You’ve heard of AntsLive, right? The stallion-galloping, bi-plane surfing, chest-thumping, bass-pumping, smooth-talking starboy of North West London rap. The TikTok sensation with videos so mad people don’t believe there’s no CGI. The boyhood Arsenal fan who helped launch the best kit this year. Ringing any bells? If you have heard of AntsLive: how you doing? Nice one, thanks for tuning in. If you haven’t: what sort of rent do you pay for that rock you live under? I hope it’s worth it because you have been MISSING OUT. Luckily for you, though, VERSUS is here.
Ahead of AntsLive's next project in early 2024, VERSUS sat down with the man himself to give fans - and rock dwellers - a whirlwind tour of his year so far. We also spoke with him about his love for the beautiful game, going on pre-season tour with Arsenal to LA and how he's going to be a household name. A few surprises are there for the taking along the way - how many Gunners' Easter eggs can you spot? Check out the full interview below.
Photography by Holly McCandless-Desmond for VERSUS.
“There’s never been a better time to be an artist than now. You can truly be yourself and people can love you for that.”
VERSUS: It’s been a big year. What do you credit your success with?
AntsLive: Thinking outside the box.
Let’s go back to the start. Heard you used to play Chelsea academy back in the day?
A little bit haha. It was when I was quite young, never to a brazy standard, but yeah I was there.
What happened? Why aren’t you playing at The Bridge now?
Cos they didn’t want me any more! I didn’t have the attitude, we just parted ways.
Which baller did you play like?
When I was really young I played like Ronaldinho, then I had a period when I was a Nasri fan. Then when you get older, the legs start tiring a bit, so I dropped into the middle of the park: David Silva-esque.
Centre-back next then?
Haha could never be me! Even if it was, best believe I’d be the tekkiest CB you’d seen.
“Putting together this tape I’ve been working on, it’s been a real 90 minute top-class performance.”
Music all started with Flyboys TM with Teji, right? How did you develop into AntsLive solo?
What the fuck? You’re moving like Nardwuar…how do you know about that! I grew up with Tej, used to just have fun making music and that. Then COVID hit, it was harder to make music with my friends, so I did a lot more thinking and writing on my own. I ended up making a song called ‘Brown Liquor’ and that was my first transition into making solo music. It was partly out of my control with lockdown and whatnot, but regardless, it was something I had wanted to do for a while: establish my own identity as an artist. Shoutout Teji, shoutout Jay Blue.
How would you describe the tunes you were making then compared to now?
I was just having fun with it back then. I hadn’t really figured out myself as an artist. The songs, were just me and my friends having fun. Now, I’ve figured out who I am and where I stand in the scene. I feel like I’m getting better every day, though, so maybe one day I’ll say that about the music I’m putting out now in a few years’ time.
Chat to me about the music videos. Why did you choose to go so hard?
There’s never been a better time to be an artist than now. You can truly be yourself and people can love you for that. Tom (Emmerson), the director of my videos, is someone that can take my music and help deliver it in a way that is completely ‘me’. I can show all the different sides to me and have fun with it at the same time.
Is that attitude, that you’re the ‘Number One Candidate’, central to what you do?
It’s not intentional – I’m not trying to prove a point or anything. I’m just trying to be me, have fun and show people there’s a different angle to everything you might have seen before.
Heard your mum is a bit anxious about all the stunts – how are you gonna worry her next?
Brudda, what the hell? I beg you didn’t chat to my Mum bro! What the fuck haha! She didn’t know about any of the stunts before I did them. She sees them when they come out otherwise she’d find a way of persuading me to not do them. Even if she’s a bit anxious, though, she’s very supportive. Shoutout Mum, got a lot of gratitude.
“My videos aren’t just intended to be a shock factor. It’s what suits the song and what makes sense.”
Talk me through your personal style.
I grew up kicking a lot of ball so my style has always been centred around football and sport. Trackies, vintage kits and that. I always try to stay ahead of the curve. There’s no real era that’s running fashion right now – you can’t say people dress 90s-inspired, 2000s-inspired or whatever – there’s so much going on you can really just be you. My style changes from day-to-day but there’s a massive influence from football, for sure.
Who’s the AntsLive of the Premier League?
Saka. Starboy. Neighbourhood Hero. Easy answer.
We’ve just seen Iwobi and Onana spit on a track – what do you reckon about ballers jumping in the booth?
Same thing they’d probably say about me on the pitch haha! Let the professionals do their thing, respect for trying.
Captain’s armband – what was the last key play you made?
It’s not one key play but, putting together this tape I’ve been working on, it’s been a real 90 minute top-class performance. You lot will be able to tap in early next year.
“Imagine being a fan, you bleed Red, and the next thing you know your childhood team takes you out to LA. Insane.”
Horse. Motorbike. Biplane. What’s the next vehicle we’ll see you on?
Hey man, it might just be my own two feet at this point! I’ll be real, the last one was a bit crazy. I want to emphasise though: my videos aren’t just intended to be a shock factor. It’s what suits the song and what makes sense. Sometimes that might be crazy and sometimes it might not be. I’m not about to do anything in space…yet.
Who’s your Arsenal icon?
At the time I really started investing in football, Jack Wilshere had the team on his back. I loved the way he played and it’s such a shame his career never worked out the way it was supposed to. All-time it’s hard to argue with Thierry Henry but, I tell you what man, Saka is really putting his name forward right now. Let’s not forget, he’s been balling for years and he’s come at a time when I feel mad connected to the team.
How was it going on tour with Arsenal in the summer?
Insane. Imagine being a football fan, you bleed Red, and the next thing you know your childhood team takes you out to LA to be a part of family. They’re supporting your track like you’re one of their own. Can’t make these things up. I was living the dream. Shoutout Arsenal. I’m grateful.
Talk me through the away kit campaign?
Again, insane. It shows that, by sticking to what you love and running with that, so many opportunities can come your way. As long as you move correct, people feel the energy and life will reward you.
Arsenal win the league – what’s the motive?
I’m jumping in the motor and going straight to Highbury. Straight to the streets man! On IG live, make sure everyone knows what’s going on.
“Hopefully AntsLive will be a household name by the end of next year.”
If you were Arteta, are there any changes you’d make to the team?
Yeah bro! Haha. A lot! I’d be wrong to question him but just know, if I don’t see Jesus, Martinelli, Saka, Rice and Odegaard in the Starting XI at least once this season, I’ll be fuming.
If you could sign one player from world football to start in the Arsenal team, who would it be?
In an ideal world, Mbappé is leading the line, man.
What’s next for AntsLive?
More everything. More music, visuals, touring, merch. Hopefully AntsLive will be a household name by the end of next year.
Photography: Holly McCandless-Desmond
Photography Assistant: Coco Bagley
Styling: Zak Khan
Set Design: Murdo Hepburn
Set Design Assistant: Rory Bentley
Production Assistant: Trieu Blyth
Creative Direction & Production: Morgan Allan
Photography Agency: Dust Bunnies