Introducing ‘Toiné Houston’ a new emerging artist from the heart of Chicago’s south side.
“Houston” is a name that has dominated the music industry for an extraordinary number of years. And Toiné Houston is a name you may not be familiar with yet, but it’s one that’s sure to ignite a fire in souls everywhere. Antoinette Houston, aka Toiné, is rapidly changing the game for female MCs in the hip hop city of Chicago. Rather than adhering to the pressures that women in the industry face, she speaks only from experience and wisdom, not glitz and glam.
After releasing “Love States” under her former name Young Flame, Toiné is here to reintroduce herself as a storyteller and entertainer. The Soundcloud release of the 5-track Love States EP is a short and sweet appetizer of the full project, a soulfully eclectic mix of Neo Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz and House. By incorporating the soul of hip hop with the raw passion of poetry, Toiné aims to spark feelings in the minds and hearts of her listeners.
What do you want people to know about your music, sound and message?
I refer to my music and sound as a soulful stew. It has a variety of blends, spices and influences inclusive of hip hop, neo soul, jazz and house. I’m an honest writer and performer, so my messages reflect my life experiences in some shape/form. As a fem-cee, I personally refer to my music as “vibe music”, given my hope is it will vibe with my audiences and allow them to zone into a space that feels good from the inside out. My music, my sound and my messages are appropriate for children, as well as adults and as an artist that’s really important to me because I never want to limit myself or my artistry. We all have something in common and if my music, or lyrics can tap into even one of those commonalities, that helps to bring and bridge people together whatever the age, race or gender.
What type of reactions do you get when you tell someone you are a MC/Hip Hop artist?
It’s funny you ask. The reactions I’ve received have been mixed. Being a Spoken Word artist for some many years, I suppose it’s easy for some people to want to solely keep me in that genre, while others have totally embraced my growth into a different space. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love and keep poetry as my foundation as a writer; however stepping into the hip hop arena and being a representative of female MCs, is a journey I fully embrace as well. My sound has been hard to pin point for some; it’s gotten labeled everything from simply “unique” to “neo soul rap”. I’m humbled by whatever the label is at this point, because at least people are starting to talk and think about my music and my style in a way that, even if deemed different, is still shining in a positive light. Being different is a huge win in my eyes.
How long have you been writing poetry and how often do you write it?
I have been writing poetry since I was 11 and performing since I was 17. My writing comes as my life experiences grow/expand, meaning I’m not the type of artist constantly in the studio unless I have a variety of sounds and stories I feel I need to express and share. My writing is candid, so as I live and experience things (good, bad or indifferent), if I feel my story or experience is relatable enough, or worth sharing given the impact I feel it will have (no matter how subtle), I start writing. Sometimes a “new” experience will even trigger a previous emotion or moment in time where I’ll start writing about an experience in a total different way…from a totally different perspective. My songs “BMW” and “Cool on You” are great examples of this, where my writing is expressing personal experiences from different angles and vantage points. In a nutshell, I write as not only the words come to me, but as my experiences continue to develop as well.
You recently were on the Steve Harvey Show, how was that experience all together?
Yes! My experience on the Steve Harvey Show was eye opening. Meeting and sitting with Mr. Harvey was a growth experience for me, given it was the first time I had been on such a public platform talking about myself versus performing to an audience. I was asked to be on the show by the producers as a result of a letter I wrote months before detailing facts about my personal and professional life. I always thought I was quite interesting in both regards LOL, but to have Mr. Harvey and his producers feel the same was amazing and scary at the same time. My one on one segment with Mr. Harvey was basically a candid conversation to help reveal a big “why” and “how” in my life: How and Why is such an accomplished and driven young woman so successful in every other area of her life except dating?
Mixed in with a few surprise guests, the segment was certainly entertaining and allowed me to reveal and hear some much needed truth about myself, which was to “let go…experience…and enjoy the moments.” Given I’m an Engineer by trade, analyzing is in my blood, but since the show I am certainly enjoying the journey of dating a lot more and any issues I experience, I make sure I keep my writing pad close to me.
All of your lyrics are all so well written and mesh great with the beats. How do you come up with a title to support the song/poem?
I really appreciate the lovely sentiment regarding my writing! Thank you.The title to my poems/songs, if there’s a title at all, usually come to me once a piece is completed and I get a feel for it. What’s the metaphor, what’s the message what’s the feeling conveyed?….are questions that often come to mind to help me determine the titles. For my recent “Love States…” album, all the titles came after all the songs were recorded mixed/mastered. I wanted to take my time and really capture the essence of them and order them in a way that flowed organically. If I could, I would love to have all untitled songs, so my fans/listeners could simply vibe out to the music and come up with their own names because to me it’s really about the content and feeling of a song, not so much the label of it.
What part of Chicago did you grow up in? How has the city shaped you as an artist?
I grew up on the south side of Chicago, in a somewhat quiet area called “Pill Hill”. As I got older, I moved around and lived in both the northern and southern suburbs. Chicago is my heartbeat. It saddens me when I hear it referred to as “ChiRaq”, because my experiences growing up here were not conducive to a lot of the violence the city has been attributed to. However, I understand we all have different experiences of course. I refer to Chicago as “ChiRocks” because I always want to give positive acknowledgement/awareness towards the city that raised me and made me the woman and artist I am today. Being here allowed me to meet some incredible people (both fellow artists, as well as general influencers) who helped mold me into the type of person who cares about my artistry, my messaging and my content. Chicago set and continues to set a strong foundation for me, teaching me nothing is given or promised; teaching me work ethic and given me the lessons needed to keep my mind sharp and my patience high because you know when it’s your time to show up and show out. I carry Chicago with me in my spirit daily…and I plan on being a voice that breathes and prayerfully shows Chicago as a city of hope, not horror…as well as a city of triumph not terror.
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