As part of Chaos in Tejas festival happening this week, Houston rapper Fat Tony will be playing a show along with Main Attrakionz, Nick Woj, Children of the Night, Cities Aviv. Ali Breland spoke to Fat Tony about his music.
Over the past couple years Houston’s most prominent local rapper of Nigerian descent, Fat Tony, has boasted collaborations with Das Racist, Murs, and most notably A$AP Rocky. He’s the guy that knows everybody. If you even remotely like Austin, or Texas local music, you probably have a connection to Fat Tony.
“The number one thing to blame for my huge network is probably the internet,” he said. “I’ve been on it all. I was on fucking Live Journal back in the day. I was on Xanga, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, all that bullshit. I met mad people from there and that’s what got me to tour and travel more, and then meet all these people in real life and actually befriend them.”
Bill Clinton used to be famous for his ability to treat you in such a manner that you felt as though you were close friends with him, despite having just met him. Fat Tony is the hip hop equivalent, minus being president of course. His work is finally starting to pay off. His label, Young One Records, a new subsidiary of Partisan Records (responsible for bands like Deer Tick) footed the bill for him and his producer, Tom Cruz, to live out in LA and record his forthcoming mixtape, Double Dragon, and album, Smart-Ass Black Boy.
LA’s that happening place where you go to get that Hollywood vibe and energy,” said Tom Cruz. “You get to get away from all that shit distracting us. People in LA are mad like whatever to everything.”
Despite being the most prominent image in Houston’s underground rap scene, Obi draws tremendous influences from a variety of sources. While his work is very much hip-hop, his live performances have a subtle punk feel laced throughout them. The Morrissey T-Shirt he often sports, supplements this. So does the aggressive yelling and violent movement onstage.
Fittingly, his style isn't chopped and screwed Houston rap either, as one might expect. While it bears some semblance to Texas Trill music, he also has a style somewhat reminiscent of a lot of avant garde hip-hop, of the likes of Kendrick Lamar, even Justin Bieber (which isn’t a bad thing at all); in those moments he carries a quick monotone flow littered with witty punchlines. In the way A$AP Rocky has taken Texas Trill and then added a bit of East coast flair, Fat Tony has done the same thing but with an empahsis on East Coast, and the Texas bit as flair.
It’s worth noting that while Obi’s music elicits these comparisons he isn’t quite on that level yet. His initial efforts on RABDAGRAB, his first album, are somewhat mediocre, however they demonstrate poise and potential. His talent is very quickly becoming actualized though. His most recent feature with Big Baby Ghandi, on the track “Lurking,” illustrates this. His flow is pleasing to the ear and on point, and is just fun to listen too. His work there easily puts him up among the frontrunners of avant-garde hip-hop music, should he continue to produce work on that level.
Regardless, Fat Tony’s head seems to be in a decent place as he continues to make music he enjoys. “From the outside looking in, I feel like I lot of artists are taking their stuff too seriously and kinda losing the fun part about making music and playing shows, and that’s kind of a turn off to me.”
Fat Tony plays this Saturday, June 2 at 10:00pm at ND at 501 Studios as part of the Chaos in Tejas Festival.
Ali Breland is a Plan II and Philosophy Junior and the University of Texas who's predominate beat is music, and within that hip-hop. He has worked with various publications outside of The Horn including The Daily Texan, Hypetrak, and Hypebeast. In his time not writing he listens to a lot of ignorant rap music and generally doesn't care about most things, with the exclusive exception of the film Point Break.