Toni Romiti might be one of the most humble, down-to-earth individuals you’ll ever meet, and her music will transcend for generations to come. Exploding onto the scene with her smooth and sultry voice, the Chicago native straddles the genres of hip-hop, alternative, R&B, and pop, with lyrics inspired by real-life experiences and events.
Stemming off the heels of her standout singles such as “Imma Dog Too,” “Nothin On Me,” and “Switch Up,” Toni is proud as ever to be an independent artist again. From owning the basketball court as a pointguard and shooting guard to owning her masters, Toni shows no signs of slowing down in whatever she decides to pursue.
Most recently, Toni broke the internet once again with her pregnancy reveal, unleashing the official music video for “My Fire” to introduce the world to her newborn babygirl. Additionally, she’s been busy getting back to work, shooting visualizers for her Don’t Talk To Boys project and even recording original music for her children’s project.
On the 25th episode of Shirley’s Temple, I spoke with Toni Romiti to discuss getting pregnant after taking a Plan B, doing a home birth, breastfeeding, baby #2 on the way, how she met her boyfriend, being able to provide for her and her family being an independent artist, hooping, recording “My Fire” in 2018, being a Tomboy, and more!
How are you feeling?
I feel really good, thank you for having me. I’m a little nervous because I'm getting used to being on camera again. It just feels weird.
Because you had a beautiful babygirl! How old is she?
She just turned 6 months. It’s surreal. You don’t realize how surreal it is until you actually do it. The whole time, it’s growing in your stomach. You’re telling yourself, “Okay, I’m going to be a mom.” The baby comes out, you’re like, “Oh shit, I have to look after this person for the rest of their life.”
It is! It’s a weird feeling. You feel more anxious. Honestly, when me and my boyfriend first got together, we thought the world’s too fucked up. I didn’t know if I wanted to bring a kid into this world. After dating, we had to be parents together. At first, I really didn’t know. When I got pregnant, it wasn’t planned. I took a Plan B and everything.
The Plan B didn’t work?!
That’s the thing. This is my hypothesis: people have said, “Oh, they don’t work during ovulation.” But you can’t really get pregnant if you’re not ovulating, so what’s the point of a Plan B? There’s only a 4-day window out of the month you can get pregnant anyways. We all think “Oh somebody cums inside of me, take a Plan B.” But you probably couldn’t ovulate anyways.
I’m sure it minimizes it right?
I don’t know, because I literally took it the next morning. I was on some horny shit, I said, “Cum inside me!”
So pulling out?
Jaecob’s pull out game is strong. [flexes arms] It was on purpose, but I said, “I’ll take a Plan B in the morning.” It didn’t work, so I got pregnant. I wasn’t scared just because financially I can take care of a kid now. Honestly, I wanted to try to have a kid this year, so it’s just a year earlier.
You guys manifested that?
I mean we talked about it, I wanted a kid soon. I don’t want to be an older mom. I was planning on getting pregnant this year, but fuck it. We’re going to go for it now. It sped it up for me because I was planning on having a homebirth. I had to find a midwife faster than I expected, so that made me a little nervous.
How was the homebirth?
It was cool, the coolest experience I’ve ever done. Everyone’s afraid of it, and I was afraid too, but when you trust your body can do it… I’m made to do this. I can do this. It changes your whole perspective. Fear is the opposite feeling you’re supposed to feel. When you’re anxious or afraid, it shows down your process of what your body’s supposed to do. When you trust yourself and do it, it’s a very cool experience. Towards the end when it’s time to push, you almost feel high. You get this really euphoric, hazy feeling. It’s so crazy. It was really cool. I’m not going to say it was easy, but they do say your body releases a chemical after you have a baby that makes you forget what it’s like, so that you do it again. When I watch a video, I remember moments.
How did you push a baby out of you?!
Contractions feel like period cramps, but way more intense. If you have a really bad period, maybe you’d be fine with natural birth. It feels like a really really intense cramp, they start out away from each other and they build up. They come in these waves. It gets to a really high peak, then they go back down. It keeps happening throughout the day. When it gets closer together, they go back to back to back. There’s no position you can go through to brace yourself, then the baby comes out.
That sounds scary!
It’s a crazy feeling, but it’s amazing. Once you push the baby out, you’re like, “I’m a badass bitch! I can’t believe I did that.” It’s crazy, it’s cool though. I’ll do it again.
