Interviews

Published on May 19th, 2019 | by Hype Editorial

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Ramadan, Tone Trump’s Escape from the World!

Tone Trump wears many hats, but none prouder than being a black Muslim from West Philadelphia.

West Philadelphia’s, Tone Trump launched his music career in 2007. By 2012 he had captured, “Artist of the Year,” at the Philly Hip Hop Awards. During the course of his career, Trump has been signed to G-Unit Philly as well as Young Jeezy’s CTE World label. He has two studio albums and five mixtapes to his credit as well as a joint project with legendary Goodie Mob member, Cee Lo Green. Forever expanding his brand outside of the “rapper” label, Trump made his acting debut in the boxing thriller, “Creed” a, Sylvester Stallone spin-off to the Rocky series. He also recently had a role in his first stage play titled, “A Good Man is Easy to Find!” The self-proclaimed, Muslim Don is also the owner of his own record label, Top Notch Entertainment. An avid boxing fan, Trump grew up in the same neighborhood as newly crowned unified junior middleweight champion, Julian Williams, who he shares a friendship with.

I was able to catch up with, Trump as he expresses his support for world-champion, Julian Williams, explains the impact Ramadan has on his life and much more!

Hype Magazine: I gotta give you your props. You told me years ago that Tevin Farmer and Julian Williams would become world-champions and they are both now current champions. You ride with your Philly fighters hard. I’m sure you are proud of these guys.

Tone Trump: The thing that I like about both of those guys is outside the ring, they are both men of honor in my interactions with them. And their stories and knowing where they come from. “J Rock” in particular is from my neighborhood. He’s from West Philly. I have so much in common with him. Him being a Muslim. About 2-years ago… our big celebration after Ramadan is the Eid Prayer. We were together at the Eid Prayer.  He was there with his nephew and I was there with my son and that’s a big deal. Imagine being a young Muslim and getting to pray with, Ali. Just being around him there. And, we actually shot a commercial together. As great as he is as a boxer, he’s probably a better person and that’s the best compliment I can give him. His character, his mannerisms and his humility is great. I let my sons re-watch the fight because they were sleeping when it came on. I wanted to let them see it and give praise and mention the holy month. That’s huge to little black boys in Philadelphia. And that’s huge for little black Muslims all over the world. It’s much bigger than sports. There is nothing more inspiring than something that you can relate to. As much as I love, LeBron, I’m not from Akron. There are things that I just can’t relate to. But when it’s somebody that went to the same schools as you and the same corner stores as you and prays where you pray at, it’s just more familiar and more uplifting.

Even when he took his loss, I was crushed, man. It felt like I loss. Just like when he won, it felt like I won. To see him get that moment, and I told people before the fight, him winning is bigger than the Eagles being in the SuperBowl and I’m a diehard Eagles fan. To see him win and cry and have that emotional moment, I’ll never forget it. Seeing him and his trainer, “Bread” embrace, imagine everybody writing you off. That makes it even sweeter. It’s different when you’re supposed to win and you just win-win. But when you take that loss and like he told you, you have people tagging you in that knockout loss and trying to clown you. We’re in the social media era where people give you no glory. Even in defeat there’s wins, and people don’t understand or realize that. Just fighting for a title is a win where these brothers come from. People don’t realize that, bro. For me, that was the biggest sports moment of my life and I’m happy I was around to see it. For it to happen during Ramadan tripled the affect for me. It inspired me and made me want to be greater at everything that I’m doing. I couldn’t wait to talk about it. You know I called you right after the fight (laughing). I hit you before I hit anybody. I think of you when I think boxing, I had to call the aficionado. I saw your support too. You are probably the only person and I follow all of the boxing sites and writers, you the only person I seen say, this fight may not go the way people think. I just really felt like he was going to win too and I’m glad I was right. I feel like he will be a future Hall of Famer and right now, he is the unified champion of the world, so I feel good to have shared moments with him. He said when his title comes in the mail, he’s going to hit my line. I’m excited, man. That’s my brother, but I’m a fan first.

Hype Magazine: I wanted to give you an opportunity to speak about Ramadan and your approach because for most, especially non-Muslims, they think it’s a time of fasting from food and water from sunup to sundown and that’s it.

Tone Trump: For somebody like me, to be honest with you, bro, I do a lot of things… I’m in the entertainment world, so that takes me as far as possible from the beliefs of my religion. What I do is really not permissible; being a rapper. And me doing reality rap and things that are gangster. Me having to go to clubs and being in every hood you could think of. Since I started rapping, I have shot videos and made money in every notorious hood you could think of and that’s just part of my business that I’m in. Even me doing films. There is just so much temptation. So many things that can drag you away from the remembrance of your lord. For me, Ramadan is always right on time. Most people feel like it’s a time where you just don’t eat. But even though we’re not feeding out stomachs we’re feeding our souls. So, for me, I stop doing everything. I stop recording music, I don’t do any acting or hosting at clubs. I literally commit myself to be the best Muslim I can be. I try to be the best man that I can be. We don’t try to put our sins and our faults on hold just for the month. We try to get rid of them permanently, but you gotta start somewhere. I just totally detox from everything; smoking and everything. Detoxing, the hope is, that you end up never smoking again. It’s helped me before. There was a time I used to drink and when I stopped drinking for Ramadan, I never drank again. I realized, yo, I went those 30-days…I don’t even like alcohol that much. I was just getting caught up in the lifestyle. I’m getting free bottles of champagne everywhere I go. It’s like, I’m supposed to have bottles in my hand. This is what we’re supposed to do. Then I realized, during the month of Ramadan, hearing the ills of alcohol, learning and studying more. That’s the one thing I do more than anything during Ramadan, I study and read more because I have so much more time. It’s hard to read when I’m constantly traveling and moving around. I’m staying up till 4 in the morning partying and recording. What the devil does is, when you’re trying to do right, the devil will either have you doing something wrong and if you’re not doing something wrong, he will have you wasting time.

Hype Magazine: It sounds like it makes you slow down and focus more.

Tone Trump. It does because I’m so critical of everything that I do. I normally eat like a meal and a half a day, so you know that one meal, is going to be the best thing I can eat. It’s the same thing with reading. If I’m going to read one book, it’s going to be the best thing possible. So, I’m just feeding my mind, my soul and my body all of the best for this month and hoping to carry it on for every month. But we start with this month and it’s just a beautiful time, man. It’s hard to put into words how beautiful it is. You see everything getting better. I work on my patience. My patience with my children and my team; the people that work for me and with me. I’m trying to get better. And I’m big on not telling people I’m Muslim but showing them I’m Muslim. When I first moved into this neighborhood, my neighbors didn’t know what to think. They see a guy with a big beard and a hundred tattoos. I like to let my actions speak. I don’t have to go around with a flag on. I’m such an unapologetic proud Muslim, you’re probably going to know within one second of being around me. I like to show you with my actions or my character and that’s always been my goal. What better time than Ramadan for people that are confused. For the people that don’t know what’s going on, we show them. We up our charity, giving back and kindness. Every Ramadan I make sure I thank the non-Muslims too, because every year I see more and more non-Muslims being more receptive; wishing us a blessed Ramadan. That goes a long way because it’s all about dialogue. It’s about being receptive because there is a lot of people from different cultures that I don’t understand, but when I’m educated on it, the understanding brings more of a respect for it. Whether it is something they wear, eat or say, it’s like, “Okay, now I get it.” Education is power. I look at Ramadan as the best time of the year, it’s the most blessed time and everyday is a challenge. Nothing about it is easy. It’s not just about fasting from food. I curse, bro. I work on my cursing because that’s a form of breaking my fast. My temperament and not getting upset. That’s important to me.

Hype Magazine: Rap is your way of release and a way to destress, the studio is your salvation, so when you remove yourself from those things during the month of Ramadan, does it force you to lean on your religion more anyways?

Tone Trump: That’s a beautiful question. What I do is I just transfer that energy. I’m still thinking it. I can’t front. So, there are times where I’m thinking of ideas and I’m putting it in my notes. I may not go to the studio, but think about it, with “J Rock” winning the fight, I gotta put a line in there about him being the champ. He from my hood. So, I may just jot something down, so I don’t forget it when it’s time to get back in there. So, I’m always taking down critical notes and just redirecting that energy. So, for me, those 4-hours that I used to spend in the studio, I’m spending those 4-hours trying to become a better man and a better artist. That may be studying more. That’s the biggest thing for me because I don’t have time to read during the regular course of my life. Now I’m reading about everything including music. Thinking about my escape plan. Just like when I started doing music, I was selling drugs and when I was selling drugs, I never thought that I would not sell drugs. I never thought that I would not hustle.  Three years ago, I never thought that I would stop rapping. Now, where I’m at in my life, as a man, as a Muslim and as a leader, I don’t feel rap is the end of my ends. I see myself doing things that don’t include rap. It’s all about growth. I’m not this guy that’s going to be dropping albums at 70 and if I do it’s going to be for fun. This critical thinking I’m doing now is figuring out, instead of going to the studio, owning the studio. I’m trying to teach my kids in my neighborhood that they can be so many things behind the scenes. You have so many of them want to rap and play ball, but nobody wants to be the general manager. Nobody wants to be the head of the label of the visual director.

I want to bring workshops to teach those things and those are things that I’m coming up with now, since I can’t go to the studio, I’m thinking of ways to do the non-profit and teaming up with other like minded individuals, so we can bring these kinds of programs to my community. I want to have a place where, “J Rock” can come talk to 50-little kids from West Philly and explain his journey. I want to have my engineer and producer tell these kids, “Yo, you ain’t gotta rap. The guys that make the beats make the real money. The guys that write the hooks make the real money.” It’s not always about being in front of the camera, but behind the camera. Everybody can’t be a boxer, maybe you can be a journalist or a cutman. What 9-year old is dreaming to be a cutman? They make good livings. We need to show them all of the avenues. Which each job there’s a hundred more jobs. With each dream there’s a hundred more dreams and that’s what I want to do with my foundation; Let’s Win Foundation. It’s like an NBA player being hurt and focusing on his other businesses. That’s what I’m doing, I’m expanding my mind and giving this stuff the time that I normally wouldn’t have. I’m still thinking of songs, ideas and beats and talking to all my comrades and they inspire me in different ways. It’s dope man. It’s a good vibe.

