THE CREATIVE CLASS IS GETTING YOUNGER. In the post-troll social climate, some even wash their hands of schooling and start working in recording industries sooner than earlier generations. The lucky ones are experiencing rare trajectories.
PNTHN, a rap collective of multi-faceted artists from across Texas, is part of that percentage. The rappers in PNTHN are dc4prez, Tony Tone, Kenny Casanova, and Pink Ranger. The rapper and head engineer is twohorizonra. The rappers and producers are YD and Romby. The DJ and producer is Otto. The producer is Por Vida.
On their biggest tour run to date, culminating with a set at iii Points festival in Miami, PNTHN is poised to break-out as the one of the most exciting acts to watch in 2019. In a way, they are like a band of brothers, all with their own unique identities and personalities. Romby brings to mind Matt Martians personality wise with his “all about the music” attitude. Por Vida strikes his environment and presence with a certain aloofness that almost certainly belies his true intellect. Tony Tone has the whole “likable guy in your philosophy college class” going on.
Daily Chiefers caught up with PNTHN in Atlanta to discuss their beginning, their creative process, and what’s next for them.
Daily Chiefers: What is your earliest memory of music?
twohorizonra: My earliest memory is my parents would play a lot of music, a lot of CDs, vinyls, and stuff. They would play 70’s soul music. I have a specific memory of listening to a Toni Braxton song in my dad’s Navigator forever ago.
How did the group name PNTHN come to exist?
twohorizonra: The way the name came about was… I was online trying to figure out the name for the group. We originally went by The Foundation. I was looking up mythology in general and I saw “pantheon” and I read the word to everybody in the room. I said the definition. Everyone was like yeah that’s it, house of gods, family of gods… everybody has their own element.
Who are some of your favorite hip-hop groups?
Por Vida: Bad Brains.
YD: 3 6 Mafia, Divine Counsel, and Suicide Boyz.
Tony Tone: Most of us were in high-school when you start to learn about yourself. There was a peak of groups like A$AP Mob, Pro Era. A lot of shit started out east but even down to Odd Future. Even Raider Klan earlier on.
twohorizonra: Dipset. Dipset in terms of fashion, for sure.
What do you use software wise to create music?
Por Vida: Microsoft Spreadsheet. Excel. Windows 95. Is it fine to say? We use Logic to mix and record our music. Everyone produces on Ableton or FL Studios.
RICO the album came out in 2018. Who’s doing more singles and who’s doing more albums?
Kenny Casanova: At the end of the day, we’re making songs. It gets to a point when it gets to a large collection of songs that sounds cohesive and really fire played in a stream, that’s when we decide to make it an EP or album. The singles are just to give people a little taste, see that we’re still working on stuff.
What was it like creating Megatron?
twohorizonra: Kenny found that beat, recorded a verse on it. I took forever. He laid a good verse on it.
Kenny Casanova: I thought it was trash.
twohorizonra: I thought it was fire. I laid my verse, thought it was trash, and everybody thought it was fire. One day I finally mixed it, put it in the drive, and it came back to life.
Kenny Casanova: A lot of times the song will come to fruition when someone who had nothing to do with the song will bring it up.
What was it like making CHUMBUCKET, your most streamed song on Spotify?
Por Vida: I made that beat and I desperately begged them to rap over it. They hated it. After months of yelling at them and forcing at them, one after the other, I finally got everyone to record their verses and it sucked. They all deleted their verse and recorded four new verses each until it stuck. It took three months to make that song, to make it perfect and right.
How many songs are left on hard drive and don’t make it to release?
Are you looking for a label deal?
PNTHN: Fuck no.
Are you recording on tour?
Romby: We have a mic stand. It’s an ironing board. It’s not the most practical but the shit goes hard. We’re on tour. I lied, it’s very practical. We’re creative as fuck.
Tony Tone: There was a moment in the living room where everyone was either producing, recording, or writing. It was all garbage because it didn’t really matter. That shit made my heart warm. I was like look at us do our thing.
twohorizonra: PNTHN’s workspace looks like 15 laptops and one nigga in a closet.
How does a group of 10 artists come out and put on a great show every night? What is your pre-show ritual?
dc4prez: We go backstage, we get in a circle, and we just hit our dougie.
What can people expect from a PNTHN show?
Tony Tone: If you go to the show, you should get ready to punch someone next to you and push the shit out of people next to you and go hard as shit. If you want to stand still and do nothing, you can go to the back or you’re not at the right show.
In October 2018, you had a pop-up at Monkies Vintage… was that very purposeful or organic?
