You’re a rapper? But everyone wants to be a rapper. You produce too? Why? Everyone does that. And you’re black? Why are you into skateboarding? For Bay Area music producer Jay Ant, it took years of frustration before he finally found his lane.
“I like to create full-on experiences,” he says now. “I try to make you feel like you’re leaving with something after you hear it.”
Jay Ant describes his beats simply as “vibey blap,” mimicking the sound they make coming through the speakers. It’s something he first honed in his childhood home after being grounded one summer by his mother. With literally nothing else to do, he bought a beats program. Within months, he had his calling card.
Jay Ant’s passion helped form HBK Gang, a collective of area artists. Together, they use their hunger as competition. If one of them makes something dope, someone else comes in to top it. Rather than a rap group, they work as more of a team, bouncing beats off each other or building off something someone else did.
It’s part of the reason why Jay Ant identifies with Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors.
“Steph Curry is a boss,” he says. “He’s a leader. He’s doing everything the right way. He’s not just a winner. When you’re a leader, you can be a winner. You can win games but you got to lead teams. You got to win more than just for yourself.”
Jay Ant might’ve produced G-Eazy’s hit single “Far Alone” and he might currently be holding it down on the Bay to the Universe tour, but trying to make it originally was difficult. Jay Ant dealt with doubts his whole life, even from his friends and family. Get a real job? He couldn’t. This was going to be his job. Go to this party? He couldn’t. He had to work on his craft. To make it, putting in extra work was only the start. He had to believe in himself too.
“That’s one of the hardest things ever,” he says, “just staying focused.”
With a sound that honors everything from ’90s R&B to deep house to hyphy music, Jay Ant is finally on his way. In Episode 3 of the #ChargedByBelief series from Under Armour and Mass Appeal, the artist takes us to his hometown of Richmond where he learned the lessons that still drive him even today.
“In order to be in this game, you got to be able to hustle,” he says. “You got to be able to have tough skin. You got to be able to take criticism. You got to be able to catch every fade. You got to be able to lose because you’re not going to be able to win if you don’t know how to lose.”