Tony Brooks: Death To Downers

Tony Brooks is an independent emcee coming out of Chicago. I first heard the name when he played the starring role in The Palmer Squares' video for "Pass The Potion." Soon thereafter, he released his debut project theY-Not EP. When I asked him why the cover was a pineapple, he told me he and his homies always bring a pineapple to festivals and rage with it. When people understandably ask them why they have a pineapple, they say "why not," hence the album title.

A big fan of festivals, Tony and his crew go through as many as four pineapples in any given summer. Hanging around such a scene has given him the increasingly rare appreciation for dance music which has lead him to want to "bridge the gap between EDM and Hip Hop" while still maintaining a "boom bap feel."

Recently, Tony The Homie hit me up about his new video "Amethyst" which has been featured on Lyrical Lemonade and Mindset Music. We got to talking about the track and he touched on some interesting topics including the pervasive glorification of Xanax and Lean in the modern hip hop soundscape. Interested in hearing more of his thoughts on the topic, I asked him some formal questions. View the video below and then read on to see what Brooks means when he says "Fuck Activis I got amethyst."

Last we talked you said you were aiming to establish a new genre which you dubbed “atmospheric trap.” How does “Amethyst” tie into the establishment of that genre?

Tony Brooks: Amethyst was more so just things falling into place and working their course. As much as I would like to make all of my songs with an "atmospheric trap" feel, I'm still constantly trying to push the envelope and continue to make new and exciting sounds. The beat selection process is often the most strenuous but, I took a couple weeks off after releasing YNOT and this producer from Tennessee (Sawyer Young) had sent me this beat.

It instantly had this vibe that I was looking for as far as having material in my catalogue that would be fun to perform live. So, I began writing the song. I don't like to put things in too much of a box when it comes to labeling genres because so many people have different opinions on what is what and it gets tiring trying to keep up with it.

You allude to how this track lends itself to live shows, was it made with that in mind? Do you see yourself as doing a lot of live shows or festivals even?

Tony Brooks: Yes, that was definitely a driving force when creating the song. Most of my songs up until this point have had more of a chill vibe so performing them live is tricky in certain instances. Personally, I love going to rap shows and jumping around and moshing. I wanted to create something that would allow people to do so at one of my shows. Speaking of which, I have two shows this weekend and one booked in July so far. I am definitely trying to break into the electronic festival circuit. So making songs that can get a crowd involved is crucial.

What statement are you trying to make with this track?

Tony Brooks: This song is mainly referring two things. The first is me personally stating that I am not okay with settling for the same old things, the same boring life, the same shitty job, stuck in the same boring town day in and day out, doing the same things. Kind of how people almost get to their early 20s and settle for a life they are really not sure if they are happy with, instead of doing what they love while they still can.

The second thing the song is referring to is the current state of the Chicago hip hop scene. It's so fucked up to say, but in Chicago now kids are eating Xanax like Skittles and drinking lean like Kool- Aid, thinking its cool cause these trendy rappers are telling them it's cool. Personally, I don't fuck with that at all. I have someone very close to me that is currently struggling with an opiate addiction so I've seen first-hand what the effects can do to the user and the user's friends and family. At a recent rap show, I saw sooooo many kids Xanned out of their mind to the point where they couldn't even walk. I'm trying to change the mindset of young people that are listening to the music coming out glorifying Xans and shit like that. Change people's minds from thinking this trendy wave of music is good and has content.

Tell me more about the line “Fuck Activis I got amethyst.”

Tony Brooks: Okay, so basically it's along the lines of my stance on glorifying Xans and lean. I consider myself a spiritual person, and I always carry crystals with me on a daily basis to keep me grounded and bring forth good energy, one of my favorites being amethyst. So, basically I'm saying I don't need to get fucked up on lean, I have my amethyst and it gives me power. And since amethyst and Activis are both purple, the line resonated with me and my friend Kolton when I was writing the song.

How do these crystals help you?

Tony Brooks: It's a tricky topic, some people believe in crystal healing, others don't. But crystals are scientifically proven to store large amounts of energy. I got turned onto them from a friend, started carrying crystals and amazing things started happening so I kept carrying them with me. But different crystals have healing properties and do different things. I wear citrine around my neck every day, it's my birthstone. It's said to increase self-confidence and help increase wealth. More specifically Amethyst carries the energy of creativity and spirituality. It stimulates the crown chakra and helps steer you from evil and negative energies.

Tell me more about your relationship to Stank Face Records.

Tony Brooks: I first heard of The Palmer Squares in about 2011 and instantly became a huge fan of their whole aesthetic. Then a year or two goes by and I got an opportunity to open for The Palmer Squares because my current roommate (Yakub films) had been working with them and he organized the show. At the time, it was mind-blowing to me because I was a huge fan. Granted I was terrible at rapping, it was 2 and a half years ago and I think I only had 3 songs (none of which you can find online anymore) lol.

After that, they called me out on this YouTube cypher. And then eventually I was asked to act in their video for "Pass The Potion." The cypher is kind of embarrassing to look back at lol I hope to make some music with them at some point, but it was never something we had really discussed. Also one night in midst of all that I took acid with the P-Squares and I knocked over their Bong Hahahaha. People tell me all the time I should be on stank face. I think it would be a dope fit.