By : Kim Coco
Introduce yourself to our reader’s ,let them know your name, where you’re from & what you’re known for?
My name is Tony Sunshine. I’m from the Bronx NY and you all know me as the lead vocalist/ singer on most, well almost all of the Terror Squad Albums.
There are some rumors swirling around that Tony Sunshine is about to Debut his Solo Album? Is that True or False because the people have spoken and we are patiently waiting?
Yes. That rumor is true. I’m getting ready to finally drop my debut album. But I don’t want to give a time frame because I don’t like to fall through on my promises due to politics. I want it to be perfect and really reflect who Tony Sunshine is so it’s a work in progress but it’s hard to put a timestamp on it because my word is my bond and I don’t want to let anyone, especially the fans down. But it’s coming. And I think the people will be REAL surprised at what I’ve been sitting on.
Where did the name Tony Sunshine come from? Is Tony Sunshine a persona? If so what’s the difference between Tony Sunshine & Antonio?
The name Tony Sunshine was given to me by Pun actually. It was kind of a spur of the moment type thing. I didn’t like it at first to be honest with you. When I was a kid, maybe when I was like between 13 -17, people in my neighbor and in the Bronx would call me “R&B” because I was always singing. That was around 1994. One of the original members of the Terror Squad, the Late Great Gizmo, you know, started calling me R&B and that actually stood for Rough Brother, because not only was I always singing, but I was also a knucklehead too. One day, many years later, we were in Puns house and his album Capital Punishment had just come out and all these magazines are interviewing him . Pun says to me “Yo, we gotta come up with a new name for you. I want to push you but I don’t like the name R&B for you”. We kept tossing around some names and one day Pun just said “I got it. I got it”. So I said ok what’s that. So Pun looks and me and says “TONY SUNSHINE” and I said to him “I hate that name and it’s a horrible idea”. So now XXL magazine comes to interview him and asks him “Do you have any new ventures or plans for the future” and Pun looks at me and said during that interview “Yeah as a matter of fact I do. His name is Tony Sunshine and we are currently working on his project now”. And I looked at him like Damn, I guess that’s my name now. And that was that. The rest was history. And no there is no difference between Antonio and Tony Sunshine. I cannot ever be someone I am not. We both wear our heart on our sleeve and we can both be hot headed but full of love.
The thing that really made you the wildcard in the NYC hip hop industry is that you were the FIRST male ever to become the sole R&B vocalist signed to a HIP HOP group. Ever! You were just a 13 years old kid from the Bronx. There is no one else in the industry that can say that. Who discovered your talent?
When I was 13, coming right out of the system, I had a very strict mom. She wouldn’t let me out of the house basically. But , she got a job at a candy factory and I would sneak out when she went to work. So here I was just a curious kid in the neighborhood straight out of the shelter system, with no brothers, no father. I go to the park and I met a bunch of guys in the neighborhood and along with them came this chubby guy named Fat Joe. I was really intrigued that there was a Latino in the industry and wanted to know how i could get the opportunity to sing for him. So I ask the guys in the neighborhood one day and they are like “ Yo, Just Grow a set of B*LLS and go sing for him”. So- I here I am, 89 pounds soaking wet, 13 years old, I gained the courage and walked right up to Joe and sang “Forever my Lady” by Jodeci and he was blown away. And from there on, fast forward to the very next day, Fat Joe pulled up with his MPV with Funk Flex in the car and he told me to jump in the car. The rest is really history.
You and Pun made a bunch of records? Which one is your biggest hit?
Pun and I made so many records and people will probably never get the chance to hear them. But the Biggest Track was “It’s So Hard”. Originally it was me singing on that record and after Pun died they went and got Darnell Jones to sing the hook instead. But I had a lot to do with the hook and the creativity behind that. They put the vocals of me and Darnell over each other. There were a lot of politics involved because Pun had passed but that Track is actually Darnell Jones Vocals on top of mine. I was pretty sick when they took me off that record but Darnell did a great job. But yeah that’s my favorite and biggest record.
It seems that you wear your emotions on your sleeve when you make records. When is Tony most inspired to write and make music? When he’s hurting or when he’s happy?
Always. I always wear my heart on my sleeve. Tony Sunshine is a very emotional individual and it’s almost like I can feel other people’s pain. I don’t necessarily need to go through something to feel sad or upset by it. Most of my records are about me but then there are times when I can feel what someone else is going through and they will inspire me to write a record. Most people who listen to my songs can relate to what I’m saying. I don’t worry about being validated anymore, I just want to reach and touch someone who feels just like me. Those are the people who can understand me and mess with my music.
If you could sit on a bench for one hour with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
Stylez P. It would be Stylez P
Do you remember where you were and what you were doing the first time you ever heard your song played on the radio?
Yes I do. I remember exactly where I was correctly. I was in a Limo going to Club Metropolis in Queens with Fat Joe on our way to perform a show. We tuned in to Hot 97 and Funk Flex was going crazy playing the “T.O.N.Y” record, dropping bombs, going crazy saying “Tone DON’T GET GASSED!” We were pouring champagne and I will never forget that moment. Joe just looked at me and he didn’t say anything but he held his champagne glass up like to congratulate me. What a moment.
