SoulClap: Tony, you’re a veteran on the mic how does it come that you don’t have an album out, yet?
Tony: (laughs) Well, the truth is, I haven’t been in the right place personally to do exactly what I want. You have to have the right everything. As an emcee, you want to say the right balance of things to show respect for your audience, but you also want to do the sh#$% to bang in the trunk. That takes time and loot, and when you have other responsibilities, it’s very difficult.
SoulClap: I passed many of your tracks to a lot of people and the response was crazy, almost everybody just wants to hear more from you. Didn’t you have any label opportunities?
Tony: Honestly, i don’t think I was ever taken that seriously. When I came here to Cali, there was so many cliques and things moving. I kinda got lost in the sauce as they say. I lacked the proper representation to push my career forward. Back in the late 90′s, my crew, ‘Tha Supaheroz,’ negotiated with Def Jam West’s Tina Davis, but nothing happened. After, the crew disbanded, I just went back to what I know best, battling.
SoulClap: You were in a battle that was hosted by EA Sports back in 2004, what was the story behind it and what happened there?
Tony: Well, my good friend, Mona Lisa, got me an audition in this EA Sports Livestyle Rap Competition back in February of 2004. I went to the qualifying audition the fall before the Allstar game took place. I’m more of a “hole in the wall” club battler. I say whatever is going to cut you hard. This thing, was more of a corporate type event, and it totally threw me off. I dominate the fall qualifier, then, had to wait four months for the finals. When the finals came, my mind wasn’t in it. It just didn’t excite me. It was sponsored by Nike, and held at Niketown, West Hollywood. Hosted by Jermaine Dupri, and Judged by Lil’ Kim, Swiss Beats, and Big Boy of Power 106FM. The winner was Joel Ortiz. They took four finalist from the east and West. I lost the decision before facing Ortiz. The judges thought I slipped, but I was “actually” freestyling and tried to edit myself from cursing during the flow. But it was a good experience all the same and it’s good to see another hungry emcee (Ortiz) get in there. My time I guess, will come.
SoulClap: You was born in Chicago, but you moved to LA when you were 18. What was the reason for that?
Tony: My mother was out here then and i told her I wanted to see it. I was born in Chicago, raised there and Davenport, Ia (the QC). I moved here when I was 18 and been here ever since. My mom was here and I knew I wanted to see Cali and get in the entertainment atmosphere. My first year I worked all the time and saw nothing but Lynwood where I started, then we moved to Long Beach. I learned my way around, and boom I started finding different circles to stick my head in and be known the dude that is crazy with it off the head, at any time, all day (laughs). At least that’s what the people would say. I met everybody in LA that was tight, we all had a mutual respect on some hip-hop sh$%. But you know how things change on some Hollywood s$#% (laughs)
SoulClap: What is your current situation?
Tony: Right now I’m recording a new project and working with a few of the hottest on the verge producers. My good friend, Drame, from OC California, and of course the world famous Dj SoulClap from Germany. I can’t wait to hear the complete project. I finally have a great chemistry of producers, and a core sound that defines me a bit better. I still have a little work to do, but I think the heads will l appreciate what I’m trying to do and how I’m trying to do it. It’s all about quality for me.
SoulClap: When can we expect that to drop?
Tony: You tell me Clap (laughs) Naw, I’m shooting for Winter 07 with a follow up in the Spring 08.
SoulClap: Ok, let’s talk about Hip Hop in general. How do you see the current state of Hip Hop? How do you experience it in your own environment?
Tony: I see it as everyone else does, jacked up. I think there’s just a simple lack of variety. That’s the only difference. Before, there was more variety accessible to the mainstream. Now, there’s little or none. Hip-Hop is alive. There’s just noone bringing to your doorstep anymore. You have to go and find what you want. Hint, Hint fans….(laughs)
Fans can’t expect the music industry to provide them with alternatives to choose from. They have their own interests. If you want what you consider as “real hip-hop” you have to go and seek those artists and blow them up into the mainstream.
Here in Cali, unfortunately, the vibe has been lost. It’s not like it was when i moved here. Now, it’s just alot of networking events that people call “clubs” and yaddah, yaddah. Cats can’t even afford to particiate in hip-hop anymore, it’s wack! You almost have to be flossy. A lot of dope cats I know have straight quit on hip-hop and that’s bad for the art, and everyone.
SoulClap: Who do you think, is currently selling records with good music? Who is holding the torch in the mainstream for real Hip Hop?
Tony: Common of course, Go Chi-town! (laughs) And Kanye is too, kinda, but he’s kinda playin the fence. But, I think that’s a good place to play in today’s market. So, I love what he’s doing, too. Get at me fellas what’s up ?!? (laughs) And, that Talib is f$#%in crazy. That must be his f-you album, and I totally feel him. Those are the obvious. I feel like behind the scenes, Master P has impressed me, I like where his head is at now. Lil’ Wayne and T.I definitely get respectful nods for lyrical growth. And, I love the diversity of LudaCris. That cat is like a machine.
I like that my favourites have begun to resurface like Keith Murray, Redman, and Meth. Oh and Ghostfaces Fishscale, and Mo Fish are holdin it for the headbangers out there tryin to breath. I even like what Will I am does cause I understand his method of working the industry with variety. Did I forget Andre 3000 if so shoot me now! (laughs)
SoulClap: Who were the heroes of your childhood? Who influenced you as an MC and are they still making good music today?
Tony: I was highly influenced by the early years of Def Jam, and anything else I could get my hands on. I love BDP, I graduated from KRS-one university (laughs) Eric B & Rakim, LL Cool J, PE, and EPMD created my childhood soundtrack. I also was an early 80s MTV head. I know damn near everything from Depeche Mode to Van Halen. I’ve always been a sponge for music and I regurgitate it back through me in my rhymes.
SoulClap: Since you mentioned MTV, which role do the radio and TV play in todays society? Which effect do they have on the taste of the listeners/viewrs?
Tony: I think it’s a visual age right now. Everyone wants to know and see things FIRST, anything. So, music fans, not just hip-hop fans in general, are directly influenced by what they see. Therefore, if you as the artist have the ability to create the image, it can also become a reality, at least to your fans if they’re believing in you and what you represent. That’s good and bad, cause the fans are being hustled. That’s like you play b-ball and can’t dribble, so you talk about how good you look in the jersey (laughs) and the fans are captivated by your sparkly jersey instead of your game. But you have to understand, that TV really has no societial obligation to its viewers, as long as you watch you have to decide whether you BUY it or not (accept it).
SoulClap: Is there anything you want to tell the readers in the end?
Tony: The only things i want to conclude with are this: emcees out there, I know you hate your day jobs, but that’s part of it, we’ll get there. Keep you skills sharp. Listeners: demand more from these cats you supply such a lavish lifestyle. don’t let them play dumb, while simultaneously stick their d#$5 in your child’s ear. and finally: rappers……haters……critcs……make room
SoulClap: Thanks for the nice interview!
Tony: No, thank you!