Toiné Houston
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Toiné Houston

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Hip Hop Soul




"Toiné: A Soulful Taste"

Introducing ‘Toiné Houston’ a new emerging artist from the heart of Chicago’s south side.

“Houston” is a name that has dominated the music industry for an extraordinary number of years. And Toiné Houston is a name you may not be familiar with yet, but it’s one that’s sure to ignite a fire in souls everywhere. Antoinette Houston, aka Toiné, is rapidly changing the game for female MCs in the hip hop city of Chicago. Rather than adhering to the pressures that women in the industry face, she speaks only from experience and wisdom, not glitz and glam.

After releasing “Love States” under her former name Young Flame, Toiné is here to reintroduce herself as a storyteller and entertainer. The Soundcloud release of the 5-track Love States EP is a short and sweet appetizer of the full project, a soulfully eclectic mix of Neo Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz and House. By incorporating the soul of hip hop with the raw passion of poetry, Toiné aims to spark feelings in the minds and hearts of her listeners.

What do you want people to know about your music, sound and message?

I refer to my music and sound as a soulful stew. It has a variety of blends, spices and influences inclusive of hip hop, neo soul, jazz and house. I’m an honest writer and performer, so my messages reflect my life experiences in some shape/form. As a fem-cee, I personally refer to my music as “vibe music”, given my hope is it will vibe with my audiences and allow them to zone into a space that feels good from the inside out. My music, my sound and my messages are appropriate for children, as well as adults and as an artist that’s really important to me because I never want to limit myself or my artistry. We all have something in common and if my music, or lyrics can tap into even one of those commonalities, that helps to bring and bridge people together whatever the age, race or gender.

What type of reactions do you get when you tell someone you are a MC/Hip Hop artist?

It’s funny you ask. The reactions I’ve received have been mixed. Being a Spoken Word artist for some many years, I suppose it’s easy for some people to want to solely keep me in that genre, while others have totally embraced my growth into a different space. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love and keep poetry as my foundation as a writer; however stepping into the hip hop arena and being a representative of female MCs, is a journey I fully embrace as well. My sound has been hard to pin point for some; it’s gotten labeled everything from simply “unique” to “neo soul rap”. I’m humbled by whatever the label is at this point, because at least people are starting to talk and think about my music and my style in a way that, even if deemed different, is still shining in a positive light. Being different is a huge win in my eyes.

How long have you been writing poetry and how often do you write it?

I have been writing poetry since I was 11 and performing since I was 17. My writing comes as my life experiences grow/expand, meaning I’m not the type of artist constantly in the studio unless I have a variety of sounds and stories I feel I need to express and share. My writing is candid, so as I live and experience things (good, bad or indifferent), if I feel my story or experience is relatable enough, or worth sharing given the impact I feel it will have (no matter how subtle), I start writing. Sometimes a “new” experience will even trigger a previous emotion or moment in time where I’ll start writing about an experience in a total different way…from a totally different perspective. My songs “BMW” and “Cool on You” are great examples of this, where my writing is expressing personal experiences from different angles and vantage points. In a nutshell, I write as not only the words come to me, but as my experiences continue to develop as well.

You recently were on the Steve Harvey Show, how was that experience all together?

Yes! My experience on the Steve Harvey Show was eye opening. Meeting and sitting with Mr. Harvey was a growth experience for me, given it was the first time I had been on such a public platform talking about myself versus performing to an audience. I was asked to be on the show by the producers as a result of a letter I wrote months before detailing facts about my personal and professional life. I always thought I was quite interesting in both regards LOL, but to have Mr. Harvey and his producers feel the same was amazing and scary at the same time. My one on one segment with Mr. Harvey was basically a candid conversation to help reveal a big “why” and “how” in my life: How and Why is such an accomplished and driven young woman so successful in every other area of her life except dating?

