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Set the tone

Dialtone’s constant quest for inspiration

Rap artist Antonio Andrews, aka Dialtone, with his paintings

Greg Bollinger

Local rap artist Antonio Andrews, aka Dialtone, has a unique approach. Not only does he take his time, releasing what he’s most proud of instead of focusing on constant output, he also creates art in other media that inform and enhance his music.

Dialtone’s short film “Magnum” (found on Vimeo) includes footage from Black Wall Street in Greenwood, dialogue with family and friends, and contemplative scenes of him perched on a rock overlooking Turner Falls. Music in the background is from his seven-track EP, also called Magnum, which came out in January.

Short films have grown in popularity in hip-hop in recent years, serving as a cinematic accompaniment to a song or entire album, like with Beyoncé’s Lemonade.  Unlike “Lemonade” the film, “Magnum” the short film is only six minutes and 38 seconds long, including only snippets of each track. “Magnum” doesn’t flow like a typical story, instead it’s a poetic mashup of scenes and footage that flow with the beat, offering fans a new way to experience Dialtone’s work.

“Tone helped us see that we can roll out projects just like we see our favorite artists doing,” said Pade, a local rapper and friend. “That alone made us realize that a local release will never be the same in Tulsa if you’re serious about reaching the masses. Now I have to think about how I want to roll out my next project. It has to make me seem larger than I am. Like ‘Magnum.’ To sum it up, Tone has set the tone.”

“A [music] video to me is like a flyer now,” Dialtone said. “You may watch it and think it’s good but never [want to] see it again. I feel like people that watch this will see it multiple times.”

True enough. “Mangum” is engaging. I’ve watched it three times since its June 25 premiere and have listened to the album four times.

“It’s not conventional-type beats,” Dialtone said, adding that many of the beats on Magnum were sampled from the 80s hit series “Magnum PI.” The EP was produced by a television-loving Virginia transplant from Tulsa named Papa.

“Papa watches a lot of stuff and he’d just snatch something off a DVD and make a beat out of it,” Dialtone said.

Also included in “Magnum,” the film, are scenes of Tone painting, a skill he has been cultivating since his honeymoon in Cancun last November.

“We went to all the islands and to see the Aztec ruins, and when I came back that was the first thing I wanted to do,” he said. “At the time I wasn’t really feeling music so I just started painting.”

Dialtone paints on various materials including walls and found pieces wood with spray paint or, simply, whatever he can find. The paintings are imaginative and chaotic. One painting in particular is littered with quotes like, “nobody is perfect and no one cares” and “you can’t win” accompanied by colorful and distorted faces reminiscent of Jean-Michel Baquiat paintings. Dialtone estimates he has made about 30 paintings, but only displays what he is most proud of.

“The art helps me with music, I’ll make a song and start painting then the next thing I know it’s been five hours and I’m feeling so inspired to make a song again. It helped me get through that rough spot with music.”

Some of his artwork is inspired by a concept he created and calls “No Parking.”

“Everybody asks what it means, so it must be something to hold onto,” he said. “It doesn’t really mean anything but it’s a name that catches people’s attention.”

“No Parking” quickly turned into a hashtag, and the logo he designed to accompany it, which features an orange parking cone, can be seen on hats and shirts worn by his supporters. His first art show was at Soundpony on May 21, 2017—the same day as the Hop Jam festival, giving literal significance to “No Parking” due to the lack of parking spots in the area. To me, “No Parking” is a more concise way of saying “the rolling stone gathers no moss,” aka, don’t stand still.

Positive feedback from fans and encouragement from local artist Jake Beeson have motivated Dialtone to continue to show his art publicly. His next show will be in early August. The location and date of the show will be announced in coming weeks. Those interested in attending can follow him at facebook.com/tonesbeach.

For more from Mary, read her article on The Pop House.