With his debut album entitled, A Fly Guy’s Theme, there was no way that Clutch could pass up the opportunity to interview THE fly guy himself, Mr. Tabi Bonney! Bringing the much needed freshness, originality and creativity that the rap game needs, Tabi takes us back to a time when rap was fun; a time when you rhymed about cute girls and your “fresh-to-death” gear. There is no limit to this man’s creative genius! Stepping from behind the mic and into the design studio, he has launched his clothing line called Bonney Runway. Clutch caught up with Tabi to find out more about his music, projects, and of course, his insight into style.
Clutch: You were born in Africa and raised between Europe and Washington, DC, how have your travels and cultural experiences contributed to your music?
Living in different places definitely helped shape my music and overall sense of style. It allowed me to absorb different cultures and ultimately learn that you can not be afraid of being yourself . . . which, I think a lot of people are. Afraid, that is!!
Clutch: Your father is afro-funk superstar Itadi Bonney, how did he influence you musically?
He influenced me to have more of a live music feel. And I think it really shows when it comes to my live show. I usually perform with a live band and have dancers. That’s the only way that he would perform; it was a huge event. I haven’t reached that ultimate level yet, but I will achieve it soon.
Clutch: What emcees, both past and present, have inspired you?
Everybody!! I love hip-hop and try to hear from everyone, so it’s definitely a long list. EPMD, Big Daddy Kane, Eric B and Rakim, MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, Wu Tang, Jay-Z, Kanye, Outkast, etc.
Clutch: How does your sound distinguish you from others in the rap game?
I feel like it’s just real unique. I’m not talking about chains, crack and so forth. Right now I am taking it from the popular boy back in school aspect. Everybody in the school looked to him to see what was fresh, what type of girls he liked, how he carried himself overall. That boy was me—thus the name of the album A Fly Guy’s Theme.
Clutch: How did Organized Rhyme come into being and who does it consist of?
It pretty much came about when I went to Florida A&M University. It was created by Haziq (another rapper from DC who is based in Atlanta now) and myself. We just decided to create our own label and put our own music out. Our songs where number one on the radio station in Tallahassee when we where there. It consists of other artists and producers that the world will hear eventually.
Clutch: How is it being an independent artist? What are some of the pros and cons of being unsigned?
To me it’s nothing better than it, but it does require a lot of work! The good thing about it is that you learn the ins and outs of the music business first hand because you have to do every single thing yourself. And overall you have total control of your creativity, future and destiny. The only con is that you don’t have a big budget to work with, and a lot of the radio stations and TV networks won’t give you that much exposure unless you are with a major.
Clutch: What inspired the title of your debut album, “A Fly Guy’s Theme”?
It came during a time when I felt that rap was just stagnant and everybody was talking about the same thing and dressing exactly alike ex jersey’s, fitted hats etc… Everybody just seemed to be following the trends. “A Fly Guy’s Theme” breaks up that monotony. It’s really only for trendsetters and for people who aren’t afraid to be themselves.
Clutch: Your local hit “The Pocket” has been featured on MTV, how has the response been?
The response has been great. The power of TV is phenomenal and I am truly thankful for VH1 Soul and MTV! It has boosted my digital sales and has also given me some notoriety amongst other rappers and celebrities who have come up to me personally and told me that they are fans and love my music.
Clutch: Will you be touring in the near future?
Yeah, I already had a mini-tour in Europe earlier this year, but I have a lot of tours coming up which consist of the U.S., Europe and the Middle East in the fall and winter. Nothing that I can specify yet, but I do have a fantastic booking agent.
Clutch: How would you describe your fashion style? And tell us about your clothing line called Bonney Runway?
It’s pretty much clean, classic and a little European. So, my wardrobe consists of my own line and then stuff like Gucci and Prada. And it’s not just for the sake of wearing name-brands. It’s really because I like the cut and look of the clothes. I’m also a big sneaker freak. I absolutely LOVE shoes!! I can’t go more than two weeks without buying a new pair. Bonney Runway started because of my love for clothes and also my frustration with not being able to find what I really wanted to wear in the stores. So, I figured why not make my own stuff. It has been in boutiques along the east coast. Right now, I am revamping the line and pulled it from all the stores. But it will be back out by the fall. You can check for updates on my myspace page (Tabi Bonney) and boneyrunway.com.
Clutch: You have two degrees, an undergrad in Biology Pre-Med and a Masters in Biology and Secondary Education. It seems you were on the path to being a doctor, what changed, and do you still hope to utilize your degrees at some point?
Unfortunately, I don’t plan on using my degrees. There was a moment in time where I thought that I wanted to be a doctor, but realized my true calling as soon as I finished school. My heart just wasn’t into it as much as music and clothes. So, I figured you only have one life to live, so why not do what you actually want to do!!! I couldn’t imagine living my life any other way.
Clutch: For aspiring rappers, what words of advice can you give?
It requires more than just rapping. You have to be willing to give up everything for it and actually step out on a limb and live it everyday. You have to be willing to quit your job and make music your full time priority. Raheem DeVaughn gave me that advice . . . I took it and look what has happened so far!