On this Halloween, we chop it up with MC/producer duo Tone Chop and Frost Gamble. They’re not ghosts or goblins, but they are resurrecting that feel good Hip Hop sound from the 90’s. These two have known each other since the 90’s when they were both battle rappers, and are prepping the release of a new duo project, titled Veteran, dropping next month. They also recently dropped two singles off the project, Leave It Alone, featuring Ruste Juxx and Being A Boss. So without further ado, check out the interview below, and for more on these two, check them out Facebook, on Twitter, here and here, as well as Instagram, here and here.
the9elements: You guys have a new EP dropping in November titled Veteran. How did this project come about?
Tone Chop: The project came about after working with each other back and forth for years and always saying, “let’s do a project.” It hadn’t happened sooner because of certain obstacles in our lives, mainly mine. Finally we got the chance to make it happen so we made sure it did this time. I’m glad it happened now and not before, because timing is everything. As Frost says to me all the time “It’s our time.”
Frost Gamble: Chop and I have incredible chemistry, making music comes naturally. The difficult part was slowly building up a platform and business situation where we could ask a larger audience to take note. Veteran is really just an extension of what we’ve been doing from day one.
T9E: Your first single off the project was an ode to fallen Hip Hop legend Sean Price, titled Leave It Alone, featuring Duck Down’s Ruste Juxx and Nobi. Sean Price is by far one of Hip Hop illest emcees, but he never got the full praise he deserved while he alive. What did Sean P mean to the both of y’all?
TC: Well I was always a big fan of Sean Price since Heltah Skeltah and Boot Camp. He always said what was on his mind and didn’t sugar coat it at all. He had the ability to draw you right in immediately just by saying “P!” He would have my attention before he’d even start spittin’. He was one of the greatest emcees “ever” in my opinion. One of the last of a dying breed. His legacy will live on forever. One of my favorite albums of all time is Monkey Bars and I keep it in rotation.
FG: Sean P was master emcee, he could express so much with just a few lines, and his character and voice were incredible. To me, he really represented the “blue collar” east coast Hip Hop approach better than anybody, and we all loved him for it. That’s why we tried to do a tribute in that tradition of fly lyrics and flow, with a hard beat.
T9E: I recently got the chance to check out the project. Very dope music overall, but my favorite cut is probably Some Other Shit. Definitely some throwback shit, but wasn’t trying to be some ode to the 90’s. One of my personal pet peeves with Hip Hop are those who purposely try to bring a vibe like the 90’s back, because a lot of times it sounds forced, totally missing what that time was. What would you say to cats trying to bring the 90’s back? Can it be done?
TC: You can’t bring the 90’s back so to speak but there’s nothing wrong with being influenced by it. I miss those days but don’t necessarily try to make 90’s sounding Hip Hop, I just make Hip Hop period. I love to rap which is missing in today’s Hip Hop. I’ve said it before lyrics still matter to me and in the 90’s it was still about lyrics and what you were saying. So if you wanna hear an emcee that still cares about what he’s saying, then tune in to Tone Chop and check for me. Some Other Shit features a good friend and comrade of mine, Awful P, who is one of the illest emcees I know personally. I feel like we both smashed that track. Salute to Diamond D as well, that hook came from one of my favorite tracks by him Check 1,2.
FG: Diamond D was a huge influence on me, and Stunts Blunts & Hip Hop is one of the best albums made to me. I’m definitely a product of that era, so you’ll hear that in what I create, but I hope that people also hear my own style in the mix. There was a lot I didn’t like about the 90s, especially the latter half of the decade, so we’re not trying to bring that back. We just make music that we like to listen to, and hope that others do also.
T9E: Let’s talk about you guys for a minute. You guys have known each other since the 90’s when y’all were rivals in the battle scene. How does a relationship start from the perspective of once rivals?
TC: We were never enemies, just competition. So we decided to join forces instead of going back and forth. Frost realized I was the better emcee and decided to take making beats more seriously and we been working together ever since. The rival thing was just for the sport.
FG: That’s the tradition, this is a competitive sport! When we started out, EVERYONE was rivals. Why else were you rapping? Nobody was tuning in if you couldn’t claim you were a spitter. I realized pretty early on that I had more of a skill for beat digging than rapping, which eventually grew into full production abilities. Binghamton can be a difficult place to find opportunities, so we always root for each other, been supportive for a long time now.
T9E: Frost, you went from living in Upstate NY, to moving to Canada, Winnipeg to the exact. How does life change going from Upstate NY, to Manitoba?
Frost: Canada is just happier place for me to live right now, for a lot of reasons. I stay very involved in US political news and events relating to racial, social, economic justice, the culture is similar here, but less divided. Not perfect, to be clear, but actively trying to heal. I don’t see that back home.
T9E: Also, what made you make the switch to producing?
FG: My skill as a rapper was really just the pen. I could write fly rhymes, good punchlines, etc…and for a while I got by on that. But as things got more competitive, I saw you needed voice, flow and character to go with it. Plus, I hate the spotlight, but I really enjoy playing the background while helping a friend succeed. Producing is a natural fit.
T9E: What else can we expect from you guys in the future, as a duo, solo-wise?
TC: We are definitely working on a follow up to the EP as we speak and I was working on a mixtape of new music too and I’d like to get back to that at some point. For now though it’s about us as a duo for me.
FG: I’m making music with Chop “till the wheels fall off.” I keep a small circle of collaborators that you’ll hear with us as well. You’ll definitely get more heat in 2017.
T9E: Your top 5 emcees of all-time ?
TC: Of all time? For me I would have to say:
1. Lord Finesse
2. Kool G Rap
5. Big Daddy Kane
FG: So tough, I basically agree with Chop’s list but there’s others I love too. At this moment I’d say:
2. Melle Mel
4. Ras Kass
T9E: I really appreciate you guys taking the time to do this interview. Any last words?
TC: Thanks for reaching out I appreciate it and be on the lookout for a lot more music, videos etc.
FG: There is a shedload of music out there nowadays, so I’m very appreciative of the9elements for the coverage, and to anyone who takes the time to peep the music.