Evan Nabavian is pouring one out for Tone and Poke too.

When Detroit saw a salvo of great rap around 2008, the names to know were Black Milk, Waajeed, House Shoes, Elzhi, Guilty Simpson, Royce da 5’9”, and Ta’Raach. But as with any great hip-hop scene, plenty more talent bubbled below the surface. In 2009, Rapper/producer Big Tone released The Art of Ink, which was firmly in the Detroit tradition and had the requisite indie rap guest spot from Blu, but went largely unheralded.

Undaunted by relative obscurity, Big Tone is back and his new shit borrows from Roc Marciano’s brand of austere beats. “James Brown” and “A.D.E.D.” are made up of analog clang and blare. Tone has a forceful presence on the track without much bluster, kind of like Inspectah Deck, and his rhymes on “A.D.E.D.” are dense enough to reward repeat listens (though you’ll find his best writing on “Scapegoat”). Maybe today’s rap ecosystem will better serve Big Tone who clearly has a lot more to say. In my opinion, he’s already eclipsed Red Hot Lover Tone. As a solo artist, anyway.

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