Legendary Winnipeg-based producer, Frost Gamble, has just blessed us with not one, not two, but three hard-hitting projects due to drop over the next couple of months. We had the privilege of chatting with him last year with Tone Chop following the release of their collaboration EP, Veteran, and we are too excited to hear the outcome of their latest album, Respect Is Earned Not Given.
Frost has been busy since we last touched base with him. He produced the album Black Beach with ZotheJerk as well as Rare Fabric with Tragedy Khadafi, whilst also working on his own solo project I Missed The Bus. Frost Gamble epitomises the passion of what it means to be an artist. Having been in the game since the '90s, he has never faltered in staying true to himself both as an artist and as a human, and it is evident that he instills a true sense of humility in his work.
We chat to Frost about his upcoming projects, the difference in producing solo work in comparison to producing for other artists, and the current climate of the hip hop scene in Canada. Ayla Dhyani writes.
You’ve been very busy since we last spoke. You’ve got three different projects due to drop over the next few months, tell us a bit about them.
Well, the follow up to 2016’s Veteran with Tone Chop is due to drop September 29th: Respect is Earned Not Given. For anybody who liked Veteran, they should love this album. It continues in the same tradition, but we feel strongly that we made a better album. It's a more full, more complete project, and you won’t have to use the fast forward button. Only time will tell if that’s true (laughs).
How does Respect Is Earned Not Given correlate to Veteran? Does it lead on in any way?
Yeah, it does. Well, Chop name checks all the tracks from the original album. He weaves them into his rhymes. The introduction is really a continuation of the story. He finally got, after all those years, the stage and the opportunity. Now that we’ve got our fans across the globe listening to him, he’s taking advantage of the opportunity. He’s giving more of a story, more personal information, and more of a background. I feel like it’s a great album.
Tell us how the project with Tragedy Khadafi is coming along.
Yeah, we’ve got a project called Rare Fabric, which is dropping in October. The first single has been out for about a month now and it’s doing really well. 'Roses' is the second single, which we just dropped with ZotheJerk and that’s a crazy track. So hopefully that’s going to do just as well.
Zo and I did Black Beach back in May, and of course, it was only natural to have him featured on this album. Both of them did an amazing job on it. Tragedy is a legend and somebody who has influenced two generations of rappers to come after him. To do the project together was a pretty amazing experience.
You've also got a solo project coming up as well. Have you noticed a difference in how you produce on your own solo records versus producing for other artists in any way?
Yeah, completely. With Chop's album, for example, we made almost 30 songs for consideration, and then we picked our favourite 14 to just really paint the best picture. I don't have the same luxury with the collaboration albums. You get a verse from a famous emcee on a particular track, and you're going to have to use that track. You can't swing and miss. I can experiment a bit more with the artists that I have an in-house relationship with, but also with a solo project, I do have the opportunity to use sounds and styles that I like. I do get to show a wider range of my styles and it is definitely a very different process.
What do you find inspires you as a producer?
Man, I tell ya, I wake up happy every day. The past couple of years have been a whirl-wind of progress. I've got music coming out with Horseshoe Gang and Tragedy Khadafi. I've got some joints with Royce Da 5'9" coming through as well. So, it's like I've already hit these thresholds that I had previously thought were unobtainable. I don't wake up going "man, I've got to accomplish more," I wake up going "man, life is great and I just want to maintain this."
So I want to see my team eat. I want to see Chop continue to get the recognition he deserves. I want to see ZotheJerk take his place at the table, and I've got another young cat named White Rhino, who's starting out as well. I just want to see my team grow and focus on those things, but mostly I'm just satisfied.
Absolutely. It sounds like you do have a proper team going and a hip hop family that you've developed. How does that tie in with working with 22 Entertainment and being a part of that label?
22 Entertainment has given me the platform. They allow me to plug into the pipeline that feeds music all over the earth. They don't expect me to compromise. Nobody says "make a record that sounds like the hot stuff going right now." I get to do me and that is such a privilege. I don't take that for granted.
I've got a super solid team. Nobody is going to succeed, particularly considering how entertainment as whole is these days, without having great team. I've been putting that together for years and trying to break through. Now the platform is here and the team is in place. Everybody is pulling their weight and doing a great job.
You really have been in the game for so long. Have your goals changed over the years? What were your goals at the beginning and have they changed over time?
Absolutely! I feel like it's taken me at least 15 years to break through and the first half of that I was doing it wrong and the second half I was doing it right. Of course there's a learning process that goes on. When I started out, I had the "old school mentality." I was aiming to get my beats in the hands of somebody who was going to make my dreams a reality, whether it be an artist or A&R or a record label, but it was an outdated mentality.
During that time, I elevated my skills and improved the quality of my mixes, so it wasn't wasted time per se. But I wish I had realised earlier on that the only path today is to treat yourself like an artist and to treat yourself like a record label. As well as to create something of value that's going to draw someone's attention. I got a good couple of mentors; B-Girl, Tony, even my publicist John, they each played a critical role in informing me how the modern music economy works. Now that I get it (laughs), I'm certainly going to do my best to realise those opportunities.
For sure. The music industry has changed significantly and it must have been so interesting to watch it grow and change over the years.
Yes! I did not now how big and how wide and deep the indepentent music game was. I didn't know how many levels there were. It's something.
How did you come up with the name 'Frost Gamble?' Tell us how that originated.
Well 'Frost' comes from my last name 'Foster.' It was misspelled in the school register in about 6th Grade. It was spelt 'Froster' and that became 'Frosty' or later 'Frost' for short and I like it. I was glad that it stuck. It's been a name since childhood. 'Gamble' comes from 'gambling.' I used to play poker professionally for three years, so that's where the 'Gamble' comes from.
That's awesome. So, you're based in Winnipeg. How do you find the Canadian hip hop scene at the moment?
I love it. Here in Winnipeg, we have a very healthy local scene. There are events going on multiple times every week. Last month, there was a barbecue that a couple of local artists put on and brought a lot of local artists out. There's just a good sense of community here, man. There's some artists who have broken out and done some things nationally. Of course, we get overshadowed by Toronto and Vancouver because of the size of the media markets, but in terms of having a local culture and passion for hip hop, it's a very good place for that.
You've got so much happening already. What do you anticipate for the future? What's next for you?
It's a tough one. I am very focussed on 'stacking' music. Chop and I are constantly making new songs. Zo is a machine. I literally can't keep up with him and 22 Entertainment has done a great job at throwing new opportunities at me. I just finished a really busy stretch. I've been knocking out a lot of time in the studio, and I promised myself that I would take a break. Today was supposed to be the first day of that, but I've spent about 9 hours in the studio. I just love it.
I don't know exactly what's going to come next, but I think it'll be a continuation of what I've been doing, which is creating hip hop that I want to listen to. To some extent, a traditional-based interpretation, more sample-based and drum machine-based hip hop. How that sounds and where that goes, I don't exactly know, but I know it'll be fun and that's good enough for me right now.
What moves you?
A lot of things. I'm a very passionate person. Politics moves me, social and racial injustice moves me. The world disgusts me for the most part (laughs). It's not a spectacular time to be awake for anybody who pays attention to US politics, global politics, and just the overall temperature of the world... literally and figuratively. So, I'm just trying to channel that and connect on a deeper level.
I like boxing as well, and what boxers go through. Real boxing that does not include Mixed Martial Arts (laughs).
So that's pretty much me.
Be sure to check out Respect Is Earned Not Given with Tone Chop due to drop September 29th.
Rare Fabric with Tragedy Khadafi is out October 20th.
His solo project, I Missed The Bus is TBA.
Follow Frost Gamble on the links below: