Today’s interview subject is one of the coolest cats I’ve literally only had the pleasure of meeting once (my fault, not his). But, that in-person meeting left a good impression. Antoine Butler is a formidable personality who uses software engineering as but one of his many outlets. Enjoy peeking into his mind in this Black Perspective.
Introducing: Antoine Butler
SSD: Jumping right in, tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.
AB: Just for kicks, I’ll describe myself like an Instagram bio… 80s baby, got 3 big babies, a fur baby, and a Bae B! Or like a slam poet… I’m russet-wrapped, mahogany dichotomy. I love words, music, film, and philosophy. Passions aside, I’m a software engineer by profession. Self-taught, for better and worst. Web development, my medium of choice, is a pretty volatile space.
SSD: LOL @ the Instagram bio bit —
What inspired you to get into what you’re doing?
AB: I’ve always been technology-friendly. My mother was in IT before it was cool. She even pushed me to get my A+ certification way back in the day. I never followed through with it, but it made my return to tech later in life that much easier.
I was making music, and a friend of a friend gifted me a Flash website to promote my music. Unsatisfied with the end product, I downloaded some applications, bought a book, and started to learn how to make one myself.
A few years later, I was paying for studio time with web design freelance checks. Eventually, it became a full-time job that led me to work with advertising agencies, silicon valley start-ups, and national brands.
SSD: You were in the studio back in the day?! That’s what’s up! What type of music did you make, and what led to your current work winning out over going further down the rabbit hole with music?
AB: It was 100% hip hop, with lyrics that bounced between poverty porn and social upliftment. Kinda just depended on what I was going through at the time of recording.
Related, with success and new experiences came new perspectives.
My subject matter leaned towards creative narratives, hustle economics, and cultural empowerment. The more money I made, the more diverse people I met, the more places I went – the less I felt the more money, more power, more respect mentality. So I leaned into what was providing me and mine, a better life. The work, not the music.
The work and my speed of success still fueled my ego, but less destructively.
SSD: What’s a tip that you’d give someone who sees you, is inspired, and wants to follow in your footsteps?
AB: Don’t wait for help. Don’t ask for permission. Grab a book, sign up for an online class, and just get to coding. Learn to love proof of concepts and minimally viable products, and learn to constantly iterate.
Relearn, rethink, and recode everything. Too often, I see young developers apply for their first gig with unfinished work in their portfolios.
Make things for friends and family and treat them with the attention to detail an employer would want to see. Without a degree or a good resume, a rich portfolio will get you very far.
Lastly, get a mentor. It doesn’t have to be someone that looks like you – but it has to be someone who sees and respects all of you.