Fat Tony Talks How He Connected With A$AP Rocky, The Best Way To Get Into The Music Industry + More!
I got the chance to connect with rapper, Fat Tony. Fat Tony has been in the music industry for 10+ years and has some knowledge to drop! He just released his newest single "Godly" (feat. Negashi Armada) produced by Taydex and Heaven The Dude go check it out. Fat Tony's going on tour with Black Midi so keep an eye out for them coming to a city near you!
You're from Houston, Texas right? What was your upbringing like?
I grew up in Third Ward, a historic black neighborhood that was home to the Houston chapter of the Black Panthers and many great artists. Beyoncé, Solange, and Big Moe are from my neighborhood. I began booking shows for friends and bands I liked in high school. At the time I didn’t see many people my age in venues performing their music or organizing shows. I was extremely enthusiastic and was encouraged by friends and strangers to keep at it. I organized shows locally for about a year until I began performing.
How did you first get into creating music?
I’ve been making music since 2005. I first got into music by freestyling with friends at school, like most people. I was already completely obsessed with music as a fan. I just channeled that energy into learning more about performing, songwriting, and recording yourself at home. I released my first EP in 2008 and my first album RABDARGAB in 2010. I feel like when the first album released my career started in music. I looked up to punk bands like Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Bikini Kill, Black Flag, the Ramones, etc. I loved their independent spirit. Those bands and their scenes are what lead me to want to organize shows myself and record and release my own music. I got into punk through Blink 182 and just went down the wormhole of bands they covered early on in their careers like NOFX and the Descendents. That led me to proto-punk like the New York Dolls and the Stooges, first-wave punk like the Ramones and the Clash, second-wave punk like the Germs and Fear, and more. The very first show I organized was for New Jersey-based pop-punk band The Ergs. I had no idea what I was doing but I emailed them and offered them a Houston show on their tour. I found a venue, made a flyer and mailed the flyer to kids in my school’s student directory that I thought would be into this music. I also posted flyers at skate shops, record stores, coffee shops, and pretty much anywhere I saw local concerts advertised. Houston has a rich history of rap music so I was influenced by local stars like Devin the Dude, UGK, Scarface, DJ Screw, and Lil’ Keke. I always kept my ear to any and everything happening in Hip-Hop but I was especially into Native Tongues groups like De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, Memphis groups like Three 6 Mafia, and Bay Area artists like E-40, Souls of Mischief, Mac Dre, and Too Short. The first CD I ever bought was Kriss Kross’ Totally Krossed Out when I was about 9 years old. That album was a few years old by the time I got it but I was blown away to see children rapping! That was the very first moment I thought I could make music too.
You've worked a lot with producer Shaka Girvan aka "Dope Pope" from Atlanta-based rap group Supreeme. He seems to be your go-to producer, how did you first connect with him?
We first connected because I was a huge fan of Murs. Murs was like a mentor to Supreeme. He helped them get their first record deal and brought them on tours. I heard about Supreeme through his website. He compared them to Souls of Mischief and that made me very curious. Shaka Girvan (aka GLDN_EYE, aka Tom Cruz) was the producer in Supreeme. His mom’s family is from Houston and lived two streets over from my family. We began chatting on Myspace and met when he came to Houston for the holidays in 2007. Supreeme was signed to Warner Bros and Mike Dean was coming to work with Supreeme to mix their record. Pimp C passed away December 2007 and Mike Dean was taking time off to mourn his friend. Since Shaka had so much free time we just started hanging out constantly and decided we’d make a project together at the end of his trip. That project eventually became RABDARGAB.
Your debut album, "RABDARGAB" was released on October 19th, 2010. Produced entirely by Shaka Girvan. Why did you choose him to produce your whole album?
He was the first producer I connected with that I really admired. I like the way he thinks and he made an effort to guide me as a songwriter. His style was unique and has a unique quality to my music was extremely important to me. Too many producers follow trends to “make it” and he was never like that. My home is with musicians that go against the grain.
