Words and interview by Isaac Javier
In this day and age, where bravado and narcotics are the main content of most mainstream rappers, expressive and sentimental rap is a much needed breath of fresh air. Hailing from Antioch, California, Tony Trotter delivers the soul food, and more.
At first listen, Tony Trotter’s lyrics are authentic and palpable, set to accessible, hypnotizing lo-fi backdrops, accompanied with a creamy flow honed by a motley of influences. Upon the second listen, however, Day One serves as an auditory diary in which an aspiring creative marks himself as an unassuming prodigy. The diary that is Day One reveals the experiences and struggles as an adolescent pursuing his dreams. One thing he wants to make clear is the enunciation of his goals as a rapper. In “Rolling With the Punches” he expresses “I’m sat on the bench my whole life/ now I’m getting buckets”. He also spits about his fear of failure, doubt, and insecurities, making the overall subject matter of the EP ever more relatable as he digs down and expresses the spectrum of emotion that is his heart. In “UNTITLED” he raps “How can I believe in God when I don’t believe in myself”.
Just turning 17 as Day One released, Trotter already provides a refined and cultivated delivery which makes the listener forget that he is, in fact, 17, unsigned, and this is his first proper attempt at an EP. “Day One is all about the start of everything.” he says when asked to talk about the project. “Taking a shot in the dark really, saying out loud that everything starts now cause I believe in myself” he continues. Read the rest of the interview below. And to see what the hype is all about, have a listen to Day One too while you’re at it.
Isaac Javier: To those who don’t know who you are, introduce yourself.
Tony Trotter: I’m Tony Trotter. A kid who loves music and people. Honestly there’s so many different things about me that make me who I am so it’s kind of hard to answer. I rap, play instruments, and make the occasional beat. I’ve done wrong to a few people in my past but my favorite thing to do is just make other people feel better ’bout their day or whatever they’re doing, so that’s what I strive to do.
IJ: Talk to us about your debut EP, Day One.
TT: Day One is all about the start of everything. Taking a shot in the dark really, saying out loud that everything starts now cause I believe in myself. A ton of time and experimentation went into the tape, as a lot of people can tell with a track like “Saturday”. Within the past year I discovered the sub-genre of lo-fi and fell in love with it and knew I loved to rap on those beats and when I realized that there ain’t really another rapper doing that, I knew I’d stick with it. So, Day One really is the beginning of doing this forreal forreal, one hundred percent. Day One really allows me to just be me and do me, be myself and let people see who I am through the music.
IJ: Let’s backtrack a bit, talk about your musical beginnings. How long have you been a rapper?
TT: I’ve actually only been making music seriously for about a year and a half now. I knew I wanted to be a rapper 5-6 years ago but never practiced, never felt good enough about it and didn’t know if I could do it. My freshman year of high-school I rapped for a friend and he told me it’s something I should pursue, so I made a couple songs and here I am today, making mixtapes and what not. Making people happy has always been something I loved to do, whether I try to be funny or help them out somehow, so I figured if I could make people happy with music, something that always makes me happy doing anyways, that would be super tight. A few albums that really made me decide, “alright, I’m doing this” we’re Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Good Kid, mAAd City’, Mac Miller’s ‘Faces’ and then old classics like the Marshall Mathers LP or Mobb Deep’s ‘the Infamous’.
IJ: Describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before.
TT: I like to think of my music as a snapshot of the aura and aesthetic of a certain point in time; for the records that are on ‘Day One’ anyways. Sometimes I just like to bang out the hard hitting tracks and spit something dope because hard, dope lyrics is something I grew up with rap on.
IJ: Who are some of your biggest inspirations and influences as a musician?
TT: I get a lot of different comparisons. Some people have told me they can tell I like Eminem and Mac Miller but I don’t know if that’s cause of my skin or how I rap sometimes. My rhyme schemes have been compared to Earl Sweatshirt’s too, which is crazy cause he got the most crazy schemes to me. When it comes to rap, Mac is a big inspiration because of his growth and its so crazy. When it comes to just making music, Kanye West has really opened my eyes that it’s important not just to spit, but to make a decent song too. Listening to rappers like Big L and Pun has really assured me that I really want to always be a spitter.
IJ: That’s dope. What inspires the subject matter of your raps, then?
TT: My friends all inspire me. Whether it be a girl or a night like when just me and my boys go and kick it in SF (San Francisco, CA) at night or anything like that. SF inspires me, anything and everything around me serves as some form of inspiration usually. Something that draws me into it is events in the world, movies, other songs and albums, etc. The next tape is in the works and I’ve been watching the Matrix and Tarantino movies like Kill Bill a lot and that also serves as some inspiration.
IJ: Have you got any goals or anything that you want to achieve one day?
TT: Being an XXL freshman would be cool, BET cypher, cover of Fader, go platinum one day. My main goal though is to be able to make sure that my parents, one day wife, kids and rest of the circle never has to work ever again. I wanna meet all of my idols; Eminem, Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Earl, Kanye…
IJ: What can we expect from Tony Trotter in the near distant future?
TT: Everything. I’m still a junior in high school so I got the world in my hands right now. Imma keep making music and pushing it because this is what I love to do and obviously hope to one day make it, doing this. But next up is finishing high-school and having a good backup plan.