KILLSTREAK is an exercise in conflict. The rapper-producer duo has quickly distinguished itself in the crowded independent rap scene, but industry politics never creep between Tony the Scribe’s margins. With Icetep behind the boards, KILLSTREAK is a war game exploring the tension between good and evil, where the terms are malleable the players obscured.
Tony and Icetep met during high school in their native Minneapolis, where winters are long and MPCs are stacked on top of space heaters. While they shared no shortage of rite-of-passage indiscretions, the pair’s respective paths into the rap world were far from conventional. Where many hip-hop producers are haphazardly self-taught, Icetep’s musical acumen dates back generations, his a family of concert and session musicians. The stage quickly gave way to the bedroom, though, where the producer honed his craft as one of the region’s premier producers. Effortlessly melding elements of electronic music into hip-hop, Icetep has worked with power players like Doomtree and Astronautalis.
Tony the Scribe is a rapper’s rapper who is consistently disillusioned with rappers. Animated and often incensed, he litters his writing with religious, literary, and mythological allusions, but the foundations are in sticky dorm room floors and icy Minnesota freeways. Together, KILLSTREAK has released one album, their 2013 debut Janus. Named for the Roman god of beginnings and ends—the one who sees both future and past—Janus thrives off that duality. Cross-genre experiments (“Riot Away”) bleed into formalist summer jams (“Under The Sunshine”); Tony raps empathetically about Black Friday shoppers and suicide bombers. It’s a record that toes important lines without ever toppling over.