I first heard Houston rapper Fat Tony on Das Racist’s Sit Down, Man tape on the song “Luv It Mayne.“I had been seeing Tony pop up as a guest on a bunch of rappers songs for a while after that, but it took me a while to check out his solo stuff. This past July Fat Tony and his homie the producer/rapper Tom Cruz dropped a collab mixtape with the awesome title “Double Dragon.” My interest in Fat Tony as well as that tape’s name drew me to it right away. Once I checked out Double Dragon I kinda kicked myself for having been sleeping on Tony.
I met Fat Tony and Tom Cruz when they played a show with our friends Kool A.D and Lakutis in Boston back in the beginning of August. Due to my own dumbness, my interview with Tony (which was supposed to happen a week after that show) took almost two and half months (did I do that math right? Doesn’t matter…it was a long time) to happen. But it did! I talked with Fat Tony via phone about working with Tom Cruz, cheap jackets, The beauty of bad movies, Murs, his new album and more…
Nick Vogt: How are you, man?
Fat Tony: I’m about to play a show in Houston. My friends were supposed to play at the Houston wine festival this past weekend, but the whole even got rained out. They didn’t earn what they thought they were going to earn. So, they’re doing an event tonight to raise money. Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Cool. And you’re playing with them tonight?
Fat Tony: Yes. Live in Houston, Texas. Showing naked ass in the great state of Texas.
Are you from Houston?
Fat Tony: I’m from Houston, Texas. Third Ward Houston to be exact. Southside of Houston. Home to many legends. Such as Big Moe. And more.
And you…But, that’s cool. You’re gonna get to play a show in your hometown tonight then.
Fat Tony: Yes sir. I played several hometown shows recently. On the Kool A.D tour we did a show in Houston. And we did the Fat Tony and Tom Cruz “Double Dragon” mixtape release party back in July as kind of a last minute thing so…surprise surprise. We keep on coming for that ass.
How did you get started rapping and making music?
Fat Tony: I was in middle school. I was walking to my 7th period history class, coming from P.E. I was listening to my walkman, jamming to radio. And they played Cam’Ron “Oh Boy,” you know the classic produced by Just Blaze? It was my first time hearing the song and I was just like mesmerized by it. I ran to my three friends and I was like “We gon be a fuckin rap group! You gon be our manager! You gon be a rapper! You go rap, too and I’m gonna produce!” I went home and I was like “I gotta bring some beats back for these boys!” But, I didn’t know how to make beats at all.
So, what I did is I got on the internet, I went to Soundclick.com and I found some free beats I thought sounded okay. I pulled out my little Radioshack tape recorder, I recorded the shit, I put it on a tape and brought it to school the next day like “Ah man we about to rap to this!” The next grade I got a little more advanced with it. I had a homeboy that had a lot of speakers and mics and stuff. We went out to his house one evening and chilled and recorded. The first two songs I really recorded was on Mobb Deep’s beat for “Win Or Lose” and over a Pete Rock beat. And we sampled that Pimp C line from “Big Pimpin” that line “What you know about them Texas Boys?” I forget what we called the song we made over the “Win Or Lose Beat.” But, it was something very revolutionary and powerful.
That’s awesome. It’s so cool that Dipset was your big inspiration to rap.
Fat Tony: Oh, man. Dipset was so big. Shit…in the 9th grade and 8th grade we loved Dipset super hard. When I first heard “Oh Boy” I really liked that song. Then I started hearing some other stuff like Juelz Santana and I was kinda turned off by it. But then I started listening really hard and was like “Oh damn this shit is genius.” Sometimes when something is really really good, it’s so different to you and turns you off at first. But, once you give it a chance you start to see the beauty in it.
For sure. I was kinda the same way about Juelz. I was gonna ask about your influences. You’re obviously from Houston which has a pretty established scene and sound, but I think your music and you as a rapper sound like you could be from anywhere really.
Fat Tony: I think that’s just a sign of the times. A lot of us have now grew up being able to listen to all kinds of rap. Growing up I got to listen to a lot of East Coast stuff, West Coast stuff, Bay Area stuff. There’s so much rap in this great country that it’s kinda hard not to get sucked into all of it. All the time making music I never thought about how it sounds. I just kinda let it be what it was.
The first time I heard you was on that “Luv It Mayne” track. How did you link with Das Racist to make that happen? That’s kinda how I found out about you. Was that song what got you out there and made people pay attention to you? Or was that just me?
Fat Tony: I think people knew about me for sure. But, once I linked up with Das Racist it definitely reached out to a bigger audience. I linked up with Kool A.D first. I played a show in New York at the silent bar. It was a Kool A.D solo set. I was kinda doing a mini East Coast tour. And we just bonded. I thought he was really funny and really creative. I was kind of a fan of Das Racist before that. I thought they were really funny and cool and poking fun at the genre. But, once I saw Kool A.D in person, I was like “yo, this is my kinda dude right here.” He was like, “Yo, the next time you come up to New York, maybe you could play a show with my group? Maybe we can play a bigger show than this?” I was sending out “Luv It Mayne” to friends of mine to do a remix and Das Racist were the only people that came through with it. And, I’m glad. We ended up making a classic.
That’s cool. What about Tom Cruz? How did you first link up with him?