Is boyfriend ready for that?
Yeah he wants to have more. We contemplate, “Do we want one and spoil the shit out of her?” I wouldn’t want to leave my kid without a sibling. As you get older, everyone’s parents have to die. We all have to die. I wouldn't want to leave my kid alone, without someone who knows exactly what that feels like.
You don’t smoke right?
I’m not against it, I just want to be sober. I went through a phase. Honestly, I got to the point when I wasn’t pregnant where I said “I need to stop drinking.” I wasn’t an alcoholic, but I definitely drank a lot. My body was giving me signs to stop drinking. I came from a high school, we started drinking at 15 years old. I’ve been drinking so much since then. When I moved to Los Angeles in 2016, for two years straight I was on a fucking bingers. Every night we were going out, getting drunk and partying.
Were you still able to keep working?
I was the type of person, I used to get so nervous. I’d drink at the studio, I need it so I can come up with ideas. I was dependent for creative purposes, but I didn’t need it. The first time I ever performed in front of a big crowd, I opened up for Mindless Behavior when I was 19 years old. They were a big deal back then. It was over 1000 people, it might’ve been 2200 people there. Most of the kids in the crowd were from 8 to 11 years. I literally had to go take shots of Ciroc before I performed in front of them because I was nervous. [laughs] I’m taking shots to perform in front of 11-year-olds, why?
Once I got pregnant, it really forced me to stop cold turkey. Now, I don’t want to drink anymore. I smoked weed, but I was more addicted to Backwoods than I was weed. I loved hookah at one point, I was a crackhead. Literally, when I first moved here, I bought a hookah before I bought a couch.
Hookah is all we did in high school!
I like that rush. It’s the nicotine that I like. Same thing with Backwoods, I’d just smoke Backwoods. Me and my boyfriend Jaecob would get into fights in the morning because he’d throw away roaches. I’d be like “those are the best parts!” I’m serious. “You know that I like them, why would you throw them away?” He’d be like “I’ll roll another one.” No, I want the roach! They hit different. Then I was pregnant, that was the only thing I craved. I didn’t even crave drinking alcohol, I wanted to smoke Backwoods.
You resisted the entire time?
Yeah, still haven’t. I want to go back to my high school and talk to the kids there, say “I drank in high school, but I don’t feel like you should.” Alcohol is a really big gateway drug. I have a lot of friends from high school who overdosed, lost their lives to drugs. If we didn’t drink alcohol at such a young age, they probably wouldn’t have gotten to that point. Also, we get overprescribed here.
Especially now that I have a kid, it makes me look at it differently. I don’t want to be that parent that says “do what I say, not what I do.” I want her to be the example that I want her to look up to. If I’m not drinking pop, I don’t want her to drink it. If I don’t want to eat McDonald’s... I’m not going to do shit that I wouldn’t encourage her to do. I want her to say “yeah, my mom doesn’t either.
Are you still not drinking pop?
I still drink pop. Honestly for me during my pregnancy, I craved so much sugar. Even now that I’m still nursing, you still crave stuff. The most annoying thing about pregnancy after the fact, is breastfeeding.
How does that feel?
It’s the hardest thing because no one else in my family nursed. I had a cousin that did, but I was a kid so I didn’t ask her questions. I didn’t really know much about it. My sisters didn’t nurse so they don’t really have any tips to give me, it’s a brand new thing. My midwife helped me a lot. It’s hard, my baby didn’t latch at first. She didn’t attach herself, she didn’t suck on my tity. She didn’t grab onto it with her mouth. That was my biggest fear: “I hope my baby latches.” I asked my midwife, “why don’t babies usually latch?” She’s like “do your nipples get hard?” I said, “Yeah,” she said, “Okay, you’ll be fine.”
My nipples wouldn’t stay hard! What the fuck? This usually is no problem for me. When I was younger, I used to be self-conscious about letting guys see me without my nipples getting hard. It used to be a thing for me, I liked the way my boobs looked more when my nipples were hard. [laughs]
I had to pump and bottle feed for the first 3 months, I kept trying. Maybe when she gets older, she’ll be more aware and grab onto my titty. That’s what happened, eventually, she latched. It changed everything, it became so much easier. I still co-sleep, I don’t put her in a bassinet. She’s starting to wake up more in the middle of the night because she’s hungry. I was lucky, my baby slept through the night since she was born. Now she’s starting to wake up because she wants to eat. Now I can pop my titty out, and I'll still be asleep. It’s more convenient. You don’t have to get up to make a bottle, you can feed them right there. It’s the best part about nursing: the convenience of it all. It’s annoying trying to produce milk.
