August 2013 saw the end of an era for New York underground hip-hop as beloved indie rap collective QN5 hosted their final annual QN5 Megashow. With the reasoning behind ending the spectacular rap staple basically being what an undertaking it had become, Tone expressed his excitement for being able to spend his post-Megashow life focusing on new projects.
Fortunately, Tonedeff’s as busy as ever.
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You can catch Tone performing tonight, Thursday, November 13, with J-Live and Cunninglynguists at Webster Hall. While you’ll probably hear favorites from his solo debut, Archetype, which turns 10 years old this April, there’s a good chance you’ll hear something from Tone’s decade-awaited follow-up, Polymer. With the “completed” album set for a spring 2015 release, Tone’s been releasing the project through a series of four EPs, each of which Tone described to us as presenting a different side of his personality and his production.
Three of Tone’s EPs are already out, with the remaining fourth set to only be a part of Polymer. Tone tells us the plan to release the album EP by EP had been planned for a while, and that the final album version of Polymer may feature the songs tweaked and reorganized for a proper album experience. “Polymer will be a best-part composite of the EPs. My plan was always to have the songs I knew 100 percent be the album, and the songs that were thematic addendums be on the EP.”
Ten years is a long time in any genre to go between albums, but Tone and QN5’s fan bases’ devotion to Archetype has kept demand for songs from it going strong. Still, Tone believes he would have done some things differently if given another chance. “I thought what I was doing was too experimental and I made a real effort to tame it and hold back. Listening to it now, I hear it and it’s very obvious I was trying to fit in with what was cool at the time. I wanted to release ‘Porcelain’ and ‘Pervert’ as my singles and getting negative feedback from a few notable DJs because of all the singing and the harmonies. When I went to release my single, I chose the songs they thought would work, ‘Disappointed’ and ‘Politics,’ which are very straightforward rap songs. I put it out, the reception for the singles were OK, but the most popular songs from the album, with zero push, were ‘Porcelain’ and ‘Pervert.’ ”
But Tone’s filling the neglected Tonedeff section of record collections with more than just the EPs and Polymer album. He also surprised fans this year with the release of a parody rap album. What started as a running joke on his podcast with fellow QN5 member Pack FM about their fictional rap group #CommaGang (named for having so much money, they just count the commas) eventuated in Tone creating the alter ego Trapazoyd, self-professed “Billyburg’s hardest rapper,” as both a source of laughter and an exercise in showing his detractors that he could make radio-friendly mainstream hip-hop. Trapazoyd’s “debut” album, TETRAHEATHEN, was recorded in its entirety in only three days with production purchased exclusively from 99CentBeatz.com.
Tone’s been enjoying the laughter as much as the props, having also embarked on a stand-up comedy career. “It’s way scarier than rapping for me, and way more difficult. For me, comedians are the highest form of art because they’re the ones that hold the clearest mirror to ourselves, and that’s the hardest to do. If it weren’t for comedians, who would tell the truth?”