ALBUM REVIEW | FAT TONY - 10,000 HOURS
The renowned star of underground hip-hop released the genre-bending masterpiece, 10,000 Hours, this past September.
Fat Tony is a very talented, hard-working musician hailing from Houston, TX that excells at alternative styles of hip-hop ranging from pure underground technical skill to more upbeat melodical tracks. He has worked with many high-profile artists including A$AP Rocky and Das Rascist but definitely has a shine of his own. 10,000 Hours displays his versatility beautifully from front-to-back this album is a journey of sound and ideas filled with exceptional production and thoughtful lyricism. This album is filled with moments that I believe any listener can get behind whether you like the catchy hooks, the technical elements, or the obscure moments when we get a taste of some outlaw-country riffs making it into “Got It Out the Mud”. Whatever your flavour is, you will find it in this album.
The album starts out with “Through the Storm”, a sort of introduction into Fat Tony’s personal life, the artists he listened too, his drive to become a successful rapper, and his steps through his career. He comes to a realization of wanting a change and continuing to improve himself and expand his horizons and talent. The song is a solid anthem for anyone feeling stuck or lacking motivation in whatever they have going on in their lives to find what makes you smile and push through. The title track of this album is a smash. “10,000 Hours” is an upbeat track with fun synths and an amazing hook. The song focuses on Fat Tony’s career coming up through his twenties and putting in the work to reach a level of success without falling to trends in the industry, like in the song he “prefers longevity”. Below you’ll find a video for the track featuring the wonderful Rosario Dawson (a pretty fantastic cameo if you ask me). Fat Tony marks “10,000 Hours” as the amount of time he has put into this career and now he is on a whole new wave for his solo work. The next track “No Beef” is a request for communication instead of going straight to resentment in relationships with old friends and new. It features a playful bass line throughout and colourful autotune for the hook and first verse. He emphasizes the idea that in a fight where one is too angry to try and mend issues and instead aims to hurt that person and burn bridges is an extremely unfair way to deal with because one of the two will lose a friend that they weren’t willing to. “Charles” is a heartwarming song that Fat Tony wrote about his brother who deals with a mental issue that leaves him behaving as if he is still a child even into his adult years. “Charles” won’t get to experience what it is like to grow into a life full of experiences of being an adult and overcoming the problems along the way. Fat Tony describes his triumphs and failures as he grew up with him to finally reach a point where he aims to always be there for him. He sympathizes with his parents and understands the difficulties that they may have faced when he was younger. The song is beautiful in its simplicity and context. In this next track Fat Tony confesses his commitment to someone and aim to be open for anything in a relationship whether he likes it or not, he will give it his all. “You Like It, I Love It” is a compassionate song about accepting your loved one and working together to create the best life together as possible. The hook in this song is an earworm for sure and the production is pleasant to digest making this song one of my favourites for sure.
“Poet Laureate” features the Canadian rapper Cadence Weapon who was named Edmonton, Alberta’s Poet Laureate for a couple of years which is an honourable position appointed usually by a government or similar that designates the appointed as a composer of poems, etc., for special events or occasisons. For someone to be recognized in their hometown that way would be very exciting and uplifting so props to him for that! This song displays some technical prowess from both artists emphasizing their literary skills with double entendres and other plays on words. In the song “Got It Out the Mud”, Fat Tony talks about starting his career from the bottom and digging his boots in to any adversity he may have faced and coming up on top to a moment in his career where he can celebrate. This is arguably one of the most interesting hip-hop songs that I have ever heard as it features a heavy amount of southern guitar styles almost making the song feel country in a way. It works so well that it proves that Fat Tony is an extremely versatile artist that might be able to rap over anything. “Texas” picks up the pace as a braggadocious track about being proud of his home city, Houston. Fat Tony throws in a bunch of playful references to the area as well as a shout out to deceased rapper Pimp C who was also from the state. The production on this track is filled with a smattering of unique sounds to the beat and the way that the track is presented it brings about a punk vibe. “Rumours” is a faster track with more “traditional” hip-hop production with some flair as is expected at this point from Tony and his producers. The song touches on the damage that rumours can do to people but as long as you know who you are and don’t let the bullshit get to you they seem a lot less harmful. Fat Tony gets a little more melodic in “Dream House” as he raps about keeping his dreams his main focus and asks others to do the same for themselves. He speaks about his love for Houston but needed to go explore and swing for the fences when it comes to accomplishing his goals.
Now “Nike” is a quick track using the famous slogan “just do it” as inspiration for a comedic hook on a track with production including bongos and a steady bass hit that carries the beat. The song goes through the mind of Fat Tony as he is meeting a girl and courting her over some drinks and his confidence grows throughout the track. I find the song so different that there are times where I skip it or I fuck with it extra, Fat Tony brings about very polarizing ideas with his songs that urge you to explore what you enjoy about music in th first place. The ironically named “No Features” actually features an artist by the name of Amindi K. Fro$t, a pleasant sounding vocalist that absolutely nails the second verse and draws memories of 90’s R&B/Soul. The song cleverly references J. Cole’s knack for creating albums without features as inspiration for the main line in the hook “no i’m not J. Cole but I want you, no features”. “Been Waiting” is about Fat Tony’s frustration with waiting around for people that say they will come around but are always late. He feels the need to express this quite clearly as it impedes on his ability to work and continue his day’s plans. When someone treats you this way it ends up boiling down to the fact that they don’t respect you or your time and aren’t worth keeping around. The final track on this album sends us off with confidence that Fat Tony is enjoying his life and all those that he chooses to keep around him. Life is too short to not try to enjoy every moment and every thing about yourself. “Best Life” features a verse from fellow alternative hip-hop artist Maal A Goomba.
10,000 Hours is an honest look into the life of Fat Tony as we take the journey we come to the end of all that time put in over the years to find that this is the current rendition of Fat Tony as a person and an artist. This album dances around so many different styles that there really is no telling which way Fat Tony decides to head from this point on and I believe that that is kind of the point. He has reached a moment in his career where he can excell at many things and his creativity is undeniable so to move on from this point he has all the freedom in the world. I was lucky enough to see Fat Tony perform with Cadence Weapon in Saskatoon and I have to make a note on his live show. It is a spectacle. He puts so much energy into his performance and he messes around with sounds and tries new things, it makes the whole experience that much more enjoyable to be a part of. I swear he sang a ramones song in there too. All that being said, this album truly is wonderful and there is something for everyone on it and even if you aren’t into hip-hop (but it’s 2018, I mean, come on SK) there is still many messages throughout the album that can point you in the right direction if you are feeling lost.