Tony, there seems to be a lot of attention drawn to this new project Pittsburgh Ugk. Is this yourself proclaimed new title or more so the title of this project? Tell us what Pittsburgh Ugk means to you.
It was meant to be both a self-proclaimed title and the name of the project. I usually put a lot of thought into the concepts of my mixtapes so when I came up with the name Pittsburgh UGK it was really a declaration of my position in Pittsburgh hip-hop. The mixtape was meant to be my testimony of the grind and give people insight as to why I consider my self an Underground King of Pittsburgh. I’ve released 23 mixtapes since 2010, gained national exposure for my work throughout these two years and I make quality music. The fact that I’m a relevant MC right now in a time where visual presentation(HD music videos and performances) are crucial is surreal. Even though I’m a humble artist, what I achieved on my own thus far and the fact that I’m recognized solely for my talent is why I’m arrogant enough to do things that I do… Say what’s truly in my heart. Any person that does their homework about my music will have a difficult time discrediting the fact that I’m not one of the best underground artists that Pittsburgh has to offer. It’s a fuckin fact at this point.
25,000 download in a short time, has any of your other mixtapescome close?
How do you feel about the hate you have picked up from this? I see people calling you a clown, hoe, disrespectful, weak, whackand one person even said your songs are straight up pop and don’t deserve the name.
None of my mixtapes have come close to doing as well as Pittsburgh UGK statistically. I started releasing mixtapes in the beginning of 2010 and since then my numbers have grown. The highly controversial Willie Lynch Syndrome series is probably my most successful mixtape aside from UGK and that was released summer of 2011. People have to understand that I made Pittsburgh UGK with the sole intention to cause controversy. Anytime someone says they’re the best at something… People usually challenge that. I expected negative responses but the fact that I got recognition in another state(Texas) was definitely not expected. I didn’t even factor in hardcore hip-hop fans from Texas that might see my mixtape on DatPiff which is where most of my success comes from… Their hate and misconceptions. But being a 31 year old MC has its advantages. I’m not a stranger to hate or being hated, especially when doing something positive. Nobody will ever hate a person that aint about shit. I honestly expected the hate to come from Pittsburgh, not loyal UGK fans from the South so the fact that I’ve gained recognition in another state is crazy. Genius on my part but crazy nonetheless. I just think being a broke MC enhances my creativity and ambition to be heard. I’m a crafty lil’ bastard. (laughs)
Despite the hate, how has there been much positive coming your way since the release of this project?
The most positive thing I’ve gained from this mixtape is new fans and opportunities. I always set out to do something different on every project and gain new listeners. Aside from that there’s big business on the table for the near future that I wish not to expose at the time. The positivity regarding this project definitely outweighs the hatred.
Many may not know that you not only do your own music but you also do some of the best looking and creative mixtape covers to go along with them. Its not uncommon in the underground music scene to find people sampling music and rework what others have already done, do you feel this is any different than sampling and reworking graphics into your covers as you did with Ugk logo and some of your other pieces?
I don’t think any artist would sample something he or she didn’t like or respect and incorporate it in their project. That’s not hip-hop. We do these things to pay homage to artists that we respect and have deep appreciation of their music. Same thing with incorporating the UGK logo on my cover. I didn’t do as disrespect to the original group or to claim that I was the new Underground King. I was simply making a statement while paying homage to the group that inspired the concept of the mixtape. I would never associate my brand or my music with something I didn’t respect and admire. Visual manipulation of another artist’s cover/or logo is the same as sampling a hook or instrumental from one of their songs. All love.
What can we expect to see from you in the future, big picture beyond the release of bras and panties in December? What’s 2013 have in store for your fans and new found haters?
Progression is always something that people can expect from me and 2013 will be no different. One thing I’ve decided not to do is release anymore free mixtapes. I feel like I’ve given people enough material to last them until I release an official album. My catalog is extensive, material’s right so I plan on performing any and everywhere in 2013. Despite my achievements I’m still slept on because I haven’t performed locally yet. I’d like to add that to my resume and silence the critics that think I can’t move a crowd. It’s important for me to master that part of the craft as well if I want to be successful as an MC. I plan on doing a lot of features with artists I respect and if the budget allows… A shitload of music videos.
Pittsburgh’s in the music spotlight right now and the doors are open; do you feel you are ready to walk through the door?
Naw I’m not ready. As I stated above, I haven’t earned people’s respect as an MC yet. Nobody can dispute that I’m a talented artist. I’m creative, original with the ability to make good songs. But if I can’t translate the emotions and feelings that I deliver on wax then there’s no reason to think I could be a successful MC. Some of my mixtapes have been well received but could’ve done better if I had a music video or performance for people to translate the feeling of the song visually. I haven’t mastered that part of the game which is why I stay in my lane until it’s my time to do so. I’ve built and established my brand, my hustle and if fortunate enough to give people a visual of what I bring to the table I’ll be ready by the end of 2013.
You have done numerous collaborations along the way, who would you like to work with in the future both locally and afar?
Locally I’d like to with Cory Eaux, B. White & The 58s, Divine Seven and Living Proofe. If I was fortunate to collaborate with commercial artists I’d like to work with Andre 3000, Devin the Dude, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar and Big K.R.I.T.
Have you retired the lil tone name?
I couldn’t retire the name Lil Tone if I wanted to homie.(laughs) I just felt the need to rebrand my name because of the saturation of the term “Lil” attached to a lot of artists’ names. It was a business decision on my part to set my brand apart from other artists. Unfortunately because of my height, I’ll always be Lil Tone. Tony Dufresne is just my official stage name from now on and will be the name featured on all my music and merchandise. But if a person calls me “Lil Tone” it’s all good… That’s me and always will be.
Please provide any links, shout outs and additional topics you would like to cover.
Shouts to Georgette Snowden, Kay-Kay, Jason Connor, Kristen Gasdick, Jizzle, Alyce aka Monkey and everyone that supports this movement.