"It goes uh, ah! Off the snare drum. Tony Toca, long time no hear from..."
It was around the year 2000 when I was first introduced to the confident, nasal delivery of Nuyorican rapper/producer/DJ Tony Touch. Every month, I would go to the Houston Pubic Library downtown to check out about ten CDs at a time, transferring the tracks I liked onto cassette tapes. On one such trip, I picked up a pair of albums by this duo called The Beatnuts, which included collaborations with a certain Tony Toca.
His sound was vastly different from the Latin hip-hop I was used to hearing from Cypress Hill and South Park Mexican. Tony is a master of mixing the tropical vibes with a pure New York flow, a skill that would serve him wonderfully during the reggaeton explosion during the mid-2000s. His 2005 release The Reggaetony Album saw him collab with heavy hitters such as Voltio, Tego Calderon, Pitbull, Ivy Queen y muchos mas.
His gift of combining the perfect beat with the just right lyrical crew is golden; on top of that, his lyricism was on point. Expressing his mind with a confident Spanglish vocabulary makes him one of the kings of the Latin wave of his era. Combined with his ultimate DJ skills, and as an accomplished mixtape master, Tony Touch continues to tour and rock parties such as he did at The Flat on Sunday night.
Taking his spot behind the turntables around a few ticks shy of 11 p.m., Tony started the night's journey with "People Everyday (Metamorphasis Mix)" by Arrested Development. This would set up the night filled with classic hip-hop, old-school soul samples, and Puerto Rican salsa, all masterfully mixed with passion and a smile.
The Flat may not have been full to capacity, but those who were in attendance proved to be attentive, appreciative and ready to dance. A break-dance circle quickly formed in front of the DJ tables, and even Tony himself took his turn on the floor. It was hot, sweaty and smelly in that room last night -- in other words, absolutely perfect.
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One of the characteristics of a great DJ is the art of keeping the crowd guessing. Tony certainly kept us on edge with each track, dropping rap gems which these ears haven't heard in over ten years, combined with the just right new-school cuts that solidified his extensive musical knowledge.
From Big Pun to Busta Rhymes, Black Star to Biggie, the hip-hop was strong, interesting and irresistible. Tony then dropped a short mix of H-Town tracks, including "Mind Playing Tricks On Me" by Geto Boys and "Back Then" from Mike Jones. A trio of UGK records had the crowd hype, and Tony was all smiles.
"I love you guys, man" he said as the night drew to a close. "I love music! Thanks for celebrating music with me tonight".
Every night should be like this, filled with friends, dancing, drinking, and forgetting about life's problems, celebrating our mutual love of la cultura y la musica.
Personal Bias: I wonder why?! He's the greatest DJ!
The Crowd: Mi gente.
Overheard In the Crowd: I always get goosebumps when I hear an entire room singing along to Pimp C's verse on "Big Pimpin'." Every time!
Random Notebook Dump: Another awesome Lunaface production, bringing classic hip-hop to Houston time after time. Also shout-out to The Flat for the continued success. Easily the coolest and realest spot in all of H-Town.
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