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1. For people who may not have checked for you yet... what can someone who's never heard of you expect from the album?
Well, ?Underscore? isn?t the actual debut album; It?s more of a prequel to ?ARCHETYPE?, which will serve as my official debut. It?s kind of a ?warm-up? album, in that sense. As for people?s expectations, I think they should go into listening to the record with an open mind. I?ve never made cookie-cutter songs, and the lyricism is pretty weighty for the most part. But I run the gamut from classic Boom-Bap, to Drum & Bass to singing on this record. You get a peak of all the angles I work with.
2. Are you pleased with the response the album has received so far?
Thus far, yeah. It?s always a great feeling to drop something you?ve worked very hard on, and see someone mouthing your lyrics in the crowd word for word. It?s an amazing thing that happens. I just hope that more people get a chance to hear the music, because at this point, my releases have been very dependant on word-of-mouth promotion.
3. How do you go about creating a track? Do you all sit down and discuss things, or does one of you just come up with a beat and run from there?
It works a lot of different ways. I usually hear a beat, and vibe with it for a while, until I can attach an emotion to it, and figure out what I?d like to say over it. Sometimes, I come up with an idea for a song before we have a beat, and then either create the beat myself, or look for some help from my QN5 Music production team - Domingo, Kno, Deacon The Villain & Elite.
It?s almost always a slow process for me. I?m not a prolific writer, so when I actually do write a song, I prefer that it?s something difficult that I haven?t touched before. It keeps the emceeing aspect fresh to me.
4. Who would you like to collaborate that you haven't yet, whether it be HipHop, Rock, or any other form of music?
I?m a music addict. I listen to basically everything I can get my hands on. As far as who I?d like to work with, hmmm, I?d have to say Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Tori Amos, Pharaoh Monch, Bjork, Mos Def, William Orbit or DJ Shadow. I mean, there are a ton of people I?d love to work with, but those are the only ones coming to mind right now.
5. How did you come to the conclusion to begin a career as a HipHop artist?
I?ve been dead set on it since I was 9. I started writing rhymes at that age, recording myself on one boom-box while another boom-box played the beat in the background. I got really serious when I was 12, and started saving allowance with my friends to go to professional recording studios. I?ve been grinding ever since. I?m absolutely certain that this is what I?m supposed to be doing with my life.
6. What did you went through to get your music released?
A lot of different offers came my way over the years, but nothing felt right. So, I decided to start my own label. There?s such a glut of bullshit politics and overall just idiocy in the record business that it?s disenchanting. But, once you come to the conclusion that you?re putting up with all this solely for the love of the music, then it becomes a little more palpable. To this day, I?m still facing problems when it comes to stores not picking up the releases because I?m not on a multi-million dollar distributor, or buyers just straight up FRONTING on underground artists that aren?t affiliated with the current ?in-crowd?. But fuck it, I?ve managed to get this far with zero help, and I?m going to continue to grind till I get where I want to go.
7. How do you separate yourself from other Hip Hop artists?
Well, for the most part, I?m always trying to do something new. A lot of cats just rhyme to get props and will basically change their style to match the flavor-of-the-month. I?m can adapt to any style, slow to fast, hard to mellow, comical to serious. I?m always looking for new patterns, rhyme schemes, deliveries and just overall trying to advance the art form of emceeing however I can. I?m genuinely concerned about Hip Hop music and the culture. I can?t say the same for most other cats. Oh, and I also produce, design my own covers, websites, videos, multimedia and run a label, too. ?
8. What are you planning to do in the [near] future?
?ARCHETYPE? is on it?s way soon, and that?s my baby, so I?ll be ramping up to make sure everything?s in place for its arrival. Hopefully, I?ll get to drop a couple singles from it, and then I start work on a joint-project with Kno of CunninLynguists called ?Chico & The Man?. Label-wise, I?ll be ramping up to release PackFM?s new album in the spring, along with albums from Mecca & Session of Extended Famm. So, there?s plenty to do.
