Houston, We Have a Hybrid: Fat Tony on Hip-Hop, Headbangers and Everything in Between

T he Houston MC on the scene’s “flirtatious relationship between hip-hop and rock”.

Art by Jerome Riddle

Fat Tony runs Houston. From snagging awards from the Houston Press to musical treks in NYC, the Third Ward representative is everywhere you want to be (trust me, he is) and more. Blink, and you might miss his next move; no worries though, when you open your eyes, he’s likely to be in your area again. The man stays on the move.

Fat Tony is respected, not only as one of Houston’s illest MC’s, but as an all-around ambassador of the drive and determination it takes to be a truly successful underground artist. He’s collaborated with countless notables from the Who’s Who in Houston Music and beyond, but can hold his own with or without another voice on the track.

Easily the king of the scene in the Lone Star state, Fat Tony has droves of dedicated fans hanging on his every rhyme. His live shows are guaranteed to be on packed house-get there before the venue even opens if you want any chance of seeing the stage-status and the scene (or the city, for that matter) wouldn’t be the same without him.

Perhaps the most refreshing aspect of the enigma that is Fat Tony, is his mass appeal. Looking out into the crowd at any of his live shows, you might see an audience demographic typically in attendance at rock shows, more so than hip-hop. I asked Fat Tony to answer a few questions for Bold As Love dealing with the flirtatious relationship between hip-hop and rock and more.

Photo by Meredith Truax

Your music has such crossover appeal between the hip-hop and rock worlds, why do you think that is and why do you think hip-hop and rock hybrids are so well received in general?
We live is a crossover world. Thanks to iPods, Napster, all kinds of race mixing, and hipsterdom music fans of all genres are often hanging in the same bars and paying hundreds to attend the same festivals & concerts. I think my personal tastes in different kinds of music, particularly rap music and punk rock, comes out real strong in my performances and attracts fans with similar good tastes. I grew up organizing mixed genre shows and playing with as many bands as rappers, and it always seemed normal to me. I didn’t know there was any other way for an ambitious teen to get it in. Underground rock ‘n’ roll music showed me how to be DIY and get my own dreams poppin.
Does crossover music reduce or enhance the potency of an individual genre?
I think it enhances it long as it’s natural and not a forced crossover to appeal to people who don’t understand when they’re being fed bullshit. That just makes music corny and embarrassing for everyone involved. Kinda like when rappers started adding guitars and electro beats in their music just to appeal to a more lamestream audience rather than incorporate those things in an interesting, genuine way.
Who are some of your musical influences? What have you been listening to lately?
Some of my favorites of all-time are E-40, UGK, Jay-Z, Nas, 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Prince, The Ramones, Bad Brains, Black Flag, R. Kelly, The Smiths, Nirvana, Murs, and Supreeme. All big influences on me to begin doing what I do and keep doing what I do. Just got off a few dates of the Relax tour with Das Racist, Danny Brown, and Despot so I been on a heavy Danny Brown kick. His album XXX on Fool’s Gold Records is my favorite album of 2011. Been jammin ASAP Rocky new mixtape LiveLoveA$AP too.
Talk about the relationship between Houston’s hip-hop and rock communities.
All goes back to them iPods and Napsters and things. We were born into this. We all locals and we all independent and the scene is pretty small for such a big city so we often gotta frolic together.

Fat Tony at Occupy Houston

Have you done any collabos with any Houston rock bands? Who would you like to work with?
Haven’t done any with bands except a bit of freestyling here & there but that hasn’t happened in years even. Not really interested in being a rapper making songs with rock bands. Maybe one day I’ll change my mind but for now if I’m gonna fuck with a band it’s gotta be on some really, really interesting shit not just a rapper over a rock band jamming out. That shit corny as hell.
Do you consider yourself to be progressive? Why or why not?
Definitely. While most bitch about the genre I’m tryna take it somewhere fresh and fun and smart in this post-Hip Hop world we living in today. Watch for songs like “Good While It Lasted” and “Double Dragon” on my next album if you wanna see what a young funky nigga coming straight out the south is talking ’bout.
I hear you’ve put a band together. Tell us about that and about
everything you’ve been working on lately.
Right now the band is called Cunt Killer and we’re a duo of myself and Halston Luna from PELOTON & more bands. We both write the music and it’s all guitar, bass, Casio Rapman for a drum machine, delay pedals, and sometimes distortion too. Little mix of noise and rock ‘n’ roll in fun short songs. Dunno where the band is going but we’re having fun doing it.
How can we keep up with you?
Always online! Find me at FatTonyrap.com + Twitter + Facebook. Stay on those and you can’t miss me. ;)
Houston native Sierra McClain blogs at I Write. You Should Read.
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Sierra comes to blogging  and writing with her marketing and PR background in tow. A writer since childhood, her website, I Write. You Should Read., began as a personal blog in 2008, but quickly morphed into a platform for her music interviews and features. Sierra’s goal is to document the creative renaissance that is taking place off the beaten path.