As Posted On VIBE.com
VIBE: VIBE is doing a race issue soon, growing up in Brooklyn and being of Puerto Rican descent what were you taught about racism as a child? Did you feel much animosity between the Black and Hispanic communities?
Tony: I didn’t see as much growing up, I actually grew up in East New York, Brooklyn, so Blacks and Hispanics were kind of like we were all in the same realm with each other. Same struggles, same come ups stuff like that. I think it wasn’t until later on I was maybe about 11/12 years old, I moved to Canarsie, Brooklyn. At that time Canarsie was more Italian, more Jewish stuff like that and there was where probably I experienced my first, you know I would experience a little shade from people me being Puerto Rican.
But it wasn’t that heavy, Brooklyn overall was still one of those places that I didn’t experience it as much. We were young so teenagers, like I said the only time I ever really experienced a little bit of shadiness or insults, or even bullying to a degree, was when I lived in that area at the time for a little bit in Canarsie. At the time I was just living with my mom and she was too busy with work and I was kind of on my own to be honest. I kind of had to learn the hard way and fight my way out of it. Again it wasn’t that intense where I was at and ironically now Canarsie is predominantly black. So go figure.
Were there any racist comments that particularly affected you?
Just maybe the slurs that were used at the time, the word “spic” was thrown at me a lot at that time. That probably was one of the things that stood out the most growing up in that area was slurs and the word “spic” was thrown at me a few times but it didn’t really bother me.
With great MCs like Fat Joe, Pitbull and Big Pun breaking the glass ceiling for Latino rappers do you feel as though it is still more difficult for Latino artists in hip-hop? Were there many obstacles for you to overcome personally as an urban DJ?
It’s not necessarily on my end, maybe for rappers maybe, but there’s been a little resistance for DJs that are Spanish. Being Hispanic it seems that we’re more into the DJ element; we’re more visible as DJs and even graph artists stuff like that. Rappers, there’s always been a little resistance for Hispanics that wanted to be rappers; it was always more of a challenge. But I think now in 2013 I think we’ve knocked down all those walls because now you can be from any race and be accepted, anything goes now; especially with so many people being of mixed ethnicities as well.
You have toured the world, were there any countries that treated you differently for being Hispanic?
Maybe in Europe, there’s certain places in Europe that are still catching up. If you want to use that phrase, they’re still catching up seeing white people doing black music per say if that’s what you want to call it. For the most part, in Asia they get it. I mean in Europe they get it, it’s just certain places that are not as populated. I go to different places in Europe, especially like Eastern Europe and all these places where it’s either black music or they just call our music black music, so that needs to change as well. The black music room, I’ve heard some stuff. It’s kind of weird but for the most part they’re there but there’s certain places that have some catching up to do.
Do you find that as a DJ you get stereotyped a lot and employers expect you to play certain genres of music?
I don’t necessarily get that because I’ve been able through the years to cross different types of music and put out records in different genres of music and be recognized in different genres of music from hip-hop to reggaeton to house music and even reggae music. I navigate from different genres so I don’t really get, people kind of know me for doing that I think and know that I’m from the era where we play everything. I think at the end of the day I’ve been one of the ones that has been able to introduce and teach people to be more open minded into different genres of music.
What are the funniest misconceptions you have heard about Puerto Ricans?
I can’t really put my finger on that right now because I’m kind of blind to all that. I’m just so engulfed in different movements right now where I’ve decided honestly to be more involved in the music scenes that are more accepting to race, genre, age, sex all that. I’m in a different place now so I’m not really seeing that as much anymore as far as stereotypes with Spanish people. I don’t have much to give you on that, I’m not really experienced in it. It’s just a different place right now where it’s up to you where you want to be, if you want to be, what you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re trying to be accepted by a certain group, there could be some rejection there.
I’m just kind of like in a place right now where I’m free and I’m just able to express myself how I want to express myself; whether it’s through Spanish music, or hip-hop or reggae or house music. With that in mind, I’m producing events now where we attract all walks of life in there. I’m producing a lot of events now in the city and even like around the world; I’m participating in events that are more open format on the music, on the crowd. We’re in a way better place now obviously you know? I mean there’s still people that are raised in a certain way and click with their race or their folks or whatever, but a lot of that has become extinct. I mean we’ve still got a way to go, but we’ve come a long way with that.
Tony isn’t the only musician with an opinion on racism and the common misconceptions that come with racial stereotypes. Here are some more interviews I did that touch on the topic (excuse the pun):