The Antwerp Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

To mark the release of our Warriors edition, we've teamed up with This is Antwerp to bring you 100 Antwerp Warriors, a 100-strong selection of local movers and shakers setting the tone for the neighbourhood of tomorrow. From design and architecture to contemporary art and politics, these are the creatives shaping the narrative of the future.

TheColorGrey

TheColorGrey

Rapper

Can you describe what you do?

I rap, I sing, I produce, I see myself as an artist. Whether I should be labelled as a hip-hop artist or urban artist is up to the people. Because I don’t solely do hip hop, I’ve been trying different things as I’m also experimenting with vocals. So yeah, I think I’m just an artist as in rapper, singer and producer.

What’s your daily routine like?

My daily routine is: wake up, make music, eat, make music, sleep and repeat. But I do have a little extra job on the side with Royal Delivery. Once or twice a week I pick up food orders at restaurants and deliver them at home by car. Then I go back to making music until early in the morning, sometimes 7am, go to sleep and get out of bed late again.

Who are the people you work with?

I very often work with Niel Soetaert, my guitarist. I think that he’s involved in about 85% of the work, time and effort spent on a song. There have been a couple of new additions to our label Corner Vibes as well. Thus, I’ve been working a lot with Amo Achille and Jazz Maeson. But Niel is the one I work with the most. Whenever I start with a song, I usually send it to him or he stops by to add some of his flows and vice versa.

What scene do you feel closest to?

In Antwerp, there’s not really a scene when it comes to hip hop or urban music. Not yet. But it’s slowly and surely progressing. Me and the boys on the label would love to be one of the pioneers one day. Trying to put Antwerp on the map.

How do you perceive Antwerp?

How I perceive it… Ever since my last performance in Brussels with Caballero, a great MC from Brussels and his entourage, I feel that they are really doing it. They get it. There was this whole line up of artists and the greatest part about that line up, is that the bigger artists were fraternizing with the smaller ones. Something I believe is still missing in Antwerp and that’s what I’m striving for. Artists collaborating with one another. Antwerp is a city with lots of possibilities, but we’ve got to put in work, together. Not just with music. It could be a collaboration between music and fashion as well.

But not only possibilities, also opportunities in the way people from outside of the city perceive us. The idea that artists who come to pay the city a visit know that we’re here, TheColorGrey, Arte, etc. The opportunity to put Antwerp on the map.

What would you say is Antwerp’s main appeal for creatives?

All these possibilities. There are plenty of them. But we just don’t realise it. Antwerp harbours a lot of great talent and its streets are flooded with inspiration. Perhaps that’s the reason I’ve never wanted to leave the city. I love being here, wandering around Antwerp’s South district, picking up on the simple but coolest impressions. But not only possibilities, also opportunities in the way people from outside of the city perceive us. The idea that artists who come to pay the city a visit know that we’re here, TheColorGrey, Arte, etc. The opportunity to put Antwerp on the map.

How would you say has Antwerp contributed to making you who you are today?

Antwerp has done a whole lot for me, by simply hanging out in the streets and helping me decide for myself on what’s good, what’s not, whom I wanted to hang with and whom not. Ever since I was 12, I’ve wanted to make moves. It was inspiring for me to see what I didn’t want to do. Antwerp is also the city where I got to know a great part of my friends. Growing up in a city like Antwerp, you get in touch with many people and get the chance to develop a solid network. Like my friend Anthony Nti, who’s also the director of my music videos.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city?

More collaborations. Those noticed on the outside of Antwerp. There have been many people who’ve already done a great deal for Antwerp when it comes to fashion. But when it comes to music, we need a little more. And that’s where I want to contribute.

To you, what is the best way to spend a weekend in Antwerp?

How about in the whole city? Antwerp isn’t that big. It only takes an hour to walk through the city centre. I would definitely pay a visit to the Arte shop, go check ‘t Noord (in the northern part of the city), the quay to spot the Antwerp skyline, maybe even go to the Antwerp Left Shore through the underpass, have a drink at the Marnixplaats, indulge the architectural beauty of the Cathedral and the Central Station.

Do you know a local legend, a neighborhood anecdote or an urban myth you’d like to share?

Willem Elsschot is without a doubt a local legend to me. He was a writer and has been immortalised with a statue at the Mechelseplein. He’s a greatly respected man. My dad introduced me to his writings and encouraged me to read his books. He’s one of my dad’s favourite writers. Actually, all I know about art, I’ve been taught by my dad. But if I’d need to pick a local legend from the present time, it would be Matthias Schoenaerts. Not many people from Antwerp can say that they’ve played in a movie alongside Kate Winslet. He’s a great actor. I haven’t seen all his movies yet, but from what I’ve seen so far, I can say that I really like the man.

Interview Laetitia Sabiti
Photography Miles Fischler