The Beatles is just that group that seems to be the gift that keeps on giving. After 50 years, their music continues to reach new fans. Even when Paul and Ringo aren’t doing live shows, they’re still making headlines. In fact, just yesterday, SiriusXM launched their very own channel dedicated to “The Fab Four.”
One of the greatest things about The Beatles is recognizing just how far their influence goes - which is not only in reference to The British Invasion. AXS recently had the chance to speak with T.O.N.E-z, the Emmy-nominated hip-hop artist out of Brooklyn, about his new album, T.O.N.E-z VS The Beatles. From Gangstagrass to the country-rap theme song from "Justified,” to his countless collaborations, T.O.N.E-z has always been known for his cross-genre capabilities.
When it comes to The Beatles, “’I Want To Hold Your Hand’ was the first song I loved,” he told AXS. “It has a very simplistic chorus but a much deeper meaning in my opinion.” The Beatles’ lyrics alone have been an inspiration to the hip-hop artist. “Helter Skelter,” he explained to AXS, “That affected me and gave me the idea to do the mashup project because I feel like that with my music. I may be far from my fans - but my songs are always above you, in case you need to look up for a good vibe and positive energy.”
This isn’t the artist’s first mashup project either. In 2006, he made, BX Thriller, which incorporated his own lyrics along with Michael Jackson songs. So, why a new mashup now? And why The Beatles? T.O.N.E-z explained, “I feel it’s important because of the climate of hip-hop. [We shouldn’t] forget to have meaning and substance in our songs. The Beatles captured that, even at the height of their career.”
As T.O.N.E-z has a history of working with others who aren’t typically in his genre, like Tommy James from Tommy James and the Shondells and Vini "Mad Dog" Lopez from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, he says his greatest lesson in partnering with different artists and crossing styles has been the opportunity to “see” music from someone else's perspective. He told AXS, “I’ve learned when you are passionate about your craft you will always reach those who are in need of real music.”
Regardless of what he’s creating, T.O.N.E-z said his inspiration simply comes from everyday life. It led him to projects like “Justified,” which in turn led him to collaborating with other artists such as Alicia Witt and Ben Folds. “Alicia Witt is my best friend,” he told AXS. “She’s such an amazing soul and talent.” T.O.N.E-z’s work on the FX series even ended up bringing him out in front of the camera. His recent project, “Sed – (Thirst),” is the musician’s official jump into filmmaking.
“[This was] an idea I had when I was 17 years old,” he shared with AXS. “It’s a true story. I added a vampire twist to it due to the symbolism. There’s a 10-song soundtrack that comes with the film. The music actually sets the theme and vibe to it. Graham Yost is an executive producer [as well as myself] Big Biting Pig Productions and MalLabel Music. The director and co-writer and editor Jacqui Blue did such an amazing job, as did the producer, Magali Widmer. The rest of the cast; Silvia Baldassini, Nihan Gur and Julia Ziegenbein did such an incredible job, too.”
Up next, you can expect to see the hip-hop artist co-staring in a feature film called, “Shining Spirit,” by 7 Souls Productions (with Angela and Bobby Kerecz). T.O.N.E-z’s new single, “PickItTop,” produced by Chucc Dizzle, drops today, May 19.
For more on T.O.N.E-z, his new music and upcoming live shows, you can head to his website.