Hip Hop is in one of the better places its been in awhile. The resurgence of lyrics and the fading interest in circus-music beats has led to boom-bap and organic sounding producers gaining increasing attention. Amongst this renaissance of new, thoughtful Hip Hop, chances are you’ve heard a few beats from Frost Gamble. The producer has been putting in incredible work, touching joints from an ever increasingly long-list of lyrical monsters pushing the art form out of stagnation. Most recently, Frost dropped ‘Respect is Earned Not Given’ with Tone Chop, and isn’t stopping with new joints consistently posting and new projects on the way with Tragedy Khadafi and more. We got a chance to get some time from Frost, who spoke on his projects, process and general approach to music. Enjoy!
Frost thanks for the time, you’re back with Tone Chop, and just dropped Respect Is Earned Not Given. Give us a quick overview.
Yes, Respect Is Earned Not Given, the new Tone Chop and Frost Gamble project dropped September 29th on 22 Entertainment. If you liked the Veteran EP you’ll like this even better, it’s still hard beat, still hard rhymes but a lot more topics and angles. Chop shares a lot more of himself on this project, plus we’ve got features from Kool G Rap, DNA, Planet Asia and Tragedy Khadafi. We’re very proud of this album, we don’t want you to have to fast forward, we think every track works and it flows nicely. I hope you’ll check it out and let us know if we succeeded.
People might not know how far back you guys go, the history is interesting. Tell us about starting out as rivals.
Yeah, it’s funny to talk about cause Chop and I have been friends for 30 years so it’s funny to think of now. We did start out as rivals, we both came out at the same time. We’re both MCs, we came from a small city in upstate New York , but we’re fortunate cause there was a local radio station that had a weekly hip hop mix show and they let local cats like us get on there and get shine. And of course it’s a small enough city so if you rhyme you’re always going to end up in the same cipher eventually. So it was destined for us to meet.
Yeah, we did start out as rivals, we both…we were each trying to get the most buzz, have the hottest songs. But that didn’t last for too long man cause I recognized his greatness, I recognized that he was more skilled as a MC. I was okay with the pen but not with the flow and cadence and just the overall package; Chop had it all. So pretty early on I found ways to start falling back, let him be in the spotlight, that’s not even my thing and bang up the beats to support him. So yeah, we started out as rivals but became friends pretty quickly, and after 30 years of friendship we feel fortunate to be in the position we’re in today.
Your last joint project exposed you to new audiences, what are you trying to do with this follow-up project?
Expand that, we want to grow the audience. A lot of people checked out the Veteran EP, we’re honored by that but inspired by it. We still want to grow the audience, we still want to share the type of hip hop that we’re passionate about with the world. You know you hear people, a lot of people my age complain about the music of today and they don’t like it and mumble rap and all that. I don’t want to spend any time thinking about the music today to be honest because there’s so much good music out there. Imperious Rex was out for three days before I had time to check it. I still have to circle back and check projects from other artistes that I like. There’s so much good music out there, great music! You’ve got to look for it, you’re not going to be spoon-fed it, you’ve got to come to blogs that are paying attention, you’ve got to a little bit of your own research. But great music is out there and I believe that Respect Is Earned Not Given is one of those great projects and I hope that people will seek it out and not just be spoon fed by the major labels. Hip hop is doing great, there is some great music out there, we just got to go find it.
Were any of these joints from the same sessions as the first project and you kept building, what was the process for it?
Yeah, great question because that is how we approach it. We stack tracks, we’re constantly working on music, like we don’t sit down and make an album, making songs is an everyday thing, we’re always on that, so we just stack them up. And when we did Respect Is Earned Not Given we had close to 30 songs ready to go. We selected the 14 that we thought were the most cohesive and really just worked together, flowed together, conveyed the stories and the angles that we were looking to convey. And yeah, again we’re really proud of what we did and I think the album really works. That’s the process we’re going to keep using going forward. So don’t think any of the songs on this project were in consideration for Veteran but we’re definitely stacking them up. So we got a lot of material to work with.
There’s a lot of original recordings mixed in with traditional sampling on this project. Can you talk about how you orchestrate all that?
Yeah, thank you for that question. You know I grew up inspired by folks like Diamond-D, Beat Nuts, Pete Rock Premier. Like especially the Beat Nuts and Diamond-D they would sample anything, anything, like if it’s funky they’d sample it and that whole Digging in the Crates…energy, right, is what I’m going for. Like in the first project we did some stuff that was recognizable, we did that to draw people in, that’s not my normal. I try to dig deep, I try to find things that people haven’t used before; or if I do sample something somebody’s used before I try to flip it a different way. So that was really the motivation for the projects, sample from R and B and funk and soul and prog rock and jazz, and just dig deep. That’s the hip hop I know and understand so that’s what I’m going to create.
You have a consistent list of impressive guest features on your projects, how do you line all of those up?
You know it’s a combination of things. I think I get some confidence and legitimacy with 22 Entertainment; but some of it is just being self motivated and approaching people. I’ve made connections just by having the courage to walk up and shake my hand a lot of the times. So it’s important as a producer to treat yourself like an artiste and get music out there and try to get people engaged, bring them in as fans and supporters of the music. You can’t expect the label to do everything for you although I’m in a good position and I have good support. So yeah, really just being motivated and getting out there and making these things happen is the most important part.
We’re big Tragedy Khadafi heads, and you have a project on the way with QB legend right?
