Two Dynamic Brands, One Vision!
When you combine love for Caribbean culture, music and a desire to be a successful black entrepreneur, the results are nothing short of amazing! Ricardo, known to many as DJ Back to Basics and Tony Cross, known to many as Tony X, both hail from Trinidad and Tobago and migrated to the United States in their adolescent years.
Growing up in Trinidadian households, there was always a strong influence of music; large stereos, records and turntables filled the home, and by ages 10 and 11 they developed a burning interest in the disc jockey craft. Driven by strong aspirations to become DJs, both men embarked on a journey to learn and develop their skills, by themselves! Ricardo was exposed to local entertainers in his neighborhood and would attend parties, with a keen focus on the DJ, while Tony recorded cassettes; doing voiceovers to mock events he created, in an effort to learn and enhance his skills.
We inquired, “How do you go from inquisitive young boys to becoming highly sorted, international DJs?” Tony shared, “This was not handed to us; it took a lot of hard work and dedication and this is our reward.” Ricardo offered, “As the Soca industry grew internationally, we rode those wings and grew ourselves with Soca; and here we are today.”
Tony is known to many as an MC, however, he was a DJ for quite a number of years before embarking on a journey to become one of the best MCs in the Soca music industry! Both men, at the time residing in New York, continued learning the craft and were soon invited to play at block parties in Brooklyn, New York. Tony and Ricardo did not cross paths until later in their careers, but their stories are quite similar; it may be one of the key ingredients to their astounding synergy.
Both men shared stories of their first DJ experiences, which resulted in disaster across the board, but despite hiccups, it motivated them to keep pushing forward and overtime, they honed their skills. They were both members of sound systems initially, Tony with Natural Freaks and Ricardo with Sound City, playing for major Soca events and underground radio stations. Unfortunately, their time with these groups did not last due to difference of opinion, so they branched out and started their own brands. ”Back to Basics” was birthed in 2000 because Ricardo had an epiphany and declared he was going back to the drawing board; starting at square one. Tony, a self-made DJ, decided establish his brand based on his alter-ego, Tony X. Unsure if they would succeed, both men took a leap of faith, and with passion, determination and an unwavering love for the culture, the trajectory of their career was met with much success!
Synergism – Two Dynamic Brands, One Vision
The intersection of B2B and Tony X came as a result of a common friend, JB, who introduced both men on a boatride in NYC. Ricardo established a great relationship with the Natural Freaks team and was invited to play for their mas band during Miami carnival. Tony & Ricardo would play together for 6 hours straight; Ricardo on the turntables and Tony on the mic. Although Tony parted ways with Natural Freaks he maintained his relationship with Ricardo and because of the synergy they experienced working together during Miami Carnival, Ricardo began inviting Tony to do gigs with him; their first official gig being in Jamaica. Ricardo has played for Natural Freaks from 2004 to 2019, when they announced it was their last year on the road.
Since their first gig, the dynamic duo, who speaks each other’s musical language, are usually booked to play together and are now seen as one entity on an international scale. Back 2 Basics has played with other MCs and likewise, Tony has worked the mic for other DJs, but the chemistry displayed when they work together is unmatched!
Soca Heavy Hitters
They have played for major Soca events on a global scale and contributed to the success of carnivals around the world. Having played for Soca Brainwash, Caesar’s Army events, Scorch, Sunrise Breakfast Fete, Tribe events, Shipwrecked and Ubersoca cruis to name a few, these two brands, holding one vision, have solidified their space in Soca!
Although Covid-19 has brought the world to its knees, their journey; quite significant and impactful; continues! With parting words Ricardo offered, “We do what we love, because we love what we do!” There is so much in store for the future; wait for it!