Kenny Casanova: It was purposeful. I definitely was the one to come with that idea. It is important to show the people that gave you love first love. San Marcos is not really the hometown for everybody. Everybody came from different parts of Texas. We’ll be allowed to do that stuff anywhere else in Texas. Where we were based out of at that point in time, we wanted to give back, especially coming back from Atlanta previously. We wanted to give people close insights into what we were doing. We wanted to have a good time. Lot of close peoples.
Your three city run with Gibbs in Texas: what was it like?
Tony Tone: I learned breath control. Freddie’s a fucking animal. I don’t know he fits all that shit on stage. On stage, he’s in a different zone. That tour itself taught us how to mesh with an audience that might not be tailored to us or not necessarily the biggest fans of us. We learned how to finesse and take control of a crowd that isn’t there to see us.
YD: I think we learned… before we got to bigger stages, we were always on smaller stages. I think we learned how to work together and maneuver around each other and highlight certain areas together.
What does being on tour with Buddy and Vince Staples mean for PNTHN?
Tony Tone: Confirmation we’re doing what we’re supposed to do. From where we started to wherever we end 100 years from now… this is what we know we’re supposed to do, so fuck school.
What are you most looking forward to at the iii Points festival in Miami?
YD: Me, personally. The food.
twohorizonra: The experience. We’ve never done nothing like that. To end it on the festival is going to solidify that this is what we do.
What is your opinion on the state of the music industry?
twohorizonra: Music is beautiful but it’s no longer just one thing. It’s very misunderstood in its current state. I’m talking about rap specifically. They’re not listening. The state of hip-hop is very complicated. That hasn’t been addressed. I’m talking about rap specifically. I think it has evolved to a point where there are many sub genres. It’s no longer one thing, and people get it misconstrued.
Kenny Casanova: The actual industry part… we’re not going to parlay with any of these motherfuckers because at the end of the day, we got this big group here. We’ve learned on a lot going through this journey already. Even at the beginning of the year from when labels started hearing about us. We’ve learned we are better off trusting in ourselves and doing our own thing rather than relying on outside influences.
What is one thing you wish you could change about the industry?
Por Vida: It’s a bunch of dry and false promises and false hope. Clarity would be nice.
YD: It’s not about… for PNTHN, it’s not about changing the music industry. It’s about looking within yourself as an artist. Knowing yourself as an artist and putting that out to everyone. Not necessarily caring what others think, not necessarily listening to outside perspectives on what they think about your art. That way you can stay true to yourself and have that clarity Por Vida was talking about. It’s not a change but more like a transformation.
Kenny Casanova: The thing I would change… is the gatekeeper shit. The idea that people want to do music for more than personal reasons. I don’t like the idea that these people that get big aren’t really caring about it. I don’t understand why we get to sit here and watch people not try. It’s not a good thing for people who really put their heart and soul into this, it makes it harder for them.
dc4prez: In the industry we need younger people in power. We need more black people in positions of power. This is hip-hop.
How important is fashion and the image to you?
Romby: I just like making the music. I think we prioritize the content we create over how we look.
twohorizonra: We love fashion but music is all that matters. We dress well. We just so happen to like clothes. We don’t really think about it too much because we’re all black. We do try to have thought out outfits.
Kenny Casanova: Let’s just say this. I think everybody cares about what they want to wear. I think everybody has their own aesthetic to what they want to put together. If they like something, they’ll get that and put that on. Some people are into different types. Some people like a look of things. At the end of it all, it makes for our individual styles. That’s what we want to portray with our interest in fashion.
Romby: I can agree with that.
Tony Tone: Kenny Casanova is the fashion stylist. He dresses everyone before the show. We have to get approval from him. Down to the socks, the shoes. If he doesn’t approve of the outfit, you have to go. He makes you go buy your own clothes. He’s crazy.
What is PNTHN’s stance on features?
Tony: We have songs with features that are waiting. We have close artists we like to work with. PNTHN exclusive feature, that means something.
twohorizonra: If you land on a PNTHN song, it means everyone fucks with you.
When can we expect new music?
Por Vida: Soon.
Romby: Artists should stop over-saturating the market. Three albums a year and bullshit like that. Sit on your shit. Nobody wants to hear the same stuff. I don’t want labels pushing me to do no shit like that.
If you could speak to your 18 year old selves today, what would you say?
twohorizonra: Stay woke, young blood.
YD: Don’t worry and just go with your gut feelings for the majority and you’ll find more people who’ll care.
Kenny Casanova: You already know.
Tony Tone: I would tell myself you’re going to go through the shit first before the fire starts happening.
This is Mustafa Abubaker, this is the PNTHN.
Tony Tone: Shout out JPEG Mafia.
Por Vida: Peggy! We want a Peggy feature.
Romby: I want a Herbie Hancock feature, bruh.