In the world of UK Hip Hop no project has been as keenly awaited as The Tone and Smyth Show. From its first incarnation as an EP released in 2012 through Don’t Flop Records, fans and rappers alike have shared in the fervent expectation surround the release of this album. And now, finally their excitement can come to fruition.
As one might expect it is music moulded by experience and exuberance. Delighting in the discovery of life’s subtle revelations as well as its more direct pleasures. A record born of the melting pot of cultures that is London, but shaped by keen intellects and observant eyes. It views the world through the prism of an indelible friendship, of two highly talented and utterly relatable men for whom life is no longer a game but who still like to play.
This record is every bit as smooth as one might expect, with Tony ‘the effervescent wellspring of ever-present cool’ D as one of its architects. But it is more than just chilled beats and classy rhymes. Indeed there is a drive present in Tony that only comes to the fore when working with Smyth. Reciprocally Locksmyth’s occasionally frenetic solo vibe is tempered through studio time with Tony. It is this interplay which sits at the very core of the record and makes it both a fun and engaging release. Satisfying, simultaneously the elements of self-consciousness and excitement which run parallel to each other in Hip-Hop.
As the styles shift from storytelling to internal retrospection and back again, it is easy to see why both men have had considerable success as battlers, as their analysis of their own life and times is as sharp when turned inwards as is facing their opponents.
A corrupted hard drive having deprived the world of this album in 2013, Tone and Smyth managed to turn tragedy to triumph by using this enforced window of opportunity to hone their sound to a rare level of precision. It’s not often that a record which has been so yearned for an expected actually delivers but this is the case with the Tone and Smyth show.
I’m reticent to be too critical of this record since it ticks pretty much all of my boxes for a successful Hip-Hop album. Perhaps some of the beats could have been slightly more en-vogue or contemporary. But then again, fashions ebb and flow and pandering to them may not have suited the mien of these rappers, who are themselves veterans of the scene.
Produced by North London Super-Producer NSD, the music bridges, successfully for the most part, the gaps between Dancehall, R’n’B, Hip-Hop and grime, and these guests have been selected to reflect that.
Containing verses from such luminous talents as; Josiah Matrix, Mystro, Kyza, Grimlok, Dialect, O’Shea, Seanie Tee, Yisrael, A-Mens, A-Cat, Pound Sterling, Blittz and Shameless; these names showcase the cream of UK vocal talent while boosting the intensity of an already pulsating record. You might argue that too many cooks can spoil the broth. But when you are really cooking and you know who the Chefs are, you’re in safe hands.
It’s been a long time coming. But it’s ultimately been worth the wait.
Written by John Whitmore