Welcome to The Winner's Circle: An Interview With Tone Capone
Since starting Litty Boyz Intl, I’ve been fortunate enough to have met or come in contact with a couple of great creatives and solid people in general. Tone Capone is definitely one of those people. From the first time I heard his music to now, he’s always been a stand-up individual and someone I know for fact, treats his music and business with the upmost importance. This interview not only reassured me that he is someone that takes pride in being honest in his music, but also he plans on using that to his strength in an effort to empower himself and have a long fruitful career — Welcome To The Winner’s Circle.
First things first bro, who is Tone Capone, where are you from and why do you what you do?
Wassup G? Tone Capone is a hustler. I'm a man's man. I'm from down south. Phenix City, AL. I could get on here and say I'm the best or whatever, but what does that mean? I don't look at it like that necessarily because I'm still humble enough to know we all got preferences. Different strokes for different folks. It's all opinion. However, what's a fact is that I'm the realest and there's nobody like me in the game. That's a fact and that's just what I know. Being real is just being true. I'm the realest nigga in this shit. From the top to the bottom. Look at what I embody. We live in an era where everybody partying and everybody high off of their ass. I don't have one line in my career where I'm telling niggas to go roll up or pop a pill or sip this. Pick my raps apart. Cut down the beat & peep game. I don't have bars like that. These niggas have nothing to say & they all owe their lives to their adlibs & beats. I got two projects out this year and there’s not one adlib on any song and my shit jams like a motherfucker. When these niggas zig, I'm going to zag dawg. When these niggas were wearing Tru's, I was rocking Levi's. These niggas walking around with this bullshit on their head, I got a fade cut and soon as they switch to fades, Ima let my shit grow. Look at who I am. I'm what niggas want to be. I personify what everybody wants to be. Who else pouring their heart out on these songs? I let my scars bleed dawg. I say what people scared to say. My vulnerability is my strength. That's why I'm the realest. Because I'll take mine and put it on front street. When you take it and own it, nobody can use it against you. Thats why they can't fuck with me. They can't do nothing with me. I'm free as a bird mane.
So, you dropped your first project of the year, “Goin Hard, Havin Thangz” in August. How has the reception been since then and what did you learn in the process of making it?
I think we learned a lot. I think we took a huge step forward in terms of being self sufficient and being a legitimate business. No matter what sector of business you're in, there's 3 phases of business: creating the product, supplying that product, and distributing that product. I'm the artist and every idea is mine, so that’s the creation. We have our own studio set up. Every idea we have is funded by us which is the facilitation of the creation of the product. We marketed and distributed it ourselves. We put it on streaming sites ourselves. So what we did was really demonstrate that we're a fully functional business and label. Plus, the reception was great to us. People really liked the music and it exceeded our expectations numbers wise. It did 25k streams in 30 days and 18k streams on Spotify alone. So with that, we showed that we have an audience and that people are paying attention.
I know you do everything under the Winner's Circle Imprint. How did that situation come together?
I started the label in 2015, a few weeks before I turned 20. Then I brought Mal in as a partner in the label. I wasn't even rapping back then. I was working with other artists and putting their projects together. None of it came to fruition though because real life shit started happening. People caught cases and went to jail. So in 2016, I released a book I wrote. We were tired of waiting on people so we started discussing other ways we could exist in the game. Then, internally, we decided that I should be the flagship artist. Here we are now.
How did you link up with Mal and what role does he play in the Winner's Circle Empire?
That's my brother. Same mama, same daddy. He's 2 years younger than me. He's been in my life every step of the way. If it wasn't for Mal, I'd probably be dead or in jail. Mal's the glue mane. He can do so much. I'm running everything through Mal first and one more time before I press the button. He records, mixes, picks beats, designs cover art, he names a lot of the songs and he helps put tracklists together. He just puts that battery in my back. He's the one who really gave me that confidence to just be myself on the beat. He does a lot G. Nigga can even cook. He's so wavy. If it’s cool, Mal knows about it and he probably knew about it first. He puts me on to so much shit. He’s lowkey though. He's like Biggs or Charles Oakley. One of those legendary guys. If you're in the know, you know how important they are. The higher we go, the more you're going to see from Mal because he's dope mane. He has so many cool ass ideas. Both of us do. Music, fashion, TV, movies, etc. So much shit.
I'm a better rapper. Different flows. There's not a beat I can’t tear down. Different pockets. I'm just getting better everyday because every day is another day to learn something new. So I'm tapping into other shit. With “GHHT”, I was just trying prove a point and let people know I'm hard and that I do this shit. With “Tuesday Night”, it was about getting shit off of my chest. I was speaking about our journey. I just told you I started the label in 2015. I was 19. I'm 23 today. That's a big gap from then to now and we've done a lot. A lot has happened and I wanted to touch on it. What happens when you have friends that you're not friends with anymore? What happens when you have to fall back from certain situations and certain people? What do you say when your dawg doesn't keep it real anymore? How do you feel when you find out the girl you fell in love with isn't 100? You ever watched your friend get sentenced to 40 years? What did you say to his mama or his kids? I don't hear people talk like that in their music, but those are all real things that I wanted to touch on. And I touch on them from the first song to the last song.
