“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.
Check out the EP below as well as our exclusive interview with Toiné!
OneThrone Interview Responses
OT: To start things off, introduce yourself!
Toiné: So much to say, so little time LOL. Hey OneThrone, my name is Antoinette Houston, and I’m a new musical artist attempting to breathe life into a new sub-genre of Neo Soul & Hip Hop I call “Spoken Lyricism.” Being a female spoken word artist and emcee, born and raised in Chicago, I’ve always tried to find ways to subtly stand up and out as it relates to my writing/content and performance art as a whole. I’ve done this primarily as a way to continue to carve out new lanes and add additional perspective towards female rappers, so we are not forced to be labeled “hood/tom-boyish”, “overtly sexual” or “super conscious.” The music heard within my latest EP, “Love States…” is candid and has been called unique by some, given its musical influences range from old school hip hop to deep house and jazz. Originally known within the spoken word community as “Young Flame”, I’m attempting to “spark” the ideology of Chi-ROCKING versus Chi-Raqing: Rocking relatable content, Rocking clean soulful music, Rocking uniqueness and Rocking feel good vibes to/for my listeners of any age or race to experience and enjoy.
OT: You recently had a show at Refuge Chicago. How was it? Did you have fun?
Toiné: YASSSS! My recent show at Refuge Chicago was AHHH-MAZE-ING (misspelled on purpose for effect LOL). The intimate crowd and soulful energy made for a wonderful night. I shared the stage with some talented Chicago artists and it was a blessing to be amongst family, friends and new/old supporters from across the city. The promoter/host was so down to Earth and allowed me add my flavor to the set (e.g. bringing my trumpet player and background vocalists on stage with the house band), which made for an even better musical experience. I truly had a blast.
OT: Your new EP, Love States, is about to be re-released with a new performance name. What is your favorite track off of the project and why?
Toiné: Yes, after 18 years, I recently changed my performance name from “Young Flame” to “Toiné Houston”. I felt the change was needed and mirrored the metaphor of what “Love States…” is all about, which is allowing and listening to what our heart tells us as we all go and GROW through different stages. My name change is a symbol of my growth from a poet to a musical artist.
I would have to say my favorite track off of this project would be “Cool On You.” It was the last song I recorded for this album, given it took me a while to come up with the proper concept. After listening to the track, produced by Tye Hill and DJ Thunder, I wrote the hook and came up with the name right away. However, I was stuck a bit when it came to the actual song because I write from the heart and didn’t want to sensationalize my story with untrue lyrics. Ironically, at the same time earlier this year, I was medically diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), which is a disease where your immune system feels as though it is ok to attack your joints. It was a whirlwind of emotions and an even bigger battle with my physically as I suffered a lot of swelling and pain mainly within the hands and shoulders. After finally finding a treatment solution to help me counteract my RA flare ups, I was able to create the concept and finish writing the song given I choose to use my RA as a metaphor for the guy in my life. “Cool On You” is my personal ode to myself and the song allowed me an outlet to embrace the change my body was inflicting on me and love it/myself unconditionally with a level of “unprecedented coolness.”
What are three of your favorite albums of all-time?
Toiné: I would have to say, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” and “Who is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Volume 1” are most definitely two of my favorite albums and artists of all-time. BB Queen by Bahamadia would round off the three as a top favorite album as well.
What are some of your favorite movies of all-time?
Toiné: Some of my favorite movies of all-time are:
The following Angelia Jolie Films: Gia, Girl Interrupted, Original Sin, Salt
When Harry Met Sally
Silence of the Lambs
Waiting to Exhale
Where are your favorite places to eat in Chicago?
Toiné: I know you may think some pizza place, but two of my favorite places to eat in Chicago are “Woo Woo’s BBQ” and Calumet Fisheries. Also, any place with a mouth-watering burger, such as “M Burger” “25 Degrees”, or “Rockit Burger Bar” gets my business as well.
What are your plans for the rest of 2015 and moving forward?
Toiné: Sky’s the limit…After being asked to participate in the first annual 100,000k Organization Job Initiative event in Chicago this past August hosted by Common and performing for #FightForDyett Hunger Strike Initiative held at Operation Push, I was recently booked to open up for an incredible new musical monodrama project, called “Black and White: A Man Divided” produced by 5-Time Grammy Award Winner Malik Yusef and starring Charles Malcolm, hitting the stage in October. There are also conversations being held with radio conglomerate WVON regarding a “Toiné Houston: Unplugged” event in October as well.
I am so humbled, blessed and appreciative of people embracing my content, my sound and unique-ness of my music. When I landed my first TVOne commercial, the executives called me the “Jay Z of Poetry” and now with “Love States…” I’ve been termed a “Neo Soul Lyricist.’ I LOVE it because it shows/proves there may just be a new lane people are willing and waiting to embrace and ride along.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Toiné: I love Chicago. I do. And I hope it and the rest of the world continues to appreciate the clean content and soulful/eclectic variance I bring with my music, especially within the world of Hip Hop. I’m on a path to continue to show how artistry has no bound of age, color, or gender……and this journey is scary…at times…but exciting and WORTH IT….definitely.