Apollo Brown & Ras Kass
Mello Music Group
Release date: October 28th 2014
Apollo Brown has to be one of the fastest rising, sought after producers in recent memory, putting a beat together and give to certain artists is not enough for the Detroit producer, he would rather create a whole project with them. The results: Phenomenal. Projects such as OC’s Trophies, Guilty Simpson’s Dice Game, Ugly Heroes, and Ghostface Killah’s 12 Reasons To Die, all considered critically acclaimed, and of course, haters have started to crack through the surface, saying things like ‘his beats are samey’. Er yeah, so are DJ Premier’s, 9th Wonder’s yet they happen to be the most respected in the game.
Apollo’s latest collab project features arguably the most controversial MCs in the game, the man who the powers that be have tried to shut down because of his lyrical content. If he’s not talking about hoes and gun talk but he’s talking about conspiracies and trying to educate his people, he should be stopped. His tracks ‘Nature Of the Threat’ & ‘Interview With A Vampire‘ are still talked about to this day. With that said, is it ‘Blasphemy’ to review this album on a Sunday?
The concept and theme of this album kicks off from the get go. We got a corrupt pastor cussing bad words and saying Jesus name in the same sentence, these guys haven’t called the album Blasphemy for nothing, and then the album really kicks in.
As I hear all the ignorant and unknowing telling me that listening to hip hop is the devil’s music because of this particular titled track, they also accuse me of not listening to the lyrics in hip hop, they should take their own advice. ‘How To Kill God’ is designed to catch those people out, if they listened to the epic production and the lyrics, they will find that Ras Kass is actually saying that if you go against God’s teachings and not do your own knowledge, you are ‘killing’ God. Hip Hop has always been about playing on words, see things for what they are, not what they appear to be.
In ‘H2O’, Apollo takes ‘The Way We Were’ sample, turns it from a ‘sad’ song to a glorious affair, and enlisting Pharoahe Monch & Rakaa Iriscience to do just that – drop science. You heard the Misunderstood sample from Common’s Finding Forever, this is Apollo’s take on ‘Please Don’t Let Me’. Ras Kass uses the sample to help him out with the hook saying things like ‘Please Don’t Let Me – end up in jail…’ Ras admits to Apollo that he can be his own worst enemy. Nothing wrong with admitting your faults.
The Wu-Tang influence must be all inside Apollo’s system. Check out the track ‘Strawberry’ and you’ll see what I mean. Even Ras will co-sign, calling it ‘Ice Cream Pt2′ (or part 3 if you really look at it). Apollo switches gears and brings forth a Detroit/Westcoast monster posse cut. The Royce Da 5’9/Xzibit/Bishop Lamont assisted ‘Giraffe Pussy’ is a visual waiting to happen.
In ‘Roses’ Ras Kass is letting you know that not all roses smell as nice as it seems. Is it Blasphemy to remind his listeners and let new listeners know that Dec 25 is really a pagan holiday and all they did was incorporate the Winter Solstice and Saturnalia into it??? The sample has been used a million times in hip hop, and we don’t mind if Apollo flips it again.
Ras continues his honesty of what he wants for Christmas: “a big booty whore, A Maybach coupé and a Playstation 4…” But really he’s saying that the holiday has lost its true meaning and covered up by materialism. He continues when he touches on how the Nazi’s actions may have had an effect on the Gaza Strip…then he ends the song with The Lord’s Prayer, forgive us our trespasses but Deliver Us From Evil.
They say ‘Too Much Of A Good Thing is bad for you’, so to a lot of guys, if their lady is bisexual that’s a good thing right? Ras Kass tells a great story here and says that is not the case. With assisting vocals from Larina in the hook, Ras tells the story of a relationship with a stripper who loved her women a bit too much, she doesn’t him to mess around but she can? Not saying all strippers are the same, but it’s almost expected if you expect a relationship with a stripper, or maybe the message here was a warning to young guys who think dating strippers is a good thing.
Ras wants permission from Apollo to kill this next beat, well Apollo isn’t gonna say no is he? The first verse is truly an assault: “I got skills like Lee/Which Lee? Any Lee, choose two/Spike Lee, Bruce Lee, Stan Lee, Chun/From Street Fighter 2 with the fire ball shoe/Studied the best bars old school to the new/A student of the flame, KRS, Big Daddy Kane/Rakim, Ice Cube, Scarface and Treach through my veins…” Ras continues to put Macklemore on blast for his little award, he might as well add Iggy to that list and makes Kanye’s hot line to Sway a hot song in Animal Sacrifice.
Humble Pi was the first video released for the album. What’s the key to longevity? Keep re-inventing!!! As Ras explained in Animal Sacrifice, he’s been doing this as long as the veterans, but it’s the second verse where Ras shows you who is REALLY committing Blasphemy: “And f**k FM radio stations you complacent/Cause y’all play the most ignorant songs in creation/Wayne said he’d make these hoes love em like Satan/Jay partnered with Barney’s with racial discrimination/And Kanye gear sport confederate flags/His ancestors severed heads was in confederate bags…”
Biggie already gave you the 10 Crack Commandments, now the 48 unwritten laws of the streets are now written. This is Part 1 according to Ras Kass. He breaks down the first 24 in this track. We wait patiently for Part 2, then Ras gives us another story about Francine and her freak girlfriend, engaging in carnal activity and then ending with a disturbing online stalker.
You gotta love Sean Price! As Ras, Slaine and Sick Jacken talk about enjoying life with women while Drinking Irish, Mr ‘Out-of Order’ takes a different approach. “Drink Irish, sniff Dominican/Kill your whole family, tree branch Levitican/Dope comes three times, where the fuck is my dividends?/Simple rhymes from Sean, but Sean ain’t no simpleton/Medicated master, dedicated rapper/School of hard knocks, ock the educated rapper…” Sean is a dedicated family man, he don’t get down like that!
“Bon Voyage” is a great outro to end the wordplay that is misunderstood as Blasphemy. Ras salutes all the greats that have passed and gone back to the essence and promises to keep hip hop to its truest form and never dilute.
Time to take the needle of the vinyl Apollo, you and Ras Kass have created a superb project. Remaining true to the concept throughout, it’s not Blasphemy if you are speaking the truth that is backed up by extensive research. It is only Blasphemy if you blindly follow those that are in the public eye constantly and misleading the people thus turning them ignorant.
It’s easy to become absorbed into Apollo’s beats, it’s easy to listen to Ras Kass and gain knowledge from his teachings and experiences, but when you put the two together, it is truly BLASPHEMY if not enough heads are paying attention.
(Michael Grant of RePPiN 4U)