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Tony Toni Tone

New Jack Swing Hall Of Fame:
Tony Toni Tone

(Members: Raphael Saadiq, D'Wayne Wiggins, Timothy Christian Riley [front line] and Carl Wheeler, Elijah Baker, Antron Haile, and Randall Wiggins)

Founded in Oakland, California in the mid-1980s, Tony Toni Tone has had a legendary run as one of the best (if not the best) self-contained music unit of its era. Originally approached by Prince to be his backing band, the Toneys turned that gig down, and embarked on their first two albums Who in 1988, and The Revival in 1990 that was a New Jack Era classic. The Revival featured songs like "Feels Good," "It Never Rains In Southern California," "The Blues" and "Whatever You Want."

The group managed to squeeze in "Just Me And You" for the Boyz in the Hood soundtrack, a wonderfully sweet record.

By 1993, Tony Toni Tone shed their New Jack Sound for a more organic approach to soul music, spawning the excellent Sons Of Soul disc featuring the exquisite "Anniversary", and many other notable jams like "Slow Wine," "If I Had No Loot," "Lay Your Head On My Pillow" and "Leavin." It was around this time that Tony Toni Tone first ran into friction between each other, and the music industry in general after a stint on Janet Jackson's "janet" tour went sour.

Lead singer Raphael Wiggins (who changed his name to Saadiq) began to really emerge around this time as a creative force, lending his creative energies to D'Angelo's first album ("Lady"), Total ("Kissing You"), and John Singleton's Higher Learning soundtrack with his formal solo debut, "Ask Of You."

The Toneys then released their final studio album in 1996, House Of Music. An amazingly mature record, House Of Music was a wonderful way for the group to leave its fans (hopefully not forever) with songs like "Let's Get Down," "I've Been Thinking 'Bout You," "Still A Man" and "Tossin & Turnin."

Timothy Christian Riley (cousin to Raphael and D'wayne Wiggins) was responsible for a short lived R&B trio named Art & Soul whose "Ever Since You Went Away" sounded (in a good way!) like a Tony Toni Tone record.

Raphael continued his winning streak with his group Lucy Pearl (featuring fellow New Jack alum Dawn Robinson) and Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe Called Quest. After Lucy Pearl disbanded, Saadiq released his 2002 album Instant Vintage which earned him five grammy nominations.

D'wayne Wiggins (Raphael's older brother) has become a local hero in his hometown of Oakland were he runs the Jahva House coffee house near Lake Merritt. It is a place where people can chill out and perform spoken word. D'wayne's Eyes Never Lie album (2000) was critically celebrated upon its release.

A one-off Toneys reunion can be heard on Raphael Saadiq's All Hits at the House of Blues live album which was released in October 2003.

Raphael Saadiq returned with Ray Ray in 2004, followed in 2008 by the critically well receieved The Way I See It. 

Tony Toni Tone continues to tour, sans Raphael Wiggins but instead with new member Amar Khalil, and is one of the most consistent acts on the New Jack Swing/Ladies Night Out Tours of 2006-2008.

 

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