Just north of the Pennsylvania border lies Binghampton, NY. The city known as the home of the spiedies is not a place one would go looking for anything Hip Hop related. Native Tone Chop made his bones as a lyricist battle rapper cutting down prospects like he was a woodsman. Eventually he took his talents to NYC where he connected with respected beatmaker Frost Gamble. Though their initial encounters were not particularly friendly, they eventually dapped it up and formed a union to drop the solid “Veteran EP” in 2016. This put them on the map as a formidable duo capable of doing some serious damage to the New York Hip Hop scene. “Respect is Earned Not Given” is a debut album with enough steak to fulfill any Hip Hop heads appetite.
The “Veteran EP” was more of your typical DJ/ rapper collaboration reminiscent of early Guru and DJ Premier. Since then Frost Gamble has completely stepped his game up. “Respect is Earned Not Given” has some of the best beat mixing, scratches and sampling in a decade. Tone Chop is at his best when weaving metaphors in and out of the backdrop like a seamstress. Together they are like iron and nickel because their chemistry is magnetic. Frost is at his best on “Get Beat Down”, “Passion” and lead single “Walk The Walk” featuring NY kingpin Kool G. Rap. Tone is a storytellers dream as he breezes through tracks like the wind like on “Beat Knocking”, “Guillotine Chop” and the highlight of the album “Bing Stories”.
Chances are that Binghampton will never be a hip hop hot bread but the city with a population just under 50,000 can hold their heads high knowing that they got at least one. Tone and Frost continue to make strides as they keep their eyes on making it big in the days of snaps, trends and shares. Though far from a classic, “Respect is Earned Not Given” manages to stay true to the core of hip hop. And that is how you earn respect.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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