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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Tony! Toni! Tone! Promises to Bring Some "Real Authentic Oakland Shit" to Yoshi's

Posted By on Thu, Dec 17, 2015 at 7:00 AM

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Oakland trio Tony! Toni! Tone! got its start during after-school jam sessions and their first song was recorded at a friend’s kitchen table. Few would have thought that a group of Castlemont High School students from East Oakland would end up becoming one of the biggest R&B/new jack swing bands of the ‘90s or that they’d drop numerous Top 100 hits (not to mention one double platinum and two platinum albums). But they did.

“That’s what trips me out,” says vocalist and guitarist Dwayne Wiggins, who started the band with his brother Raphael Saadiq and cousin, Timothy Christiran Riley, in 1988. “We just recorded that shit having fun in the kitchen when [his mom] was cooking. We never thought we’d get so big.”

Almost three decades later, the band is just as relevant as ever. Their hits like, “Feels Good,” “Whatever You Want,” and “Let’s Get Down,” are still played on the radio, and they average 50 performances a year. (In fact, they’ll be playing shows for four consecutive days at Yoshi’s Oakland starting this weekend).
Recently, the band (which lost Saadiq in 1996, replacing him with one of their cousins, Amar Khalil), announced that they’re working on their fifth album. It will be their first release since their last album, House of Music, came out in 1996. Like many of their projects, Wiggins says, this one was not planned out. “These songs just happen when we hang out,” he says. “That’s how this stuff come out. So we’ve been recording material for years.”

The new album aims to tell the story of where the band originated from and how far and wide they’ve traveled since then. The long hiatus between albums, Wiggins says, was due in part to two things. The first reason was the online/digital shift that happened with the advent of the Internet and the many leaks that were happening in the music industry. “I’m not saying I lost interest in albums, but I realized there was a turn in the industry,” he explains. “We come from a way of production where when you’re working on a project, you don’t want people to hear your album until it’s ready. So that worried me.”

Gradually, Wiggins learned to accept that “we can’t avoid that” and started warming up to the idea of making new music. But making new music, especially for Tony! Tone! Toni! is a slow process. As Wiggins points out, “If you look at us, in our career, we only did four albums in a ten-year time frame. We never just threw albums out there. We waited until it was ready.”
The new album won’t be ready until later this year, and, in the meantime, the group will be hitting the road for more shows. Wiggins is especially excited for their Oakland shows (it will be their seventh annual time performing at Yoshi's in December), not only because that’s the trio’s hometown, but because there’s always a high probability that they’ll have a guest artist join them on stage. “When we come to Oakland, it’s always bigger,” he says. “There might be someone from Tower of Power on stage. M.C. Hammer might show up. Who knows? That’s how beautiful it is. We give people real authentic Oakland shit when they come here.”

Tony! Toni! Tone! plays at Yoshi's Oakland, Fri.. Dec 18 to Mon., Dec. 21. More info here

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Jessie Schiewe


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