Published on April 26th, 2023 | by MuzikScribe0
Elijah “EB” Baker [Formerly Of Tony! Toni! Toné!] Speaks Out *EXCLUSiVE*
Last month, former Tony! Toni! Toné! frontman Raphael Saadiq announced via Instagram an upcoming not to mention long overdue, now highly anticipated reunion trek,’ Just Me And You Tour’ — How and when did you receive the news?
I got the news via text,DM, calls, etcetera…
What are your personal thoughts / feelings about not being included seeing that you’d been there since the whole inception of the group?
My feelings are the same, they would have never got back together if I didn’t put out the documentary on YouTube, ‘Loyalty No Royalty!’ It’s an intentional stab at The Original Band for speaking out about our experience with the 3. It again confirms the fact of them doing anything to prevent us from making money performing. But it won’t work! LOL. We welcome the fact of them getting together, D’Wayne and Tim need Raphael Saadiq, The Original Band don’t! Now the people will have 2 bands instead of 1. Raphael will bring it back to temporary quality, D’Wayne won’t be happy for too long unless he’s in control. Besides Ray truly doesn’t like playing Tony! Toni! Toné! songs, it’s all out of spite.
Just curious, when was the last time you either spoke or had dealings with either Ray, his brother, D’Wayne Wiggins, and / or Timothy Christian Riley?
I haven’t spoken to any of them personally since 2019 around the time of the documentary. I spoke to Raphael after the release, and he said he was mad at first…then he said it was good and I did a great job. Then we pursued a lawsuit against the 3 Tonies for stolen recording advances and back royalties. They managed to escape that due to technicalities from too much time passed. Now we are currently in dispute with Sound Exchange for streaming royalties. Once again they are not trying to be fair with that either, so the fight must go on.
Since the whole dissolution of Tony! Toni! Toné! what all exactly had / have you been up to, both personally and professionally speaking?
Since the split of the group, I had highs and lows; currently I have a record label, Ambitious Records, Eb3eyewear, Ambitious Apparel, writing a book, a podcast in the makings.
You also semi-recently formed an offshoot collective, 3TOB — Please introduce for me the members of the band…
Currently performing and recording a new CD with my Bros, 3TOB [The Original Band]; JUBU, Carl “Rev” Wheeler, Antron Haile, Amar Khalil, Lionel LJ Holoman.
Your latest single is entitled “My Baby” — Tell me about this particular track; how did it come to fruition?
The track [“My Baby”], JUBU and myself recorded it in 1998 at his home studio, and we also wrote and recorded it with a group called Town Business with Too $hort that was never released. So we decided to redo it, and the sauce from the Bros in the group to make it something new and fresh and uplifting.
Aside from the obvious, how does this new material either differ and / compare to what your fans and followers already both know and love you for from your tenure with The Tonies?
Our music has all the same DNA the band Tony! Toni! Toné! had. There’s not one hit song that a member in 3TOB didn’t help write or produce with the Tonies! NOT ONE!!
Reflecting, tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Elijah “EB” Baker?
I started playing music when I was 5 years old; my dad was a Gospel quartet singer, and also played guitar. From there, my older brother, Eric Kenya Baker, and myself did it professionally. He plays guitar, and I started on the drums and ended up on the bass. My other option was to be a carpenter. Lol! My dad tried to push that trade on us also. I wished I had taken that seriously also. It was a lot of money in selling and installing carpet.
Now you’re a native of Oakland, CA, correct? So growing up in ‘The Town,’ who all did / do you consider to be your strongest musical influences?
I was born in Monroe, LA, but was in Oakland before my very first birthday. So I guess that makes me a native. My father, Elijah Baker, Sr., Larry Graham, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, The Jacksons, The Whispers, Cameo, Funkadelic, just to name a few.
In having said that, how do you classify your overall sound and / or style?
My style is Funk and quartet Gospel infused. Those 2 genres are my favorite music to listen to.
