By Luke Voogt
Geelong born-and-bred rapper Antoine is the son of Hamlyn Heights IGA owner Tony Valenti, but some describe him as the lovechild of PartyNextDoor, Drake and Bow Wow.
“Look, it makes sense in a lot of ways,” he told the Independent, laughing.
“Growing up my sister and I were big Bow Wow fans. I used to try to mirror him so much back in the day, so his influence definitely plays a part.”
Drake and PartyNextDoor’s moody R&B mixed with rap have also influenced the musical journey of Antoine, who recently released his upbeat debut track One Time.
“One Time is just about the thrill of the chase,” he said.
“It’s not a deep track with any fancy meanings. It’s fun, it’s energetic. You can dance to it, sing along to it, drink to it. That’s why we felt it was such a fitting first release.”
While promoters have noticed Antoine’s influences, he aims to find his own sound.
“My producer ServidSounds and I just make music we love listening to and aim to be our own inspirations,” he said.
“We have heaps of new tracks on the way. We’ve been working tirelessly for a long time and I have heaps of material ready to go.”
Antoine grew up in Hamlyn Heights and music is in his blood.
“A lot of childhood memories are in that area, so I’ll never forget it,” he said.
“My dad and uncles own the IGA on Vines Road that my grandparents started many many years ago.
“Dad has been a performer for the majority of his life. I remember when I was young, he was in a band called the Ginseng Junkies, and they were always busy.
“I always remember coming home from school and writing songs for hours. I had so many lengthy albums, as I used to call them, full of absolute classics.”
Known onstage as Tony Vee, his dad has toured across Australia and overseas with his Neil Diamond tribute show and other cover acts.
“Same as my uncles, there’s not much they can’t do musically,” Antoine said.
His Mauritius-born mum has sung solo and performed backup vocals for a number of R&B bands.
“I definitely picked up my style from my mum and the Mauritian culture of R&B, reggae, sega and afrobeats, but my love for music is spread across all genres.”
Like for tens of thousands of performers across Australia, COVID-19 “definitely hasn’t been fun” for Antoine.
“I’m still writing a lot, and ServidSounds and I have still been doing a lot of work, but to be out and about, living, would be much preferred!” said the rapper, currently based in Melbourne.
“I’m trying not to focus on what could be in a time like this – it’s just not the right mindset.
“We’re enjoying making music and look forward to getting the best out of it through live shows when we get the chance.”
Along with getting on stage and launching his career proper, Antoine looks forward to visiting family in Geelong once restrictions ease.
“I can’t wait to head back down there and see everyone. It’s been far too long.”