Though you may not know his name yet, rapper Ant Beale is very clearly someone we'll all be hearing a lot more from. The rising emcee hailing from New Jersey is fresh from releasing his debut project, an EP titled No Rain No Flowers, produced by none other than G.O.O.D. Music beatmaker Charlie Heat.
As far as first releases go, Beale has turned in a stunner. His flow is remarkably lyrical, crafting intensely personal yarns over production that is (naturally) pretty stellar. Take first track "Dirty Taurus" for instance, a song that features a monster hook of a chorus along with verses that weave tales of Beale's childhood memories, the titular vehicle in particular proving to be an evocative through-line.
Today, Beale has dropped a remix of that track that adds in a verse from Rich the Kid. We caught up with the rapper to discuss the release, his whole No Rain No Flowers project and how in the hell he linked up with Charlie on such a great debut.
So Charlie Heat served as producer for this project. How did that collaboration come about?
I met Charlie doing photography while I was out in LA. I had stopped doing music at the time. We met through a mutual friend and I ended up taking a couple pictures of him in the studio. I shot some pictures on the way home and that's when I told him I do music too. I played it for him, he turned it off (laughs) then he said "You're done taking photos... we doing music full time." Year and a half later we got No Rain No Flowers.
How would you describe the studio environment you two worked in?
Our studio vibe changes like the weather. One day I might not wanna record in the studio, I might wanna record at home so he'll send me a bunch of beats. Some days I might wanna record in the back room of the studio when he's in the front room. Some days I might pull up a chair next to him and hop on a loop and let him make the beat around it. There's no real structure, we just work.
The entire EP is a pretty personal work, but I understand that “Dirty Taurus” in particular has a moving story behind it. Can you talk a bit about that?
So when I was young I used to live with my grandma and my pop, and we were actually living in a hotel and we had this dirty ass green Ford Taurus and it actually said "wash me" on the back. And as a kid I just made a mental image of it. Then I heard the beat and the words just came out.
In “WTN,” you rap that you “got kicked out of Benihana.” Is that based on a true story?
That's not necessarily based on a true story but that's something that would probably happen to my alter ego (laughs). Like, it's a scenario that would happen to Hollywood Beale if he was off the shits at Benihana's (laughs).
What was one of the most difficult parts about bringing this project together? One of the least difficult?
The hardest part was trying to pick out songs. We had so many songs so trying to get six down for a project was difficult, but it's weird because the easiest thing was how the songs came together. It was all definitely organic.
You’ve also written a track for Kehlani. Can you tell us a bit about that?
So I was in a studio session at Atlantic, I was actually in a session with Charlie and Jake Troth. I had a couple of my homies from back home with me and... it was one of those songs that you just do and it's like, eh, don't really think too much about it. But it turned into my first placement.
You mentioned earlier how you had a significant detour in photography... do you see a connection between your work there and as a rapper?
Yeah I do. I'm just an impulsive creator so taking a picture and creating a memory is the same as making a song.
What’s next on the horizon for Ant Beale?
What's next is a solo project. What's next from me is to finish my album and get on tour. Sculpt my own lane.
It’s no secret New Jersey gets a lot of crap… do you go to bat for your home state?
I go to bat and rep where I'm from but I don't vouch for none of these other people. What they do is what they do, but I'm not taking no accountability for what anybody else does. But I love my city and I'll always rep where I'm from. Gloucester City, New Jersey!
For more of our interview features, read our Q&A with Kenneth Whalum, a sax player fresh from recording JAY-Z's '4:44,' right here.