9. What artists are you listening to at the minute?
My favorite album this year is definitely "Southernunderground" by the CunninLynguists. I haven?t heard a more rock solid Hip Hop album thus far this year, and I?ve heard just about all of em. Um, I?ve been listening to Interpol?s "Turn On The Bright Lights" and Damien Rice?s "O" a lot as well. Not mention Radiohead?s "Hail To The Thief". Oh, and Immortal Technique?s new album, "Revolutionary Vol.2" is off the hook as well.
10. What is your opinion of today?s Hip Hop scene?
The mainstream is what it is - People just making music to stay/get rich. No need to push the envelope. They just stay safe and make the same records over and over. The beats I hear nowadays are great, and it?s a shame 98% of the cats signed to Majors can?t seem to write songs worthy of their production. As far as the underground...It?s a complete clusterfuck of privileged kids with too much time on their hands, and broke ass kids doing their best Jay/50 impressions. There?s such a nepotistic environment right now, that it?s completely stagnated the talent pool. But...truly, It?s really the artists? fault at this point. But I ain?t gonna complain anymore, I?m just gonna make good music and let it speak for itself.
11. Do you have anything to say to the MusicRemedy.com?s visitors?
Yes. DON?T BELIEVE THE HYPE. People pay a lot of money to hire publicists to influence critics, writers and reviewers to call people "Geniuses" and say "BEST ALBUM OF THE YEAR!" And most of the time, they?re full of shit.
Listen to these records yourself and make up your own mind. Cause if you don?t you?re missing out on a ton of talented artists making great music. Hip Hop is still very much alive and kicking, you just have to make the extra effort to find the good stuff. :>
Watch for my debut, "Archetype" later this year. Stay tuned at Tonedeff.com for updates. For more info on QN5 Music artists and releases, please check out www.qn5.com.
Thanks to MusicRemedy for their support, and I hope to see everyone at a show soon!
Peace & Respect.
Tonedeff is best described as a Hip Hop purist - obsessed with musical alchemy to create a new aesthetic. Performing in and around New York City's esteemed underground scene, Tone gained notoriety as one of the most promising emcees to emerge in years. Furious polysyllabic delivery paired with incredibly intricate lyricism, and an ear for catchy songwriting and production have set him apart from his peers.
Winning the Braggin' Rites and Hookt.com MC Battles in 2000, appearing on mixtapes from Eddie Ill & DL, Stronghold, Meddafore, DJ Blowout, and spots on radio show's like WKCR's "CM Fam-a-Lam Show" with Bobbito & Lord Sear have helped to solidify his rise of notoriety and street cred.
A brief stint with Yosumi Records (Game Over 1 &2), saw the release of his enchanced EP, Hyphen, and appearances on "Game Over 2" and Domingo's Para Mi Gente...
The release of Extended F@mm's Happy F*ck You Songs, a collaborative project between Tonedeff and PackFM, Substantial and Session, saw him grace the pages of The Source Magazine's 'Off The Radar' and 'Bar Code' columns, as well as a high profile commercial for MTV Network's Hip Hop Week.
Recent guest spots include KRS-ONE's "Clear Em Out" from The Difference Vol.1 (Official Joints), Masta Ace's Disposable Arts (JCOR), DJ JS-1's "Arrogant" (f/ PackFM, Substantial & Rise), CunninLynguists' Southernunderground, (FRESHCHEST). Even with such a busy schedule, Tone found time to record his Underscore CD on his own QN5 label, the prequel to his debut LP Archetype. All of the hard work has created much anticipation for Archetype, which will be released on QN5 in early 2004.
Considered by many to be the definitive flow of Hip Hop's new generation of emcees, he is definitely the artist to watch in '03 and beyond.
I would like to thank Tonedeff for doing this interview. I would like to thank Dove for hooking this interview up. I appreciate it.