Tone Chop and Frost Gamble were once rivals in the New York rap scene, but they recently produced their first collaborative EP Veteran. Released Nov. 15, this EP showcases some quality hip-hop as Tone raps and Frost produces over a total of seven tracks. The featured artists also match up with Tone’s skill level.
As first impressions go, Tone has a strong, hearty voice that oozes confidence. This could go unnoticed, but I think it’s an important quality to have, especially for a lesser-known artist. His flow is rhythmic and regular, but his words and phrases complement his meter. Tone uses mostly end rhyme to great effect, although I did not hear a clear instance of him hitting a tight bunch of rhymes in a short time. This would have added to his verses and increased his musicality, but his structured style of rapping got the job done.
Fortunately, Tone does not rap about illicit activities, and there is definitively a different vibe to this than the mainstream rap artists. However, it was hard to notice if there are deep or insightful themes or messages in any of his lyrics. On the plus side, the execution of these lyrics was above average.
Taking a look at the production on this EP, Frost Gamble does an excellent job in creating a distinct sound for each track. He makes use of the guitar, drums, saxophone, flute and electronic music. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a flute in a rap song before, so this was wild to me. The beats are not at all hectic, which Frost made so on purpose to give a focus to the lyrics. Furthermore, his beats are by no means boring; there is enough variation to keep them interesting, but they’re also not too crazy to distract the listener from the raps. Frost does a great job creating music to serve as background for the Tone Chop and the other features.
Speaking of features, all of them add their own style while maintaining a similar rhythm to Tone. This adds a layer in the song by having a different sound to the raps, making it less one-dimensional. I am happy about who they chose to feature, and they do a good job, even though I’ve never heard of them before.
One complaint I have is that the songs themselves are pretty short, averaging at what seems to be just under three minutes. This translates to only about 20 minutes of music, which seems short to me.
Overall, for not being high-profile hip-hop artists, Tone Chop and Frost Gamble’s performances were impressive. Tone’s structured style of rap was as tight as Frost’s production, and they complemented one another. The features were well-chosen and it was interesting to hear artists that are immensely talented but are not incredibly popular.
Blueprint, another hip-hop artist (who is not on this EP) once said that “broke motherfuckers are the only ones that have skill,” and this EP proves this for both Tone and his features. Unfortunately for Tone Chop, who explicitly states “I’m the best, I don’t care what a person rate me” in the song “One Two,” I have to give this EP a rating. Veteran just barely scores a seven out of 10. It is not anything phenomenal, but it is worth a listen, especially if you prefer hip-hop to some of the gaudy rap that is out there today.
Contact CU Independent Arts Contributor Benjamin Vernon at firstname.lastname@example.org.