What do you do for that?
You have to drink a lot of water, eat a lot of food. Breast milk is mostly water. It helps fight off viruses. It’s supposed to be better for the baby. It's free, why wouldn’t I give my baby what’s free?
I had a nipple ring, but I took it out when I was pregnant. So fucking painful. I went in to get one and It was vertical. When I did it, I thought “how the fuck do people do that twice?” I only went in expecting to do it once. I wouldn’t even do it twice, that shit hurts so bad. They don’t even heal. I got it when I was 19, I took it out when I was 25. The moment I took it out, 3 days later that bitch closed up. What the fuck? This was never healed. Even my baby, sometimes she’ll clamp down harder on my nip. I literally have to yank her off because it hurts. She doesn’t have teeth yet though, I’ll let you know how that goes. Maybe I’ll stop after that, but I plan to breastfeed for a long time.
How long do people do it for?
I want to do it for years, but we’ll see. Depends on how I feel about it.
How do you feel physically?
I feel good. I’m starting to workout again. At first I wanted to have 4 kids, but after seeing how hard it is to lose weight after having one, I don’t know if I can do this. It’s a lot, I’m literally annoyed. I’ll post a picture and people say “ooh, Toni’s getting thick thick.” Shut the fuck up! Delete delete. [laughs] People comment “ooh, that baby did you right!” You’re basically saying I put on weight. Don’t make a comment on my body or body weight, it’s annoying.
Do you miss hooping?
I still play. For me, working out is the best when I play basketball. There’s no shape like basketball shape. I still go to this school court over by my house, I workout and do a little drills with myself. Before the pandemic, me and my boyfriend played in a league together in Calabasas. My boyfriend plays basketball too, he’s really good. The first time me and Jaecob ever did something together, it was basketball.
How’d you meet your boyfriend?
I booked him to model for my music video called “Boyfriend.” I had to choose 3 guys to be in it, Jaecob was in the last group of guys I was choosing from. I saw his photo, sent it back to my manager like “Jaecob’s going to be my new boo!” [laughs] My manager said “good, you guys can lick each other‘s eyebrows.”
We met on the video set, he was really nice. It was already love at first sight, I saw it when I saw his photo. “You are everything.” When we met in person, he was really quiet. He’s very selective. He’s not the type of person that will go out of his way to talk to people but when you do get to know him, he’s really funny. That’s what I like about him, you’re pulling back layers. We balance each other well because I’m more extroverted and he’s more introverted. He brings me back and I bring him out.
Were you taking him out to events and pulling him out of his shell?
I was going out a lot, so being with him made me want to stay in. I had a reason to stay in, we have a lot of fun with each other. We do go to stuff together. He comes with me to places. He’s really easy-going, he's really supportive. He's really loving, he's a really good guy. He makes me happy. I love you Jaecob. [laughs] I’m kidding. It’ll be 4 years in February, that went by fast. I met him when I was 22 and now I’m 26. I met him when he was 25, now he just turned 29.
Although pregnancy has typically been considered a time of emotional well-being, recent studies suggest that up to 20% of women suffer from mood or anxiety disorders during pregnancy. Particularly vulnerable are those women with histories of psychiatric illness who discontinue psychotropic medications during pregnancy. Mental health check-in: how are you doing?
I’m doing good. I got pretty lucky with an easy-going baby, she sleeps through the night. I'm in such a good place financially that I don’t feel any stress. Literally, my whole pregnancy I felt no stress. I didn’t have to leave my house or do anything, I didn’t give a fuck about anything. Honestly I stream so well, and my most successful songs I own them.
Really, before you signed to RCA?
“Imma Dog Too,” “Nothin On Me,” “Switch Up,” all that. Before I signed to RCA, all my music that I released before I didn’t allow them to own it. Not to brag about myself, but before I signed to RCA I was making $50,000 a month.
What made you sign?
