AG Club have had an a meteoric rise over the previous two years alone, rising from grassroots scene erupters within the East Bay Space of San Francisco, to collaborating with A$AP Ferg, being taken beneath the wing of Tyler, The Creator’s right-hand man, and already being on the cusp of dropping their second file. All this, and so they’re barely touching their twenties.
There are fourteen members – that’s, fourteen beds crammed into their small home in LA. It’s a hive of near-constant creativity; the type of livewire atmosphere the place most would lose their minds, however for AG Membership, it’s needed: “You’ve gotta be somewhat loopy, for us,” says Jody Fontaine. He, alongside Mick Anthony and BabyBoy, make “the band”, which, he assures me, is simply the start. Take that, throw of their manufacturing firm CAJH, videographers and the streetwear label Impressions, and then you definitely’re getting near the size on which AG Membership function. Their assertion of intent is obvious: “Making each single particular person in our crib a family title is primary. Everybody goes to be their very own superstar, their very own entity: that’s the aim.”
It was February when every little thing modified. When the music video for his or her infectious hip-hop anthem “Memphis” dropped, taken from their debut file Midway Off the Porch, Spotify stumbled upon AG Membership uncut gem and polished it by way of the correct aspect of the algorithm. All of the sudden, it wasn’t simply the eyes of their hometown that had been upon them, however thousands and thousands of others worldwide. They needed to resolve who they had been – earlier than the world beat them to it. AG stands for ‘avant-garde’, and so they had been eager to reside as much as it and outrun the labels that would scale back their sprawling, all-you-can-eat dynamic.
“There’s a lot strain that comes with being known as a rap collective, a lot comes with that. However I need to make it clear that we’re not afraid of that,” Fontaine insists. “We don’t concern the strain that comes with being a rap collective, so if folks need to name us that, that’s okay, however we simply don’t want it. There are such a lot of pointers with how it’s a must to act, and the way your picture needs to be. You realize, being a few smooth boys from a small city who like smooth music and cry rather a lot – we don’t need to have to suit this difficult, robust picture, as a result of if we get up and we need to paint our nails, we don’t need to must second-guess it.”
SG Membership are graduates of the college of Odd Future, raised from the feral breeding floor of the web the place individuality and an anarchistic urge for food for enjoyable are all it’s good to start a motion out of your bed room. AG Membership are a royal flush: all totally different playing cards, however all belonging to the identical swimsuit – and naturally, while you play that hand, it’s of the very best doable worth. Fontaine is a powerhouse, flooring you together with his verses, and but he’s additionally the architect of their most susceptible, resonant lyrics. Self-expression comes as a second nature to him, so being the membership’s spokesperson looks like a no brainer. Mick Anthony might be trusted for husky rap verses; and Babyboy delivers as a vocalist, spinning silky, RnB-inflected melodies. They’re robust alone, however higher collectively.
For AG Membership, the music is one side of their imaginative and prescient. “The music is simply the primary base for us,” Fontaine explains. “This isn’t all we are able to do – that is only a foot within the door.” As a multi-media collective, A$AP MOB are as a lot an affect because the comedy sketch collection Loiter Squad. “We need to accomplish that far more exterior of music, like movie and TV. We need to make every little thing cinematic. We need to create stunning tales, stunning imagery and exquisite ideas for folks. The music is simply there to assist. We wish our albums to not be greater than a soundtrack – we would like them to really feel like a rating.”
Everybody within the orbit of AG Membership can act, and virtually all of them know their method round a digital camera to such a degree that their trainer at college refused to consider they’d shot their very own music movies. The visible for his or her track “Hngover” is vignette of their troubled beginnings; it’s of a top quality that’s just a few steps shy of Hollywood precision. “We had been going to do a movie for our final album, Midway Off the Porch,” Fontaine says. “But it surely acquired too tough, as a result of, you understand, every little thing that we’re doing now’s unbiased, so we didn’t have loads of time or some huge cash. However that’s the factor I really feel that we’re chasing: the extra alternatives we get by way of music, and the extra sources we’ve got, the extra we’ll use these to assist fund our different concepts to do stuff that’s method exterior of it. We actually need to have our movies going loopy.”
Even their albums comply with a cinematic narrative. All of it started with In My Thoughts: The Prequel, an introspective EP which outlined their assertion of intent for the collective. Then got here Midway Off the Porch: “Our first file was a timepiece; it’s a snapshot of our lives at the moment, simply attempting to make that transition from the way in which we had been dwelling earlier than to dedicating every little thing to our dream,” Fontaine explains. However the place does that go away their second file, Fuck Your Expectations?
It’s the following step of their saga. Whereas they’re on the cusp of being signed, with their newest single “Columbia” being impressed by the gold rush simply over the horizon, AG Membership perceive that with these new alternatives comes an finish to enjoyable for the hell of it. Now, persons are watching, and Fuck Your Expectations is an express response to these pressures. “We don’t need to really feel like we’ve got to make one million “Memphises” to impress folks,” says Fontaine. “It’s a message to our hometown: cease anticipating this to occur such as you’ve seen it earlier than. We’re not gonna get somewhat consideration and overlook the place we got here from. We’re nonetheless the identical folks, however you’ve acquired to be accepting. When you actually fuck with the membership, you’ve acquired to simply accept no matter comes out of that. We made no guarantees. Would not have expectations – don’t, as a result of we’re simply going to do regardless of the fuck we need to do and go along with no matter feels proper.” He repeats: “Don’t count on. That’s the easiest way to get pleasure from AG Membership.”
