"When it comes to creativity, it’s hard for me to keep a one-track mind. So I try to look at myself as an artist above everything, just to encompass everything that I like to do."
Anthony Obi, the musician who performs as “Fat Tony,” is originally from Houston and currently lives in Los Angeles.
How did you get started in music?
“I started when I was a teenager, like most people did. I had a friend at school named Carl who wanted to be a DJ, and he had a recording setup in his house. So me and my friend Keith, who had been toying with the idea of making rap music for a while now, we went to Carl’s house and we made two songs. Actually, I found those two songs recently, and they caught a fire. I obviously sound like it’s my first time in the studio, but I’m spitting! After that, I started to put on shows.
I picked up the Houston Press, where it lists all the venues and shows going on around town. I called every venue, every venue told me no, except this one performance arts space called Super Happy Funland. So I made flyers myself, made copies, put them up in skateboard shops and CD stores. It was summer, so I picked up my student directory and I handmailed flyers to every kind in my school who I thought was punk. And I put on the show and like five people came. But I was stoked that I put on my first show. So I was like, I’m gonna keep giving this a try.”
Who are your biggest influences?
“Prince, my #1 favorite artist of all time. He’s a big hero of mine. I love his music, I love his style, I love his ethics. I just love his whole universe that he crafted, I think it’s phenomenal. I love that he was able to bring people together from different worlds. If you look at his band The Revolution, you have gay people, straight people, black people, white people.
Other influences? My favorite rapper is E40, he’s easily the best rapper with glasses ever. I love UGK. I love Mac Dre. I love Ghostface Killah, he’s amazing. He has this album called Supreme Clientele – it’s honestly mindblowing. I’m a big fan of A Tribe Called Quest. When I was in high school I started a rap group called the Low Ends, because I was inspired by their album Low End Theory. De La Soul, big fan of them. The list goes on and on, but if I had to put it in a nutshell, my favorites: Prince. Ghostface Killah. UGK. E40. And Lil B The BasedGod.”
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
“If it’s a weekday, I wake up around 6am. My girlfriend gets ready to go to work. She’s a teacher; she has to be up early. I eat myself something scrumptious, normally a banana with some oatmeal and sunflower seed butter. And then I get to work. Usually getting to work means checking my email, seeing what task I have to do, seeing what flights I have coming up, and seeing what’s going on musically.
Music-wise, I work on a few different things at a time. I work on my own music, my Fat Tony solo music. I work on my group, Charge It to the Game, if we have something going on. And I work with this group called Flocabulary. We make rap songs for the classroom, for K through 12 students. So those are my three main musical outputs. I try to keep a pretty normal work schedule. So I work from the moment I’m up until about 5 or 6pm. And then I come home, I cook dinner every night for my girlfriend and me. Just a bunch of vegetables and curry powder. We eat it up and then I lay in bed, watch a movie or listen to a podcast, and start it all over again.”
If you weren’t doing music, what other career path would you have chosen?
“I do more than music now. When it comes to creativity, it’s hard for me to keep a one-track mind. So I try to look at myself as an artist above everything, just to encompass everything that I like to do. I edit a magazine called Found Me. Me and my buddy Matthew, we received an IDEA Fund grant a couple years ago through the Andy Warhol Foundation to create this zine that highlights people from our hometown, Houston. The only people we profile are people of color, and marginalized people who don’t get a lot of press. We wanna talk to people, whether they’re amateur or super-professional, just as long as they’re passionate about something, and put a lot of their time and their energy and their honesty into it. We wanna give them a platform to talk about their process. Our first issue featured people like the author and illustrator Shay Sirano, five-time WCW Championship Wrestler Booker T, and more friends of ours. Strangers, too. Chefs, poets, photographers, a little bit of everything.
I’m also interested in acting right now. I host this show called Thrift Haul on Super Deluxe, it’s this competitive fashion show. It’s a lot of fun. I was in this film called Nothing Really Happens that my buddies in Houston made. They just premiered it in London at this sci-fi festival. I just signed on to do a short film with some friends here. My whole art world stems from me being a writer and a storyteller. So as long as I can use those functions, I’m open minded.”
How would you describe your personal style?
“Predominantly vintage. When you really get into vintage fashion, you find original and unique pieces that can really speak to your personality, rather than picking something off the rack that there’s multiple copies of that’s trendy right now. And if I do wear something not vintage, I’ll mix it with something vintage just to have more of my own character in the mix. I like to mess with fratty, yuppie, preppy brands, because there’s a part of hip-hop that’s really influenced by that style. And I like to keep that part of my style. And vintage for me is 90s and 2000s. I don’t really care for 80s vintage, 70s vintage. I prefer 90s vintage because it reminds me of my youth, and a big part of style for me is nostalgia.”
What are your favorite AA items?
“I’ll tell you my favorite American Apparel moment. The second time I came to LA ever was 2010. I went with my ex-girlfriend to the American Apparel factory downtown, and I bought her a really cute pair of underwear. I can picture it right now. That’s probably my favorite item.”
To learn more about Tony, follow him on Instagram via @fattonyrap