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Issue 1084

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Review

Tone Chop & Frost Gamble: Veteran EP (Seven 13 Music & Entertainment)

Veteran EP cover pic

8

6.2

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UK release date 18.11.2016

Really fresh hip hop release from New York state duo Tone Chop & Frost Gamble. The rapper and producer re-uniting for the first time in two decades for this seven cut EP.

Once rivals in Binghamton's rap battle scene during the 90's, both doubled as beat makers and their mutual respect for each other's talents led to an early partnership in tagging, rhyming and battling. They formed a strong bond which would endure through the decades. Chop built his name locally by distributing cassettes of four- track recordings while Frost took time out at college. As part of the group “Binghamton's Most Wanted”, the rapper released his debut mixtape “Holding Weight” in 2001 followed by the “Best Damn Mixtape” hosted by Russell Simmons' protégé Jinx Da Juvy.

A highly prolific decade of multiple solo and collaborative releases followed, including the acclaimed “Chopper City” mixtape series showcasing the “607' area. While Chop's focus remained on giving local artists a platform to shine, the third installment in a series of five included “This is NY” featuring St Laz and Tom Gist to represent city and state.

Frost, now based in Canada, returned to beat making in 2004. His earlier productions included work with Young Bleed, Sadat X, J-Ro, Doc Ice and Rakim's son Tahmell on the project “The God's Son Sessions”. In 2013 he worked on Fresh I.E.'s “Red Letterz 13” winning “Album of the Year” at Canada's Gospel Music Awards.

Earlier this year he provided the beat for ZotheJerk's “Honey” which appeared on the compilation “God Bless Dope Rappers”. The album also features KXNG Crooked, Kid Vishis, Royce da 5'9” and Horseshoe Gang.

Having travelled down diverse paths over the years, the pair has come together once more with the release of “Veteran”, an early taster of future projects. The title refers not only to Chop's own journey, but the one taken by hip hop over time, the sonic backdrop provided by Frost adopting a deliberate earthy rawness reminiscent of the Golden Era sound.

Opener “Dedication” is just that, name dropping some of the greatest to pick up the mic, underpinned by a distinctly creative concept. As Chop reels off a list of legendary names, Frost switches up the beats in recognition of their associated producers. Cracking track and could become a classic.

“Back in the Days” and “Better with Time”, sees Chop address his own evolution in lifestyle and rhyme skills over the decades, while in “Other Shit,” another highlight of the magnificent seven on “Veteran”, he delivers an onslaught of battle raps with featured artist Awful P.

“Leave it Alone” is the duo's tribute to the late Sean Price who passed away on Frost's birthday. Featuring Ruste Juxx, it also includes bars from Chop's affiliate Nobi who recorded “Operation Hellstorm” with the Brooklyn legend and Ali Vegas.

The themes are reflective and progressive. Personally biographical, Chop narrates his own life story while depicting the grind as an independent artist, yet remains optimistic for the future due to his relentless perseverance.

The EP also serves as a commentary on hip hop from a previous age, by those who actually witnessed it, while acknowledging the genre's own progression in line with their own. “Better with Time,” features DJ Waxamillion & S.One. The closer is “Step Up,” and they really do on this exciting new release. Bring on the album.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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