Nigerian-American rapper and entertainer Fat Tony has maintained a creative resilience and unbridled enthusiasm through the past decade of his career. His musical footprint has left behind a treasure trove of alternative rap, spread across five albums, dozens of singles, and features on tracks by A$AP Rocky, Das Racist, and Bun B. Fat Tony’s sense of humor and courage to experiment mirrors the counter-cultural hip-hop artists who’ve inspired him, like De La Soul, Devin the Dude, and DJ Screw. Although he has spent the past few years bouncing back and forth between Los Angeles and New York while hosting shows for VICE and Super Deluxe, the formative rap scene in Houston where he grew up will always feel like home.
Fat Tony (born Anthony Lawson Jude Ifeanyichukwu Obiawunaotu) spent his childhood in Houston’s historically black and culturally radical neighborhood, the Third Ward. “My Mom and my teachers told us that back in the day that the Black Panther’s Houston chapter was in Third Ward and that the Black Panther figure, Carl Hampton, was murdered by the HPD.” Fat Tony recalls. “So I was growing up in an environment where social awareness and Pan-Africanism were always around.” His childhood home was filled with records—country music, King Sunny Adé, and Jimmy Cliff from his father's collection, his mother's classical music, rock, and soul, and his granny's gospel. Then as a teenager, empowered by the internet and his discovery of independent artists like E-40, Bikini Kill, and Bad Brains, Fat Tony began recording and distributing his own music. Heavily influenced by renowned Texas rappers like UGK and Scarface, Fat Tony started playing and organizing live shows at a time when there wasn’t much of a scene for young artists in Houston. He started booking bands of all types from all over, hand-making flyers for the shows and mailing them to addresses nabbed from the Carnegie Vanguard High School student directory.
His dedication to Houston’s rap scene earned him Houston Press Music Awards’ “Best Underground Hip Hop Artist” in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2013. Primed for more national audiences, Fat Tony began taking his music on tour and collaborated with more artists around the country. His sonically unpredictable and emotionally vulnerable music has garnered praise from Pitchfork, The Fader, and Noisey. His achievements in rap have pushed him out of his comfort zone into other performance and hosting opportunities on TV and the Internet. This winter, Fat Tony makes his anticipated return to rap with Wake Up, a complex and anthemic collaboration with producer Taydex, out February 7, 2020, via Carpark Records.