I come from that age group where you feel validated by a major label. You want to see what they can do, how it can work out. For me, I enjoyed being independent more. It was more so what I wanted. I didn’t like the pressure of all these random people trying to validate me. The internet raises their hand for who they want to raise their hand for. I know how to market myself on the internet, so I’m going to go with that. If I fail, I fail on my own terms, not because some people told me what to do. I’m glad I took that route because if I didn’t choose to sign to RCA, I’d always have that “what if” in the back of my head. Maybe I should’ve done it, maybe I should have went with them. I’m glad I tried it out. It was a cool experience, people were nice. I got to meet a lot of people.
Any advice for independent artists?
Everybody’s journey is going to be different. One thing that might work for one artist may not work for you and one thing that works for you may not work for them. There's so many ways to skin a cat. When it comes to artistry and being an artist, it’s so many different ways. My advice is to be as genuine as you possibly can because if people don’t like you, at least let it be you. Regardless, people aren’t going to like you.
In life, everything is polarity and duality. You think about LeBron James, he’s one of the most loved basketball players right? At the other end of it, he’s one of the most hated because you can’t have one without the other. That’s the whole point of life: balance. If you're going to be hated, at least be hated for you. Not to pretend to be some shit. Be hated for being yourself. If you align yourself with that, go into stuff with good intentions, then you’ll go in that direction you’re supposed to go.
I debuted your video for “My Fire” on Flaunt. Were are you off the charts for 9 months?
I was posting stuff. For one, my manager Jordan is amazing at Photoshop. He can change a fucking wig, you wouldn’t even know. He’d Photoshop just my stomach. The photos I was taking, I wasn’t full-blown pregnant. It was obvious I was pregnant. Some people were picking at my titties because they were so fat. People DMed me: “are you pregnant?” Shut up! You know what’s rude? Asking people if they’re pregnant. Don't ask me shit. [laughs] Some people suspected. My friend B.Simone helped me launch my TikTok account. She’s awesome, she’s so sweet. I love her so much. We did some TikToks a month ago. My baby’s in two of the TikToks for a second. People are still finding out I have a baby.
What does it mean to use music to reveal such great news?
It was really cool. I go back and forth about how I want to be a mother on the internet, in the industry with a baby. It was really cool, it’ll be something cool to look back on for Lily when she’s older. “Wow, my parents put so much effort into thinking about me before I was here.” I wrote that song before I was pregnant, in 2018 about Jaecob. I never put it out. When I found out the baby was due on my birthday and that she’s going to be an Aries, oh come on. A house full of Fire signs? Because Jaecob’s a Leo, we’re all Fire signs. This would be the perfect song to do the pregnancy reveal.
When did you know you were in love with Jaecob?
After a couple of months, I knew I was in love with him. It felt really good, nothing felt forced. It’s funny because when we first started fucking with each other, we both said “I don’t want a relationship right now.” Our relationship happened so organically that we had to choose a date to say when we started dating, because it flowed together so good. I knew within a couple months that I was in love with him, he’s such a good person.
Coming up in Chicago, did you think it would be where you are today?
I played basketball so for a long time, I thought I’d focus on that.
How good were you? What position did you play?
I’m really good. Not to sound like “oh I’m the shit,” but I’m really good at basketball. I played pointguard, but I enjoy playing the 2 because I like to shoot. I can shoot pretty good. At my high school, my junior year I scored 10 3’s in one game. I was pretty good in high school.
Were you practicing or was it natural?
Both. Honestly, I’m pretty good at every sport I’ve ever played. I started off playing softball growing up, I played shortstop and center field. I could throw really far. Even growing up in my neighborhood, I lived an apartment complex that had hella kids all the time. We played a lot of football, I played with my brother a lot. I played badminton in high school, with the birdie and the shuttlecock. I wasn’t the best, but still good enough. There were some other kids who played more years than me, they’re a little bit more skilled. I was still pretty good at it.
What else are you excited for?
I’m working on a kid project, I’m excited. One of the songs I already wrote is “you’re not happy, when you’re gassy. It won’t hurt all, all you need to do is burp. Ohhh burp.” [sings] I have ideas like that. I want to write songs about manners, I want to do a lullaby song. I want to do a hip-hop inspired kid song, something that has to do with counting. Little children’s songs, that’s basically what I’m looking forward to. I’m trying to write, get in the studio more again. Getting back into my groove, I’m looking forward to doing all that.