Tony Shhnow, a staple in Atlanta’s underground hip-hop scene, is finally getting the respect I have always felt he deserved. Having spent the past year touring the country with Cousin Stizz, appearing in Soundcloud’s ‘Plugg’ Documentary, and still cranking singles and features, the Shhnow man is back with a full-length project. At 18-tracks, ‘Reflexions’ boasts impressive guest appearances from fellow underground standouts like Zelooperz, Matt OX, Bear1Boss, and production from CardoGotWings on ‘Forgive Don’t Forget,’ in addition to a rare appearance from Atlanta legend OJ Da Juiceman.
“You know how they call some albums studio albums? This is more like a street album. It’s still an album, but I made it in the streets.”
Throughout the project, Tony paints vivid pictures of his come-up and how he asserted himself to be the man, which can be heard on tracks like ‘Summer Off Relaxx’ and ‘Forgive Don’t Forget.’ The maturity that Tony demonstrates on the album is striking. ‘Reflexions’ is the perfect representation of his rap prowess. It is a worthwhile encapsulation of Tony’s journey to constantly reinvent his eclectic sound, express the most honest version of himself on the mic, and produce music on the cutting-edge of the blossoming underground scene of hip-hop.
Coming off the release, I had the chance to catch up with Tony Shhnow and talked about tour life, the Soundcloud scene, the conception of ‘Reflexions,’ and much more. Check out the full interview below.
How did growing up in Atlanta impact the artist you are today?
I feel like I was blessed with a little more flavor [laughs.] I was blessed with a little more swag. I was blessed with using my flows in the way I do and how I play with my voice. I don’t feel like it’s really favored in other states, like the flows I do and the weird cadences.
Yea, Atlanta lets you have that freedom.
You can literally scream or just ad-lib the whole song.
Let’s talk about the concept. How did the album come together?
Initially, I wanted to do a project with my best songs, which I felt were album material. I’ve done it before, but I did it more professional with this one. It’s almost like a street album. You know how they call some albums studio albums? This is more like a street album. It’s still an album, but I made it in the streets. I wasn’t making it a super-professional way. This is my day-to-day life. The Reflexions thing came from Sam [Hadelman] of Dark PR. But once he said it, after a week or two of sitting with it, I realized I was talking to myself on the records. Me and [Cousin] Stizz used to talk about our perspectives on music and where we are coming from. Like from a speaking point, talking from the perspective of someone, Kendrick Lamar does this sometimes. Kendrick will talk from the perspective of Nipsey or an older OG, or even a young person. In my perspective, I was talking to myself, literally. Tony to Tony, how can I make him grow better?
Speaking on reflecting, do you have any regrets about the music game?
No, because everything is a learning lesson. I respect everything that I did. There’s not a thing I regret; maybe it’s a relationship. But besides that, every decision I made has gotten me here. I’m accepting of it.
I really like the cover art. How did that come together? Does it play off the idea that you wish you could say many things to your younger self?
Sometimes, yeah. It is kind of like that. It’s a remake of a Henry Ossawa Tanner original painting, but I felt like it resonated with me. I feel like I’m an OG since I am an older guy, especially when I’m around these rappers. There are things I want to tell them, but they’re not me, so they might not listen to me. These are things I wish that I would’ve told myself so that I could be further in life.
I’m glad that you brought up Cousin Stizz. I saw you went on tour with him. How was that, and what was your favorite city to perform?
It was a great learning experience. First of all, he showed me nothing but love the whole time. He brought me on stage after performing and shouted me out every time. Stizz is such a real person. I respect him so much. It was great because he was teaching me how I could get my own tour going. He showed me that it’s not as hard as you think it is and that you can set it up yourself. My favorite city to perform in had to be DC. They were singing my music and really showing love. It was a great time out there. I had some beautiful young ladies with me. A bunch of young ladies came to see me, specifically. I couldn’t not want that [laughs.] It was so many girls I felt bad at one point. DC was love. I f*ck with DC. All the artists came to f*ck with me. They all showed love and popped out, from underground to mainstream.
