By Natalia Glenn
Artist: Apollo Brown
Label: Mello Music Group
Release Date: September 25, 2015
The Detroit producer, Apollo Brown, came out with Grandeur this last September. The album exudes nostalgia and plenty of reflection of existence as a result of the old, polished beats he makes and samples. Bringing together some special emcees to add contemplation and catharsis in the recipe of wonders was a golden choice made by Apollo Brown. These ingredients make it impossible for Apollo Brown to not be on some “best underground hip-hop” list.
Apollo Brown brought some incredible rappers that sort of had the responsibility of really giving a lot of verbal soul to this project. In the track, “Money”, the first noticeable element that brings this track to my attention is that Apollo uses a very famous sample by Barry Manilow’s “Sweet Life”. This sample Apollo uses vibes well with the deep-rooted beat he lays on it and brings to light Masta Ace and Wordsworth as wordsmiths. They talk about the presence of money and the anxieties of chasing it, having it and letting it destroy you. Another soul-channeling theme introduced by some more incredible rappers on this project, such as Vinnie Paz and Blacastan, is the broken heart. In the track, “Walk with Me”, Apollo samples Otis Redding and Carla Thomas in “Tell it Like it Is.” Both Vinnie and Blacastan tell us exactly what it feels like to have a love fizzle out into nothing but bitterness and not being to get that love back. “Loving you is hard for me / wear it like a scar on me / Ripping someone’s heart out they chest like larceny.” There are contemplation of life experiences and queries of general existence that the relationship of Brown and all the MCs nurture. Their ability to bring life in the lyrical zone of this project really makes it an A+ project.
One of the biggest attributes to the success of each album Apollo has dropped has to do with his easy ability to vibe with rappers, which has a lot to do with his natural chemistry. There are multiple rappers putting their lives and their deepest feelings onto these tracks. This has to be such an underrated element: to have such a consistent output of momentum in a hip-hop album. Brown uses a lot of older tones and nostalgic instrumentation to curate an ambient enough sound along with the deeper moods introduced onto this project. Brown does have songs such as “Brass Tracks” that are a little more enjoyable but up the ante with a quick and critical flow of bars by Chino XL and Finale. In “Brass Tacks,” once again we’re hit with a nostalgic Janis Ian sample and tossed back into the underground wizardry blend of fresh beats. Brown completes his mission when we’re given an unpretentious chat by Evidence about how there is a real problem with how calculated modern music is. “There’s always radio/ And for a dime/ It’s good for a laugh”. The collaboration brings all these subjects home.
I think the one of major reasons why the hip-hop climate stays so fresh, especially in today’s era, is because we have people like Apollo Brown produce sounds that create a portal to the roots of this vibrant genre, while taking care of the co-inspirers (emcees) to expose new and old problems and circumstances all from one hip-hop project. Apollo Brown is a wildly underrated, heavy hitter in the underground hip-hop scene and I think it’s very wise to get acquainted with his concept and context.This fresh fusion that is basically a blend of old and new music put into perspective about how timeless the medium of music is, along with the perennial sentiment of life. This album teleports you back to the era when cats really layed out all their feelings on their records. The beats he resoundingly curated have every grain of my ability to mention this artist honorably. Currently, Brown is on Twitter talking about mapping himself out a tour for 2016. Brown definitely doesn’t plan on taking any breaks.
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