Better Than: Getting kicked off of the stage during Lil B’s set.
At 2:30pm on the Pier 16 Stage, the sun was blazing and Fat Tony had to hold down the fort as the only hip-hop act at this year’s 4Knots, standing alone amongst a swarm of punk bands and guitar heroes. Rather than make unnecessary efforts to either fit in or become excessively different from the rest, the Houston-bred rapper did what his most debut album and hat suggested by being completely uniquely himself–a “smart ass black boy.”
Our recent profile of the artist emphasized his stance on fighting against the trends. “I’m not a guy that goes around trying to be extra punk, talking about drugs, making club-friendly type songs. I’m just a guy that makes songs straight from his heart. And when you do that, it takes a little bit more time for people to start seeing you’re actually good.” His words are true, and every rhyme felt like down-to-earth moment of honest clarity rather than an aggressive attempt to fit into arbitrary definitions of hip-hop authenticity. He was Fat Tony: approachable demeanor, extraordinary talent.
He kept his set candid and straightforward. He prefaced “Nigga You Ain’t Fat” with an explanation about how husky most rappers from Houston tend to be. “Hood Party,” he said, was “a little ditty about gentrification, something New York City knows a lot about.”
Stationed behind him for the majority of the set, producer Tom Cruz provided beats that felt like an added breeze to the air off the East River. Compared to the “turnt up” nature of Lil B’s After Party, Fat Tony provided a more laidback atmosphere more fitting for a day on the Seaport. Unsurprisingly however, “BKNY” gave the crowd an extra shot of energy during his set, repping the borough that we had a lovely view of all day. With that, the rapper not only gave strong evidence that he could hold down the hip-hop fort for the entire festival, but could quite possibly be the best act of the day
Critical Bias: I like a performer who is just a chill to speak to as he or she is on stage. Fat Tony was a pretty chill dude.
Random Notebook Dump: Can we please make “BKNY” the new “Empire State of Mind”? Please?
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 1, 2013