What inspired you to get into the music industry?
I started off as a Poet, just putting words together to express my feelings. Growing up as a black kid in Chicago we are taught to be tough, be a soldier, never really show emotion. But I was different, I was a very open and emotional child. In order to satisfy my need to express myself writing was my outlet. Poetry evolved into rap, and that got me to where I am today. Being apart of the music industry is simply just a bonus for me getting to speak my truth, enjoy my passion, and live the lifestyle that I want whether I was involved in the business or not.
How did your stage name come about?
My current stage name is Tone Da Boss. Which is derived from my first name Antonio. Da Boss was added because I believe in self manifestation of words. At the time I was 16 but I knew where I wanted to be in life, I know that in order to remember my path I need a constant reminder. If I call myself Tone Da Boss and other people address me as the Boss, then I have to live up to that name. It is my responsibility and now a requirement, otherwise I’d be letting the entire world down. However I am planning a name change. I have been Tone Da Boss for the last 16 years and I believe it is time to grow and evolve. I am on the verge of concluding my journey as Tone Da Boss and have nearly accomplished everything I set out to do. So a new me is on the horizon.
What are some of the most memorable moments in your career so far?
Meeting, performing, and recording with Wiz Khalifa was a hell of time it was right before he really blew up. I remember having a song be featured on XXL for the first time and the moment I saw they posted it my laptop died. Performing in front of sold out crowds are always great but when it’s a show that we setup from booking the venue, promoting, and giving other artist opportunities to perform are the moments I cherish the most. And my most recent most memorable moment that I’m excited about is signing with my new manager Dj K Yung, which is a move that I should have pushed for sooner but I feel now is the perfect time.
What have been some challenges?
Challenges I’ve faced in the music industry is getting nationwide coverage. Being in Iowa there is little to no entertainment presence. Everyone leaves to get more attention and exposure. While that seems like an impossible situation to some, I looked at it as an opportunity to take advantage of. If I become one of the pioneers to take over in this state and provide opportunities for other talent here then I’ve done my part. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to really put my state on the map and to give back to those who feel like there is no hope.
What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
The 2021 plan is to fully embrace the new name. To evolve, to become who I am meant to be and embrace the L’s I took in 2020 and make the Losses into Lessons.
What blessings came out of the pandemic for you?
My entire album “Antonio” is a product of the Pandemic. Before Pandemic I was focused on managing and writing for other artist. Once the Pandemic hit it put life into perspective. I went through a divorce, a custody battle for my daughter, i had to sell my dreamhouse, i left my job of 10 years, I spoke at several BLM protests, a storm destroyed my new house and left my family without power for weeks. Yet it was all a blessing, 2020 and the Pandemic provided me clarity, it showed me that everything can be taken away in an instant, it made me ask what am I living for and am I pursuing my dreams. I wasn’t, now I am. I am a better father, a harder worker, and I’m back to being an artist.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on several projects at once now. My next release is my Antonio Album which features my songs Free, Fear, Stuck Inside and Anxiety & Depression (which are all out now). Antonio tells my story from beginning to present day including a death of the Tone Da Boss character.
What else can we be on the lookout for?
I also have a mixtape I’m excited for with Dj Whoo Kid where I cover all the G-Unit songs that got me into rap to begin with.
What advice would you have for anyone who wants to join the music industry?
Be ready to invest, however don’t make everything you do about money. Some opportunities I received is because I did favors, I helped others, with little or no expectations on a return. Collaborate, advertise, learn the business, travel and network. Relationships are key. Sometimes it’s not what you know it’s who you know that gets you there, and after you’re there, it’s what you know that will keep you there.