Tuff Tony and Son – “Baby Come Back”

If you drive around Baltimore, you might see a homemade sign advertising Tuff Tony’s new single on YouTube. I saw one on Sinclair Lane the other day and from comments on the video, they are all over.

The song isn’t great, but as it sinks in, there is a catchiness that is harder to resist (and forget) as it goes. It deconstructs the old Player song and reconstructs it into a song fairly far from its soft rock origin. The samples are important, but not as important as how they become part of something new, something unexpected, much like Tuff Tony’s city itself.

Beyond the song, Tuff Tony says something cool about Baltimore, a city that is sadly almost synonymous with urban decay and murder. But underneath that surface of burned out row houses, is a pretty vibrant culture where you can hear gospel music blaring at 7:30 AM on a street corner that contains a liquor store, a church, a methadone clinic and a gas station that never seems to have gas. Driving through neighborhoods in Baltimore, you will find street murals that I would put up against any other city in the country. In spite of all of the poverty in the city, you can also see people trying to make their way in sometimes creative ways. Tuff Tony’s signs are perhaps the musical equivalent of how front hose bibs on side streets become pop-up car washes in the Baltimore summer. In this way, Tuff Tony is Baltimore or at very least an example about something amazing here.

One commenter on YouTube might be a little harsh on Tuff Tony’s tune, but gets something right about what Tuff Tony means in a broader sense: “I seen the sign on Loch Raven Blvd and 33rd, this shit ass but imma like and subscribe cuz y’all from here tryna make it out.”

Chuck contributed to this post.

About bobvinyl

bobvinyl, writer and co-editor of No Song is an Island, founded its predecessor, Rock and Roll and Meandering Nonsense (whose archives are found here), in 2005 and served as editor and principal contributor until it went on hiatus in 2010. He has also been published in AMP and Loud Fast Rules! (in print) as well as Glide and FensePost on the web. He has been an avid record collector since he was seven years old and enjoys sharing his love of music from the common to the esoteric.

2 thoughts on “Tuff Tony and Son – “Baby Come Back”

  1. Chuck

    I missed the opening line the first time I listened: “I don’t mean to be cryin’ like that brother Keith Sweat.” Totally made me laugh.

    The song is catchy. I don’t love it but it gets in your head. And you’re right, its promotion is totally Baltimore. You thought of car washes, I went to snowball stands. It also reminds me of how the hair metal bands in LA promoted themselves. The problem in LA was every band was hanging posters and flyers on every light pole, so it became noise. Tuff Tony is doing something pretty cool and unique with his promotion. I hope it works for him.

    Baltimore has a strange relationship with music. We’ve given so many groundbreaking musicians to the world, yet so few have identified as Baltimore. And in the 20 years I’ve lived here, there’s always something new and interesting happening in some genre somewhere in the city, but it never really bubbles up.

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  2. bobvinyl Post author

    Yeah, Baltimore has a vibrant hip-hop scene, but also things like death and doom metal. Baltimore has a lot of great stuff that flies under the radar.

    I thought of flyers for punk shows like the LA metal flyers too. It was different before the internet. Tuff Tony is using a little bit of both old school promotion and a modern platform. I hope it works for him too.

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