What happens when a Los Angeles producer (Rorschack) pairs with an Emmy-nominated rapper (T.O.N.E.-z)? The answer is sheer magic of course – what did you think, chaos? Rarely it seems the worlds of hip-hop and EDM collide, at least stateside, but perhaps it should happen more often. The product of the collaboration of two brilliant minds is Handcuffs, a six-song EP that can certainly be classified as a genre of its own. In fact labeling Handcuffs might sell it short – it’s distinct and truly special as its own artistic entity.
“Bartab” opens Handcuffs compellingly, featuring Rorschack’s creative and exceptional production talents, as well as T.O.N.E.-z’s equally interesting rhymes. Among the most memorable rhymes appear early on: “I want a real girl, I don’t need no mannequins / I want a strong girl, I don’t need no mannequins / I want a good girl, I want a bad girl / Good, bad, mix it up!” The biting one-liners keep on coming, including “any woman who’s impressed with cash / might as well be selling her ass / yeah I said it!” Bold rhymes over chill, yet energetic production makes for a juggernaut opener.
On title track “Handcuffs,” featuring Jen Stills, T.O.N.E.-z goes in early on spitting, “I don’t wanna handcuff you / I ain’t even tryin’ to love you / it’s too soon to wanna f*ck you / I just wanna say baby, there’s nothing above you.” As for the production of “Handcuffs,” there’s plenty of ‘heavy breathing’ for effect. You could argue those orgasmic touches take some of the ‘subtlety’ out of things. Even so, much like “Bartab,” Rorschack’s production is cool yet slick, and provides the perfect backdrop for T.O.N.E.-z’s rhymes on “Handcuffs”.
“Computer Luv” keeps on bringing the heat. Although shorter than the opening duo, don’t let the brevity of “Computer Luv” dissuade – the quality remains on-point. The driving rhythms and high energy of “God MC” impact upon the first listen. Malicious and intense, yet retaining poise, like the rest of Handcuffs, the production exhibits remarkable balance – never overpowering nor losing control.
Penultimate cut “Hifi Hafla” is arguably the EP’s most ambitious number, keeping the rhythm a dominant feature, and incorporating some genius Middle Eastern sounds in the mix. This isn’t far-fetched as Rorschack was born in Israel, and also has an eclectic musical knowledge incorporating multiple cultures and styles. T.O.N.E.-z closes spitting the ether: “Everybody wanna see a n***a rap quick.” Like “Computer Luv” – and everything generally – Rorschack and T.O.N.E.-z keep things short and sweet. That includes closing number “Naked She Was,” the third number to clock under three minutes in duration. “Naked She Was” is purely instrumental.
All in all, Handcuffs is a special project unlike anything else issued in 2015. It shows the how far musical collaboration can stretch the musical possibilities. So often, we get comfortable with our bag of tricks and don’t embrace how much more we could ultimately paint on our canvas. Rorschack and T.O.N.E.-z show us there’s more to consider besides the ‘tried and true.’ As the old saying goes, “Go big or go home!” That’s exactly what these two exceptional musicians do.
Favorites: “Bartab,” “Handcuffs,” and “Hifi Hafla”