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Tony Touch Keeps the Wheels Spinning
1/16/05 - exclusive interview

DJ Tony Touch picture

No other Latin DJ has held his own throughout hip hop's history like Tony Touch, aka Tony Toca. The Rican DJ from Brooklyn wears many hats, from producer to rapper to MC battle host. Since 1991, Touch has released hundreds of mixtapes and garnered multiple awards for his efforts.Tony Touch has collaborated with countless MCs the likes of KRS One, Kool G Rap, MOP and the Beatnuts. He was behind the 1's and 2's during performances by Cypress Hill, Eminem, Guru and the Terror Squad, and has DJed on tour in almost every corner of the world.

Tony Toca speaks with LatinRapper about his upcoming albums and the mixtape game in this exclusive interview. The last big CD you dropped was the Reggaetony album, are you working on a new CD?

Yeah, I'm in the lab right now working on a few different projects, working with a female recording artist, Soni, she was on the reggaetony album. Working on a Diaz brothers album, another Reggaetony album, a Tony Touch solo album. So yeah, always in creative mode.

Who are some of the artists that are going to be featured on the albums?

I'm in the production side of things first, I haven't gotten to that level yet, just the music side of things.

You’ve been instrumental in the reggaeton movement since the mid 90’s, what made you decide to go more in that direction and away from the Piece Maker series?

Just wanted to do something a little different, make a contribution to the movement, which I've been a part of since the beginning. In '96 with the Guatauba album, but this is my first Reggaeton production, I wanted to take the movement to the next level as far as incorporate more hip hop into it and dancehall, try and help take it to the next level.

Some hip hop heads criticize reggaeton for the repetitive beats, do you think there will still be a demand for it 10 years from now?

As long as the artists putting out these albums are showing their versatility, if they stay in the same realm people are gonna get tired of it. So yeah, when I do my album I have DJ Premier and the Beatnuts, Tego and a variety of styles and sounds. I think a little more Latin hip hop is gonna emerge from it as well, I think that there’s room for growth, production in the key.

The last of the Pro-Ricans was a hot street album, can we expect more like that in the future?

The last of the Pro Ricans was more of a commercial mixtape. I'm working on a new one now, funny you mention it, its called Mic Destruction, two months it will be out. Its gonna be a commercial mixtape. Its kinda like same format as Last of the Pro Ricans, I'm just kinda mixing up records that have been put out.

How many mixtapes have you dropped in your career now?

Hundreds… I probably put out 200 to 300, 250 maybe. House music, reggae, reggaeton hip hop, R&B, variety of different styles.

What motivates a hip hop fan to cop your mixtape rather than another DJs?

You know, my mixes are clean, I format my CDs so that it has continuous play, I don’t really talk a lot, try and showcase a little more DJ skills, and of course you’re always gonna get exclusives.

DJ Lazy K once told us that the mixtape game is crowded and there are some low-quality mixtapes being put out, do you feel this is the case?

Yeah, I mean I agree, there’s not enough stores really selling it now with the crackdown of industry on mixtape CDs. 150 DJs with like two records store, nahmean. It got oversaturated, the game is changed now, you got a lot of internet DJs and stuff like that. So it’s a little more difficult to get in the game right now.

You not only rep as a Rican, but as a Taino descendent. How much does your background play a part into your art?

Well be clear what a Taino is, Puerto Rican and Taino is the same thing. The Indians are the original people that lived in PR, they merged with the Africans and Europeans, that’s why we have what we have today. Its basically the same thing, you know what I mean. I just represent, I'm trying to educate people as to the history of the island, you know.

On the rap tip, who have you recently collaborated with?

I work a lot with Doo Wop, who’s the other half of the Diaz Brothers. So Doo Wop I’ve collaborated with the most, he’s been on the road DJing for Guru a lot. Other than that, the last collaboration I did was with Pete Rock and Psycho Les of the Beatnuts.

So Doo Whop's on tour, have you been doing any DJ work on tour lately?

Yeah, that’s been what's keeping me the most busy these days. DJ pretty much all over the planet. I was in Moscow for New Year's even, Rome, Italy once a month. I have a residence in Rome. Switzerland once a month, Japan twice a year, Florida once a month at Crobar. New York City, Club Deep, X-Bar, Strata, Penthouse, these are clubs I do once a month. My touring has been like insane, man, I'm pretty much all over the planet. I've touched every country. Australia, Norway, all that, its crazy.

As far as producing, are you doing any beats for artists at the moment?

Nah, not right now, just working on my stuff. The last thing I did for someone production wise, its been a minute…. Hmm, maybe for Rza’s album which was a tradeoff, a beat for a beat. For the Bobby Digital album.

Who have you not produced for or had on one of your mixtapes that you’d like to work with?

Um, id love to collaborate with Rakim, only dude I probably haven't worked with, that I'm a fan of.

Are you still actively involved with the Roc Steady Crew?

Absolutely, still on world tours, still doing appearances all over the country as well, Roc Steady’s having a great run right now.

What was the most memorable day in your long career as a DJ?

Too many to name, the first time I went to Japan 10 years ago. Great experience, reception there, the culture over there, shopping and everything, great.

Right now, an aspiring DJ is reading this interview and wanting a career like yours. What advice would you have for them if they want to spin professionally or put out mixtapes?

I could say the opportunities are endless, lot of practice. The proper steps to really get recognized is to first get hot on your block, get hot in your neighborhood, then city, then state, then world. You gotta really build your following and do it like that. Practice makes perfect.

Where can listeners tune in to catch your show?

Shade45, Channel 45 on Sirius satellite radio, Tuesdays 8 PM to Midnight East Coast Time.

Any last thoughts for readers?

Just look out for more Tony Touch material.

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