We have built with some multi-faceted individuals in the past, but not many in the hip hop community take on as many tasks as Buffalo’s ToneyBoi. He is a DJ, emcee, engineer and promotes shows. A member of the Coolie High collective, he already has an extensive catalog including his latest work Ugly Luxury. It boasts features from Sleep Sinatra and FastLife, not to mention hard hitting production from Onaje Jordan, Filfy Tarantino and Skitso.
RD: You wear many hats, including emcee/DJ/engineer and show promoter. Which came first?
TB: Emcee came first. I recorded my first verse back in 05 with my brothers while in high school. I was always the one recording my bro’s and trying to upgrade the equipment so we could have a better sound. In 2015 I studied recording arts at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida and received my BS in sound engineering. While in Florida, I spent a lot of my free time drinking beer and DJ’ing in my bedroom until I landed my first DJ gig. When I returned home to Buffalo, I realized that the best DJ’s and emcee’s in the city weren’t getting the gigs that they used to. So I started throwing events to bring a spark back to the Buffalo scene.
RD: Buffalo and upstate New York in general has taken the underground by storm. Talk to us about experiencing the growth of the scene first hand and your thoughts about the long-term potential
TB: It’s really been interesting to watch the rest of the world take interest in what we have to offer. The crazy part is that we’re just scratching the surface now. There are some dudes that I’m sure you’ll be hearing about soon. If we all keep it 100 like we have been, there is so much potential for a long term run.
RD: For those unfamiliar, tell us about the history of Koolie High. Would you consider KH a collective?
TB: Koolie High was initially just a group with me and my 3 brothers (Gaines, Skate, Hood). We had a bunch of mixtapes that we dropped and had a solid following because we threw some of the best parties. Later, we added some other members to the group as artists, even had a visual and merchandise team. So to answer the question… yes, we were a collective. You can still find a lot of the Koolie stuff online. (khmg.bandcamp.com)
RD: Would you consider R.A.K.S. Report your debut album?
TB: Yes, I do consider that my debut album in Buffalo. I consider Kool 4 Thought produced by Camoflauge Monk my debut to the world! RAKS Report was the first project I released where I didn’t jack the beats.
RD: You had a chance to work with one of the premier producers in the game, Camoflauge Monk. How far back do you guys go, and what was the experience like recording a full project with him?
TB: Me and Monk go back about 10 years now. While I was in Koolie High, he was in a group named First Class as an emcee. I don’t remember exactly how we linked, I think it might have been a showcase or a house party. Recording a whole project with Monk was easy. Like I said, we’ve been kicking it for years so we both know how each other acts for the most part. When I moved back to Buffalo, Monk was the first one that reached out because he knew I really didn’t have a rap situation at the moment. And that’s how I ended up partnering with Monk and becoming an Art Dealer.
RD: You have organized some shows in your area, are there any crazy show stories you can talk about?
TB: The craziest show that I can think of is the show we had this past December. The crowd was so lit that Benny The Butcher hopped on stage and did a surprise performance of India for the hometown. Other than that, there’s always a special guest in the building if I can make it happen.
RD: How important is having good venues to help grow a hip hop scene?
TB: Wow its crazy you ask that. I just wrote a whole article about how Buffalo doesn’t have many venues that’ll support hip hop. I’ll be sure to send you the link. Venues are important, but not as important as you’d think. We need the community to commune and support the artists first in my opinion.
RD: Ugly Luxury is your latest offering, did you bring a similar approach to your previous albums?
TB: With Ugly Luxury, I spent a lot more time by myself trying to puzzle together what I wanted to do with it sonically. I didn’t want to carry the same vibe over from Kool 4 Thought, but I wanted to keep the same work formula and process. I did the same with Drunk Unkle. When I make a project, I try to think “which part of me can I give them this time?”. Most of the time thats the hardest part.
RD: It featured production from two of our favorites, Onaje Jordan and Filfy Tarantino. What was it about their work that made you seek them out?
TB: Onaje reached out a while ago right after K4T. He sent me a batch of heat! It took me a while to release those tracks with Onaje, we had been sitting on Burning Slugs for a while before we decided to put it on Ugly Luxury. My homie Filfy hit me up to do a Daniel Son record for his album and we’ve basically had a good working relationship ever since. Both of these producers have their own sound, thats what I think I admire the most about both. You can tell an Onaje beat from a Filfy beat, well at least I can lol.
RD: Plans for the rest of the year?
TB: I don’t want to get peoples hopes up and start dropping titles and names haha. But I do plan on dropping a few EP’s and hopefully two more albums. Definitely one more album.
RD: Shouts/specific message to listeners and supporters?
TB: Big shoutout to my Homie DJ Rukkus over at rebelradio716.com, he’s been my biggest supporter for a long time. Make sure you all tune in and check it out, he’s always playing some REAL HIP HOP!! I can’t forget to send some love to my guy Jerry, this Ugly Luxury run wouldn’t be working without that man. This is only the beginning, BaLeeDat!
Follow Toney on Twitter and IG @IAmToneyBoi