Who wrote “Laughing at you” by you and Pun and be honest, is that song written about someone?
To tell you the truth, Pun and I were big jokesters. 24/7 and knowing Pun, it could have been a subliminal and it probably was. I guess the world will never know. Now you got me thinking, I gotta go through the lyrics and read them through and see if it was in fact a subliminal and if so ill figure out to who.
Big Pun is gone almost 20 years. Some have said that the Greatest Lyrics ever spit by Big Pun are from the 1998 record “Twinz”……. He rapped 4 bars , 20 famous words in under 5 seconds…. Tony, Finish the following lyrics for us “ Dead in the middle of Little Italy?
Little did we know That we riddled some middle men that didn’t do didily. I was Pun’s hype man. Whenever he couldn’t finish that verse right there, which he could by the way, but you know sometimes doing show after show and song after song, I would jump right in. That was my guy and I was also there to be his hype man.
Who are Tony Sunshines Top 5 R& B singers of all time?
2. Stevie Wonder
3. Brian McKnight
4. Wanya (From Boyz to Men)
5. I don’t know if we classify him as an R&B singer but I’m going with Michael Bolton
By the way, let me just say that the Jagged Edge vs 112 Battle was the most legendary thing I have seen in my time. No question.
Sum up the Current state of Hip Hop in only 1 word.
Tell our readers 3 fun facts about you?
1. I’m a really good cook. I can cook like a chef
2. I’m always the jokester, always laughing and always having a good time. 24 hours 7 days a week.
3. Whenever I go into the studio, I completely can tune out what had happened just seconds before and I zone out.
You were known as a playboy during your time. So how did you handle being a sex symbol?
I can’t even answer that question. I got myself into so much trouble.
Oh ok, do you want to pass on that question then?
NO. I’m giving you the answer. My answer is SHEESH, I can’t even answer that question cause I got into so much trouble.
So whose got the best pizza in the Bronx?
The best pizza in the Bx is Linda’s Pizza on Tremont Ave. As a kid, after school I would go in and get a slice of pizza and a soda if I did good in school that day. I wonder if she is still there. I don’t know if she still exists but I went there my entire childhood. I believe her husband’s name was Mario.
Can we Talk about Fred the Godson?
Yes you can
Ok, good. Fred. He was not only someone you made music with but he was also your close friend, You took his loss very hard and it was personal for you. Tell the readers, what is one thing that Fred’s passing has taught you ?
I learned from Fred that we as individuals sometimes take people we know for granted. Not for granted, more like we don’t look and see who we have in front of us while they are still there. I realize that we shouldn’t wait till people are gone to give them their roses. My hairs are standing up right now. People LOVED Fred and I realized that so many people outside of NYC really messed with Fred and his music after he was gone. It was because he was such a genuine person aside from making such dope records. The world will never forget Fred. I think Jim Jones was the one who started that phrase “We need to give people their roses while they are alive. We shouldn’t wait for people to be gone to show them you love them”. Tell people those beautiful things about them while they are still here. We gotta learn to love each other now. Give each other our roses, that love for each other in the present.
You are currently creating Packages for single mothers and families in shelters by supplying them with sanitary products such as diapers, baby bottles, Lysol, wipes, face masks , disinfectants ect. You started it in your own home during this pandemic and it sort of blew up in the past few weeks. Why did you decide to do this and how can we help?
Well at first 2 people reached out to me the first week of the pandemic asking for some help so My wife and I went to target and created these boxes of goods. I know what it is to have a single mother in the middle of a crisis and have no means. Who am I to turn my back on someone who needs help? I was getting more and more messages from people asking for help for either themselves or for other people to ashamed to ask for help. I started creating these boxes of sanitary supplies and just kept sending them out. A few people took notice and were anonymously donating to the cause. But I don’t like to ask for help. Especially because I feel like if you truly believe in what I’m doing, if you’re a humanitarian like me, you’ll just want to be a part of it without me having to ask you. We have currently sent over 100 boxes throughout NY, NJ and CT and are still going. If people believe in my movement there is a link in my Instagram bio that they can donate to. And whatever is given is absolutely appreciated and really does make a difference. But I am going to keep going whether people are a part of my mission or not. I am targeting those who truly need help like single moms, older folks, children with autism and disabilities, families in shelters and who go system.
Where can our readers find you on social media and where can we download? Plug yourself in so we know how to find you for features, collaborations, interviews and all things
Facebook: Tony Sunshine
Tony Sunshine Music available on all Platforms:
Official Music Platforms – SoundCloud/TIDAL/ GooglePlay/ Amazon Music/ Itunes/ Spotify/ Apple Music/ YouTube Music/ iheartRadio/Shazam/TikTok/ Deezer PlayMusic- @TonySunshine
To Donate to Tony Sunshine’s Pandemic Package Charity Drive , please visit @IamTonySunshine on Instagram and click the link in Bio.