Mixed in with a few surprise guests, the segment was certainly entertaining and allowed me to reveal and hear some much needed truth about myself, which was to “let go…experience…and enjoy the moments.” Given I’m an Engineer by trade, analyzing is in my blood, but since the show I am certainly enjoying the journey of dating a lot more and any issues I experience, I make sure I keep my writing pad close to me.

All of your lyrics are all so well written and mesh great with the beats. How do you come up with a title to support the song/poem?

I really appreciate the lovely sentiment regarding my writing! Thank you.The title to my poems/songs, if there’s a title at all, usually come to me once a piece is completed and I get a feel for it. What’s the metaphor, what’s the message what’s the feeling conveyed?….are questions that often come to mind to help me determine the titles. For my recent “Love States…” album, all the titles came after all the songs were recorded mixed/mastered. I wanted to take my time and really capture the essence of them and order them in a way that flowed organically. If I could, I would love to have all untitled songs, so my fans/listeners could simply vibe out to the music and come up with their own names because to me it’s really about the content and feeling of a song, not so much the label of it.

What part of Chicago did you grow up in? How has the city shaped you as an artist?

I grew up on the south side of Chicago, in a somewhat quiet area called “Pill Hill”. As I got older, I moved around and lived in both the northern and southern suburbs. Chicago is my heartbeat. It saddens me when I hear it referred to as “ChiRaq”, because my experiences growing up here were not conducive to a lot of the violence the city has been attributed to. However, I understand we all have different experiences of course. I refer to Chicago as “ChiRocks” because I always want to give positive acknowledgement/awareness towards the city that raised me and made me the woman and artist I am today. Being here allowed me to meet some incredible people (both fellow artists, as well as general influencers) who helped mold me into the type of person who cares about my artistry, my messaging and my content. Chicago set and continues to set a strong foundation for me, teaching me nothing is given or promised; teaching me work ethic and given me the lessons needed to keep my mind sharp and my patience high because you know when it’s your time to show up and show out. I carry Chicago with me in my spirit daily…and I plan on being a voice that breathes and prayerfully shows Chicago as a city of hope, not horror…as well as a city of triumph not terror. - Binge Magazine

"Popular Poet: New Project Release"

Chicago’s hot spot The Velvet Lounge recently played host to an album release party and performance by popular poet Young Flame in celebration of her latest project, Love States.

Hosted by actor and musician Mel-Rob, the night featured a well-received mix of live music and spoken word before Young Flame’s grand entrance to the packed house. Backed by a live band featuring the always dependable Allegra Dolores, the poet, who has guested on TV One’s Verses & Flow, and was a featured poet on the My Black Is Beautiful campaign, effortlessly breezed through a dazzling set of pieces including her latest single, “I Remember,” which recently debuted on Chicago’s top R&B and Soul radio station V103, as well as globally on iHeartRadio.

After the performance, Flame greeted excited audience members and signed copies of her album.

According to Young Flame, the album, which features her witty and wondrous wordplay set to an eclectic and soulful mix of hip hop, neo soul, jazz and house music, serves as a “metaphor” for the language of the heart.

“Love States is truly a metaphor of what I feel the heart speaks/tells or even shows us as we go through and GROW through different ​stages of love and like,” she says.

Love States is available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Music, and Spotify.

For more information about Young Flame, please visit - Rolling Out Magazine

"Toiné: Music Touching Hearts"

Toiné is an artist who understands the power of the word and speaks deliberately to help affect change. Her style has been compared to the likes of Jay-Z and Common. We spoke to her recently to gain some insight into her music and the way she expresses herself.

