Tony! Toni! Tone! on Band’s Name Origins, Talk Today’s R&B: Watch – Billboard
Written by GRB on 22/09/2023
Although Grammy-nominated R&B trio Tony! Toni! Toné! — comprised of Raphael Saadiq, D’Wayne Wiggins and Timothy Riley — has been musically absent for nearly three decades, their impact can still be felt across popular music. One of the group’s members, producer Saadiq, lent a hand to two standout tracks from Beyoncé’s Renaissance album: the ballroom banger “Pure/Honey” and the Grammy-winning Billboard Hot 100 top 10 hit “Cuff It” (No. 6).
From “Anniversary” to “Feels Good,” Tony! Toni! Toné!’s late ’80s to late ’90s run was one of the most seamless in R&B history. With music for every occasion, the trio is cemented not just in music history — but also in the hearts and traditions of Black audiences across generations. Newly reunited for their first headlining tour in 25 years, Tony! Toni! Toné! is in a mode of gratitude and reflection as group returns to the stage as some of R&B’s most beloved elder statesmen. In a new interview with Billboard, the trio recounts the origins of their band name, details the inspiration behind their reunion and surveys the state of new school R&B.
“I think it’s just a lot of nostalgic memories, people having kids to the music,” Saadiq muses when asked why he thinks the group’s music still resonates so deeply today. “We didn’t just put out a record and it was on the radio and we didn’t go to that market. We would stay in that market for, like, three or four days, so we met a lot of people, have a lot of friends. So people probably wanna bring their kids to see these three guys, and they have the opportunity now.”
Wiggins adds, “I guess you could call it the soundtrack to a lot of people’s lives.”
The group’s ability to simultaneously craft music that syncs with pivotal life moments and cultivate a sense of community with their audience has been a large part of why they remain so beloved. Tony! Toni! Toné! plans to continue those intergenerational efforts among their own families with the help of the forthcoming tour. Saadiq notes that while he doesn’t have any children of his own, he has a lot of nieces and nephews who “wonder why” he and his bandmates “might’ve been famous or popular.”
“I think it was time to come together and show them what we did … it’s important to see people come together,” Saadiq says.
Wiggins chimes in, “Twenty-five years later, it’s a lot of kids around us — our kids — that have never seen us together gettin’ down … it’s gonna be special!”
In addition to scoring a slew of seminal hit singles, the trio’s moniker is also an indelible part of their legacy. During the interview, they recounted how Tony! Toni! Toné! came to be. (Hint: It involves a critically acclaimed film.)
Check out the Billboard’s full conversation with Tony! Toni! Toné! — including their thoughts about the R&B scene today and more — above.