What particular string of events actually led to your initial linking up with Raphael, D’Wayne and Tim to form the early incarnation Tony! Toni! Toné! ?
In 1987, we all formed together because collectively we were all playing together in different bands. So after Carl, Ray and Tim came off the road with Sheila E., The 3, including Carl, recorded a song called “One Night Stand,” and we performed it locally for a year before we had a showcase for a record company named Wing / Polygram. From that point along, Thomas (McElroy) and Denzil (Foster) from 2 Tuff E-Nuff Productions got us a production deal with Wing / Polygram.
In your most humble opinion, what do you think it was that ultimately caused the group to disband?
It was GREED, plain and simple! Before the money, we were all inseparable…even after the tours, we were a close tight family. Our manager, Carlos, and Tim, D’Wayne and Carl all lived in the same apartment complex. What is weird is The 3 was already getting a BIGGER PERCENTAGE than me, Carl and Antron, 20% per Tony, Carl 16% and Tron and myself 12% a piece. Clearly that wasn’t enough; they just gave us what they wanted. Crumbs!
Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?
Joy and happiness of being pleased with pure Soul music. I want people to feel good and have chills like I did when I was listening to quality Soul music when I was a kid.
If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Bootsy Collins and Michael Jackson. The substance and control of being captivating while performing. They both knew how to engage the crowd. Although Bootsy was a bassist, he always had that factor as a leader.
If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?
The Wembley Stadium in Australia; it’s GIGANTIC! And all the major artists grace that stage once you become a superstar.
On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of R&B?
No, I’m not happy with the current state of R&B music. No one is making music anymore, they’re making beats and remaking the same song over and over again. No more originality from the new artists. I blame the music execs for not making sure the people have quality original music. They are at fault for putting out degrading images and lyrics to our urban youth. The radio only plays 5 songs in rotation. When I was young, it took 6 hours to hear your favorite song again because it was a lot of great music to choose from back then.
What do you feel has and will continue to be the key to your longevity?
To be honest, it’s hard to say because things are so different now. I will say my passion, and the belief in the music we create together to reintroduce the real Soul music back to the people.
Do you have any other outside / additional (future) aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?
For my future, I would like to put new bands on and continue the sound of live bands playing instruments and entertaining like we were when we were young. I don’t have the same energy and motivation now like I had when I was younger. I’m getting a bit tired these days! But your boy still got it! LOL.
To date, what has been your biggest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?
My biggest moment hasn’t happened yet. I will tell you later when it happens. But if you want an answer for the hell of it, it will be getting a record deal 2 years after graduating high school.
What’s an average day like for you?
An average day for me is creating something to stay an entrepreneur.
Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…
I’m a people person, I talk to everyone! That might become a problem later on. I’m too accessible at times.
What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?
My favorite part is making a hit song. I know in my heart it’s a hit record. And my least favorite part is investing in quality music and spending my own money and your family and friends don’t truly support you like they should. That’s in general. The streaming of free music killed the record sales.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Be serious about it, and don’t make a plan B. Go all in!
Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you all see yourself?
I have a 5 year plan that all my businesses will be flowing so I don’t have to work for the money, and let my money work for me.
As for the immediate, what’s next for you, EB?
3TOB is my main priority right now! We have to show and prove to the world we have talent also.
Is there anything I left out, or just plain forgot to mention?
My life now consists of what I can leave my kids and grandchildren. I had a great young life and made a lot of money outside of Tony! Toni! Toné!. This part of my life, I want my kids to see my face and know that their dad really made it happen in the music business without my previous band.
Any “parting” words for our readers?
Thank you for having me to speak my truth…and to the public, I loved Tony! Toni! Toné!, they didn’t love me back. All love; I will continue to fight (for) what’s mine, and I’m looking forward to hearing some great new music from them…and I hope one day we can share the same stage.
Connect w/Elijah “EB” Baker Online: