I’ve got my fair share of album advances over the last 25 years, but Tona’s “Silverspring Crescent” is so far ahead of schedule that I can’t even show you the album’s cover art. The graphic attached to this review is from Tona’s Bandcamp page, which is where you can also hear what currently serves as the album’s lead single – a song called “Nympho.”

The title and artwork are intentionally misleading. While Tona is undoubtedly as crass as they come, his sexual proclivities herein are all musical metaphors. He happily samples a Kanye West quip, “stuck my dick inside this life until that bitch came,” but this July 26th, 1980 baby sounds far older than his age with his assessment of the current hip-hop scene.

“That’s why you new generation of emcees are diseased
More like H-I-V, see my U-N-I-T
Recently extorted your gimmicks; started supportin abortion clinics
cause one rapper’s born every minute!
Sheeeit, I make the track assume the position
My dick the prescription for its physical condition
And sometimes a nigga don’t feel like performing…
I’d rather, turn off my phone and ignore who be callin”

If on hearing Tona he reminds you of a cross between Saukrates and Jay-Z, you wouldn’t be far off. Tona actually hails from the Scarborough neighborhood of Toronto, and his album title actually reflects his apartment complex. Unsurprisingly he linked up with a fellow Canadian for the production – Rich Kidd handles all the musical duties here. Over 12 tracks he shows off a diversity of sound, from the thunderous pounding of “Hennessy Thoughts,” to the big room symphonics of “Where the Love Go,” to the hopeful optimistic shuffle of “Darkest Dayz.” The consistency of the single producer and artist tandem throughout the entire LP gives newcomer Tona a signature sound – it’s obvious even without the press release the two know each other well.

Now before Tona is annointed as “the next big thing” to follow in the footsteps of Saukrates andDan-e-o, let’s bear in mind he’s still hella young and this is a rather short album. Among the 12 tracks you can find Tona simultaneously flipping a middle finger to rap’s cliches, then turning right around and giving them a full bearhug embrace on songs like “Weed & Alcohol” – using drugs as a metaphor for his lyrics. It’s not that he doesn’t show cleverness and wit, but he doesn’t do anything that hasn’t been done before either. “Blue Shield” is more what I’m looking for – a song that had to grow on me over several listens – one which might have spiritual ties to KRS-One’s “Sound of Da Police” but that takes it in a whole new direction. Tona’s lyricism and Rich Kidd’s production suggest a ton of potential that fans should keep an eye out for.

Tona :: Silverspring Crescent
7Overall Score