Fat Tony: Tom Cruz is from Atlanta, Georgia. He used to be in this rap group called Supreme. They were associated with this LA rapper named Murs. And I was a huge Murs fan in High School. Through being a Murs fan, I became a fan of Supreme. I used to listen to all their shit. Straight up that’s my favorite rap group to this day.
That’s crazy because I saw Supreme open for the Clipse in Northampton, Massachusetts in like ‘06 or ‘07.
Fat Tony: Wow. Very rare show.
Yeah. I went to that show with my sister and we were expecting Supreme to suck. I’m kinda judgemental of opening bands. Like if I don’t know them I expect them to suck. Which isn’t positive, I know. But, anyway, I was expecting Supreme to suck, but they didn’t. Not only that but they were so weird it was awesome. The way they dressed and everything. And they gave everyone in the audience champagne. They were like “we’re gonna celebrate New Years!” but it was April. Or maybe March or something. It wasn’t New Years though. It’s funny because my sister and I tried to look them up and find their music after that show and really couldn’t. When I met Tom Cruz at your Boston show I had no idea he was in Supreme! How weird…
Fat Tony: Oh yeah I’ll send you some stuff if you wana check out some more Supreme. Yeah Tom Cruz is from Atlanta, but he was born in Austin, Texas. His mom’s side of the family lives in Houston, Texas. When he was coming here to mix a Supreme album it turned out his grandma lived in the same neighborhood where my family lived. The first time I met him I linked up with him and we went to the studio. This is back when I was making my first solo record back in 2007. The first time I met him we went in the studio and we made this track. He got on a verse of a song I had. He played me some beats and the beats were fire. And then he hit me up like “yo, you wanna make a little project?” And this was like winter of ’07. From then till 2010 we made a song here and there.
And you guys just did a tape.
Fat Tony: We did the Double Dragon mixtape which is a collabo type of album. Like a Watch The Throne type of album. I have a new album coming out in January called Smart Ass Black Boy and Tom Cruz produced that whole thing, too. It’s probably the best work I’ve ever done in my life and probably the best beats he’s ever made in his life.
Is Tom Cruz rapping on there, too?
Fat Tony: It’s a solo album but he’s on a couple songs. He’s singing on one song and then rapping a guest verse on another song.
Awesome. Going back to Double Dragon…have you seen the movie?
Fat Tony: I have seen the movie, man. I am 24 years old. Of course I’ve seen Double Dragon. What I recall is that it’s pretty awful.
Yeah, it’s terrible.
Fat Tony: Just like the Super Mario movie. Which is also trash. I would really like to see it now. Now that I’m older I kinda have a fondness for terrible movies. There’s kind of a beauty in a garbage ass flick. People put there money and their time into it and it’s kinda cute seeing people acting all bad.
So, you like the Double Dragon games obviously.
Fat Tony: Yeah. And it’s funny because I never had a Nintendo growing up. But, my cousin across the street had a Nintendo and I would go play Double Dragon at his house a bunch. And it was just a really easy game I could get into. Walking around, beating up people, trying to save this girl. It’s a pretty easy concept for a young boy to get into.
Yeah and it makes for a great title for a collab album. I think that as an album it’s something people can relate to a lot more than Watch The Throne. I like Watch The Throne, but it’s all about balling and being rich and I can’t really relate to that at all. Double Dragon is more funny and more down-to-earth and about real things.
Fat Tony: Double Dragon is definitely not like the Watch The Throne album. But, I’m just giving an easy comparison for the viewer out there. We really called it Double Dragon because it’s two forces coming together. Tom Cruz brings a force and I bring a force. We both compliment each other. We both pick up on what each other lacks. And we both have something great that the other person doesn’t have.
Is “Denim Guinness Boys” kinda like your crew of you and Tom Cruz?
Fat Tony: It’s a crew, but it’s just us in it really. We grew up drinking Guinness because I’m Nigerian and his parents are Jamaican. And in African and Caribbean areas Guinness is a very popular drink. It’s the first beer I ever had. And it’s the only beer I’ve seen my family drink ever. And I just kinda got into wearing denim. I got this cool denim jacket in this small town in Texas for like three or four bucks and I started wearing that all the time. Mixing up that with the Guinness and you’ve got the best boys in town.
What about your goals for the future? You have a new album coming out Smart Ass Black Boy… is there other stuff you’re working on?
Fat Tony: I’m waiting for this album to come out. But, in the mean time I’m doing a bunch of shit. I’ve been doing some feature tracks. I’ve got an album with Hot Sugar coming out. I’ve got some stuff coming out with Kool A.D. I’ve got some stuff coming out with Cities Aviv…a bunch of stuff. Every time I do an album I make sure I jump on features to make sure there’s a lot of Fat Tony to spread around.
Yeah, you do a lot of features. You must like doing it.
Fat Tony: Features, to me, is a chance to break out of the “album mode.” You know, just like friends kicking back, drinking some Guinness, making up something new. It’s a chance to work with different kinds of producers and artists I wouldn’t get to work with normally. I’m always open to do features and stuff. I never do it on some random shit. I’m not the kinda guy that’s just putting out an email asking folks like “Send me beats!” or “hit me up about features!” I like working with people I’m cool with and have a rapport with in real life.
Which is how it should be.
Fat Tony: It’s real important to have some respect to this music. If you’re just going around doing features with any old Joe, you’re just whoring yourself and your talent out. And that kills the art I think- Nick Vogt