Frost Gamble is a producer hitting his prime. Gamble, immersed in all aspects of hip hop culture for the past 20 years, has a ton of experience and an impressive resume that includes working with Grammy-nominated artists. However his dedication to the most authentic rappers in the game has, until more recently, left him as a bit of an unknown prospect.
This shouldn’t be the case though as the quality of his productions is stellar. Recently signed to a deal with 22 Entertainment, he has risen quickly to new heights. His is certainly a name to note of if you haven’t already. British Hip Hop were fortunate enough to catch up with Gamble and speak to him about his new record “Respect is Earned Not Given” – an album with his long-time friend and rapping cohort, Tone Chop, and also future collaborations with an array of hip hop luminaries.
In addition, we picked his brain about his experiences in the Hip Hop industry, the origins of his name and the challenges of being a producer. Check out the interview and look out for “Respect is Earned Not Given” releasing on September 29th.
How did you first get involved with hip hop music?
Frost Gamble: In the early 80s, first with breakdancing, later with MC-ing, Graff, beatdigging. Binghamton’s close enough to NYC that the tapes would make their way upstate a few months after dropping. By 1987-88 I was completely absorbed by it and I studied every aspect I could. We were fortunate that there was a community access radio station with a weekly Hip Hop mixshow, they allowed local MCs (like Chop and myself, at that time) to get a start in the scene.
When you first met Tone Chop back in the 90s did you ever imagine you would be creating music together twenty years later?
Frost Gamble: At that time I hardly thought 20 minutes ahead, nonetheless 20 years. It’s funny, I strongly believed that we would get into the Source’s Unsigned Hype back then, and that was about the furthest that I planned (spoiler alert: didn’t happen). But by the mid-90s, I was sick of being poor, and I knew I wasn’t built for the street shit, so I went a 9-5 direction for a while.
But, the passion had to be expressed, and in the 2000s I started treating production as a business instead of a hobby. Took me a long time, with the help of good mentors, to craft and execute a strategy that works in today’s industry. Since partnering with 22 Entertainment in 2016, things have moved quickly, and Chop and I are excited about what the future holds.
The “Veteran” EP was an impressive release that demonstrated both yourself and Tone Chop’s ability. Would you say that “Respect Is Earned Not Given” is a more complete project as you have had longer to work on your sound?
Frost Gamble: Thank you… yes. Veteran was a compact, precise introduction. We packed as much history and backstory as possible into that EP. Because even though we’ve been doing this forever, we were really only known by a core of fans in a few regions. Now we have a much bigger platform with which to share. So, yes, Respect is a much fuller project – you get more of Chop’s personality, more of his personal thoughts and story, and you get a much broader sonic palate from me – although it always comes back to hard beats and hard bars.
As a producer what is your biggest challenge when working on a record?
Frost Gamble: That depends. With Chop, it’s so comfortable, so easy, so fun. We’ve done this forever, so it just feels like old times. Zo and I have good chemistry, White Rhino and I are getting there too. Working with my team, it’s pretty straight-forward. Outside work can be more difficult. Communication sometimes breaks down, and emailing stems back and forth may not capture all of the magic of working together in studio. That’s why when working with a new artist I always prefer to do some groundwork in person.
“It’s Hip Hop” is my favourite track on the album. I love the laid back sound coupled with Chop’s delivery. Do you have a favourite track from the album?
Frost Gamble: Thank you, I love that track too. Thing is, we made nearly 30 tracks for this album, and then picked our favorite 14, while making it as cohesive as possible. We don’t want anyone to have to ‘fast-forward’, we want every track to carry through. Time will tell how well we executed that. If I had to pick, my favorite at the moment would either be Inspiration or Get Beat Down.
To date, what has been your best experience in the hip hop industry?
Frost Gamble: The time that Rakim told me my beats were dope. I did an EP with his son Tahmell, a dope MC in his own right. How can it get any better than that?
What other artists are you working with besides Tone Chop?
Frost Gamble: Nostalgia Clic is the team: Tone Chop (Binghamton, NY), ZotheJerk (Detroit, MI) and White Rhino (Winnipeg, Canada). I’m also working on new music with Tragedy Khadafi, Horseshoe Gang, Royce da 5’9”, KXNG CROOKED… I’ve truly been blessed with a great situation.
What can we expect from your solo project, “I Missed My Bus?”
Frost Gamble: TONS of features. Guilty Simpson, Skyzoo, Ras Kass, Rah Digga… I don’t even want to name everybody yet. One of Chop’s best songs ever (and that’s saying a lot)… maybe even a little Reggae and Soul… this album will be very special to me once I can share it.
What’s a fun fact about Frost Gamble?
Frost Gamble: Hmmm… well, I’ve lived a pretty interesting life at times… I was a professional poker player for 3 years, that’s where the “Gamble” comes from. But I guess I live a pretty square life nowadays… if I’m not in the lab, I’m spending time with family, just trying to maintain the best balance I can.
Thank you very much British Hip Hop for the interview!
By: Peter Johnstone
“Respect Is Earned Not Given” pre-order on Bandcamp
Pre-order on iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/respect-is-earned-not-given/id1247646619
Single “Walk the Walk” ft Kool G Rap
Single “Leave It Alone” ft Ruste Juxx and Nobi (from the Veteran EP)
Single “Risk vs Reward” ft Sadat X (from the Black Beach album with ZotheJerk)