Issues are lastly trying up, nevertheless it was a very long time coming. “Earlier than AG Membership, issues had been down unhealthy,” Fontaine sighs. It was summer time ’17, he was kicked out of his house, and until one thing modified, he was going to blindly go to school and say goodbye to every little thing. “AG Membership was divine timing,” he says. Whereas all of them had their very own musical initiatives on the time, one thing was lacking. “I really feel like music was fading, after which we had our session collectively and introduced the spark again. It was destiny.”
Taking the most important danger of not following the anticipated path of going to school, they had been on the relentless nine-to-five grind simply to make it by way of. Within the suburbs of San Francisco, changing into musicians from the ground-up was virtually laughable. “When you don’t acquired a wealthy dad, it’s like, you’re ‘bout to be right here working on the pizza place all of us used to go to in junior yr till you’re, like, fifty,” Fontaine explains. “It’s type of the scenario that so many individuals don’t go away. We needed to watch so a lot of our homies who we did this with quit, as a result of life acquired actual and so they needed to do the real looking shit. We needed to work so many shitty jobs, however we’d all the time say, ‘Rattling, bro, this isn’t for me. We gotta be on some totally different shit.’ You might see it in our eyes.”
From working a catering job that noticed them serving the obscenely wealthy, Fontaine remembers realising, in that second, that he might reside his life on this aspect – or go for broke for an opportunity to reside on that aspect. “We knew that if we put the identical vitality into music that we put into these nine-to-five jobs, we might change shit. As a result of on the finish of the day, you give your all at this job, you busy your ass, and on the finish of your time, what the fuck you gonna have to indicate for it? You’re by no means gonna be a CEO, you’re by no means going to personal McDonald’s, dawg.”
It was from love, and sink-or-swim necessity, that AG Membership carved their very own scene. In search of a possibility to carry out, Babyboy and membership member Jahan merely created their very own yard pageant. With a makeshift stage, little audio system and questionable microphones, they introduced the expertise from their metropolis to at least one place. “It was a second,” Fontaine displays. “After that, it simply erupted. Rapidly, there was this emergence of various reveals. It was only a bunch of youngsters beginning to take initiative, organising artwork reveals and live shows for folks. It developed into folks renting out precise venues for us. The final present that we did earlier than shifting to LA was on the Spirithaus in Oakland, and it was an actual full circle second for us, as a result of everybody in that crowd had been individuals who’d been going to each single present since 2017.”
It’s all a far cry from the place they’re now. Raised on a weight loss plan of A$AP MOB, who Fontaine adopted religiously rising up, the membership misplaced their minds when their supervisor Brad Scoffern, Tyler, The Creator’s former highway supervisor who now runs operations for Golf Wang, known as to say that A$AP Ferg wished to do a visitor verse on “Memphis”. “Brad all the time makes you play this guessing recreation, like, ‘Oh, some man needs to work with you. He did a track known as “Shabba”, I don’t know should you’ve heard?’ We simply misplaced it. We had been like, “WHAT? NO!” and began working round the lounge like, “That is loopy!” Even at 10am in LA, the reminiscence is greater than sufficient to convey them to life.
It’s straightforward to dismiss AG Membership as one other offshoot of BROCKHAMPTON and Odd Future; with their unbiased, DIY spirit and cartoonish hip-hop anthems, persons are fast to check. “It’s not enjoyable, you understand?” Fontaine tells me. “It’s actually not. It’s not enjoyable.” Whereas they respect BROCKHAMPTON, they insist that the group shouldn’t be amongst their inspirations. OutKast, perhaps; Odd Future, extra possible, however Fontaine has some extent to make about that. “We’re impressed by the technology earlier than us, however while you examine us to people who find themselves nonetheless younger and within the recreation, it will get somewhat irritating. Similar to, nah… We’re on the identical degree, in my thoughts, as a result of the identical individuals who impressed them, impressed us.”
He understands, nevertheless, that comparability is important. “The rationale why it’s so onerous to unfold music is that to ensure that anyone to hearken to one thing, they gotta belief it. So on the subject of comparisons, I strive to consider it like this: folks solely hearken to what feels snug and acquainted; persons are all the time going to seek out one thing deep of their reminiscence to check to some new shit that they discover. If persons are evaluating us to BROCKHAMPTON simply in order that they’ll get it and begin to perceive it – with out taking away from our personal artistic concepts – then no matter, that’s nice.”
For AG Membership, every little thing is about to alter. They’re teetering on the sting of every little thing they’d ever wished – in the event that they’d gone to school, they wouldn’t have even acquired their diploma but. Whereas their mother and father do not know of the importance of an A$AP Ferg co-sign for a collective nonetheless of their artistic infancy, they’re arriving at some extent the place they don’t care. “So long as we’ve acquired our bros, our household, and we are able to reside our lives the way in which we all the time dreamed of after we had been children, then in our eyes, we’re already profitable.” The world has lastly began to open up for AG Membership – the query is, are you prepared?
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