Whenever we're knocked down, we always wish to rise back onto our feet. Some of us have the strength to always do so; the determination to continue upon the path we seek. However, few of us manage to. At seventeen Tonedeff managed to gain mass recognition with a televised performance for Arsenio Hall. But, due to poor managerial decisions, the situation took him nowhere. Focused not to fail, Tone planted the seeds to continue with his goals and later formed QN5. Enlisting a variety of differently musically inclined artists, Tone attempted to create an independent label. Unfortunately the initial batch failed to go far enough in the direction he'd hoped. Even so, he was intelligent enough to see his own potential and that of his peers, he continued to persist and focused upon changing QN5 to a predominantly Hip Hop label. Throughout QN5's history, Tone has continued to promote Archetype (I've been hearing about it since 2001). Many debated the reality of the project reaching fruition, but as it sit beside me at my desk.
Wordplay, wit, breath control and various other carefully conceived elements fueled what now has become the highest grossing music and culture respectively. Sadly, the aforementioned constituents mean little now. Tone describes this situation explicitly and accurately on "Politics" - a bitter, poignantly written song referring to the hazards artists face when trying to break into this very shallow and simple business.
One of the main draws with this release is the fact that there is diversity, demonstrating and exceeding what we've come to know. There's the signature speed rapping, his singing, comical flair and introspection. We're introduced to Archetype through "Overture" a harmonized, simply sung beginning which presents an odd, yet intriguing response from those expecting your traditional Hip Hop intro. However, it perfectly sets up the eclectic variety of tracks, which follow.
Having grown up intently listening to this genre, it's to be expected that we'd be presented with a host of tracks of a familiar sort. Your "usual" Hip Hop sound. "Lets Go" features an impatient drum track with a confidently fast paced rhyme scheme above it. The energetic song along with "Issawn" allow the album to remain alive whilst keeping our interest in it's depth. "Disappointed" presents the strongest comical element, laughing at less than favourable situations with the female of the species; losing out to threesomes, sexual frustrations and lines like "Upset kids called her a ho / And you hope to god it was true / 'Cause see a ho f***s everybody / And a bitch f***s everybody but you" keep a smile secured.
Guests aren't to be expected aside from upon "Quotables." Rise, PackFM, Substantial, Supastition, Session and Wordsworth all slide in alongside Tone in-between the De La sampled hook dedicated to the former achievement that was The Source's "Hip Hop Quotable."
Really, Archetype comes into it's own when Tone experiments and delves deeper. The most dominant example is with "Porcelain," a beautifully complete song dedicated to how frail emotions can be. "Porcelain" is nothing short of brilliant. The sung introduction and outro form a supportive frame around the heartfelt words uttered between the hooks. "Gathered" also is clearly one of the album's highlights. The carefully conceived and created piece features a fresh performance by the singer within, showcasing to those unfamiliar with his talent what he can do and the creation of the music behind it is phenomenal.
"Children" and "Masochist" are also gems. "Children" is a thought provoking track revolving around conduct and hypocrisy with regards to individuality. "Masochist" intertwines some interesting verses based around the frustrations of life and creativity. The song works excellently as a whole although I did find the brief chirping sound in the background quite distracting.
Everyone by now is aware that the internet is a bootleggers dream. Prior to the retail and proper release of Archetype I'd noticed it online and after waiting for what felt like forever to hear a press copy, I hinted towards Tone that I was interested in downloading the release and he urged me not to, stating the importance of the retail version and how much better of an experience it would prove to be. Many a time he stated this was a complete album and not your typical modern rap release, but it's honestly more than that. It's truly a mature work of art. Never before have I seen such an endeavour whereby the artist has packaged alongside the album such a personal and in depth examination of the process of recording, creating and conceiving an album.
"Archetexture" (the accompanying DVD) is a tightly edited and entertaining put together behind-the-scenes showcase of how Archetype was created. It explores every track and includes further commentary and opinions by affiliated artists on the subjects, combining to form an also interesting pseudo-documentary. It's this that takes the album over the edge and drastically enhances the weight of what the music provides. Little elements you miss upon first listen, or that are too hidden to notice arise afterwards. Any confusion with regards to his choice of words within certain hooks ("Masochist") are also elaborated upon enough to kill all curiosity.
Archetype had several years worth of hype and could easily have fallen short. With the album, Tonedeff has assembled a completely new niche. The singing element differs from the Living Legends, 50 Cent's and Moka Only's of this world as it carves something new. Dubbed as the "Archetype" for the next step in the right direction with regards to Hip Hop's creativity, this album is essential for those wishing to experience something new but "the new hip hop - devoid of boundaries, gimmicks or rigid genres."