Throw out a couple of names.
I brought Yung Gleesh out. I had Lil Xelly there. Sparkheem was out there. Mannyvelli and a lot of the producers f*cked with me. It was a lot more; I just can’t remember their names.
I recently attended one of the SoundCloud events promoting the “Plugg” documentary. Can you speak about that?
It’s a great production. Very insightful, and it’s the truth. Literally the truth. It’s a must-watch.
That’s how I discovered you—on SoundCloud. Everyone loves your collaborations with producers like Cashcache, MexikoDro, or SenseiATL. Who are some of the underrated producers like Deadmanjonny that people be sleeping on?
Ayy that’s crazy, I was just with Deadmanjonny, and he said the same thing. “Yo, you gotta get more songs in with me, it’s too classic,” I was like, you’re not wrong. Deadmanjonny is underrated. I feel like it’s because he’s new, though. I was sleeping on him for a while. 10kdunkin had to wake me up. He just started playing his beats, and I asked, “who the f*ck is this?” He was like, “this Jonny.” I was like, “what? This Jonny?.” Some other people I work with that are underrated are Polo Boy Shawty. Even though he’s got a name, he should be past that—he should be working with 2 Chainz, Gucci, Quavo, and them. Dylvinci too.
Dylvinci is so hard, and he has been around a minute.
I talked to this other person about producers, and he said how SenseiATL makes a beat in 5 minutes. Dylvinci will do the same thing, literally. And it’ll make you cry. It’s too beautiful. It is mind-boggling, like how the f*ck did you make that? Like these dudes are real musicians. Niko East too. First of all, he plays all the instruments. All the instruments you hear in his beat, he plays them. He plays the guitar, piano, drums, the snare, and the triangle. He will play everything from scratch. I gotta give respect to Niko East. Finally, I’d say GRiMM Doza. He is underrated too, and I think it’s because of his style. It’s not necessarily mainstream music, and it’s not mainstream underground either. That tape he did with BoofPaxkMooky and that ‘Slow Jam Fantasy’ song, you have to check it out if you haven’t heard it. I was really jealous. I was like “I know you ain’t give that beat away, that beat too hard, what the f*ck! [laughs.] I be doing that sh*t all the time with SenseiATL. Like 10kdunkin’s last project, I wanted to punch his ass [laughs.] I was sitting there like, “bruh nah, I know these sh*t’s ain’t that hard.”
I know that feeling, like ain’t no way you ain’t hit me up.
Like, ain’t no way you ain’t call or hit me up. Like, ain’t no way.
Facts. Even harder, most of them coming from ATL.
I try to keep it in Atlanta lowkey, or at least southern. And if not local, definitely in the south region, like Texas, Florida, Tennessee, and Alabama. The only dude I worked with that’s not from the south is GRiMM Doza.
What’s next for Tony, and what else can we look forward to?
After the project, I am making a Plugg project, strictly Plugg beats. Some people think I’m making another project with Cashcache. It’s not another project. It’s literally Plugg, like all of the superstars like MexikoDro, Polo Boy Shawty, DJ Plugg, StoopidXool, Cashcache, Deadmanjonny, and all the other superstar Plugg guys. I got them on here.
Damn, that’s the “Plugg” Avengers.
Nah it is. I was already making it before the Soundcloud documentary started, but once I saw it, I was like, “umm, now I have to do it. Damn, I didn’t know yall were doing this.” This is too crazy. When I saw the documentary, I got mad I wasn’t in it more, I’m telling you. Like damn, this sh*t is too fye! F*ck! This sh*t looks like VICE. Do you remember their videos, and they’d shoot trap shit? It looks like VICE, if not better. Maybe I’m being biased because all of my homeboys are in it. Nonetheless, it will be a great watch. I can’t wait.