His stage name represents his people and his passion, and that passion saved his life and gave him a purpose.
Growing up around music and Highway 99 from Federal Way to Tukwila, Seattle Rapper Highway Tone credits his environment and his love of rap music for pulling him out of the street life and giving him a purpose and a future.
“Before I was actually rapping, I didn’t see myself with no future,” Highway Tone said. “I was too busy involved in the street life, gangs, pimping and hoeing, drug dealing and prostitution, and music gave me a different outlook on life. There’s a way out of the streets, I can talk about our stories, put them down on pen and pad in the music.
“Other people could be able to hear our stories and I was able to take my life, put it into music and it gave me a whole lot of time out of the streets. I was spending a whole lot of time in the studio, investing my time into finding beats and stuff like that. Instead of buying drugs to flip, the music became my drug to flip.”
Highway Tone said his latest releases tell stories of that life he left behind and the people who helped him get to a better place.
One of his latest releases, “Yeah Yeah,” released in April, was going to be a rap about a couple of friends and family members who were serving time in jail, but a partner helped him recast the song into something more up-beat, with a club-ready feel to it.
“My partner was like nah, man, you’ve got to do something different, you always rapping about the streets,” Highway Tone said. “So then I shot the beat over to my guy Mobby V, he’s the one who did the hook. He kind of felt the same vibe I was feeling so he made it catchy but he also made it more like transitioning from being in the streets and the jail cell to coming out and having money and doing something with yourself. I got that vibe off that hook and I just ran with it.”
His album, “Product of My Environment,” is a deeper look into Tone’s life and his progress as a musician.
“I wanted to show the growth between my first two albums,” Highway Tone said. “I wanted to be able to have some stuff to where it’s still street but it’s got more beats that you could throw on the radio, so its more up-tempo. Some of those songs on that album you can put on the radio and I think one or two of those songs actually made it and was played on the radio in Seattle. When I came up for the concept for the album I was like, I want to rap about me. I want to rap about what’s going on with my life. I want to rap about what made me, me.”
Songs on the album include “Nervous,” which he said is about his friends fighting with the wrong people and beefing with each other, and “Selfish,” which talks about how he grew up poor for most of his life and how people should understand how that shaped him now that he has more money.
Highway Tone’s upcoming album, “Highway Signs and Yellow Lines,” will be “a real projection of my area and where I’m from.”
“This is going to be strictly dedicated to my area, my section, my hood,” Tone said. “It’s going to be dedicated to all my bros, all my fallen soldiers, all my soldiers who are still going through the struggle, all my brothers that are still standing strong, even the ones that made it out and are doing good. This one is for us, Highway Signs and Yellow Lines is for everybody that’s from the highway.”
Be sure to keep up with Highway Tone on social media and stream his music on all platforms. Links to all of this can be found listed below.