yourself to everyone that doesn’t already know who you are.
Tony Austin: What it do out
there, it’s ya boy Tony Austin AKA Mr. Make It Happen.
24: Before we get
into your music, can you describe your history about how you got into the
industry and who were some of the artists that inspired you?
Tony Austin: Well basically
before I started, I’ve always been into music all my life but being from
Baltimore… my cousin Kevin Liles was at Def Jam and then became the President of
Def Jam, so music was something I was very serious with so I went up there (New
York) to be a driver with for Kev…. and
by being his driver I knew that was just a way for me to get in the door in
which I wanted to do A&R. Everybody always said I had a real good gift for
music, so I used to be in the A&R meetings and different things like that,
so eventually I landed an A&R job with Def Jam and I did DMX’s album Grand
Champ. Then I also had a song on Dru Hill’s album, did some work with CNN… Capone
and Norega. I been up there at Def Jam with Jay-Z, Ja Rule and the whole Def
Jam camp so you know I was blessed to be able to be in the business.
24: What was the
hip-hop scene like growing up in Baltimore City?
Tony Austin: Actually there really
wasn’t no Hip-Hop coming from Baltimore. We got people that like different
things and stuff like that, but we have a few guys that’s doing Hip-Hop and
really trying to get recognized and seen but as far as like something very
major… we never really had that – but this is something that I always wanted to
bring to the forefront even when I was at Def Jam. With Kev I found this kid named
Comp and he was like incredible and so we signed him… but there’s always been
something, but nothing has really got on and made a name for Baltimore were
people can stop perceiving us as just being you know in the club – like a club
music type town.
24: With Kevin
Liles as your cousin, how music influence does he have with your music career?
Tony Austin: Influence… not
none because when Kevin wasn’t around I actually did this Gangsta Grillz and
then I actually went to let him to hear it because I felt that if I would have
told him about it, he would have been like ‘get the fuck out of here’ because
he wouldn’t have took to it the same way after having a conversation but after
hearing it… he was like wow – ‘baller man I’m impressed’ you really got
something there. I just knew I had to go do me and then bring it to the people
and then let the people judge. Sometimes you know, you being an executive and
being known for a different stand point, you try to do something different and people
sometimes tend to judge you a lot different than just taking you as a person
that they don’t know.
24: What makes
Tony Austin unique as an artist and different from other rappers?
Tony Austin: I just tell the
truth. I know what it takes to make good music, write good songs, hooks, crazy
beats but then at the same time… the story line – I have a crazy and amazing
story and it just let’s people know that it’s a lot in my life that I’ve done,
accomplished and succeeded in. I think with that story – a lot of young people
can gravitate towards that and realize that man… if Tony Austin can do, I can
do it too. Like that’s why I called the mixtape “The Influence.” I want to be
an influence for a lot of different people. I already be influencing people
around the town, but I want to be able to be an influence to the world.
24: As of right
now, who in the industry would you say you listen to on a regular and would
probably like to work with in the near future?
Tony Austin: I listen to… I
work out to Young Jeezy everyday like crazy and of course Jay-Z. I also listen
to Eminem. If I really wanted to work with somebody it would definitely be like
Lil Wayne, Young Jeezy and of course my friend Jay-Z. That would be me right
24: From your
perspective, briefly describe the transition from being an executive to being
Tony Austin: To me it’s like –
there’s no transition. It’s like I’ve always been an artist, been in the
studio, creating music and writing music. The only thing that I haven’t done is
been to the forefront of it. Being an executive it just let’s you know what to
look for in your music… like knowing the difference between a smash song that
could go in all formats or recognizing a very good single that could just go
24: Have you ever felt like too much time passes in the game where
you have to make it and that window is closing?
Tony Austin: To me it’s like Lyor always said… ‘if you throw a hit out the window,
everybody will find it.’ Like they say one hit can change your life, so I don’t
believe in that. I believe that if you make good music and stay true to
yourself and then with the blessing’s of God, anything can happen. I don’t
believe that there is a window or this and that. I think music is universal and
that’s what bring people together, it’s so unique.
24: In the
beginning stages of your debut mixtape “The Influence“ with DJ Drama, what producers have you worked with or would like
to work with on this upcoming project?
Tony Austin: I had made up my
mind like – Baltimore has some… I mean has some extremely talented young guys
here doing all kinds of things, but what I did was – I got with a very good
friend of mine 100 Grand, whose also an artist here in Baltimore and I had him
to hook me up with like some of the hottest producers. I met this one kid named
D Banks who is to me is incredible and me and him just kinda clicked like a
Snoop and Dr. Dre. Sometimes they say when you got that formula you ain’t gotta
mess with it, so what I did was… he did most of the Gangsta Grillz and then I
worked with this cat named Nummy who I think has that real big commercial sound.
Like he has that icing on the cake, so I worked with him and he gave me a
couple of crazy singles. I also worked with Talent
and Nate and I worked with this kid named J. Oliver. Everything I did
was Baltimore… all Baltimore. I didn’t go outside my realm. To me, I just think
it’s no producers that I feel like oh I wanna work with this producer or that
producer. I just feel like, if you got that street hit and that crack then bam,
I know I can write what I need to write to it and keep it moving like. Like
there’s no producers that I just love and just wanna go and work with.
How did you hook up with DJ Drama for the tape?
