Growing up in New York typically comes with exposure to most, if not all, elements of society, namely diversity. This state is one of the few areas within the entire world where two people can meet, be friends, and yet have different tastes when it comes to food, sports, lifestyle, and music. In the case of musical veteran and production maestro Frost Gamble, Hip-Hop is something that was introduced early in childhood, which ultimately led to a hunger for more. Insipired by legends such as KRS One, Rakim, and Diamond D, Frost has put together an extensive catalog which includes various solo efforts, as well as collaborations with some of the most versatile talent that the genre has put forth over time.
it is with great pleasure and honor that we kick off 2018 by interviewing Frost for our first "1 on 1" in a couple of months. Here, we'll be discussing his upbringing, body of work, and overall vision for Hip-Hop moving forward.
Frost: I fell in love Hip Hop in the early 80s, first through break-dancing, then songs like "The Message" and "Roxanne Roxanne" started to draw me more towards the lyrics. I related to the content so much more than the pop music that dominated that era. By the late 80s when KRS and Kane and Rakim and PE etc took it to the next level, I was completely absorbed by it.
In upstate NY, we were quick to follow what was happening in NYC, tapes of performances and radio spins would make their way up and we’d study every word. In the late 80s, there was a community access radio station called WUCI that gave kids like me and Chop a shot, and it’s how we first got started.
Mike: would you say have been the most influential throughout your career: give me one celebrity and one non-celebrity.
Frost: Diamond D made me want to learn to produce, "Stunts Blunts and Hip Hop" is and was an amazing piece of art.
Malcolm X made me want to be a better human being. Thaddeus Stevens gave me proof that I could be.
Mike: At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to pursue music as a full-time career? When did you start getting in the studio?
Frost: I’m not sure I ever want music to be my only source of income, I maintain my freedom my making sure my family eats regardless of what the current trends are. Meaning, I’ve been able to stick to my sound all these years because I didn’t need a label to pay my bills. I don’t care about being rich or famous, it’s not a motivator at all, and I don’t desire much from a material sense that I don’t already have. My motivation is about leaving a mark, adding to the culture, and just being the best practitioner of this art that I can be. Maybe the downside of this approach is that it took me a while longer to achieve my goals, but I’m proud to have done it on my own terms and not compromise.
Mike: Smart thinking. Sticking to the music though, what would you say was the “moment” in time where you realized that your craft was something worth building upon?
Frost: I don’t really like to stick my chest out as a producer, bragging sounds best when an MC does it. That’s not to say that I’m not extremely proud of what I’ve done, I am, but there are so many dope beatmakers out there in the world. The more important part is to have a good, true plan – with specific steps and goals, and the accompanying investment of time and money that you put into yourself and your business. Too many people with dope beats or dope rhymes try to “get discovered” with SoundCloud, Facebook and a #SupportLocal hastag – that’s about as likely as winning the lottery.
But to brag a little, the day that Rakim said my beats were dope (after recording a project with his son Tahmell) – that nearly stopped my heart.
Mike: Now let’s pivot to what you currently have going on. Tell us about both your new solo project as well as your collaboration with Tone Chop. How did the both of those come together, and were the development stages for each similar or completely different?
Frost: Chop and I came up together, have been working together off and on for years, so when the opportunity with 22 Entertainment came together, it just made sense for us to lead off with the "Veteran EP". Fortunately, that project was a critical and commercial success for us, which set up every project after that – with ZotheJerk, Tragedy Khadafi, Horseshoe Gang, etc. The follow-up, "Respect Is Earned Not Given" dropped this past September, and it was the first time we’ve had global distribution of physical CDs – we were really honored by the experience.
The new project, "I Missed My Bus", is a follow-up to 2014’s self-released "Handpicked". Here, I’m working with more artists outside the camp – KXNG Crooked, Skyzoo, Conway, Guilty Simpson, Ras Kass, Rah Digga, Tragedy Khadafi, Ruste Juxx, Planet Asia, Sadat X… just a murderer’s row of lyricists. Including, of course, Nostalgia Clic. On this album, I’ve used some different styles and techniques than you’ve heard on previous releases, but it’s still based on a philosophy of hard beats and hard bars.
Mike: What is the main message that you’re aiming to convey with both of these projects? Any favorite songs off of either?
Frost: "I Missed My Bus" is a play on words – that allegedly my era has passed or I’m stuck in the past, or it’s too late for my style – but that I’m going on the journey anyway. My goal with every project is to make you retire the “fast-forward” or “skip” buttons – time will tell how well I’ve done. I truly love every song.
Mike: How did the “Nostalgia Clic” form? What is the meaning behind the group name?
Frost: Nostalgia Clic – Tone Chop, ZotheJerk, White Rhino and myself – it’s just formalizing the MC team that I’ve been working with for years. We would all be accused of being old school anyway, so why not embrace it? Even Rhino, he’s in his 20s, but his inspirations are Big L and Classified.
We focus on the fundamentals – fly rhymes, dope beats, friendly competition – and we appreciate the elements, the DJ, breaking, graff, beatboxing. This is the platform we all grow from.
Mike: This may be a loaded statement, but what do you think the hip-hop game today is missing?
Frost: Owning our own shit! Every year we have to all act like we’re shocked and outraged that the Grammys and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame doesn’t properly recognize Hip Hop – what the hell ever made us think they would? It’s like we have the shortest memory in the world. By letting the music industry claim ownership of our art and culture, we’ve set up this bullshit Groundhog Day routine – we need to build our own credible institutions.
I don’t listen to, or worry about, the current state of radio or mainstream rap. I can’t even keep up with all the GREAT indie music that keeps dropping, even if it’s not on terrestrial radio. As far as so called “mumble rap”, I feel that’s actually a genre of its own – inspired by, but not fully born from Hip Hop – and the industry has forced / pipelined it through the existing channels. That’s so different than when early rap tried to go through R&B dominated radio. Eventually, the best of the new crop will rise to the top, and that new genre will mature, then something else will come along. The game has changed, but I just keep on making the music I want to listen to. I’m incredibly thankful that others want to listen too.
Mike: What’s up next for Frost the producer? Additionally, what can your growing fan base expect from you as well as “The Clic” in 2018?
Frost: I have a remix album and some new songs with Horseshoe Gang in the pipeline, as well as some work with Royce da 5’9’’ coming up. "Nostalgia Clic Vol 1" will be on the way soon as well…
Mostly, I’m just grateful for everything so far. 22 Entertainment brings me new opportunities, and I make new connections all the time, but mostly I just want to see my team win.
Rapid Fire: give me your top 5 producers in the game today.
Frost: Hmmm… off the top Apollo Brown, Alchemist, No ID, Daringer, and Preemo. Special shout to Just Blaze and Marley Marl for being the GOATs IMO!
To keep up with the latest Frost Gamble updates and content, check out the below: