Album Review: Apollo Brown & O.C., Trophies
Too often, we bestow the credibility of albums based on how many plaques or awards they have garnered. Detroit beat monster Apollo Brown and legendary DITC member O.C. combined forces to craft an album that speaks for itself. These guys aren’t in it to win shiny objects or gain recognition from the top 40 charts; they do what they do because they love music. Trophies is an album that every fan of Hip-Hop can love; Apollo crafts some of the most brilliant boom bap beats in Hip-Hop, and the legend O.C. spits bars upon bars of truth and wisdom. Apollo Brown and O.C. are from two different eras in Hip-Hop’s history, and that very fact is what makes this album so special.
I’ve been heralding Apollo Brown as one of the best producers in the game since he dropped The Reset back in 2010, and Trophies is yet another pivotal point in proving the validity of my convictions. Much like the album Gas Mask, Brown is able to fabricate an album full of gems that perfectly compliment the style of his partner in rhyme. If you are familiar with O.C.’s catalog and DITC background, then you know that he’s a revered emcee and a legend in his own right, and Trophies doesn’t seem to show any signs of slowing up.
On the track “Prove Me Wrong”, Apollo lays down a beat smoother than blacktop, and O.C. coasts over the beat effortlessly: “…From a league of extraordinary men/so what’s expected is nothing below perfection/never lost our connection/when in doubt, life’s about chances/wilted trees only grow new branches…”. Apollo’s weeping strings and emotional vocal samples on “We The People” provide the perfect backdrop for O.C. to spit knowledge to our nation’s citizens; on the hook, O.C. makes his message very clear: “I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees/for change, it guarantees/the people need to take charge, get involved, and wake up, or forever stay asleep”.
There was one track on this album that jumped out at me like a deer in headlights, and that track was none other than “The First 48”. I’m a huge fan of the late blues group Cream, and when I heard that Apollo sampled their music, I was a tad bit apprehensive; however, once I heard the beat, all reservations were tossed out of the window. Apollo carefully cuts each sample chop of Eric Clapton’s guitar from “White Room” into perfect pieces, and he brilliantly imbeds a Jack Bruce vocal sample into the hook.
Apollo & O.C. were able to craft an album that conjures up sounds from the golden era in Hip-Hop; and although the listener gets a nod to the past, they are able to convey their message without making it sound dated. This is the type of album that I truly enjoy on all levels; I’ve always loved albums that have only one emcee and one producer working together. At sixteen tracks long, Trophies is a smooth ride from beginning to end without any guest appearances. Apollo Brown & O.C. have done a remarkable job in showing the world what it takes to achieve accolades like trophies.