Not all veterans wore army fatigues and have tales of military tours to tell. Some earned their stripes in the trenches of Hip Hop’s battlefields in the 90’s by dropping lyrical bombs or nuclear beats on enemy lines. The struggle to become a decorated Hip Hopper was bloody. Many had their careers blown to smithereens by those with an arsenal more hefty than their own. Others became deserters, not having the stamina or skill to continue pushing the culture forward.
Tone Chop and Frost Gamble were enlisted as teenagers from Binghamton’s fledgling rap scene back in 1989. Originally competitors, the pair made the transition to collaborators when Frost realised, “Chop was the more talented cat on the mic” and his own skills lay in crafting beats. Years of cultivating a friendship and a shared love of music have resulted in them finally dropping their first official joint EP aptly titled “Veteran“.
Given their Golden Era roots, it’s no surprise the project oozes the 90’s, but acclaimed rhymer Chop says that wasn’t necessarily their intention. “Me and him just have a certain chemistry”, he says before adding: “We make the kind of Hip Hop we like and we hope that everyone else likes it too”.
The kind of Hip Hop they like is described in opening track “Dedication” – an ode to the genre’s pioneers, shouting out people like Rakim, Queen Latifah, Redman, Pac and Snoop.
And while it’s tempting to romanticise the 90’s, Frost who now resides in Canada points out there was “wackness” back then too and says: “A lot of things I don’t like about today’s Hip Hop originated in the 90’s” citing labels deciding to stop investing in groups like Public Enemy and X Clan in favour of searching for negative imagery to sell to the suburban masses.
Being independent means the pair have had musical autonomy for the duration of the careers. Chop having a slew of prolific mixtapes and collaborations under his belt and Frost working on Fresh I.E‘s award winning “Red Letterz 13” and compilation album “God Bless Dope Rappers” featuring Royce Da 5’9″ and Crooked I to mention but a few.
The “Veteran” EP is very much anchored in the elements which the long-time associates love about the genre. Healthy helpings of “lyrics and dope beats” form the backbone of a project that “gives life lessons from a street perspective” awash with a sound that only happens when the two work together.
New York State native Chop calls the record a “cool out” for what’s coming next saying, “We already have joints cooking that knock the Veteran project out the box”.
Right now the pair are looking to increase their exposure, understanding that it could be the key to elevating them to a deserved level of notoriety and ultimately success. And if Frost is to be believed, closing track “Step Up” might just do the job.
“Step Up is the final track on the EP and we also have a full video for it. It’s murderous. It’s exactly the kind of music I want to listen to. It’s his flow his pen… he’s just killing it with each line and running over the competition. There’s no hook, no dropping money in the club or popping molly or whatever people are into now. It’s just smashing the shit out of emcees” he enthuses.
Chop backs up the sentiment by saying, “They’re going to have to hear me and Frost whether they like it or not!!!”
Whether it is by ambush or by stealth, this veteran duo is sure to launch an assault on the industry, earning them further accolades and fans along the way.
Written by: Taytula Burke | @realspieldotcom
- EP available on iTunes https://itun.es/us/OfCXeb