a Communication major at ODU. How has your study of Communication influenced the music and the art that you create?
AR: Prior to Communciation, I was graphic design. Communication has made me want to network more— more marketing, more branding.
DHR: One of the things that drew me to your work was the inclusion of visual art. Can you tell me a little bit more about how your visual aesthetic relates to what you’re doing musically?
AR: My Instagram is just moments I capture in my life. But I want people to look at my Instagram and not have to look at artwork on my Instagram, but look at my Instagram page as art. I don’t want people to click on one piece and think of it as one piece. The whole page is connected.
That’s the way I view my life as well. It’s constantly growing. Every day, the band is playing music. Every day, we have creatives throughout our house. On an everyday basis, there’s a producer in my room and we’re recording. My roommate’s in the next room making beats. There’s two or three people in the jam room making music. Right now we have a singer here, Vesta, recording with a producer. We might have a painter or a designer here— we have two producers upstairs while we have the drummer going up there.
And that’s what I try to capture on my page.
DHR: Some of the videos on your page are so unique stylistically—psychedelia, ’90s graphics, sometimes just complete nonsense. Do you have a term to describe that style?
AR: [Laughs]. Ryan Connur.
That’s the guy who makes everything. When me and him get together, that’s what happens. That’s just the way that man’s mind works.
DHR: Have you performed in Richmond?
AR: No— I primarily perform in Norfolk.
DHR: What’s your favorite venue in Norfolk?
AR: I like Shaka’s Live a lot, in Virginia Beach. But anytime I get a chance to do anything at ODU, that’s great, because I’m in front of my peers.
DHR: Do you have post-graduation plans? Where do you see this journey taking you in the forseeable future?
AR: The world.
DHR: What message do you want to send with your music in general?
AR: Honestly, just be yourself.
There’s a lot going on in the world, and there’s a lot in hip hop culture, within Black culture— there’s a lot of things we could be angry about, be mad or sad about, feel some type away about. But I think every day you have the decision to control your perspective. You can feel on top of the world or you can feel the world on top of you, and when I make music, I feel on top of the world.
My message to people is to focus on the now. Get what you want. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t get it.
DHR: What differentiates your music from other new-school hip hop?
AR: There’s only one Rome. That’s key factor number one. There’s always only going to be one me, so I’m not really focused on what everyone else is doing.
Outside of that, my willingness to adapt. Some artists may find themselves in a niche, but I feel confident that me, and Sunband, and anyone else I’m connected with always be able to adapt.
DHR: Constant evolution.
AR: Constant. Always evolving our sound, always evolving our art.
That’s one of the perks of being in a creative household. You’re surrounded by so many different styles, so many different visual aspects, that you don’t have a chance to settle on one thing. You’re always being inspired.