Apollo Brown & Skyzoo – The Easy Truth (Review)

Apollo Brown, Reviews, Skyzoo

When an album is released through Mello Music Group it’s pretty much a given that it’s going to be quality. The independent powerhouse has been churning out some of the best hip-hop music to come out of the states in recent history, and it’s roster is rapidly increasing, and they’ve not put a foot wrong yet. ‘The Easy Truth’ is the highly anticipated collaboration between Detroit’s Apollo brown and Brooklyn’s Skyzoo. Both of these guys are seasoned musicians with some heavy projects in their discography, and on paper it seems it’d be impossible for this to be a letdown.


‘One In The Same’ opens the LP, and the mellow, classy sound is executed with flair and obvious skill; Skyzoo’s cutting lyricism is tight and precise, and Apollo Brown yet again proves why he’s one of the top producers pushing the boom bap sound in the modern era. Brown’s beats never sound stale, with genius sample-work and crisp, punchy drums providing an amazing backdrop for Sky’s sharp rhymes. The mature, intelligent hip-hop continues with the soulful ‘Jordans & A Gold Chain’, and New York veteran Joell Ortiz joins the show on the flawlessly executed ‘A Couple Dollars’. Throughout ‘The Easy Truth’ Skyzoo and Apollo Brown display hip-hop sensibilties that rival any of their more successful peers, and this LP is yet another example of modern rap music being healthier than ever, despite what some heads would have you believe.

Two of the most exciting prospects in recent years appear on ‘Basquiat On The Draw’; Conway and Westside Gunn both display individual, charismatic styles full of energy and raw-content, and Apollo’s gritty beat is a head-nodding banger. The track stands out from the more laidback, thoughtful cuts that have come before it, and this serves to keep ‘The Easy Truth’ an LP that remains interesting and memorable; Skyzoo and Apollo Brown’s partnership is never stale, in fact it’s the complete opposite. This eclectic mix of styles continues with ‘The Vibes’, and it’s dope to hear the boom bap aficionado’s try their hand at a current, more electronically driven sound, and once again it is executed confidently.

The MC/producer combo pay homage to the classic, influential Stretch Armstrong & Bobbito radio show on ‘On The Stretch & Bob Show’, and the dusty, drum-heavy track is a definite standout with Skyzoo displaying consistent flows and an encapsulating assurance on the microphone. The energy and intensity continues with the intricate, soulful ‘The Flyest Essence’, and it’s an appropriate track name as the content is delivered with a cool swagger which impresses from front to back with it’s subtle, stripped-back production from the Detroit beatsmith and wonderfully crated lyricism from the Brooklyn spitter. Apollo Brown’s ability to inject his beats with crunchy percussion, brilliant sample-flips and a knack for perfect emotive vocal samples makes his sonics exciting and instantly recognisable, and ‘Care Packages’ is another example of this. The penultimate track on ‘The Easy Truth’ is ‘Payout’, and this track features Maybach Music Group representative Stalley, and the inspired combination works an absolute treat.

This is a late contender for one of 2016s most impressive albums; ‘The Easy Truth’ exemplifies everything that people feel are lacking in modern rap music. Dope beats, clever lyricism and a chemistry between the MC and producer that stands up against the best of them. Apollo Brown works with some insanely talented artists on full length projects, and it’s a testament to his talents when considering the long list of veterans he’s partnered with. Ras Kass, Guilty Simpson and O.C are now joined by Brooklyn wordsmith Skyzoo, and this LP is every bit as impressive on the lyrical front as it is the production. I could keep singing it’s praises, but do yourself a favour and check this out.

By Sam Bennett







Torae – Entitled (Review)

Reviews, Torae

New York underground MC Torae releases his second solo studio album, ‘Entitled’. The Brooklyn rapper has built up a great reputation as one of the underground scene’s most consistent and intelligent artists, with a smooth flow, honest content and a classy overall vibe. This new LP includes appearances from Phonte, Saul Williams and Pharoahe Monch as well as production from beatsmiths such as Apollo Brown, Mr. Porter, Pete Rock and many more.


The Pete Rock produced ‘Get Down’ is an early highlight; a stripped back boom bap beat and humble, proud writing from the Coney Island MC makes it clear what Torae is all about. It’s rare that a rapper mixes raw, street-smarts with a down-to-earth attitude with such results. The writing is technical too, with internal rhymes and solid flows throughout.

‘Clap Shit Up’, which features Phonte from Little Brother, follows and is another excellent cut. The gritty production, courtesy of Nottz, is outstanding; crunchy drums and menacing sample-work backs aggressive, believable lyricism from the two MCs. Phonte spits “Not here to lollygag/I specialize in bodybags” and “Don’t really claim to be a tough guy, but never been the shook type/Last name, Look Like, first name, Fuck I”, showing why he’s maintained an impeccable reputation.

‘R.E.A.L.’ is a punchy, powerful soulful track, with beautifully chopped samples and an expertly authoritative flow from Torae. Apollo Brown’s contribution ‘Coney Island’s Finest’ is great too, with crisp cymbals and a sinister piano line backing Torae’s personal reflection on his upbringing and neighbourhood, displaying lyrical prowess throughout. ‘Troubled Times’ is another dope one; Torae is a versatile MC, as he sounds good on gritty production as well as on the softer beats exhibited in this case by New Jersey’s !llmind.

‘The eND’, the closing track on the standard edition of the album, is one of the best. Torae explains his opinion on the use of the n word, and he displays his social awareness with honesty and intelligence over a smooth MarcNfinit production. The deluxe edition includes two excellent bonus cuts. ‘Saturday Night’ is a stellar DJ Premier crafted track, and the Pharoahe Monch featuring ‘What’s Love’ is a potently soulful track, with groovy deep basslines and drums guaranteed to get your neck a snappin’.

Torae has once again demonstrated his capability with lyricism, and his ear for beats is flawless; a list of deservedly reputable producers provide a cohesive backdrop for ‘Entitled’, and the features he enlists for the project are well selected and placed. Torae’s second full length LP is a welcome addition to his growing catalogue, and it’s a promising sign that real hip-hop is here to stay in 2016.

By Sam Bennett