David Sabastian: A Rapper and Fashionista on the Verge
Credit: Byron ANTI
"Not to be vague, but I think everybody of this generation has Anti in them," emerging rapper David Sabastian argues, sweat trickling down his face. It's hot out here. Twenty minutes earlier, he was spray-painting an empty swimming pool, dressed in a black, mostly leather outfit and matching ski mask. Around him, his cohorts watched, chatted and occasionally, sprayed their own drawings. Now he's discussing the ethos and make up of those same people -- also referred to as the Anti society.
"Everything we do is in house," he says. "We film ourselves, we distribute ourselves, we market ourselves. The parties we throw, we throw them ourselves. I got a bike crew, got a skate crew, I got directors, artists, street promoters. People don't really wear one hat. Young creatives, man."
Much of the group he describes has gathered in the backyard of this home on Fairfax Ave. for a BBQ. Lanky white skater kids, goth-rap fashionistas, white girls in short-shorts, hood locals and eclectically dressed cool kids surround the pool, now filled with Sabastian's doodles. A DJ is spinning ratchet records. Some dance, others drink and smoke. Sabastian explains the home "belongs to one of my peoples." He says they have a few houses to choose from for meetings and get-togethers. Some members direct music videos and others throw house parties.
Unlike trendy rap crews like Odd Future and A$AP Mob, the story of how this group came together is kept vague. They're not all locals or lifelong friends. "My energy just attracted them," Sabastian says. He goes on to explain meeting the head of his bike crew, a Hispanic man named Jaime, at a Subway restaurant near Union Station.
This meeting was originally scheduled to take place at the Anti Mansion, a Victorian-styled home near USC. Sabastian's manager says that the group was evicted for having big parties, however. In the backyard, one Anti associate mentions that it "looked like this pool does now." Sabastian says the house was "kind of stolen," citing an unlawful sub-leasing agreement. "We had it for a good six or seven months," he continues. "It was almost unlivable when the cops threw us out."
Sabastian speaks in phrases that are often vague or juxtaposed to the point of being contradictory. He claims to "not operate from a monetary standpoint" but longs to have a Batman-style light signal to announce when he's out. Much like his debut mixtape Napoleon Complex, released this past December, his words are all over the place. He even uses his lyrics to answer questions.
"If you listen to the lyrics [of "Planking on My Dick"] like I'm so off of 'Let's get a bunch of money and ball and buy clothes,'" he says. "I'm like, 'Take a bad bitch to a museuuuum/Show her art then I show her neon.' That's where I am, artistically."
But he didn't build a name for himself by rapping. After freelancing for Christian Audigier, he landed a job with popular t-shirt company Teenage Millionaire. Shortly after, he started applying his pop art inspired doodles to pairs of Timbalands, which attracted attention from Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar and Pharrell Williams. "Nah, [Pharrell] fucking jacked me," Sabastian says. "He swagger-jacked me, I saw him wear my exact outfit from the "PussyMarijuana" video."
"PussyMarijuana" was Sabastian's first viral hit. It's a practically made-for-Tumblr video featuring dank imagery and half-naked women. Since, he's released visuals (done in house by Anti videographers) for "Tippin' on my Dick," "Molly Cyrus," and "Lame," which features Master P, among others. At press time, Napoleon Complex was hovering around 65,000 downloads. Sabastian is impressed with the number but plans to promote the tape throughout 2013. He doesn't think enough people have "really heard it."
"Maybe, this interview, in 2030 or 2040, they'll look back at it like they do the Rolling Stones interviews," he says. "I feel like what we're doing is very historical."
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.