The producer Soufien lives in France, I believe, so we’ve never met. I connected with Rocky through A$AP Yams. We followed each other online. He posted OG Ron C’s “Chopped Up, Not Slopped Up” remix of my RABDARGAB album I called SCREWDARGAB on his blog “Real Nigga Tumblr.” Yams DM'd me and invited to their session. They recorded at the same studio I used, Ish Lab in DUMBO, Brooklyn with the engineer Daniel Lynas. We kicked it one night while they recorded “Peso” and “Get Lit”. We talked a lot about Houston music, especially DJ Screw. They asked me to talk over the “Get Lit” record like folks used to do on Screw’s tapes. We spent all night talking, drinking, and having a damn good time. I didn’t get home until like 7 am.
I initially made the song with Shy Guy in NYC. I met Maxo Kream once and became a fan of his music after looking into it. I invited him to get on the song. He came to my friend iLL Faded’s studio and laid it down in one night. Maxo is a solid dude. He came through with a friend and had the verse ready to go. He was in and out and on time like a professional. He’s one of the best rappers I’ve ever collaborated with.
Let's talk about "MacGregor Park" released December of 2015 produced by Shaka Girvan. Can you run us through creating that song with Shaka?
We’re both huge fans of Houston rap music (I can’t say it enough) and wanted to make something that sounded true to the music DJ Screw made. Something with a slow tempo, heavy drums, heavy bass, and some DJ scratches throughout the track. I wrote the song based on the kind of things that may happen in MacGregor Park when you’re a young man. MacGregor Park is in my childhood neighborhood and I’ve always known as a place where young people gathered on Sundays to hang out, play basketball, or show off their cars. One of my first times drinking alcohol was passing around a bottle of MD 20/20 with my friends in that park after-hours. We heard a security guard’s voice and saw his flashlights and hightailed it out of there. That incident inspired the first verse. The other two verses were a mix of fantasy and a time in high school when a guy ran up on me after he saw me standing with his girlfriend at our bus stop. Truly the kind of thing that only happens when you’re 18 and under.
As someone who's been in the rap game 10+ years what have, you learned as an artist over the career you've had?
I’ve learned that the trick is to keep digging deeper as a musician to reveal who you are in your work. It does not always have to be autobiographical. I believe that often the things we imagine when we daydream are who we are. Communicating that through our music is more authentic than falling in line with a trend or chasing a hit song. I wish I knew the importance of keeping your body healthy early on because consistent performance will take a toll on anyone if you’re not careful. It’s important to not eat junk food late at night after your shows. It’s important to drink plenty of water if you’ll have alcohol at your show. Just general well-being tips that I think a lot of young people, especially musicians, don’t think about until they get a bit older.
What makes you and your music different than other artists?
My music is different because it’s me. I’m unique because of my background, my tastes, and my imagination. I’m a Nigerian-American rapper who is blessed to have grown up with well-educated parents, a vibrant community of black intellectuals, and an open-minded thirst for music and art of all disciplines. But it’s not really up to me to say what makes me different. That’s your job. I’m just here to create and enjoy life along the way.
What's the best way to get into the music scene as an artist?
Study the music that came before you, observe what’s going on around you, talk, and listen to people for advice. And that goes for everything from the creative side to the business. Don’t play yourself by not asking who, what, where, when, and why.
What's on the horizon for your music career in 2019?
I just signed to Carpark Records. My new album Wake Up (produced by Taydex) was released yesterday! Next month I’m on tour with Black Midi. My next album will be out February 7th, 2020. Between now and Christmas I’ll be working with GLDN_EYE on an album we’ll release fall 2020. I’ve got an EP and some non-album singles coming out between now and summer 2020 too. Always expect more music.
11/6 - Chicago, IL *
11/7 - Detroit, MI *
11/8 - Toronto, ON *
11/9 - Montreal, QC *
11/12 - Philadelphia, PA *
11/13 - Washington, D.C. *
11/15 - Carrboro, NC *
11/16 - Atlanta, GA *
11/17 - Nashville, TN *