Our top 10 Tony! Toni! Toné! Songs list presents ten of the best songs released by an American group famed for its remarkable blend of progressive soul and R&B sound influences. The group was established in the summer of 1986 by brothers Raphael Saadiq and D’Wayne Wiggins in conjunction with their cousin Timothy Christian Riley. By the mod-9-s they were one of the most popular bads in the hip-hop meets r&b genre. Motivated by the success of male R&B groups such as The Isley Brothers, New Edition, and The Gap Band, the trio was set to share the spoils of the then burgeoning R&B scene.
Tony! Toni! Toné!’s career came at a time when the R&B scene and the burgeoning neo-soul movement was quite competitive with the hip-hop/rap scene stamping dominance with every tick of the clock. In order to stay afloat in the R&B scene, the trio sought uniqueness by embracing the duality in its recording techniques — blending vintage and then-current techniques. Great lyrical content and incorporation of new jack swing influences to its R&B/soul sound added to the band’s exceptionality in the music scene.
Tony! Toni! Toné!’s Career Beginnings and Breakthrough
In 1988, Tony! Toni! Toné! issued its debut studio album Who? The album was issued through Wing Records, a label that had brief success with Brian McKnight and Vanessa Williams. Who? had its production work tasked on by Foster & McElroy, a production duo known for its work with Regina Belle, Alexander O’Neal, and Swing Out Sister. The album saw the trio blend R&B, soul, and new jack swing sounds. Who? catapulted the band to commercial and mainstream success almost imminently.
A gold certification by RIAA stamped the album as a commercial success. The album made it to number fourteen on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart, peaking at the sixty-ninth spot on the Billboard 200. “Little Water,” “Born Not to Know,” “Baby Doll,” and “For the Love of You” are the best Tony! Toni! Toné! songs from the album. While the album was a success, it received stiff competition from other R&B recordings of 1988 including Don’t Be Cruel by Bobby Brown and Heart Break by New Edition.
Tony! Toni! Toné!’s Other Album Releases over the Years
After a successful debut album, Tony! Toni! Toné! returned in 1990 with its sophomore studio album The Revival. The album was issued through Wing Records with Foster & McElroy featured in the production of this album. With this album, Tony! Toni! Toné! explored its usual amalgam of R&B, soul, and new jack swing with funk elements. The result was musical gems such as “Feels Good,” “The Blues,” “Whatever You Want,” “It Never Rains (In Southern California),” and “Oakland Stroke.”
The Revival was a mainstream success, rising to the fourth spot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. Tony! Toni! Toné! saw the album rise to a peak position of number thirty-four on the Billboard 200. The Revival was the trio’s first album to make it to the ARIA Albums Chart, peaking at number one hundred and forty-nine. Greater commercial success was achieved with The Revival, having the album earn platinum certification by RIAA.
In 1993, Tony! Toni! Toné! issued its third studio album, Sons of Soul. The album was issued through Wing Records and Mercury Records with the trio handling the production work. Sons of Soul was a mainstream success rising to the third spot on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. The album rose to position twenty-four on the Billboard 200, spending forty-three weeks on this chart.
Sons of Soul marked Tony! Toni! Toné!’s first album to make it to the UK Albums Chart where it peaked at number sixty-six. The album also made it to the Canadian and Australian Albums Charts. Sons of Soul is the trio’s best-selling album, earning a platinum certification by RIAA twice. Other competitive R&B studio albums of 1993 include Janet by Janet Jackson, 12 Play by R. Kelly, Diary of a Mad Band by Jodeci, Music Box by Mariah Carey, and For the Cool in You by Babyface. “If I Had No Loot,” “Anniversary,” “Leavin’,” “(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow,” and “Slow Wine” are the best Tony! Toni! Toné! songs from the album.
House of Music, issued in 1996, marked the band’s fourth and final studio lp by Tony! Toni! Toné! The Tony! Toni! Toné! trio joined hands with G-One and DJ Quik on the album’s production work. Unlike most of the trio’s albums, House of Music barely featured new jack swing influences — R&B was the album’s primary sound with notable inflections of soul and funk elements. This platinum-certified album managed to rise to the tenth spot on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart. House of Music also made it to the Billboard 200, peaking at number thirty-two. “Let’s Get Down” and “Thinking of You” are the most elaborate tracks by Tony! Toni! Toné! from the album.