I’ve been a fan of Tragedy Khadafi for 30 years. I didn’t know about the Super Kids record when it first dropped, I think Live Motivator, the In Control Volume One project is probably the first thing I heard from them, which is a great way to start because if you listen to that song it’s where that Queensbridge style came from. If you listen to Illmatic…and this is not a shout …I love and respect Nas to the utmost, but you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that Nas wasn’t influenced by Tragedy Khadafi, that a lot of cats weren’t influenced by Tragedy Khadafi. So I mean going back to what I did with the Sean Price Tribute with Chop last year, I’m not going to wait around to tell people that I appreciate them, they let me in the industry, they’ve given me a little bit of room so I’m going to use that room to honor the people that have came before me to celebrate the music that I believe in. Let’s stop waiting until our legends aren’t here to let them know how much we love and appreciate them, that’s my motivation. And yeah we’ve got…Tragedy and I have got several tracks down. He’s still got it man, he’s killing it, his lyricism is on point and he sounds great on my tracks so I’m looking forward to sharing that, most definitely.
How did I link with 22 Entertainment and they seem to be giving me the platform that I need and you can talk about how much you’re feeling in terms of your ability to execute on your vision.
Yeah, 22 Entertainment, linking with them has been hugely important. The majority of the things I’ve accomplished in the last year wouldn’t have happened without them. I linked basically by targeting them, by targeting Tony Boucher who is the owner of the label. He’s been in the game a long time, he knows his shit. Basically I went through a service called Music XRay, which is a platform where you can go after opportunities that music professionals present, and I didn’t want to do it blindly because I’ve met so many ANRs who are like “Oh you sample? Ah I can’t work with you. We can’t clear samples…samples are scary…samples, samples…”
I’ve worked with other people who are like, “Yeah I like what you’re doing but can you make a beat that sounds just like…” whatever the most recent hot record is and sounds nothing like what I do. So I knew I had to find a home that would work for me. I knew 22 Entertainment was likely to be that home; I knew they had a track record with artists that I respect and I appreciate, that make the kind of music I listen to, so I felt like that would be a good home. And it’s been so true, you know 22 Entertainment hasn’t tried to change my sound or get me to make radio records or any of that nonsense, they just let me do me and present opportunities to monetize the music we make. So yeah, none of this would have happened without 22 Entertainment and I’m really grateful for them.
You just did two remixes for release on Horseshoe Gang.
Yes I did, I have a full album of Horseshoe Gang remixes coming I think the fourth quarter of 2017 as well as an original track that we did together. Those guys are beasts man, everybody knows they’re killing it lyrically and they’ve had a really good run the last few years, put out some great music. So for me to have the opportunity to remix some of those songs and put my stamp on it and share it with you guys, man that’s going to be amazing! Yes, and I have some work coming up with Royce da 5’9 that’s just getting started. I guess I have to be careful not to say too much simply not to screw it up, I feel like I want to pinch myself like I want to wake up from a dream. But obviously he represents the pinnacle of lyricism in the industry, so super excited about what’s going to come there as well.
You’ve made a lot of tracks, which track out or not are/were you most excited about releasing this year?
Man! Tough question. I’ve got some tracks in the stash that I’m super excited about. It’s sometimes tough for me because I’m hearing my songs a year or two before they’re released to the public so I’m often more excited about what I’ve got in the stash that people haven’t heard yet, but I’m going to pick one off Respect Is Earned Not Given. Either the track Inspiration or See You Again are two tracks off Respect Is Earned Not Given where Chop just comes with a story you might not expect. Yeah, I’m really proud of how deep he dug on that album to give of himself and really looking forward to you hearing those.
How do you manage to stay so productive with making new beats while also working on all these albums?
First thank you for acknowledging that because yeah I’ve been grinding like crazy trying to take advantage of the opportunity to get all this out there. It’s time management. I still work full time, I’m married, I have a family, I have a young son who needs my attention but I’m not going to short change any of that. By the same token I’m very passionate about my music, I want to spend time with my craft and give fans the highest quality music I can create. So time management is critical to do all of that.
I probably spend 20/25 hours a week actually making beats, working on tracks to make some songs and probably another 10/15 hours, maybe a little more doing promotional cycles, taking care of the business of music, phone calls, emails, communication, scheduling strategies, all the things that goes into it. So it’s basically like having two full-time careers you know, in addition to my family, but I love it. So maybe I get a little less sleep than I should a lot of times but that’s okay because I’m so passionate and happy about the situation. Man, feel so blessed and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. So thank you for acknowledging that because I’m going to keep working hard for a while. I want my team to win.
Last question: What are you most excited about right now?
I’m just blessed and amazed by my situation, how I’m so fortunate to be here today sharing this music, sharing what most people would consider old-school music with you, but we’re in this modern era we’re succeeding, we’re winning, people are buying it, they’re downloading it, they’re sharing it, they’re getting excited about it. I can’t ask for much more, I’m blessed and I’m thankful and I’m grateful. Grateful for the fans, grateful for blogs who’ve been supporters, grateful for the support 22 Entertainment has shown us, and I’m just so excited to be in this position. I’m not going to keep worrying about the future, I’m going to be proud about what I’ve accomplished in the past and what I’m accomplishing currently. I think for me one of the keys to being happy is really focusing on what I have instead of what I want because I honestly don’t want for very much in life. I want to make more great songs; I want to work with a few more great artistes; I want to see my team win, and I’m going to work towards those things. But if nothing else happens I’m still incredibly grateful, still thankful for where I’m at today. And thanks so much to you watching this video, to you posting this video because you’re a huge part of it.