Last year, we named up-and-coming hip-hop artist EvryDay Tony as the “Best Rapper You’ve Never Heard Of.” He also won another title, as the winner of the 2019 Master of the Mic competition. In 2020, the rapper is making sure local hip-hop fans are aware of his name and music, with his recently released debut album Crimes and Good Food, produced by Fort Worth's Erotic D.
EvryDay Tony lives in Arlington but hails from New Jersey. In his youth, he dabbled in criminal activity, but music and a need to honor his family name typically had a way of reeling him in before he made any major life-derailing decisions.
“I have a big family, and my family is pretty popular where I’m from,” Tony says. “Certain areas I lived in were violent, but there are ways to avoid it. ... I feel like if you’re looking for trouble you can find it."
The artist says that recording music was a saving grace.
"I lost some friends because they were just bored, like, ‘I’m gonna go hit the block and see what’s going on,’ and then you don’t see them the next day," he says. "Whenever I would venture out and try to live that life there was always somebody pulling [me] back in, like, get to the studio and stick to the script.”
Tony says he integrates his experiences into his music but to convey honesty, not as an endorsement encouraging others to follow his ways.
“My mom and family members, they don’t know everything I did," he admits. "I was out there, but for the most part, I tried to keep my nose clean.
"For me sometimes it was embarrassing. ... I remember my first time hustling, my very first customer was like, ‘I know your Grandpops!'” Tony recalls. “I was like, look, I’m not trying to have this conversation, are you buying or not?
"It’s not something I’m proud of nor something I glorify," Tony says of his "hustle." "With my music, I just try to tell the truth and tell my story. It’s not really a life nobody needs to live.”
A desire to avoid falling further down pitfalls brought him to North Texas around 2012.
“I needed to get out of Jersey," Tony says. "One of my good friends, Terrance, his street name was T-Law, and he was a big dude out there. He had a label, a lot of connections, I was a part of his label and we were really about to do it. Then he ended up getting shot in the head over something senseless.”
Tony received an email about a school in Texas that trains people to attain commercial driver's licenses. Students who enrolled were sent a plane ticket, and housing was provided along with a shuttle to and from school.
“For me, that was like the perfect excuse because I was never interested in driving trucks or going to Texas,” Tony says of the move. “I just did it, and once I got to Texas I loved it and never left.”
Upon arriving in Texas, Tony experienced culture shock after running across a Texas stereotype.
“Man, so at first they had us in Waxahachie,” Tony says. “I mean I really saw tumbleweed! You know how it is when you’re not from Texas and you see things on TV, like you see tumbleweed, and you see people on horses. I was like damn, it’s really like that. But once I got to Arlington, I saw that it was more modern.”
After settling in Texas, EvryDay Tony still had his mind set on pursuing a rap career. Another friend had taken over the record label once owned by his friend who was killed. Tony would make trips back and forth from Texas to New Jersey and record while he was back home. He viewed his move as an opportunity to start a new life and opted to make a clean break from what he left behind.
“Once I got to Texas, I just felt like [rap and traveling], was holding me back," he says. "I wanted a fresh start, so I just got a job at a warehouse, settled down and never looked back. It was to the point where I had stopped rapping. ... I didn’t even listen to rap, I was just working and focused on being a husband.”
Tony’s rededication to his music career was gradual. The path he took reads like an assembly line that was intentionally formed to rebuild him into a hip-hop artist. He befriended a local rapper and would occasionally offer a few lyrics or choruses to him as suggestions. Flexing his writing muscles quickly led to Tony penning lyrics during downtime at his day job. Around that time, a friend from New Jersey emailed him a batch of instrumentals to experiment with. Another rapper he met through his day job released a CD and connected Tony with the owner of the studio. In a short time, he went from having lost interest in rap to having new material, a place to record and plenty of local connections.
Through networking, in 2018 EvryDay Tony landed his first gig since moving. The venue was a popular barbershop in Arlington that used to have live shows at night. There was only one problem: He didn’t have a rap name to put on the event's flyers.
A friend of his jokingly suggested "Everyday Tony."
"So, I was like 'I’m gonna use that for now until I find a better name,'" the rapper says.
When audience members came up to him after the show to tell him they liked his music and name, he decided to stick with it.
Tony collaborated with a rapper named MrBaccAtIt, a person he considers to be family, he says. That connection led Tony to test his talents at War Games, a loosely structured cipher at Erotic D’s War Room studio in Fort Worth where rappers go to compete. Erotic D was impressed with what he heard and eventually signed him to his label.
One of the first songs the pair recorded was “Let Off.” An Arlington rapper by the name of Jaynonstop heard the song and was blown away by EvryDay Tony’s potential. Jaynonstop told him he should compete in the Master of the Mic competition and paid his entry fee. Tony went on to win the tournament.
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His plan for 2020 was to focus on performing live as often as possible. Despite the pandemic, he remains optimistic and is spending his time on the road driving trucks and hitting the studio with producer Flowman.
Tony also started a label with MrBaccAtIt, called Hitta Gaang.
"There are people out there that have really been affected by the pandemic," he says. "A lot of people saying it’s a conspiracy and it’s not real, but my mom and sister work in a hospital, so I know it’s real. They’re telling me about all the death they’re seeing so I just want everybody to stay safe."
He has a particular recommendation for keeping sane during this time: "Hopefully, my album ... if you pay attention and listen to it, can get your mind off things," he says. "I’m a Jersey boy and I’m just telling my story about how I came up. It’s an interesting story and it’s very entertaining.”