Hype Magazine: You have been focusing a lot on fan interaction through live streaming. One person questioned you having tattoos and your response was, “You’re not the perfect Muslim.” Why do you feel obligated to reply to those types of comments and not just ignore or block and move on?

Tone Trump: It’s funny because, David Banner who is one of my mentors… shout out to all my mentors, David Banner, Ice-T, Cee Lo Green and my big brother, Freeway. Those are brothers I lean on at different times and they give me advice. A lot of times they teach me with their actions and not just their words. But David Banner hit me one day and he was like, “Man, you ain’t gotta explain yourself to them people.” But, for me, bro, I tell people all the time, I don’t have the most fans, I have the best fans. I have the best supporters online. There are dudes with 2-million followers that don’t sale more merch than me. They have dudes that have 5-million followers who don’t get more streams than me. I know my fans are there for me, so my fans are more like family. So, when I go online live, if I can accept people telling me how great I am, I gotta accept people telling me how bad I am sometimes. And tattoos are a sin, and, in my religion, we are taught to conceal your sins. If I cover my arms up or put makeup on where you couldn’t see my tattoos or if I didn’t have tattoos, nobody could say nothing about them. If I took the chance to get em, let them say what they want. And what I said was, I’m not the perfect Muslim, but I’m Muslim. There is no such thing as a perfect Muslim. No one is perfect. Islam is perfect. No one is perfect. Someone who has memorized the whole Quran still sin every day. It may be different from mine. They may not have tats, but they do something wrong and they have to ask, God for forgiveness. We believe in Islam that God’s mercy is greater than any of my sins. Bro, I can sin every day for the next 20-years and if I sit there and ask my lord to forgive me, his mercy is so great, he’s going to forgive me. So, I pray he knows my heart. Trust me, I have done way worse than get tattoos in my life. I’m praying for forgiveness and mercy in all of that.

But me talking to my fans, that’s something I decided to do because they are a part of this brand. When you hear me say I’m a Muslim Don, they Muslim Don’s as well. When I’m traveling all over the world and people scream out my hashtag to me, #letswin, that means a lot to me. I can’t meet them all, but if I can get online every now and again and take 8 to 10 calls… it’s different with me. I got people calling in from Qatar, Morocco, North Philly, Connecticut, Egypt. I had a sister call me at 3:00 am her time one day in Kenya, Africa just to ask me to pray for her cousin who had just died. Then I got a young brother who is 19, who is studying in Medina who is from New York who wanted to talk to me because I was in, “Creed.” I look at them all like my family. They help me feed my family. When I go online and say, “Support my merch,” and then the guy that runs my merch site says we just had an up-sale of 80%, that’s them helping me feed my babies, bro. The least I can do is go on there and say, thank you or laugh with them. I enjoy it. It’s like when fans ask me for pictures, bro. I’ve been getting recognized for a decade now and I’m still excited every single time. I’ll never be the guy hiding from my fans. That don’t mean, I don’t want a break sometimes, but I love it. I got security to help keep control not to hurt nobody because sometimes it gets a lil much and I also travel with my family. I move militant and I move smart. You hear people say, “Stay safe,” we believe in staying safe and dangerous. My security is not to keep us away from the people because we want to be amongst the people, like my hero, Muhammad Ali. I always want to be reachable because that’s when you really made it. When you make it out and still come back and be there.

Hype Magazine: Tone, it’s always a pleasure and an honor catching up to you. Before I let you go, is there anything else you want to add?

Tone Trump: It’s better to catch up with you. I’m a fan of what you do. I follow you deeply. You’re like the measuring stick for me because I get a lot of times when these YouTubers and these new age media guys disrespect these fighter’s space and just disrespect them in general. I really be wanting to put hands on some of these boys, but I see you speak about it, bro. You be checking them and speaking on it. This one dude in particular was disrespecting, Andre Ward and this was before Ramadan, but I’m sitting in my crib ready to have somebody shake him up.

Also, Ramadan Mubarak to all of the Muslims worldwide. I want to give shout outs to, my kids, my team, Top Notch Inc., Roe Nitty, Strike Money, Taya Simmons, Ahki on the Block, Benni Black, Patrick, D Money, Big Jugg and free all my Ahks, Imam Jamil, Ralo, AR-AB, Loon, Malik Hood, Ace Capone, Ockz, Day Day and all POW. Free Palestine, West Philly, Philastan, Hass, Brock and Nipsey Hussle, we miss ya’ll. Also, shout out my photographer who does amazing work, Suzana Hallili. @tonetrump on IG and Twitter and the website is www.247trump.com. #letswin.

By Percy Crawford

 

 

 


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