Daddy NAT

Tone Royal: “Alone” (feat. Daddy NAT)

When rappers claim to be “the best on the mic”, they’re talking about verbal skills, not their technical prowess with any specific equipment. Clearly that’s the case, since you’ll see those same people spend a whole set cupping the SM58 ’cause it turns out their mic technique actually sucks.

But in terms of intimate familiarity with spoken vocal performance, be it in the studio tracking voice overs, in the stadium making announcements, or onstage ripping up a show, few Central Texas figures rack up to the orator that is Ray Villarreal, better known as Tone Royal. Because between his home recording, sports work, and hip-hop side hustle there’s no such thing as an off-season for Tone. A slayer of sibilance and preventer of plosives, the San Antonio native also happens to have wealth in the ways of lyrical wordplay, as we’ve heard intermittently over the past decade.

On last Friday’s “Alone”, Tone Royal finds himself in good company with forlorn ’80s synths and a ’90s boom bap shuffle, not to mention Austin’s Daddy NAT gracing the hook with some sultry refrains. All in all, “Alone” would sound right at home in between Notorious B.I.G.’s “Juicy” and 2Pac’s “Only God Can Judge Me” thanks to those retro qualities, and yeah…Tone’s undying affinity for putting himself in front of the mic and unleashing the rhymes.