Talk about who you are as an artist. What is your motivation?
I’m the type of artist who goes left, never asking why the rest of the pack went right, simply because I believe our paths are all our own and will eventually lead us to where we need to be. As an artist, I’m motivated by the variance of my ear in an industry seemingly looking to push similar sounds. I started my artistic journey as a rapper at the age of 7, before I even knew what rapping was; all I knew was I liked telling stories in a fun, lyrical way. As I matured, I fell in love with performance art and spoken word, and theater became one of the main platforms and backdrops for my art. Ironically, being a Chicago native, I was never one who loved the open mic scene, given it sometimes felt like artists were competing for and on the mic, and for me performing and sharing were forms of therapy not competition. After TVOne nicknamed me the “Jay-Z of poetry”, my drive was sparked even more not only by the humbling comparison in work ethic but by the gift of lyrical storytelling I feel God has provided me. As an artist, I’m able to share stories of love, like, lust, etc. in ways that keep people engaged, make them laugh, cry…feel something. That alone motivates me to keep going, to keep growing and to keep creating music that a 6 or 60-year-old can appreciate and groove to.

You live in the world of spoken word and rap. How are the two similar and how do they help you express yourself as an artist?
Rap and spoken word are two sides of a beautiful, familiar coin to me. Their similarities stem from the fact both are rooted in rhyme; however, rap has a rhythm and unique musicality about it, which places it on its own platform. The organic opportunities of wordplay & flow of not only spoken word as a whole but my personal style within it, has certainly helped craft how I choose to express myself as a “femcee”. My music will always have poetic imprints, embracing storytelling and a lyrical flow my fans (old and new) can vibe to and listen to on repeat. I also strive to have my artistry embody a musicality and sound to it that appeals to a mass audience of people wanting and willing to appreciate a different brand of soulful hip-hop.

Talk about your creative process.
My creative process is simple: I write about experiences I’ve either gone through personally or those in which I feel close enough to speak about. I write all of my own songs, and to-date there’s not one lyric I have written that isn’t true in one way or another. For me, this process makes my music authentic and it allows me to drown myself 100% in the experiences while performing because I’ve lived it, I’ve seen it, I’ve grown by it, I’ve been hurt by it, I’ve learned as a result of it…and me sharing, hopefully, impacts someone else by letting them know/see they are not alone. When I have something to say, I write and lock myself in my studio, or my producer’s studio. When I don’t have anything to say/share, I live and experience life until the next inspirational music moment hits. I never force it because let’s face it…nothing ever forced feels right.

Why did you drop the moniker Young Flame?
“Young Flame” was a moniker I defined when I was first coming into my own as a professional spoken word artist. The metaphor of it is all about sparking an emotional fire in/within my audience: good, bad or indifferent

A spark, in essence, is a young flame. So being a catalyst of this flame, or energy during every performance of mine was my goal when I hit that stage. As I grew and matured musically, especially into the type of Female Emcee I am, I felt it was time to grow and mature my name and brand. I used my Engineering and Facilitating background and conducted a series of remote and onsite focus groups in Chicago, New York, and DC with target audiences of men and women ranging from 18-35 and I had mini listening sessions of my music off of my then new/upcoming “Love States…” album. The results were shocking; 80% of my audiences across all 3 cities felt the sound of the music was soulful and didn’t match my artist name, which they referred to as “hard”. In fact, when speaking about my name, before hearing my music, over 87% of people spoke to the fact they thought “Young Flame” was a young, male trap music artist, especially being from Chicago. I used the results and immediately changed my moniker and branding to “Toiné” {Pronounced Tow’Na}, which is the middle of my first name, Antoinette.

What do you think it is about music that allows it to touch hearts and souls so deeply?
Music is LIFE. There’s a heartbeat in music that allows fans of it to breathe, to heal, to live. In addition to my own music, there are songs I listen to that once I press play, invoke a physical reaction in me. Jill Scott’s “Crown Royal” creates butterflies in my stomach, given the lyrics of that song make me remember butterfly-invoking moments {smiling as I type that}. I think the beauty of music of all genres is its keen ability to tap into our emotions by speaking words/experiences some may not know HOW to say themselves, but they most simply know HOW they feel once they hear it. Certain songs serve as that favorite auntie/uncle, or that childhood friend who knows exactly what to say in the exact way we want/need to hear it. When we let it, this connection is what allows music to touch our heart/souls so deeply; and once made, that connection never goes away.