Tony! Toni! Toné!’s Other Musical Pursuits, Accolades, and Legacy
During its eleven years, Tony! Toni! Toné! remains one of the most revered R&B groups rubbing shoulders with the likes of Jodeci, Boyz II Men, 112, and Dru Hill. After the group disbanded, its members sought success through solo musical ventures. D’Wayne, Tony! Toni! Toné!’s vocalist/guitarist, established his ensemble, Alpha Omega, which he branded “the Earth, Wind & Fire of Oakland.”
Riley, Tony! Toni! Toné!’s drummer, pursued production and songwriting working with an array of artists including Tevin Campbell, A Tribe Called Quest, and D’Angelo. On the other hand, vocalist/bassist Raphael Saadiq launched a solo career which was fairly successful. Raphael also ventured into production working with outstanding artists including Solange Knowles, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, D’Angelo, En Vogue, and Erykah Badu, to name a few. Here we present the ten best Tony! Toni! Toné! Tony! Toni! Toné! songs of all time.
Top 10 Tony! Toni! Tone! Songs
#10- Thinking of You
Opening up our top 10 Tony! Toni! Toné! songs list is the charming hit “Thinking of You.” The song is the album opening track of the trio’s final studio album House of Music. “Thinking of You” was a special recording having it issued as a tribute to Al Green. In this song, the trio’s sound transcends retro styles maintaining some original feel which makes it quite unique.
Vocalist Raphael Saadiq delivers gospel-resembling croons that pay tribute to Al Green’s style. The lyrics to the song find Raphael Saadiq pondering over the love and affection he once shared with a past partner. His desire is to revive or get to experience a similar feeling in his life. “Thinking of You” made it to number twenty-two on the Billboard Hot 100.
Its important to realize that Timothy Christian Riley and brothers D’wayne Wiggins and Raphael Saadiq wenre nit just vocalists. On the albums Timothy Christian Riley played keyboards, drums and clarinet. Raphael Saadiq played bass plius gustars and key while D’wayne Wiggins played guitar.
#9- Slow Wine
A trip to Trinidad & Tobago was more than a fun adventure for members of Tony! Toni! Toné! having the experience inspired one of their greatest songs. “Slow Wine” is the result of the trio’s time in the Caribbean nation. The trio tells of a laid-back sensual feeling that they recall from the slow grind dances they experienced in the Caribbean nation. “Slow Wine” was featured on Tony! Toni! Toné!’s third studio album, Sons of Soul.
The song was a mainstream success, peaking at number twenty-one on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles Chart. However, “Slow Wine” missed the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at the seventh spot on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Chart. “Slow Wine” was sampled by several hits including “B Alright” by 2nd II None and “The Good Die Young” by 2Pac and Outlawz. Raphael Saadiq once again nailed the lead vocals on this killer tune.
#8- Little Walter
Coming in at the eighth spot on our ten best Tony! Toni! Toné! songs list is the stunning hit “Little Walter.” The song is the trio’s debut hit, a hit later be featured on the album Who? “Little Walter” is one of the most successful new jack swing hits by Tony! Toni! Toné! The song finds the group crooning about a roommate named Walter who earns a living from an undisclosed job.
According to the lyrics, irresponsible Walter failed to foot his share of the rent bill using his money on sustaining a lavish lifestyle. “Little Walter” was a mainstream success, topping the Billboard Hot Black Singles Chart. The song was Tony! Toni! Toné!’s first song to make it to the Billboard Hot 100, rising to number forty-seven. “Little Walter” has its melody sample the spiritual hit “Wade in the Water.” Looking back this was big 80s hit single for the band and a must to make this top 10 songs list.
#7- (Lay Your Head on My) Pillow
“(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow” is one of the fan-favorite tracks off the trio’s third studio album, Sons of Soul. This mid-tempo song feels quite tender with its groove evocative of songs by soul legend Isaac Hayes. The vocal delivery by Raphael Saadiq on “(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow” is so soulful proving the trio’s ability to deliver touching hits. This one was a big time hip-hop hit.
“(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow” was a mainstream success, rising to the fourth spot on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. The song also peaked at number thirty-one on the Billboard Hot 100. “(Lay Your Head on My) Pillow” contains samples of the 1969 hit “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan.
#6- It Never Rains (In Southern California)
Number six on our ten best Tony! Toni! Toné! songs list is the tremendous hit “It Never Rains (In Southern California).” The song is featured on the trio’s second album, The Revival. “It Never Rains (In Southern California)” is one of the greatest pure R&B-oriented hits by Tony! Toni! Toné!
