Antone Exum is best known for his 6-year career in the NFL and currently plays for the San Fransisco 49ers. In addition to his football career, he’s also decided to pursue his passion for music, releasing music under the name EXUM. I got the chance to talk to Antone about what made now the right time to taking music as a career seriously, what inspired his latest single “Officer Kaepernick”, what he’s currently nerding out about and more! Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Most people probably know you for your career in the NFL. But when/how did your love of music begin?
I’ve always been intrigued by sound. Also, I’ve always been fascinated with writing and expressing feelings on paper. Music is able to move me.
What made now the right time to start pursuing music professionally? Was there a specific moment or person that helped you decide that music is something you actually wanted to put time and effort into and put out in the world?
I just was tired of holding it back. I had been recording for a year or so, maybe even longer. It just felt like it was time to share what I had been creating. I want it to touch other people how it touches me.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey with their music. Your music would obviously be classified as hip-hop, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?
I don’t think it would obviously be considered “hip-hop”. If you listen to the small catalog of music I have out right now, I make what I want to make. I’m not concerned with genres or titles. It’s free, emotionally reflective music. Keep in mind that there are a multitude of emotions, not just sadness. I just want you to be able to feel something when you listen, whatever that is. I want the music to take you somewhere.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Film, nature, Chelsea, life happenings, and other music are some of my musical influences.
So let’s talk about your latest single, “Officer Kaepernick”, which is an indictment of systemic racism. What compelled you to write about this specific issue?
The beat came on and something in my head triggered “call the police”. At the time, there was turmoil involving police enforcement and other governmental injustices, so I just put two cents in.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into what it was like specifically for this song.
All I remember is sitting at my mom’s kitchen table and looking for beats on YouTube. That one rung for me, so I started mumbling cadences and sooner or later I got to “call the police”. It was on the stove from there. The song wrote itself.
In terms of the name, the single is named after Colin Kaepernick. Why specifically did you want to name it after him? And was that always the plan or did that idea come to you once most of the song was already written?
I named it after him because it was a clever thing to do, as he’s spoken on issues included in the song. Additionally, it was also a marketing move. Looking back, I kind of wish I didn’t because it has become more of a thing about Kaepernick’s stance than the actual music, but it is what it is.
Were there any major changes made to “Officer Kaepernick” once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
We added drums at the end.
I know that in addition to this single, you’ve released two others. Do you have any plans to release an EP or a full length project any time soon?
I do. I have music that is like 95% finished, but I need it reach 100%. Also, I’ve been writing. I’m going to record another batch of songs soon hopefully. I’m not sure when my next release will be though. I’ve been focused on football day in and day out. I’m currently looking for producers to work with, so if you know any let me know. Or if any producers are reading this, hit me up!
When it comes to your music career, what are some of your goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
I want to be performing in front of huge crowds, sharing my music, energy, and message with the masses! I want to release an album that withstands the test of time. I aspire to create a timeless sound.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently “nerding” out about?
I am really into an artist out of Norway named Pen Gutt. The sound is so fresh; it’s airy but also bouncy and groovy. The language barrier doesn’t bother me at all. In fact, I’m intrigued by it. It has inspired me to want to learn the Norwegian language now. The song “Bare Dans”, in particular, is one of the best songs I’ve heard.