To-Knee (pronounced Tony) Mastah
Born in Kinston, NC, Antonio Whitfield aka To-Knee (pronounced Tony) Mastah was introduced to the world. To-Knee moved from Kinston and was raised in Wilmington, N.C. At the tender age of 3, To-Knee was given up by his biological parents; throughout his youth and adolescence, he was exposed to a lifestyle that no child should have to endure: “I can honestly say…I have more mothers than the average person,” says To-Knee with a joyful smile. He has always had a knack to look for the good in every situation.
He got the name “Mastahz” from a friend because he had “mastered” it all: rapping, singing, songwriting and producing, and had no special training. To-Knee is self-taught. “Writing came easy and I just sing from my heart…my music is raw and honest,” he shares. With some artists being viewed as “mechanical”, sounding the same and doing the same music, he prides himself on “keeping it real”.
His divine journey to music began in the 5th grade, trying to impress a young lady by the name of Lonnette. This was his reason for getting into music. Sad to say To-Knee failed to impress Lonnette, but the music stayed in him as he continued to blossom. To-Knee continued to write, as well as study music. Writing was an outlet for him; he found himself being able to say things in song that he wouldn’t necessarily just say to people. Once he got serious about his craft, he commenced taking other people’s songs and changing the lyrics.
According to To-Knee, he wasn’t a very good rapper at first; however, he was so passionate about his music that it became like air to him, and he honed in on his craft and started writing his own lyrics. Why so passionate? For To-Knee, he desires to touch people with what he says.
He counts a host of women as his mothers due to being in foster care. But, one of his mothers told him ‘to lead, not follow’. This is not the only lesson he’s learned. The business has taught him to be patient, exercise humility, be loyal and have faith.
To-Knee is influenced by "hits" and “hitmakers”: “If you were anyone in the game that made a hit record, you've had some influence on me,” says To-Knee. He credits everyone from LL Cool J to M.C. Hammer to New Edition to the man who walked the line himself, Johnny Cash. He doesn’t necessarily have role models. To-Knee states emphatically: “Life is a role model…you get so much out of it.”
Distinct from most rappers, To-Knee doesn’t listen to a lot of rap; instead, he listens to the likes of Usher, Ne-Yo and Brian McKnight. Their music has had a favorable impact on him. He would like his music to be like telekinesis-he wants to move people with his music-make a person feel something.
For To-Knee, the bottom line is about making good music as well as music for everyone. He wants to bring back what’s missing in hip hop: “I’m just bringing out what the Lord has shown me.” His first single, “We Can Make This Happen”, has recently hit the charts. When asked how that feels, he says that it feels great but he doesn’t want to get too excited because he knows there’s a lot of hard work ahead. In addition, to being on the charts, he’s done songs with songstress and label mate Arika Kane (“BCuz I Luv U’, “Ring My Bell” remix).
What’s next? He needs to figure out the direction of his album. To-Knee wants something that’s fun especially due to his own happy nature: “I want my album to be like a rollercoaster ride…that’s what life is-ups and downs.” Additionally, he wants it to be spiritual; he also writes gospel music. Once his music is done, he wouldn’t mind writing screenplays; he’s fanatical when it comes to good film.
To-Knee has his own wisdom; he tells his fans to never give up and never let anybody tell you that you can’t do what you want to do. He hates to see another person hurting, that’s why he does his music…to help others be happy. Please visit www.bserecordings.com for more info on To-Knee.