Big Tone - conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Big Tone Interview

November 2005

After the huge success of Eminem, Detroit began receiving the recognition it had been striving for. The Hip Hop map spread out (in terms of coverage) and more artists who had already been immersed in their local scene were brought to light. Big Tone has been a part of Detroit's scene for quite some time now, but now through his debut on ABB records "The Drought," Big Tone may be obtaining the following he has been looking for.


MVRemix: How did your moniker come about? I know there were many before, what made you settle with Big Tone?

Big Tone: Everybody who just knew me aside from the music called me Big Tone so periodically over the years... I've been rhymin' since 5th/6th grade. But over the uses, even when I would go through the changes with this whole rap thing, one name just stuck. Everybody in my neighbourhood, everybody in my family called me Big Tone and over time as my music became more personal to me, it just kind of stuck.

MVRemix: What's your first memory of Hip Hop?

Big Tone: Wow - as a kid I used to hear the music on the radio and everything. As a kid, my family was in real estate and as people would move out of the houses with my father. As a kid my job would be to go clean out the houses or whatnot and a DJ lived in a crib and he left all his records and stuff in a basement. That was the first time I really got a chance to see up close and personal crates of records, going through 'em and thumbin' through 'em at the time was just like everything. I had to be about ten, so there was UTFO records, Whodini records, Fat Boys and all that shit... That would be my first memory other than hearing stuff on the radio, which half the time I paid attention, half the time I didn't. I was seein' the whole visual of it, from the album covers and all of that.

MVRemix: Was there on album above others you listened to growing up?

Big Tone: Let me see... In high school it would probably be "Amerikkkas Most Wanted" by Ice Cube. That was something I banged every day. I was always an N.W.A. fan but right when he started his solo venture, when "Amerikkas Most Wanted" came out. That was the first album where I broke the tape two or three times over and just made it a necessity to go back and get it again.

MVRemix: How did the ABB signing come about?

Big Tone: There was a cat name ID that used to work for ABB that reached out to me or whatever. I guess he was already familiar with the "Welcome To Detroit" thing. I did a 12" through a label called Antidote and he was familiar with the 12" or whatever. So my man Dank from Frank N Dank kind of gave me his phone number and I just called, when I called he was already familiar with everything. We built for about a year, periodically, I sent him music and whatever. One day he flew out to Detroit, said, "I'm comin' to Detroit, I wanna kick it with you." We just started talkin' about what we could do... Things kept movin' in the right direction.

MVRemix: How do you inspire yourself to stay motivated?

Big Tone: Being able to put music out here is a blessing in itself. I'm just grateful for the opportunity of being able to contribute to Hip Hop. A lot of times it's just sitting around and listening to records that I've always appreciated that have done so much in the game. In the club and just listening to the music. Just really being a part of the culture, going to the club and seeing a DJ do his thing hearing music all night - that's just motivation enough for me to want to get back in the lab and continue to work.

MVRemix: How did the album's title arise?

Big Tone: "The Drought," that basically came from a time when I was recording the album where a lot of the people close to me was goin' through really hard times. Just bein' in Detroit, the unemployment rate was ridiculous. Somehow everybody was thirsty for somethin', better situation, better jobs... Cats was in the street doin' somethin' that they didn't necessarily have interests in doin', just to survive or whatever. It was just like an appropriate title. Plus, I really wasn't feelin' a lot of the... I've been recordin' this album for a minute though, but a lot of the music that was comin' out at the time I really wasn't feelin', that was part of it too.

MVRemix: In one phrase or sentence, how would you describe "The Drought"?

Big Tone: A real person record for the most part that I feel is a true representation of who I am and what I represent.

MVRemix: How do you feel about the response thus far?

Big Tone: The response has been good man, the response has been real good. From my peers, people who've been followin' a lot of the underground shit, a lot of the 12"s that I've done in the past. Now I've gotten a chance to venture out a little more, aside from bein' on the inside lookin' out I get a chance to kick it with people who really got a chance to check out the record and its been strong. I feel good about it. A lot of people they take it like its been a breath of fresh air to listen to the record and I take it as a compliment.

MVRemix: What have some of your biggest obstacles been?

Big Tone: Just really the biggest obstacles right now for me are for one, just tryin' to learn. There's just so much to learn in terms of the business. Like where I've been just as far as when I've been comin' along. All the stuff I did, I did without ever leavin' the city of Detroit. It just kind of found its way outside. Now it's just learnin', bein' a little closer to the industry now. Learnin' how things work more so like how busy you have to be, how much of a grind it is. That's not necessarily an obstacle, that's a challenge that I definitely step up to. There's just a lot to it, it's a lot of work.

MVRemix: In which ways do you think your Detroit helped shape you into the man you are today?

Big Tone: A lot. My folks, they grew up in the south but they came up to Detroit in the 60's and I was born in the 70's. But from that point on up until really recently, Detroit was a little unknown. A lot of people in a lot of ways I kind of feel like you have to be able to grind to live in the D, it's one of those things; you gotta be able to grind. You really gotta commit yourself to your hustle on a day to day basis. That philosophy I think is a nice philosophy to have as second nature. Just to go about life in general. That work ethic is always there. That's what they say about people in the midwest, it's a ridiculous work eithc involved in that. That's my thing. Musically, I'm from Motown and I'm proud to say that so musically that was something there too, comin' up as a youngin' you have true appreciation for the music.

MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"

Big Tone: [chuckles and ponders] Right now it'd probably be Tim Duncan, I had a lot riding on that Pistons game. So Tim Duncan would probably be mine.

MVRemix: Do you reckon you'd win?

Big Tone: He got a little bit more of a reach than I do but I've got a low center of gravity, I can get at his knees or somethin', that'd be cool.

MVRemix: Aside from the album do you have any other guest appearances or compilations you've been working on?

Big Tone: Actually, I've been workin' with a lot of the talent from Detroit, just cultivating new material. I might be doin' a compilation soon... Been takin' about this "Breakfast Club" record. Right now we in the early stages of that, we got a few joints in the can, just been sendin' Pro-Tools files back and forth. Aside from that, just gettin' round to finishin' it out.

MVRemix: Any last words?

Big Tone: Yeah, continue to support real Hip Hop music or just real music in general. Keep your eye out because there definitely will be some things in the makin' over the next year which should definitely be worth checkin' out.


Related content:
  • Big Tone 2005 Interview by Hugo Lunny
  • Big Tone 2005 Interview by Bill "Low Key" Heinzelman



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