The Rocks Off 200: Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY"
Photos by Marco Torres
Who? Anthony Obi, aka Fat Tony, is a Nigerian-American rap musician from the great Third Ward, Houston, Texas. His his music is smart, fun and (according to Tony) "very enjoyable in Whataburger drive-thrus!"
Home Base: "I like to keep it moving," Tony says. "I made my last two albums in Los Angeles and spend most of my time between Brooklyn and Houston. Staying in one city too long gets old and doesn't really offer much inspiration for a songwriter.
"Especially if you're only around other musicians all the time," he adds. "I do best when I can surround myself with new, stimulating experiences and living situations. Keeps me on my toes as a man and an artist."
Bun B (left) and Tony
Why Do You Stay In Houston? "I always come back to visit or live in Houston every year to be with my family and keep myself in the mix," swears Tony. "It means a lot to fans and friends to come back and turn it up every now and then. I get a lot of inspiration being around places I grew up and my peers out here, the kinda inspiration you can't get from promoting yourself all the time in an industry city.
"Keeps me on the right track and on the pulse of whats happening in my home sweet home," he notes.
Good War Story: "I've caught scabies, I've dodged police, I've escaped angry bouncers literally running me and tourmates out of a venue," opens Tony. Not a bad start...
I've evaded unscrupulous industry fools, and much more. The scabies was probably the worst. Caught it from a ratchet-ass hotel in D.C. after the second show of a tour but didn't realize we had it until a week or two later. Had to cancel our show that night and find a free clinic outside of Detroit that ended not being free at all.
Charged me $600 just to tell me what we all pretty much knew we had. Luckily our tour manager had the prescription plug and we all got laced with the medication we needed to survive. To get rid of it we had to shower, lather ourselves in this cream, then lay butt-naked in towels all night long while the medicine did its thing for 8-12 hours.
Calling all our friends we'd be staying with sometimes all over the country to warn them about our infection was the wooooooorst though.
Story continues on the next page.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "Laziness," Tony swears. "Be about it or be without it. Copying trends and unoriginality runs a close second if not a got-dang tie. Get creative or get out of my way."
Five Desert Island Discs: "Pretty tough, but here's what comes to mind right now," he says. "In no particular order, of course."
- Beastie Boys, Paul's Boutique
- E-40, Element of Surprise
- Prince, Sign 'O' the Times
- Ramones, Ramones
- Bad Brains, Bad Brains
"And here's a few more."
- Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
- Prince, Dirty Mind
- A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders
- Slum Village, Fantastic Vol. 2
- OutKast, ATLiens
Best Show Ever: "Man, best show I've ever played is probably my Smart Ass Black Boy album release party in Brooklyn in June 2013," Tony recalls. "Hundreds of friends, family, fans, and curious strangers fell through and rocked with us all night long. About one-third of the crowd were my friends from Houston that flew in just for the show; really amazing and inspiring. I often think back to that show and damn near shed a tear of joy. I man[ned] up, though, and [held] the waterworks for another day.
"Best show I've ever been to was Lil B the Based God's second NYC [appearance] in January 2011," he continues. "It was a sold-out show at Highline Ballroom that was packed with based converts at what I would say was the height of Lil B's early rise. I mobbed out to the show with a bunch of friends.
"We even got ourselves a hotel for the evening," Tony adds. "He came out on time and actually rapped for two hours and even took time to take questions and talk to the crowd. The entire audience felt like one and it was nothing but genuine fun and positivity flowing that night. And hella Ciroc."
Next Show/Project: "Still pushing Smart Ass Black Boy," Tony grins. "Get it any way you can. Got a 7" out soon on Volcom Ent., with two new songs too. Plus I will be at SXSW this week!"
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
ROCKS OFF'S GREATEST HITS
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.