Who are some of your influences and why?
One of my main influences is complacency due to the fact I hate everything about it. As a result, it motivates me to never be it, never be associated with it, never have people in my inner circle who embody it, never accept it as an excuse. The idea of complacency keeps me grinding and moving towards bigger and better…ALWAYS.

Some of my musical influences are Common because of his constant consistency & growth as an artist, as well as his love for our hometown Chicago and his philanthropy within the community. MC Lyte and Queen Latifah because of their fortitude and grind as it relates to their artistry and brand, being two major staples and trendsetters in the female rap/hip-hop game. Jay Z because of his brilliance and work ethic when it comes to music and business. And last, but certainly not least, I would say Jill Scott because her career has proven just how far a poetic imprint can take you, as long as you stay true to your faith, stay grinding and stay open to all possibilities.

What projects do you have out here and what are you currently working on?
My second album, “Love States…” (released under my Young Flame moniker) is currently available physically via CDBaby and everywhere digitally, including Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon, and Spotify. I am currently working on my third project whose release date is scheduled for early 2018. My new project, not only picks up where my previous one leaves off regarding relationship truths, but it will also provide listeners an upgraded, soulful hip-hop fusion of rap & lyrical storytelling only I can bring.

What words of encouragement do you have for those looking to follow their dreams?
Top 5 things that come to mind in no particular order: Nothing beats a fail, but a try. Dream big…if you believe you can’t, so will everyone else. Be unapologetically persistent & fearlessly. Obstacles are nothing but opportunities. Do what you need to do, in order to do what you want to do. And if you get discouraged, simply return to this list. - Rolling Out Magazine


I Remember
Just You
Playin Wit Me
You Ever?
Say Jack
Giving Up
Cool on You



Born on November 5th, 1979, in Chicago IL, Toiné Houston started her entertainment career at 7, going up against 15-16 year olds in local talent shows and winning! She has since created the ToinéXperiment; an acoustic blend of Neo Soul, Hip-Hop and Poetic fusion bringing a unique storytelling experience to her audience.  

“Houston” is a name that has dominated the music industry for an extraordinary number of years. And Toiné Houston is a name you may not be familiar with yet, but it’s one that’s sure to ignite a fire in souls everywhere. Antoinette Houston, aka Toiné, is rapidly changing the game for female MCs in the hip hop arena. Rather than adhering to the pressures that women in the industry face, she speaks only from experience and wisdom, not glitz and glam.

After releasing “Love States” under her former name Young Flame, Toiné has reintroduce herself as a powerful hip-hop soul storyteller and entertainer. The Soundcloud release of the 5-track Love States EP is a short and sweet appetizer of the full project, a soulfully eclectic mix of Neo Soul, Hip-Hop, Jazz and House. By incorporating the soul of hip hop with the raw passion of poetry, Toiné aims to spark feelings in the minds and hearts of her listeners.

Starting her career as a performance artist as a member of All Hype City, a unique film, theater, sketch comedy and improv production company based out of Chicago, Toiné was later featured on TVOne’s Verses & Flow Live and has also shared the screen with seasoned actors such as: Lawrence Fishburne, Delroy Lindo, Shia Labeouf, Tyrese Gibson, Jennifer Beals, Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard. She's acquired featured extra and stand-in roles in Transformers 3, Contagion and Fox TV Network series: Chicago Code & Empire.

Off stage, Antoinette is a Sr. Lead User Experience Engineering Specialist, as well as a published author of Improve It!, a collection of essays on using analytics to accomplish more with SharePoint © 2015. Toiné is also founder of A-n-H D’Zigns, a multifaceted Web/Graphic Design company. Musical Artist, Engineer, Poet, Model, Author, Motivational Speaker, Actress, Entrepreneur and Founder......Toiné is truly a Jane of many trades, though writing and performing for/to a vast range of audiences (breaking age and color lines) make her unique in her own right.

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