Artist Name: Lil Tone & Kemickal
Song Title: Cigarillos
Album/Mixtape Title: Beats, Pussy & Cigarillos
Album/Mixtape Release Date: Late July
Label: Soul Material Entertainment
Music is beautiful because no matter how big or how small an artist is, no matter what kind of resources they have and no matter what kind of team they have behind their promotion, at the end of the day, the music quality is always determined by the artist’s talent and passion. Any hip hop fan is well aware that some of the worst projects get the most promotion, while some of the best ones go unnoticed. Lil Tone and Pablo Neruda have come together to create a project that fortunately and unfortunately falls into the latter category. Beneath the Surface is a 5-song (and one excellent intro) EP that flows silky smooth from start to finish, begging to be played in your car, riding with the windows down. Add that to the fact that the feel-good vibe found here makes it easy to drift away while listening, and you have the recipe for a perfect release leading up to summertime.
JayB clocks in for full production credit on every song, creating a unified and finished feel to Beneath the Surface. From the escapism on “Nowadays” to the airy and dreamy “Hustlin’”, the production on display here compliments both artists, but especially Lil Tone, to the fullest. Tone seems to have found his sound, especially on the hooks. Beneath the Surface is filled with quality hooks from him, most notably on “Hustlin’” and “Bird Up”, that are fully able to send hip hop heads nostalgically back to the days when Nate Dogg was regularly laying his signature vocals on a track.
A KRS-One sound clip starts things off, reminding fans and artists alike that “lyrics are the manifestation of your soul,” an excerpt that prepares listeners for some wonderfully inspired songwriting. Both artists shine when sharing their wisdom, as Pablo Neruda drops some knowledge amid some great wordplay on the highlight, “Bird Up”: “I’m about fed up with these phony-ass non-rapping / but happen to have the nerve to belittle my only passion / The game’s more political now than it’s ever been / It’s not about the skills, it’s about who you befriend / I’m getting too grown to smile at the bullshit / I’d put a foot in the same asses that you’ll kiss.” He gets straight to the point without missing a step while gliding over the beat.
Not to be outdone, Lil Tone has plenty of his own lyrical highlights, beginning on the great concept of “187 Avenue”: “This shit is therapeutic / that’s why a nigga pursue it / Call myself a mic junkie cause I’m addicted to this music.” The closer, “Beneath the Surface”, is also his show as he crafts one of his best verses on the project, addressing his music quality, distracted fans, paid-off bloggers, being an independent artist and not getting the recognition he deserves, all while never straying from his appealing and easy-to-digest style of rhyming.
The normal downfall of EPs is usually their length, as they generally fall short of satisfying listeners, but Beneath the Surface has such high replay value, especially during the summertime, that it doesn’t fall into this trap. Lil Tone, Pittsburgh’s 2010 Best Underground Artist nominee, continues his grind of consistently delivering quality music at a rapid-fire rate to his fans. It should be noted that he also does the production, production selection, recording, promotion and graphic design for each one of his projects (Fact: Lil Tone released one mixtape monthly, twelve total, in 2010). Why take quality over quantity when you have the talent for both? That, my friends, is a grind, not getting free beats and posting half-finished songs on Twitter every few weeks with a smile on your face. As Pablo Neruda eloquently puts it, “Rappers lack what they spittin’ / So they raps are fictitious / Only swag they get is from a Facebook status or Twitter.” This trio came with some serious inspiration and delivered one of the highlights of the summer… in March.
If you can relate, give this project the respect it deserves by downloading it and adding it to your summer, windows-down playlist.
Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5
Pittsburgh artist Hubbs returns with the highly anticipated sequel to his debut mixtape, Modern Vintage, which was released last year. Guest features from The 58′s members, Ghosty, and Franchise, who is also one half of The Come Up. The mixtape also features Pittsburgh artists Shad Black, Beedie, Jon Quest, Pablo Neruda, B-Pro, Shad Ali, Lil’ Tone, and vocals by Miss Simone. Production by P. Fish, Hubbs, Nysceworkk, Tito Calii. Follow @itsHubbs and @TheEyecons.
Your favorite Pittsburgh hip hop artists fill in the blanks.
When it’s summer in Pittsburgh you definitely have to be prepared for the bullshit.
If you come to one of my shows you’ll be surprised that I’m anti-social until my set’s over.
If I could work with anyone it would be Andre 3000 because creatively we’re on some other shit.
My current project is Willie Lynch Sydrome Extended EP and features nobody.
When I hit the stage I’m high and the crowd is in bird’s eye view.
When it comes to making music substance is more important than mass appeal.
I hate the political side of the music biz.
Pablo Neruda is one of my favorite Pittsburgh hip hop artists.
www.RepPghHipHop.com has helped me to dominate underground hip-hop in Pittsburgh and establish myself as one of the city’s best MCs.
Next Up: A Few Bars with Pyrex Press
Lil Tone lives in his studio, we are convinced. He just dropped his 3rd mixtape of the year a few weeks ago and he’s already working on a 4th to be titled Willie Lynch Syndrome. Check out this intro track from that mixtape “Food 4 Thought”.
We’re waiting on a music video Tone!
Previously: Lil Tone & Lady Kay Beauty & the Beast 3
The 3rd installment of the Beauty & the Beast series. Lil Tone (2x nominee of the Pittsburgh Hip-Hop Awards) and his fiance Lady Kay look to silence the critics in their hometown.