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Tonedeff - conducted by Hugo Lunny  


June 2002

These are the transcripts of an interview with tonedeff. The interview was conducted by Hugo on June 30th, 2002.

MVRemix: For those that don't know. Briefly tell me how you became respected from being unknown?

Tonedeff: Heavy question. Basically, I've been working musically in some capacity for the past 15 years. I'm 25 now. I started recording in studios and performing when I was 12 years old. From there, it just progressed with age. I won the Arsenio Hall show talent search when I was 16.

MVRemix: How did the Arsenio Hall gig arise?

Tonedeff: At the height of his fame, Arsenio Hall had a talent search on his show. I saw the ad on his show and decided to make an entry. I recorded myself beatboxing and then used a second track to record my rhyme over it. I edited a video to it. All shot in my room, and sent it in. 3 weeks later I get people calling my house left and right. "Oh shit! Tone! You were on TV!" I was like, "Huh?" They were like "Yeah!" So, then I was flown out to LA to perform for the prize.

MVRemix: Haha, dope. From there on did you find much label interest?

Tonedeff: After that I got 3 major label offers immediately after the show, unfortunately, they all came through my ex-manager at the time and I decided to call the whole thing off and tell them I wasn't gonna rap anymore. I didnt want to work with her anymore.

MVRemix: What happened with your manager?

Tonedeff: She had nothing to do with me getting on the show, or even helping me with anything for months prior to the show. The minute I was on TV suddenly, she was interested in me again. All the shit she had sent out prior with my name on it served as the way these labels got back to her about me and I didn't want to work with her anymore. That whole situation was fucked up. Not to mention all the shit they wanted to do. Change my look, my sound...I can't begin to tell you how many times they mentioned "Fresh Prince" in their convo's. They wanted to do incredibly stupid shit - like turn the 2 minute verse I did on the show into a song for the radio. I was like, these people are truly clueless, and I was 16

MVRemix: Have you had a manager since then?

Tonedeff: Haha, now, you're getting's all good. After that fiasco, I laid low for a year - didn't do much but write.

MVRemix: Tone, you can disclose what you wish and not what you don't...

Tonedeff: Nah, it's all good. I don't mind Hugz...then I met my 3rd manager, a big radio personality from Miami's Power 96 radio back in the day. He got my crew RBM and I in the studio all the time, and we recorded some great shit. We made that one joint "Circles," which is still one of my fan favs. That's when we were working with Warner Bros, and the cat that signed Kriss Kross & Arrested Development eventually. They just took too fucking long, the Warner guy got fired, like they all do, and my manager broke out with all my masters.

MVRemix: Fuck...

Tonedeff: I waited out my 5 year contract and broke out. I havent spoken to him since.

MVRemix: And now, are you under any management or "independent as fuck"?

Tonedeff: I am now on my own accord. Which has worked incredibly to my disadvantage.

MVRemix: How so?

Tonedeff: I miss a fuckload of "industry insider" opportunities and connections. So, everything I've done up to this point has been from hitting the streets, the battles, the radio...all on my own.

MVRemix: Do you seek maybe getting another manager?

Tonedeff: Yes, I'm definitely on the lookout for a manager, but considering I've gone through 3 of them already, I'm very wary of the whole thing. I see so many lesser talented fuckheads on TV all the time, and it irks the shit outta me.

MVRemix: What happened with the rise and fall of Tonedeff on Yosumi?

Tonedeff: Haha. Basically, I was brought to Yosumi by my man Domingo, who's a partner in the label. They were a fresh new label. Their "Game Over" album was making a fuckload of noise in NY - The Super Mario track from the Cocoa Brovaz was doing it back then. So I was like; "Hey, this can't be all bad!" They had just picked up major distribution with Interscope, and I was like This is great!" So, I signed with them, and I realized how incredibly unorganized they were. I tried to help; did their site for them, designed their logo! I admittedly was taking a long time on my album. So, I made "Hyphen" as a benchwarmer for the LP. They pressed it up, but never bothered to do anything with it. I ended up doing all the legwork. Then they signed Masta Ace, and of course his project was priority, which was cool. But anytime I asked for anything, it was like pulling teeth. When I saw how they butchered my song on "Game Over 2," I was like...this is it!

MVRemix: Butchered your song?

Tonedeff: Yeah.

MVRemix: Elaborate.

Tonedeff: I submitted "Move In, Ride Out" for the album in its form on "Hyphen." And they were like; "Let's re-do it in the main studio." I said, "Cool, but please adhere to the song structure I had." So, I went in, did all my vocals again. And DJ Rob, who produced the original, decided to change up the beat, and mix my shit in 30 minutes. My adlibs were higher than my main vocals. And it's by far the worst recorded example of Tonedeff. Unfortunately, that's what the nation heard 1st from me. Not to mention, they misspelled my name, and just made up a title for the song. I didn't even hear it till it came out. They called it, "Round Em Up" by Tonedef

MVRemix: What happened when you confronted them?

Tonedeff: I told everyone off, and vowed to never work again with DJ Rob. Which I've done so far. I basically just wanted off. Just in time too, cause once I left, JCOR folded, and Yosumi isn't doing anything right now. I still work with Domingo constantly. He had my back through the whole thing.

MVRemix: Is he still affiliated with them?

