Everyone dreams of making it big in their profession, but the reality is that few people manage to achieve their goals. However, those who persevere through the most challenging times and emerge victorious usually have an incredible story to share. Such stories often encapsulate an extraordinary journey comprising decades of hard work, drive, and determination, eventually culminating in these individuals overcoming their hurdles as they finally prosper. One such individual is Tony Scales who has come a long way.
Hailing from the South Side of Chicago, the American record producer and songwriter, Tony Scales’s success story is full of hope and inspiration – a reminder to stand in the face adversity and never give up on your dreams. He grew up on 35th & Giles, a block from where Quincy Jones had stayed a few decades before. Yet, life was never simple for Tony. He had an unsettling childhood as he drifted in and out of shelters.
However, if there was one thing that helped him get through those trying times was his deep-rooted passion for music. Tony remembers having “show and tell” sessions as a child, prompting him to ask his grandmother to buy him a keyboard. She obliged. Recalling those times, Tony stated, “I guess you could say that music always inspired me, even though I never received any formal music training or education.”
Music always ran in the family. Although the songwriter’s father drifted in and out of his childhood, Tony’s one distinct memory of him involves his saxophone. Similarly, his grandmother’s cousin, Magnificent Majestic, was practically raised with the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, so he was heavily influenced by his stories.
Today, Tony has managed to carve a niche for himself in this cutthroat industry. He’s had the honor of accompanying R. Kelly and Jay Z on the Best of Both Worlds tour. However, his career skyrocketed after he left Chicago for Atlanta and started working with R&B heavy hitters as a songwriter. He famously worked on the rapper, Plies’s single, Please Excuse My Hands, which featured renowned R&B artists Jamie Foxx and The Dream. The best part is that this number peaked at eight on the US R&B charts and number nine on the US Rap charts.
Since then, the 39-year-old has also worked with well-known names like Lloyd Banks, Trey Songz, Mario, Sean Paul, Justin Bieber, and Jacquees. He also signed an exclusive, one-of-a-kind exclusive producer and songwriter deal with Atlantic Records. As part of his deal, Chef Tone was required to help an emerging artist – Trey Songz. His efforts were successful and resulted in his first Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B Album for Trey Songz’s 2009 album, Ready.
Tony Scales’s musical journey has gone from strength to strength and it was in 2015 that he received his second Grammy nomination for his contribution to Sean Paul’s album, Full Frequency. He has also accumulated more certifications and records over the years, including penning and producing Justin Bieber’s hit single, Heartbreaker, from the album Journals. His work has also accumulated over a billion streams worldwide.
Despite his immense success as a songwriter and producer, the interesting bit is that the dynamic artist discovered his musical talent by accident. “I would always sing off-key around the house, which would annoy my mother. Later I would freestyle with my friends, and I noticed I always had the most coherent thoughts and lyrical raps,” he shared. Even though he had realized his talent, Tony didn’t start his musical journey immediately. Instead, it began at the age of 19 when he went to Duke University to complete his degree. Over there, he met JJ Redick while sneaking into the gym one night. The pair bonded, and JJ took one of Tony’s rap songs and posted it on his My Space page, which gave Tony the initial exposure he required to make his presence felt.
Fast forward, and his musical achievements speak for themselves. However, life as a producer and songwriter is often less glamorous than the life of a performer. Most music enthusiasts don’t realize the role songwriters and producers play in making hits, and, as a result, those behind the scenes in the writing room don’t get enough recognition. You might know some songs Tony has written, but a few are so popular that you didn’t even know he wrote them. Here are 5 of his super hit songs…
LOL (Smiley Face)
LOL by American recording artist Trey Songz is co-written by Chef Tone and features rappers Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy. The song features bouncy, poppy synths and lyrically refers to texting and other electronic multimedia messaging trends.
It’s no secret that Tony was instrumental in Songz’s come-up as an artist. In addition to working on Songz’s third album, Chef Tone also worked on Songz’s single, Bottoms Up, with Nicki Minaj. A single from the album Passion, Pain, and Pleasure, the song has been certified four times platinum by the RIAA. It’s also one of Tony’s most successful singles, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
I Invented Sex
I Invented Sex is another song that Chef Tone has written alongside American R&B singer Trey Songz and Canadian recording artist Drake. This number has garnered positive feedback, reaching number 42 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. According to Tony, I Invented Sex was his first #1 record.
Working with a famous pop star is every songwriter and producer’s dream, and Chef Tone accomplished that when he collaborated with Justin Bieber on his 2013 single, Heartbreaker, from the album Journals. It’s one of his most famous songs and depicts an outlook on love and the struggle to reunite with an ex-lover. It peaked at number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was certified gold in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
Say Aah is another stellar addition to Chef Tone’s discography. It was the fourth single from Trey Songz’s album, Ready, and features rapper, Fabolous. Not only did the song become Songz’s biggest hit at the time, reaching number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100, but it also peaked at number three on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and peaked at sixteen on the Pop Songs chart.