Speaking of Tuesday Night, what was the inspiration behind that project?
This project is different because I'm being super vulnerable on it. I'm putting all my flaws on front street. I really feel like nobody can touch me. And some people may take that and misconstrue that as me being arrogant or cocky, but fuck it. Take it how you want. Closed mouths don't get fed and I won't apologize for being confident. I don't care how uncomfortable it makes people. All I have is my essence, my spirit, my confidence, my self respect and I'm not playing with it. All we have as a culture is our confidence and self respect. The future of our people depends on our confidence and self respect. If every motherfucker out here had confidence and self respect, there wouldn't be anymore senseless violence between us. There wouldn't be 20 niggas fucking the same girl. Young niggas wouldn't be so quick to throw their life away just so they can have a chance to get money to buy little shit. They'd look at it like little shit because that's all it is. From jewelry to the clothes to cars to your house to any of this shit. This shit is small. It doesn't mean anything. It doesn't determine your value. But our children don't know that because that's all we were taught by older people. You have to hit all the hoes, you have to have some ice, you have to have a coupe. That’s why I made “Drop Top Dreams”. To show niggas that that shit doesn’t mean anything dawg. There are niggas that will throw their life away just ride clean ONE time. That's crazy. I promise you mane. I look at a Benz like I look at a pair of shoes. If you work hard enough, you can get it. It's just about how hard you’re willing to work and that's real. People around me know I'm not lying because I was really going to cop a Benz this year. That's why I made “Copp'd Tha Benz” because that's my real life. I was going to cop a Benz this year, but Mal said it wasn't time. I was skipping steps. Too much shining, not enough grinding. It's other shit that's more important that we should focus on. If I hold off on copping the Benz now, in a couple years I'll be able to buy 20 of em in one trip. Period. So thats where we're at with it.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
I value lyrics, but it’ll always be lifestyle over everything with me. I value lifestyle and real life advice. Pimp C is the illest. Just his confidence and the trends he set. Boosie was my favorite artist in the world for a long time. I just felt like he knew me. The shit he'd say and the way he'd break down certain situations made me feel like he knew me. Same with Webbie. His flow is one of the greatest. Gotti's a legend to me too. The “Cocaine Muzik” series is one of the greatest series ever. He also gave you real advice you can apply to your life. Starlito's also in that vein. I love Nipsey. Nipsey giving all the game. Rocko's wordplay is so impressive to me. Jeezy has classic tapes & albums. He probably has the best intros ever. Gucci's top 10 ever to me. His flow and the way he rides a beat is undefeated. Project Pat is like the grandfather of that style. Ross. I love Ross over a soul sample. Any beat really. I just love to hear Ross talk that shit. I feel like I need a chinchilla on when I hear Ross. Tip had a crazy run. He's the guy who showed me I could be from the South and still be a megastar. He was in movies and executive produced them. He’s been over soundtracks and signed a joint venture at 22 or 23. He's so important. Love Plies. He's a lot like Pimp. He says the wildest shit. Even now, there's not many people who can out rap him. I love Jigga. Not Jay Z, but Jigga. The skinny nigga on the boat. ‘96 to ‘01 Jigga. Then American Gangster Jigga. Just the flows and beat selection, while still giving real advice and game. He was different. I love Pac for his passion. Pac used the Mastery, 33 Strategies of War and shit like that. He took it and put it over a beat. I dig Dolph. I wish he rapped more about his life and business more though. I like Gates. I like how Thug uses his voice. I like some of Meek music. I like when Meek talking that real shit though. I'm not too crazy about the stunt raps. There’s other people I can go to for that. Bankroll Fresh still one of my favorites. That nigga can rhyme. I love how honest and vulnerable Future is mane. “Codeine Crazy”, “My Savages”, “Perkys Calling”, “Feds Did a Sweep”, “When I was Broke” and shit like that. I love the passion behind it. He’s one of the only people today that I really believe.
Now, with 2018 ending and having 2 full length projects under your belt, what is the gameplan for 2019?
Keep expanding. We're going to try a few new things in 2019 and look at a few new ventures. We just booked a show for January. So we want to keep getting booked consistently by the time 2020 is approaching. Just growth G.
Just from our conversations, I know you're someone that pays attention to a lot of the industry OGs and pick up a lot of game. With that being said, what advice can you offer to the people that are looking to get involved in the music business?
The music business is the life business. The only difference is what you're talking about. Its all about what that person wants though. My advice might not apply to everybody, but always put your best foot forward. Be a good representation. Reach out to people and have good energy while reaching out. That's how me and you are even doing this interview. We showed genuine love to one another. Also, study a lot. Game up mane. Learn about whatever it is you're trying to do. There's so much information out here. And don't be scared. Bust a move. The world's constantly evolving so you could never know every single thing about something. You can never predict every scenario so if you wait until you know everything before moving, you'll never make a play.