The music video to this song was directed by Lisa Bonet who went on to direct the 1991 hit “Stand by My Woman” by Lenny Kravitz. “It Never Rains (In Southern California)” topped the R&B Singles chart in the last two weeks of December 1990 having toppled “Sensitivity” by Ralph Tresvant. The song also made it to number thirty-four and sixty-nine on the Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart, respectively. This song sampled the 1972 hit “It Never Rains in Southern California,” by Albert Hammond. The song that servered as an inspiration to the early 70s pop folk scene had found amazing success in the revamped version by Tony! Toni! Tone!
#5- If I Had No Loot
Sons of Soul, the trio’s third studio album, is home to the fifth pick on our ten best Tony! Toni! Toné! songs, “If I Had No Loot.” The song is yet another new jack swing-influenced hit from Tony! Toni! Toné! “If I Had No Loot” has its lyrics alluding to friends who are close to someone when it is convenient and beneficial for them. The song was a commercial success, earning gold certification from RIAA and ARIA.
“If I Had No Loot” made it to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at the seventh spot. The song also peaked at number forty-four on the UK Singles Chart. “If I Had No Loot” contains samples of the songs “Knock on Wood” by Eddie Floyd, and “Remix for P is Free” by Boogie Down Productions.
#4- Whatever You Want
“Whatever You Want” is one of the most popular songs by Tony! Toni! Toné! from the trio’s sophomore studio album The Revival. This R&B hit was penned by Carl Wheeler and D’Wayne Wiggins. Its lyrics find the singer crooning about providing all the needs of his lover — whatever she needs. “Whatever You Want” is one of the most sampled hits by Tony! Toni! Toné!
Among songs that have sampled this hit include “Soul of a Woman” by Kelly Price, “Luven Me” by Nelly, and “Whatever You Need” by Meek Mill. “Whatever You Want” dethroned Johnny Gill’s hit “Wrap My Body Tight” to clinch the top spot on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart. The song also made it to number forty-eight on the Billboard Hot 100.
#3- Let’s Get Down ft. DJ. Quik
Introducing us to the top three Tony! Toni! Toné! songs is the impressive hit “Let’s Get Down.” The song is the most revered track of the trio’s fourth studio album, House of Music. “Let’s Get Down” has its groove ooze funk elements making it one of the most danceable hits by Tony! Toni! Toné! The song features rapper/record producer DJ. Quik who delivers an amazing streetwise rap.
Raphael Saadiq never stops amazing us with his playful crooning, which saw him crowned by critics as one of the most outstanding R&B male singers/performers of the ‘90s. “Let’s Get Down” finds Raphael singing about partying with ladies in the club scene. While most of the songs on House of Music saw the trio return to some retro soul sound, “Let’s Get Down” is evocative of the band’s signature sound seen on albums such as The Revival.
“Let’s Get Down” managed to rise to position thirty on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay. The song also made it to the thirty-third spot on the UK Singles Chart. “Let’s Get Down” sampled lyrics from the hits “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana.
“Anniversary” is yet another cut off the band’s third studio album, Sons of Soul. This romantic hit has its lyrics alluding to a lasting love relationship. Tony! Toni! Toné!’s sole mission during the issue of this hit was to produce a song that would give its listeners musical frissons like the hit “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” by Isaac Hayes. The gamble paid off, having “Anniversary” become one of the trio’s most revered hits.
The song reached number two on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart, peaking at the tenth spot on the Billboard Hot 100. “Anniversary” earned the trio a nomination for the Grammy Awards accolades in the Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best R&B Songs categories in 1994. However, the song lost the accolades to “That’s the Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson and “No Ordinary Love” by Sade, respectively. “Anniversary” was a commercial success, earning gold certification from RIAA.
#1- Feels Good
Number one on our ten best Tony! Toni! Toné! songs list is the alluring hit “Feels Good.” The song is featured on the trio’s sophomore studio album, The Revival. “Feels Good” has its sound transcends several genres including new jack swing, pop rap, and funk. Thanks to the song’s funky vibe that it makes one of the most danceable hits by Tony! Toni! Toné! The song features a rap verse by Mopreme Shakur, a stepbrother to 2Pac.
“Feels Good” contains samples of several songs including “Think (About It)” by Lyn Collins, “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” by James Brown, and “When Boys Talk” by Indeep. The song toppled The Time’s hit “Jerk Out” off the top spot of the Billboard R&B Singles Chart, maintaining the position for two weeks. “Feels Good” also made it to the ninth spot on the Billboard Hot 100. The song lost the 1991 AMA Favorite Soul/R&B Song accolade to “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.
Top 10 Tony! Toni! Tone! Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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