He’s been all around the world, but he’s still Brooklyn’s own. A veteran mixtape DJ since the mixes were actually on cassette tapes, Tony Touch turned a creative corner when he included freestyles from 50 MCs for his 50th mixtape. The result was the legendary Power Cypher (“Power Cypher” is “50” in Five Percenter speak) which included Boot Camp Clik, Busta Rhymes and Kool G Rap. He followed up with a few editions to the Power Cypher, each time featuring a different crop of emcees. El producto was so dope he landed a record deal with Tommy Boy to release an official mixtape as an album. Enter The Piecemaker 1 & 2 era. Now, nearly 10 years since the last one, Tony Toca is back with the third installation of The Piecemaker.
Featuring an arsenal of emcees both new and old (and even Eminem), the Rock Steady Crew affiliate is once again tearing up the Technic 1200s.
Check out The Piecemaker 3 available on July 9th
What’s up Tone? People think you’re back out here in the mix, but you never really left, right?
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve been doing my thing on Sirius every week for Toca Tuesdays on Shade 45. Then after the show we take it to the club for my weekly party at Sutra. I’ve had everybody from Pete Rock to Funkmaster Flex come through. I also have a weekly party called FunkBox at the Sullivan Room. Straight deep house. There I have special guest DJs like Louie Vega and Kenny Dope. Both parties have been going strong for five years now.
Always in touch with the people, man. That’s dope. So give a little history about the Power Cypher and The Piecemakers.
Well the 50 MCs came first. In 1996 I put out my 50th Hip Hop tape so to commemorate that I got 50 emcees freestyling on there. I did another one in 1997 then again in1999. So I left that as a trilogy and in 2000 I released the first Piecemaker on Tommy Boy and the follow up to that in 2004. I had to step up my production and A&R work with those because these were actual albums, not mixtapes.
The evolution of a DJ. Lets backtrack a bit. You’re from Bushwick no?
I was born in East New York, but I spent a good part of my years in Bushwick. A lot of my come up was in Bushwick. First record stores I ever sold my mixtapes was in Bushwick right on Knickerbocker Avenue. But that’s me all day. Bushwick, Canarsie, East New York, that whole area. I live in Queens now, but I’m always over there.
How’d you stay focused on your craft in such a wild hood?
I started at Canarsie High School, but after half a year there my folks moved down to Orlando. At the time I didn’t like it, but now that I look back on it I think if it wasn’t for those years I wouldn’t have put as much time into my craft as I did out of boredom. There was nothing else to do other than sit in the room and practice all day. There were too many distractions in New York so I kind of give thanks that my folks moved now that I look back.
Wow. How else did that isolation help?
Also being down there I became a promoter. I used throw my own events when I was like 16. I was doing high school parties making like a $1,000 a month. I just saw a void and there were a lot of people from New York down there, especially Puerto Ricans, so I was able to blend in and start doing my parties and eventually became an event producer.
So you got the ReggaeTony projects that were dope. Any another Spanish themed project you’re working on that are due for release soon?
I’m actually working on a project for Fania Records which I’m remaking a lot of the classics and incorporating some 2014 urban dope Spanish hip-hop shit to give the original Fania compositions a new edge. Also I’m doing a third ReggaeTony album.
You always come up with really good titles and names. How’d you get the name Tony Touch in the first place?
Most great nicknames are given to you. Mines was given to me by a cat named PF Cuttin from East New York who was a DJ and a producer for Blahzay Blahzay. He’s one of my oldest friends and some one who I ran with in East New York when I was first coming up on the DJ tip. Shout out to him.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 2, 2013