The World Famous Tony Williams Has Valley’s Backstage Pass to Kanye

Photo by Oyoma Asinor

Before the Saint Pablo Tour rolled into the BJC, Valley sat down with The World Famous Tony Williams to get the inside scoop of Friday’s concert. You may recognize Williams from his successful music career and soulful voice, his writing credits on Kanye’s albums or the fact that he is Kanye West’s first cousin. However you know of Williams, there is a lot more to learn about the artist.

Donning a Penn State Hoodie and unwinding in one of his favorite places in State College, Chronic Town, Williams said, “This is my favorite college campus.” He continued that he is always energized by the enthusiasm of the student body, “We’ve been coming here since ’06 and it’s the best show on the tour.”

Photo by Kayleigh Barber | Williams singing back up vocals during Friday night's concert with Kanye floating on stage behind him.

Photo by Kayleigh Barber | Williams singing back up vocals during Friday night’s concert with Kanye floating on stage behind him.

When not on tour as a backup vocalist for Kanye or assisting with the writing and producing of Kanye’s songs, Williams puts his heart and soul into creating his own music. Currently working on his second album titled, To Gain The World: King or The Fool, Vol. II, Williams is working to “reintroduce himself to his fans” as the soul singer he identifies with.

His latest track is a revamp of the classic “Stuck in the Middle” by Stealers Wheel and features CiHy The Prynce. Listen to the song here to really understand his love for soul.

Having been professionally associated with hip-hop artists and rappers, such as Jay-Z, Rick Ross and Nas, Williams’ first album was rooted in what his fans expected of him. But this album is meant to go back to the root of what music is to him — something that undoubtedly comes from within him.

Williams says that both he and Kanye prefer to create their music so it fits in with their flair for showmanship. This translates into the Saint Pablo Tour where he says that the tour was designed to create an experience for the fans. As the main backup vocalist on this tour, Williams says that his favorite part of the night is connecting with the fans.

Williams has worked with Kanye on every one of his albums starting with The College Dropout and most recently c0-wrote “Waves” and “Freestyle 4” on The Life of Pablo. He says that more people than he can count work on each album, but it is very much a team effort; and while the fame has grown from that first album, they are still very much a team of kids sitting around making music together.

“[Kanye’s] genius is seeing people as instruments,” Williams says, which is why he has been so integral in his cousin’s work because Kanye recognizes his soulful voice as something other rap and hip-hop artists don’t have.

Williams sees himself as a unique artist today because while he has one foot in the current era of hip-hop and popular music, he also very much has the other foot rooted in the world of soul, allowing him to have a very authentic sound.

When not on tour or recording, you can find Williams running his two vintage shops in Dallas, TX. Vintage to him is the best and most authentic era for fashion and relates back to his love for soul and R&B. “There is a lot of soul left in vintage,” he says.

Having started his music career only to produce a mix tape to play in his car to impress his friends, Williams never expected his career to grow to the point it is at today. With Kanye being 14 years younger, Williams has been helping him develop his music and vice versa from the beginning and has no intentions of stopping anytime soon.