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interview // tony stone

How did you begin producing and who was your inspiration?


Man, I began tinkering with beats back in around 94ish, around that time, I was actually listening to Christian Hip-Hop! Me and a friend of mine, a cat named Joey Brockway, we’d get in my room and make remixes of the craziest songs- Disney pictures to our favorite Christian rap songs, haha. I then started studying the art of beat making by listening to rap beats, trying to find out how they got their bass to rumble haha! Now as far as my musical inspiration, I grew up listening to a lot of the old school gospel and soul records, as well as growing up in an old school black church where I learned to play the drums at a fairly young age. All those musical influences I believe impacted my music to a degree. Ultimately it was God giving me all these beat ideas, because the only rap that I really even listened to was gospel hip-hop, and that’s all. I wasn’t raised listening to any of the “classic golden era” hip-hop artists or nothing, which makes it kind of trippy, because I still listen to beats that I made years ago and they vibe nicely, yet I had not heard hardly any of the rappers of the day. As a matter of fact, I believe the first time I heard a full Tupac song was in 1999 or something late like that. I just didn’t follow hip-hop, so the sound I was putting out back some years ago was largely untainted.


Who was the first artist to use a Tony Stone Beat?


That’s a VERY tough question for me- I have a hard time tracking that down. The first released album (that I know of) with my tracks on there would be Braille, Shades of Grey, but that’s definitely not the first rapper to rap on my tracks. Historically, ignoring whether I was calling myself “Tony Stone” then or not, the first guys to rock on my beats would be as follows: myself, a friend named Joey, 2 local rappers named “Ohmega Red” and “MYC”, one of my guys a cat named Julius, another guy of mines named Paco, another cat named Julius, and finally a guy named Gudo. This question literally took me 20 minutes to answer haha!


What types of equipment do you currently use?


I use my computer and a program called making waves audio. This was the first piece of software that I tried back in about 98 or so. I learned how to use it inside and out and saw no need to switch. I use a bunch of random programs, I usually am drawn to the stuff that gets shunned off or written off by most, then take it and make something hot out of it. I’m a big fan of taking the rejected, and embracing it, using it to make something out of it when everyone said it’s a loser! Enough of that, I also use a midi controller keyboard for live inputting of drums, keys, etc. Believe it or not- I’m a bit of an electronics nerd I guess is what they’d call it. I built a midi drum pad (like the mpc drum pads) out of an old synthesizer and a touch tone phone. I took rubber from what drummers know as a “practice pad”, cut it into squares, and used them as the pad surfaces on a touch tone phone that I bought at wal mart or something- then I hacked into the midi portion of an old yamaha keyboard, wired it up to the phone switches, and then used it to bang out drums! I so use a turntable if applicable, a sound processor/enhancer if applicable, mixer, and standalone CD writer. I also rock an electric guitar.


Which artists have you produced for?


Braille, 2 Five, Lightheaded, Japhia Life, Rob Hodge, Kj-52, Coleon, Victory, Psalmist 2, Wisdm O.N.E., Joe Emcee (Ethek), Rhymes Elect, kaboose, Mark j, the whole Much Luvv camp, Knine, Inner-Gate, Intelligentz, Sev Static, CROW, Triumph, R-Swift, G-Wade and a lot more. There’s also artists that I haven’t worked with DIRECTLY, but have featured on my stuff by means of collab.


Where do you get your inspiration for your beats?


Any hot sound, something new I play on the keys, or any beat that is complex and hot, or stupidly simple but effective. Sometimes my own beats inspire me to recreate them. Sometimes hearing good singing makes me want to make a hot beat. Time off inspires me to make beats also- getting a change of environment helps me to think differently. Dope drums inspire me to make beats. Looking at lights glow in a dimly lit room makes me feel like fooling around w/ my equipment, not necessarily making a beat ha!


On an average, how long does it take to create a Tony Stone beat?


Anywhere between 15 minutes to an hour. Usually if a beat takes me longer than that, I have to stop fooling with it and take a break. I’m at a stage where I can recognize if a beat will work, or if it won’t without investing a lot of time. I’m also able to detect if a beat has a possibility to be a fixer upper, or if its just really garbage. I try not to burn myself out on a single track- its like life: if you have something to say, you’ll say it. If you don’t, you’ll spend a whole lot of time saying nothing. If a beat’s not really coming out, I’ll do something else- filter some drums, play around with the keys, answer emails, or watch Flintstones on DVD ha! But my preferred method of working, its hard to count how many hours I put into a beat. I like to submit a basic (but well constructed) frame to artists, let them rap to it, then I’ll take it back and shape the joint around their acapella, adding or subtracting what compliments the song. That process usually never takes me more than a few hours once I’ve begun it.


Which beat, that have you created, is your favorite?


My favorite beat of all time that I made? That’s another tough question! I’m in love with this one beat that I did called “1976 Turbo”, Rhymes Elect got that beat for their project soon to drop. I listen to that beat today and its bangin still. Its hard to gauge for me what my favorite beat is, because I have made WELL over 1,000 beats. Including every beat I’ve ever made and scrapped, that figure would probably be around 2,000+. Plus a beat could sound totally different with a rapper on it. I may think the beat is cool, but with a rapper on it, it sounds 2X as good, you feel me. And every producer knows that their favorite beat everyone SLEEPS on, haha, producers feel me. You always have this beat that you slaved over and you KNOW it’s the hotness, and you’re all excited, telling your friends about it and they say that “its aiiight”, then you play a beat that you think nothing of and everyone goes nuts over it haha.


What is your pricing on beats and how do you determine a price?


Pricing varies. As of right now im at $200 a track for exclusive joints for non-labeled artists. I do have non-exclusive stuff that goes for cheaper around 50-75 bucks. Price is determined by some key factors.

A) Physical Demand- If my tracks are in high demand, the price goes up. This is to work as a buffer (like gasoline) so that I won’t run out of tracks faster than I’m able to accommodate the input. If I raise the price on beats by about $25, it SLIGHTLY slows down the influx of traffic, allowing me to accommodate the right amount of artists with high caliber tracks. It keeps the scale balanced so that I can be able to give a smaller amount of rappers good attention and quality, while at the same time, not losing money as a result of accommodating 5 rappers instead of 10 at a time.

B) Labels, Budges- with signed artists, I like to work within their budgets, and I’m more “by the book” when it comes to a label, because that’s how they operate- I go strict prices, no shortcuts 95% of the time when dealing with signed artists or labels. This keeps the integrity of the business side of things.

C) Bartering- sometimes my “prices” are intangible and I’ll do a deal for something like a piece of equipment in exchange for an equivalent valued amount of tracks, or sometimes I will work a service for service deal.


Are there any projects currently in the works?


A lot! Much Luvv Records is putting out a double disc compilation early next year that I did all the production for. That is still in the works. Mark J’s album, we’re pretty much solidifying the last track (if it will even be needed), but that’s coming to wraps soon. There’s a lot of dope stuff poppin off, the best bet is to hit up www.royalwonders.com and stay locked into the news.

What can we look forward to in the near future from Tony Stone?


I’m currently working on my album, which will be jam packed with surprises! Again, stay locked to my website for the latest developments. There’s a compilation being released nationally called “Holy Hip hop, taking the gospel to the streets Vol. 2”, this joint will feature 2 joints from me- from 2 different artists who were voted on.


Any last words?


Yea, thanks for the outlet fam, and remember everybody reading this: whatever you do, do it for Christ, because it alone will last! Read your Bible and follow it, build with cats that are likeminded and focused on the same agenda as you. Keep ya head!


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