LISTEN: Tony Williams On How His Musical Roots In R&B Influences Today’s Hip Hop


Five-time Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Antony “Tony” Williams has become one of the most heard voices in today’s musical landscape.  He has written, sung and performed with JAY-Z, Nas, The Game, Rick Ross, and most notably, his first cousin, Kanye West. He’s been by West’s side at the recording console from inception to end for every one of his solo albums as a vocalist, writer, and/or arranger.  Williams has toured internationally with West on every major tour and has been a part of G.O.O.D Music since 2004.

Released in 2012, Williams’ debut album, “King or The Fool – An Opera: Volume I”, marked his official introduction as a solo artist.  Volume I is packed with all star features including vocals from John Legend, Raheem DeVaughn, and Stokely Williams from Mint Condition; as well as production from No I.D., Bink!, Hit Boy and Kanye West.

“To Gain The World: King or The Fool, Volume II” was recorded while Williams was helping Kanye West to create “The Life of Pablo.”  He is also credited as a writer for the hit single “Surfin’” featuring Kid Cudi and Pharrell Williams. Volume II is “the essence of pure soul,” in his words, which “encompasses the blues, funk, rock –and-roll, jazz and gospel.  All of those genres grew from soul”.

As a selfless innovator, he promises consistency while still aiming to reinvent himself with every record.

Through our exclusive podcast, Jaro’s Tomeka Winborne had the wonderful opportunity of speaking with Williams in order to learn more about his journey and evolution, and how his musical roots in R&B have influenced the rhythms of today’s Hip Hop.

Growing up, Williams was surrounded by family with a musical background. But living in Oklahoma City, he never imagined having the chance of professional success. After attending college, he began putting his own band together, which caught the attention of his younger cousin, Kanye West.  “It was interesting because he was very much Kanye West as a 10-year-old,” said Williams. “He was the kid that you knew was going to do something. You didn’t quite know what it was going to be, but you knew it was going to be interesting.” Williams greatly helped to influence and inspire Kanye in the early days, which eventually led to a professional working relationship.

Being a “pure soul singer,” Hip Hop has never been the genre of choice for Tony Williams. However, through working with multiple Hip Hop artists over the span of his career, Williams appreciates the merging of his soul music with Hip Hop in order to create a phenomenal sound, as seen throughout Kanye’s College Dropout.

Regarding his own music, Williams seeks to have a specific sound that will take listeners back to the old school R&B, while also remaining relevant to today’s ears. In his upcoming album King of the Fools Vol. 2, he’s ready to show fans who Tony Williams truly is at the core of it all. “This is the album where my new sound is my old sound. It feels like the R&B that you grew up loving in the 70s and 80s, packaged in today’s capsule,” he said. “I’m really excited about it.”

Click here to listen to the full 40-minute podcast. To keep up to date with his music and more, follow Tony Williams on Instagram at @twftonywilliams, and visit his website at

Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I also manage a book hub, which you can find on Instagram @bloomingliterature.

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