Upstate New York veterans Tone Chop (MC) and Frost Gamble (Producer) linked up for last year’s Veteran (Check out The Pop Break Review here) and have doubled down on their collaboration for a new full length project Respect Is Earned Not Given. While Veteran was a perfect appetizer that introduced listeners to Frost’s boom-bap inspired production and Tone’s tough but witty rhymes, this album is the full meal that hungry fans have been waiting for.
Respect… features a full 14 songs, fully realized concepts, a few stellar collaborations, varied subject matter and enough sonic variety that both new fans and people familiar with Binghamton NY’s underground scene should find something they like. Musically, Frost Gamble picks up where he left off on Veteran with more golden era east coast inspired production that is a far cry from the trap beats and emo rap heard on commercial radio. Songs like “In The Streets” and “Get Beat Down” feature the kind of chopped vocal samples, loops and aggressiveness older fans claim is missing from contemporary Hip-Hop.
Lyrically, Tone more than carries his half of the load for the project, rhyming relentlessly on a variety of topics and flipping clever punch lines, pop culture references and double entendres that will force fingers to connect with rewind buttons. Also, the MC addresses a wider array of topics here than on their last project as tracks like “Passion”, “Bing Stories” and “It’s Hip Hop” prove Tone Chop is more than just tough talk and punch lines. When the rhyming becomes a team effort both legends like Kool G Rap, Tragedy Khadafi and Planet Asia and newcomers like DNA and White Rhino do a great job of displaying their individual style/skill while complementing the overall vibe of the project.
To keep it 100% real, “Respect Is Earned Not Given” won’t be for everybody. If you are waiting with bated breath for the new Young Thug record, agree with Lonzo Ball that Nas isn’t Hip-Hop or actively pursue the tightest jeans possible, this album is not for you. But, if you like hardcore Hip-Hop done very well with little concern for commercial success and a premium on dope beats, rhymes and the chemistry between MC & DJ, then this record might be one of your favorite LP’s of 2017.
Best Songs: Passion, Walk the Walk, Guillotine Chop
Perfect For: Your headphones while riding public transportation from NYC to Binghamton
Tone Chop & Frost Gamble – Respect Is Earned Not Given Score: 8/10
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