Apollo Brown and O.C.



by PorkchopExpress USER (38 Reviews)
June 10th, 2012 | 12 replies

Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Back to the essence...

To anyone paying attention in recent years, Mello Music has been quietly establishing themselves as one of the most exciting labels in hip-hop. With a roster consisting of yU, Has-Lo, and Oddisee among others, their emphasis is constantly on hip-hop that looks backwards to the genre's golden era while still moving forward. Their secret weapon is Apollo Brown, a producer who contributes to many albums on the label, and who also has a few great solo albums under his belt. "Trophies" teams Brown up with OC, an MC who's been in the game for twenty years, creating one of the hidden gems of the 90s with Word...Life. Together, the two have combined their abilities to put out one of the better hip-hop albums of 2012.

The album makes its intentions clear right from the intro, which emphasizes creating hip-hop for personal satisfaction over recognition. They're aware they aren't creating an album that will blow up the charts, but instead creating something they can personally be proud to have created. From there, the duo pumps out 15 tracks of head-nodding, nineties-inspired hip-hop. There are no guest-spots, so OCs considerable skills as an MC are on full display. Opening track "The Pursuit"--with lyrics continuing the theme of the intro over Brown's piano-based beat layered with scarred-soul samples--helps set the tone of the album. OCs lyrics are top-notch throughout, made more impressive by the fact that he's doing all the heavy-lifting lyrically.

Still, the secret weapon of the album is Brown. Taking cues from RZA to Pete Rock all while managing to never feel derivative, he pulls of quite a tight-rope act. He makes some interesting production choices, among them being "The First 48", which samples Cream's "The White Room", and the nearly drum beat-less "Signs". On "Walk On", he samples the oft-used Isaac Hayes version of "Walk On By", only he flips it on its head by using it as a foundation for the song instead of the basis of the whole track. He even recycles his own "The 11th Hour" (from his album Clouds) on weed anthem "Anotha One".

With "Trophies", everyone involved manages to continue to do what it is they do well. OC keeps the album afloat with his lyricism, Brown makes it listenable with his beats, and Mello Music maintains its reputation as one of the best labels in hip-hop. It should come as no surprise to anyone who's followed any of the aforementioned that the album is good. And to those who aren't familiar with any of the above, if you're looking for a hip-hop album that feels nostalgic while still being fresh, there isn't a release this year that will satisfy that sweet-spot much more than this one.

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user ratings (39)

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 10th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

There's actually 4 more tracks than were listed when the album was entered into the database. I edited it to add them, but I have no idea if it went through since editing has been so glitchy lately.

June 10th 2012


this album was really plain to me.

Apollo Brown sounds really pretty at first but in every beat he uses the same side-chaining samples technique or he just does a Dilla wannabe thing
and OC's rapping is just kinda lame watered down "underground rapping" you'd hear with Binary Star or s/t.

not a bad review, tho

June 10th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, I see that the overall consensus opinion on this album (at least on Sputnik) isn't as high as mine. But I'm a fan of the same techniques you dislike in Brown's production, and I think OC still spits well for a guy who's been doing it for as long as he has. But you know, to each his own and all that.

And thanks.

June 10th 2012


Album was very enjoyable. That seems to be the case with most things involving Brown.

Digging: Sacrifice - Soldiers Of Misfortune

June 10th 2012


Album Rating: 2.5

decent record, doesn't hold up to repeated listens though

agree with gabe on how boring and repetitive apollo brown gets after a while

June 10th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0

guess you either like brown or not. never been a fan, but he did a great job on that the left record. that's the only i've liked of his.

that said, word... life blows this out of the water.

June 10th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

No disagreement on that last point. I actually consider "Word...Life" a classic of the era.

June 11th 2012


my username is Apollo and I am brown

November 4th 2012


Angels Sing


November 4th 2012


my pleasure dawg, i realized not a lot of people were discussing it so i tried to share it with some hip hop heads

November 6th 2012


Album Rating: 4.5

@FourthReich, Thanks

@Malleus I was totally shocked when I put this review up and the ratings started coming in so low from other users. Glad to see some strong feelings toward it, because I think it's a great album. Another one I'm surprised by the lack of attention for on this site is the Quakers album, which is one of the best hip-hop albums this year. I also wish Jeremiah Jae was getting more love, but as odd as the album is it's not a surprise.

November 29th 2017


Album Rating: 2.5

This was ok

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