Page 38 - Nine5Four November 2016 Digital Issue
P. 38

Soldiers in Arms: Tone Chop & Frost Gamble
Once rivals in New York State’s rap battle scene, Tone Chop and producer Frost Gamble have been hip hop soldiers in arms for the past couple of decades, a bond formed from their earliest days of tagging and rhyming together.
It’s a testimony to the strength of these two solo artists’ friendship that despite Frost relocating to Winnipeg some years ago, they sustained a connection to produce their first official collaborative release in the form of the “Veteran EP”, out on November 18th. The time taken to deliver on such a project may seem at odds with their history, but Binghamton rapper Chop explains
“We could have done this long before now, but I was just more focused on being a solo artist and releasing my mixtapes then I had other things going on in my life. Frost was insistent that we had to finally put something together and eventually the timing was right.” Frost elaborated further
“I’d been working with various artists, but it was my first
compilation project “Handpicked” in 2014 that acted as a bit of a breakthrough and provided greater marketing and distribution opportunities. Chop featured on three of the tracks, he’s family, and we have great chemistry, so it seemed an obvious next step to put this together. “
Whether as a solo artist or as part of the group “Binghamton’s Most Wanted”, the mixtapes Chop references represent steady output over 15 years and provided a showcase for other local independent artists while simultaneously producing collaborations with Jinx Da Juvy, Tom Gist and St Laz.
Meanwhile Frost’s earlier productions included work with J-Ro, Sadat-X and Rakim’s son Tahmell and he has credits on Fresh I.E.’s “Red Letterz 13” which secured the title “Album of the Year” at Canada’s Gospel Music Awards in 2013. However it was his production on ZotheJerk’s “Honey” which resulted in the deal with current label Seven 13 Music & Entertainment as it featured on
their “God Bless Dope Rappers” compilation alongside tracks by KXNG Crooked, Kid Vishis, Royce da 5’9” and Horseshoe Gang.
So at a time when hip hop & rap music has diversified into a multi-genre entity, and given the nature of mainstream output, the purpose and role that a release such as “Veteran” serves is often debated. It undoubtedly has the feel of the “Golden Era”, its authenticity provided by the history of its creators. Most styles and eras enjoy a brief revival after 15 – 20 years, and hip hop was no different with a refocus on the fashions and sounds of the time. However it appears there may be something more substantial in the case of hip hop music when also put in the context of a greater original culture and ethos.
Chop places the new EP at the heart of this concept, and while the title is in part autobiographical there is a wider dynamic.
“Hip Hop today is a lot simpler and less lyrical. I need substance in what I listen to. I’m a father, I’ve

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