Tony Austin: Me and DJ Drama
been knowing each other for a minute, I actually had put DJ Drama together with
100 Grand when he did his thing and then we did a show in Baltimore and I had
Drama come down. We I started thinking while putting everything together… I
said you know what… I think I need to make this the Gangsta Grillz. Add a few
artists that the young ones are feeling right now, Gucci, Yo Gotti, OJ. I said
man… I do that with Drama on there – give it away and it will be something
special and then make a movie all behind it with different videos and this and
that and just make the movement. Because it’s one thing to believe in yourself
and spend a whole bunch of money and not worrying about it not coming back
again, but then it’s another thing when you’re doing everything on a budget
with industry money when people really don’t believe in you.
24: Are you happy with the feedback you’ve been getting from the
you’ve released so far?
Tony Austin: I’m overwhelmed
because you know we do music and as artists you never know what the public gone
like but I’m sure every artist is in the studio saying this shit hot, shit
fire… dah, dah, dah. And just to put it out there and see that it’s not getting
the feedback, but the feedback that I’m getting now and the responses – to
everything that’s going on for me it’s kinda overwhelming to see that wow… I
followed my instincts and it’s been on point.
24: The tape features the likes of Gucci Mane, OJ Da Juiceman, Yo
Gotti and Beanie Sigel. How did you go about making these collaborations
Tony Austin: Most of these
guys I know. I have friends that chill with Gucci. It wasn’t hard to get Gucci,
OJ Da Juiceman, Gotti because I know a lot of their people already.
24: When you put “The Influence“ up for free download, does it bother you at all that you’re giving
out the music for free or do you look at that as something that you have to do
at this point in your career?
Tony Austin: I think for me
it’s something that you have to do because coming from an executive stand
point. You know a lot of times people always want to tend to sell something,
but you know… what are you giving the person to buy to make them want to
support you. I think if you get the support of the people first and then you
give them something, they’ll appreciate it a lot better. Now days they getting
so much junk. Some artists put out a hit record and then you go and buy the cd
and it’s more garbage, so it don’t sell. I think if A&R’s do their jobs and
executives pay a lil’ more attention into their artists and then yeah get
involved – stop with letting people make whatever they want to make… then you
know. It was a standard at Def Jam. We couldn’t bring in records that wasn’t
crazy dope. They’d be like what are your three singles? Ok… where your street
record? Ok… where can they buy your music at – that’s when A&R meetings
used to be involved. You know we would stone an album if Lyor and Kevin and
Julie Greenwald didn’t think an album would sell at least a half a million. So
you had your Redman’s, your Method Man’s and all them in one category and you
had your DMX and Ja Rule’s and all that in a platinum category. So that would
gauge what was going on and what was being done. But today you know you got
people that just throwing it out there and you got the internet, so it’s like
you got ways to marketing the music, but when people say the internet can kill
you – Eminem still selling, Jay-Z still selling albums, so good music is good
music and people want good music. They’ll pay for what they want.
24: Can you give
us an estimation of a time period on when that album will (grace the
shelves/available for download)?
Tony Austin: Right now
honestly I’m just grinding out the Gangsta Grillz – it’s a big movie and a big
picture that I’m painting, so right now I’m just getting ready for like 2 – 3
more videos to do then and then I want to run the summer. Just killin’ em and
maybe touring with the Gangsta Grillz. And then depending on how everything
goes – there may be a fall album or even at the first of the year album. It
just really depends. I’m actually in the studio working on an album as well so depending on what kind of deal I do
and where I decide to take what direction with the thing, we’ll decide when the
people will get an album.
24: What do you think of how so many things are digital with
labels today, from iTunes to digital-only releases?
Tony Austin: I think it’s
another way for communicating to the people because you have a bulk of people
that only really does the internet thing but then also know that – music heads
really love to go into a record store and buy the album and look at the artwork
and see what the artist has put into album and what they getting out of it. Me
personally… I don’t buy anything online. You know you got a gazillion people
like me and then you have those that do the internet. I think you have to cater
to both worlds.
24: Do you feel like the magazine-type websites or blogs are more
valuable today to a new artist?
Tony Austin: Of course
because the way we used to do it… you used to have to send an artist out on a
promo tour across the country and it might have took you six to nine months and
you might not have even caught on but where it is now… you can touch people all
over the world by doing all these different mixtapes, do the websites, do the
video, online this – online that… and I think that’s a real great tool because
I also think it allows labels to look to see what people like as well. I think
the online is an incredible thing because it helps you get exposure and your
point across immediately.
24: How do you
feel about the current state of music in general?
Tony Austin: Me being a music
person, I mean I feel like enough people aren’t making good music and I think
that’s the space that we’re in. Like I don’t think – I look at, like I say
Jay-Z, you look at Eminem, you look at Jeezy. If a person makes good music… then
I think they gonna sell. If a person makes ok music… I think they going to sell
ok. I think it depends on the type of music that a person makes. Like I don’t
believe that something is killing this or the recession or this and that. I
think all that but, I’m still listening to The Recession album that Jeezy made
two years ago over all the Hip-Hop that is out today, so for me it’s just all
about what you make. Some people make good songs or two and then you have some
people that’s going to make good albums, and there ain’t too many that can go
into the studio and make great albums. But if you look at Hip-Hop… that’s
always been the case though. I mean you have a lot of artists but you only have
a few superstars.
24: How would the
fans go about contacting you?
Tony Austin: You can find me
on MySpace at MySpace.com/TonyAustinMusic, on my personal website
TonyAustinEnt.com and people can follow me at Twitter.com/TonyAustinMusic
24: Thank you for
providing 24hourhiphop.com with this exclusive interview, do you have any last
words for your present and future fans?
Tony Austin: Thank for
checking out this interview on Mr. Make It Happen!