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Veteran (EP)

Artist: Tone Chop & Frost Gamble

Label: Seven 13 Music & Entertainment

By Andrew Kay | 08 October 2016

I confess: I hadn’t heard of Tone Chop & Frost Gamble before this EP came to me. Clearly influenced by the much lauded “Golden Era” of hip-hop.  The halcyon days where every album and 12” single was one of quality, where lyrics meant something and competition was fierce and rappers were constructed organically, not made in the suite by the faceless music executive.  On that score, this EP will appeal to those who lived through 87-94 or a generational removed with schooled-up parents or uncles or aunties.

“Dedication” sets things off right: call it “Jackin’ For Beats” but with traditional breakbeats and iconic instrumental tracks, such as “Impeach the President” and  “The Symphony” as the O.G duo take things back to a simpler age recalling hip-hop’s rich history.

“Back in the Days” goes for a similar vibe, using the Ahmad sample of the song of the same name. More glorious moments of hip-hop culture are expressed, such as graffiti writing and hanging out with local hoods.

“Other Shit” takes things a little to a more darker place, using the jarring Al Kooper guitar stab sample from Diamond D’s “Check One, Two” (and sampling Diamond’s voice) This is boastful, I’m gonna get mine lyrics. Typically of the braggadocious variety that was always part of rap music throughout the ages. Both Tone and Frost deliver hardcore rhymes with a slight O.G wariness. Rapper Awful P does amiable support on this cut.

“Better with Time” fills the speakers with a Nice and Smooth sample and an off-beat rusty sax vibe. In keeping with the EP’s themes of times past, the theme is riffing off of history and paying homage to those who have laid a trail up until the present.

“One, Two”- is a little more contemporary in outlook. “Skinny Jeans” get a contemptible reference. Das Efx are sampled and the beat jangles with a swagger; the lyrics are boastful and arrogant, but at least they can back it up, with a bit of hyperbole.

“Leave it Alone” is a bouncy number; the most contemporary sounding on the EP. A smoothed out foundation mixed in with a jazzy guitar sample and supported by Ruste Jaxx & Nobi. The rhyming is tight; the vibe straight. It tries to be a happy song, but as it was probably produced and written in the oppressive belly of the Big Apple… its happiness is short lived.

“Step Up” has a tight delivery of rhymes-some reflective, some clever, over a more soulful beat.  There’s some cinematic samples plastered through. It’s short and sweet, like most of the EP.  There’s promise here, worth picking up as an EP and charting their duo projects in the hope of an album to follow soon.

Both Tone and Frost have clearly understsood and probably lived through a lot of the rich history of hip-hop, and that’s important. The love they have shows in their lyrical choices and sonically rich and well-constructed production. There’s a homage to the past; an understanding of the history; and a look to the future.  A solid package that makes you yearn for more.

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