His Story: If they say money is the root of all evil, don’t tell that to Gabriel Antonio Gonzalez. $4,000—a “crapload of money” to the then-17-year—allowed this smooth-singing Florida boy to get his vocal dreams off the ground. In reality, all Antonio, 25, had wanted to do at the time was rock parties for sweaty teenagers. “Being an artist was never the goal,” the hip-hop-meets-R&B flavored rapper/crooner confesses.
“I wanted to be a DJ.” After renting out a local Brandon, FL club and reeling in 2000 teens for his DJ set, Antonio found himself walking away with four grand in hand. Suddenly, the young DJ had the financial means to kick his now-blossoming career as a full-fledged artist into high gear. Nowadays, Antonio is far from his time logged flipping the faders at Tampa-area teen clubs. With a string of successful club jams, namely “Ride For Me”—an Auto-Tuned jam recorded in his garage that recalls the sound of fellow Floridian, T-Pain, and carries the same vocal buoyancy of Young Money’s “Bedrock”— Antonio has charged his way to the top of the Myspace charts.
He also finds himself being whisked cross-country to Hartford for gigs with Flo Rida, the Ting Tings, Jordin Sparks and David Archuleta and has been spending time in LA prepping his new single, “One,” for its radio debut. It’s safe to say he’s feeling confident. “When (“One”) hits rotation… it’s gonna be its own nuclear weapon,” Antonio says, followed by a frat-boy chuckle. “I can do anything.” Antonio wasn’t always thinking about being a pop artist; in fact, as a kid he preferred mellowing out to some jazz or Paul Simon.
But then the music purist found inspiration from an unlikely source: DMX. Antonio had been dragged to Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life” tour and saw the barking “What’s My Name” rapper onstage in all his gritty glory. “Something triggered (in me), like, ‘whoa.. wait a minute..
I want to be that person,’” Antonio explains of that rap-induced epiphany. “To me his music is inspirational.. to others it might be… well, different.” While Antonio’s current music leans heavily on his club days, he’s not ready to start limiting himself just yet.. “It’s a new genre,” the rapper says of his musical style.
“I just create what I feel.” And for now, continuing to create a dedicated following is Antonio’s number-one priority. Because seven years after just wanting to spin records for buzzed Floridians, Antonio can’t help but feel good about where he’s headed. “The vibe is just ridiculous,” Antonio says of his recent studio sessions. “It’s just like bam..
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