Don’t Sleep | Tonedeff – The Monotone EP

Don’t sleep on this extended play from Tonedeff. It was originally released in 1997, but he released a digital remaster of it on May 5th this year, which is the version I listened to. I recently reviewed Substantial’s latest project, Recompositions. In my review, I think I called Substantial one of the more underrated rappers I’ve listened to. Tonedeff is definitely just as, if not more underrated than him. They’re both signed to QN5 Music, which is really just a super underrated label itself. I first became familiar with both of them through the CunninLynguists. I really loved their features, so I checked both of them out and discovered that they were in a group together along with Session & PackFM called Extended Famm. Anyway, I’ll talk more about Tonedeff’s discography when I publish my rating tomorrow. Today I’m just gonna talk about this EP.

First of all, I’m just gonna come out and say that I think this EP is very good. I certainly wouldn’t call it “amazing” or even “great.” I enjoyed it quite a bit though. I think it’s definitely one of the weaker projects I’ve heard from Tonedeff, but not the worst. I’d probably be more impressed if this was the first project I ever heard from him. I’ve heard all his other projects though, so I know how much he improved as an artist. Still though, the level at which he started is impressive. This debut EP is better than a lot of shit that so called “veteran” artists are putting out these days. He rarely does his signature double/triple/quadruple time flow on this project. I guess he was more focused on his actual rhyme schemes, which are very impressive. The opening song, which is the closest thing to a title track, is really dope. The production is kind of an archaic form of that Electronic sound that ended up being all over Tonedeff’s magnum opus, Polymer. It’s solid. Oh I almost forgot to mention that the entire project is self produced. Every song aside from Homecoming King is co-produced by someone named Mannyphesto. Anyway, Monotony is a pretty dope track, but it’s not amazing or anything. Random Tandem stood out to me because it utilizes the same exact sample that DJ Scratch flipped for a remix of Gettin’ Up by Q-Tip over a decade later. Overall, I think it’s a more impressive track than Monotony. The production’s cool, and Tonedeff killed both of the verses. The hook is very simplistic, but it serves its purpose. It’s a little curious to me that the newer beat from DJ Scratch isn’t as good as this older one from Tonedeff. I think DJ Scratch is a super under-appreciated producer, but Tonedeff & Mannyphesto did a better job with this sample in my opinion. The next track, Homecoming King, is one of the weaker songs on the project in my opinion. I still like it though. I think the production is great. I just wasn’t crazy about Tone’s singing. He sings throughout the whole song, and it’s decent enough. Tonedeff is a good singer, but at this point he obviously wasn’t a seasoned vocalist like he is now. It’s a good song, but it’s weaker than most of the other songs in my opinion. In fact, the only song on this project that I didn’t really care for at all was Porn Flakes. If you’re familiar with my taste, you probably know why I didn’t fuck with that song just based on the title alone. It’s really not a bad song at all though. It’s just a pornographic narrative song, which is cool. It’s not the kinda thing I like hearing though. Tone usually puts one super vulgar sexual song on each project, and I rarely like it. Again, it’s not bad. It’s just not my cup of tea. I like every other track that I haven’t mentioned already, especially Synthetic. Nothing about the song is really too different from any of the others. I just think it has the most interesting, unique production. The beat kinda sounds slightly experimental. It’s really cool. Tonedeff killed it as always too. As a whole, I think this is a very good extended play. There was one song I didn’t particularly care for, but I wouldn’t actually call anything on this project wack. Tonedeff’s rapping, though not as mind-blowing as it eventually turned out to be on future material, was still very impressive. The production was solid as well. Check this shit out. It’s dope.

Favorite Song: Synthetic
Least Favorite Song: Porn Flakes


Grade: B


  1. This reminds me of the Extended Famm project Tonedeff and Substantial had been part of along with PackFM and Session. One of the few examples where rappers collabed on an album to produce a solid project together (wasn’t feeling the Beast Coast and Dreamville albums this year).

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