Tonedeff: He is. But they're not really doing anything anyway, right now. Domingo's moved onto bigger projects. I respect the shot they gave me...but I knew that they weren't gonna handle my album correctly.

MVRemix: Obviously, a simple question, but a good one is why are you called "Tonedeff"?

Tonedeff: I've had the name since I was 12. Just a cool ass name to have. I loved the wordplay as a kid. It's come to embody my style. All the wordplay. Plus, my name is Tony, so it all worked out.

MVRemix: Any reasoning for the spelling?

Tonedeff: Not really. I just hate when people misspell my name.

MVRemix: Tell me what you can about QN5...

Tonedeff: I started QN5 when I moved to Orlando. As a little project name for all the creative shit I was doing. Eventually, it became my label name. I did a very small internet only release of "The Monotone EP" on in 97. Originally, I was trying to touch on a lot of different musical styles. I had a singer named Melissa Prezioso, a folk artist named Joshua Altman, and a rapper named Praxis - who's on my song "Massive." But that didn't work out. No one was really motivated. So I revamped it over the next couple years and It's now a full fledged independent label. I have a production squad that consists of Domingo, Elite, Deacon, Kno & Myself. Our artists include Deacon The Villain, Mecca, PackFM, The Plague & Myself.

MVRemix: you still battle, or even wish to?

Tonedeff: I retired in January of 2001. Sometimes I watch "Freestyle Friday" and I get that itch. Or when I go to events, and I'm thinking "This kid is wack." I'll feel the urge, but I don't do it cause it's all-good until you've built a name. After you build a name it's detrimental.

MVRemix: Are there any plans for "Shag" to surface properly? Maybe on a forthcoming QN5 album?

Tonedeff: "Shag" was supposed to be on the "Austin Powers 3" soundtrack, but didn't make it. It will be on "Archetype."

MVRemix: Tell me more about "Archetype"...

Tonedeff: Hmmmmm. "Archetype" has been my pet project for the past 5 years. I've re-recorded this album about 3 times. Changed songs, wrote new ones, got rid of em. All that. Which sucks, cause I should've just put it out when I had it done. Not having it out has been very bad for my career. Nowadays, the more shit you have out the better. Quality isn't exactly the focus anymore. Anyway, this record is a moving piece about change and laying new foundations in what is acceptable and what is taboo in hip-hop music; about not being afraid to be yourself.

MVRemix: Would you deem it near completion?

Tonedeff: The record is pretty much done. Still a couple little refinements I want to make. I think it's gonna blow a lot of people away. I'm extremely proud of it.

MVRemix: Any idea of when it may surface?

Tonedeff: We're looking at October 2002. A month after the Extended Famm Ep drops

MVRemix: Cool...What's going on exactly with The Plague and E-Famm?

Tonedeff: The Plague's been around for years, but recently got reinvigorated when we recorded "Most High (aka Plague Anthem)" for Pack's next single. We got that big article in Frank151 magazine, and we're gonna do a full crew album this fall for a 2003 Spring release. The Extended Famm EP is called "Happy Fuck You Songs," and drops August 27th. It's one of the coolest group EP's ever made.

MVRemix: Haha...any more details on it?

Tonedeff: The E-Famm project has always been about trying new things, so we did a lot of conceptual shit that I haven't heard anyone do yet. I expect to see a lot of emulation after it drops. But it all sticks with the title.

MVRemix: Explain that title a little

Tonedeff: It started as a joke between Pack FM & I. We were trying to label the kind of music we made. We're not thuggy, and we're not backpackers. Our beats and hooks are usually bouncy and aggressive. So, we decided on the fact that we make "Happy Fuck You Songs." "Arrogant" is a great example of that.

MVRemix: What's your response to the comparisons that are constantly made about your style being like Eminem's?

Tonedeff: I'm completely sick of it. 'Cause I was rapping for over a decade before I even heard of Em. But I've realized that it's not just me, it's other people too. If you rhyme multi-syllables, you're automatically Eminem. Anyone with an untrained ear will tell you the same shit. So, when someone says, "You sound like Eminem" I think; "Wow, you've really been underexposed to this music."

MVRemix: Did the KRS/Nelly beef help get you more exposure or do you feel KRS' few words to Nelly were focused on more than the track as a whole?

Tonedeff: The whole KRS/Nelly shit was such a sham. That's one example how a bullshit Internet rumor and snowball into the "Real World." When I heard people saying he dissed Nelly, I was like "He Did"? It's a shame. But fuck it. The "beef" hasn't done anything for me. I'm not involved or mentioned, and that's not my battle to fight.

MVRemix: Aside from your album, is there anything else you're working on?

Tonedeff: Plenty. I produced most of the E-Famm record, I'm currently producing for Mecca's LP, Pack's LP, and trying to get the label on track. On top of that, I've done a fuckload of collabo's this year, and you can expect a steady stream of things with me on it this year and beyond. I'm producing stuff for others as well. I did a track for Breez Evahflowin's album, Uncle T's "Codename: Fuckyall", and stuff for Session. I'm basically always working on something.

MVRemix: Dopeness...any last words to fans and or potential fans reading this?

Tonedeff: I'd like to thank every single person that has checked out my work, and the work of my friends. I hope that everyone maintains an open ear and mind when they peep my stuff. And please support QN5 Music. We're trying to make the music fun again.

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