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Darren E. Johnson (born March 5, 1966 New York, NY), also known by his pseudonym ANTTEX, is an American recording artist, record producer, photographer and filmmaker from Addisleigh Park, Queens, New York.
Early life and education[edit | hide all | hide | edit source]
Darren William Eugene Johnson was born in New York to parents William E. Johnson Jr. and Christine Johnson. Johnson was taught photography by Jules T. Allen at Queensboro Community College where he majored in Fine Arts.
ANTTEX is one many pseudonyms Johnson developed as graffiti artist and DJ during the eighties. After being arrested on multiple occasions by New York Transit cops who knew him as Vega 5, he began regularly changing his tag to hide his identity.
Career[edit | hide | edit source]
Johnson performed during the nineties as ANTTEX on Tuff City Records, Libra Records and Noise Gallery Records. He produced records for other recording artists during the 90s using the pseudonyms ANTTEX, LIBRA Records, Dem Kids from Queens, Noise Gallery and Clarence Beaks & Noise Gallery. He produced records, rhythm arrangements and Re-mixes for Color Me Badd, Tony Thompson, Legit, mMOMENTUMm, Company Flow, Nuttin' Nyce, KB Dub, Noise Gallery, Controversy, Noise Gallery with ANTTEX, Joe, Ce Ce Peniston, Chief Kamachi, Waterjug, Champ S, Mack Daddy Malik, Lakim Shabazz, Mobb Deep (Havoc, Prodigy, Lil D and Killa Sha.)
ANTTEX signed to Aaron Fuchs Tuff City Records in 1989. He released his first single featuring ‘Tiger Strips and Palm Palm Trees and Susie and Shane using the name ANTTEX and the Clik. The record first aired on DJ Rob One's Fly ID Show in California. The Clik consisted of Ike Lee III, Freedom Lyles, Ron Rhythm, Mack Daddy Malik, Havoc, Killa Sha aka Prince AD, Omega Supreme, and Lil D. He eventually released an album entitled 'Suburban Etiquette', which he described as a parody of late eighties and early nineties hip hop culture. He shot three music videos as a recording artist on Tuff City, Understand Me Vanessa co-starring Bryce Wilson (Groove Theory) and Judy Reyes (Scrubs), Understand Me Vanessa Remix co-starring Havoc, Killa Sha and Lil’ D (Mobb Deep) and On the Corner co-Starring Big Juss (Company Flow).
In 1991, ANTTEX got a job with Lyor Cohen and Francesca Spero at Def Jam/Rush subsidiary RUSH Producers Management where he charged with finding Hip Hop Producers such as William "Mista Lawng" McLean (Black Sheep), Leaders of the New School, Diamond D and Easy Mo B production and remix work. While working there he was introduced to Havoc, Prodigy, Killa Sha and Lil’ D of Mobb Deep who at the time called themselves The Poetical Prophets. He and Havoc later renamed the group Mobb Deep and began shopping their demo with help of Jamel Hughes (Noise Gallery), David Mantel, Ali Shaheed Muhammad (Tribe Called Quest), DJ Omega Supreme (Organized Konfusion), Francesca Spero and Lyor Cohen. Russell Simmons refused to sign them to Def Jam. The first serious interest was drawn from Bonz Malone, Denny Cordell and Chris Blackwell at Island Records. After news about Islands offer – combined with a timely blurb about Mobb Deep in The Source magazine a bidding war ensued. The group was subsequently courted several record companies. Matching offers were proffered by Puffy Combs and Electra Records' Dante Ross. Shortly before closing the deal, Havoc accidentally shot a RUSH employee in the RUSH Management offices Elizabeth Street in New York. ANTTEX was nearly fired because of the incident but given a pardon by Lyor with condition that “those kids” stay out of the office. ANTTEX proceeded to do crisis management in an attempt to prevent Island from hearing about the incident. He successfully got Havoc out of jail, convinced the victim to not press charges and kept Island cool and interested in going forward with the deal. Unfortunately, a newspaper article came out that same week based on information from ANTTEX’s statement leaked by the cops. With the assistance of Lyor Cohen, Francesca Spero and David Mantel ANTTEX closed the Island deal despite the bad press.
ANTTEX parted ways with Def Jam/RUSH Management after disagreements. He started a management company with Tse Williams, Jamel Hughes and DJ Omega Supreme called Big Arm Management. The first artists they represented were MOBB DEEP and Ce Ce Peniston. After tensions over a management contract and other incidents, ANTTEX cut ties with them.
ANTTEX was a partner at Jessie Maidbrey’s LIBRA Records. He functioned as the A&R director, executive producer and college radio promoter of LIBRA’s hip-hop releases. The first act he signed to the label was Company Flow whose first and only single for the label was “Juvenile Techniques”. A feud ensued about the follow up single, the parties couldn’t reach an agreement and parted ways. ANTTEX continued produce and promote records with LIBRA Records, Tuff City Records, Giant Records, Jive Records and the WEA (Warner, Electra, Atlantic) Group until 1996.
ANTTEX was arrested in West Orange, New Jersey during the mid nineties for a firearms violation, but avoided jail time when he qualified for a pre-trail intervention program.
ANTTEX walked away from the music business in 1997. During his hiatus he took classes in computer graphics at The School of Visual Arts. He reemerged as a filmmaker in 2002. In 2003, he began working with Michael Tadross as an assistant producer on the films Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding and Hitch. He worked alongside Michael Tadross and Akiva Goldsman as an assistant producer on Hancock and I am Legend. He worked with actor and director Tim Rouhana to produce the short filmsPath of Most Resistance and Public Relations. He wrote and produced the television movie Taylor Made along with producer and director Danny Roth.
Johnson currentlyTemplate:When produces films and music independently using the pseudonym Tawdry Beast. He has directed music videos for Suzanne Real, Chief Kamachi and Mickey Z. He is currently the subject of a documentary being produced by DJ Nola Jae and Aaron Krueger called 'Tawdry Beast'.
Personal life[edit | hide | edit source]
Johnson has a daughter and a stepdaughter.