Tag Archives: Apollo Brown

Quarantunes XLI


eLZhi – Master Class

Boldy James & Real Bad Man feat. Stove God Cooks – Thousand Pills

redveil – Pigeonman

Armand Hammer – Slewfoot

Pink Siifu & Fly Anakin feat. B. Cool-Aid – Open up Shop

Klaus Layer – Smile

Benny the Butcher – New Streets

Apollo Brown & Che Noir – Worth Gold

$ilkMoney – Snort Ashwagandha Root Powder

Statik Selektah feat. Evidence & Blu – Soul Custody

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2020 In Review

Below are some of my favorite hip-hop highlights of 2020. Check the following playlists, albums, and videos for my personal recap of the year.


The Latest Playlist: 2020

*Track listing at bottom of post


Noteworthy 2020

Griselda Records

For hip-hop in 2020, the crown belongs to Griselda Records. Label founder Westside Gunn, brother Conway the Machine, and cousin Benny the Butcher have been creating plenty of buzz over the last few years, but in 2020 they made a statement. With 5 albums between the 3 of them, a debut album by their female counterpart Armani Cesar, and a Griselda-released mixtape from the tremendously productive Boldy James, 2020 has been Griselda’s most productive year to date.

Despite making a sudden splash on the scene, these emcees have been rapping for a long time. While the way they rap is characteristically unique in it’s graphic descriptions and hard-hitting punch lines, their music has a foundation in a classic style of hip-hop, garnering them no shortage of praise from hip-hop legends across the map.

Through expert storytelling, Griselda artists include explicit details of criminal activities, and while they don’t necessarily glorify the lifestyle, they are not in the least bit apologetic. They don’t shy away from rapping about the details of their lives before rap fame, the struggle they endured to get here today, or boasting on their success that could only have come from unwavering perseverance.

One of the most compelling stylistic features of Griselda artists is their footing in a Mafioso aesthetic. This theme runs through all label members, and is one of the notable characteristics that unify them as a collective. It is not surprising that Griselda has been referred to as “the next Wu-Tang Clan”, which has been recognized even by members of the Wu-Tang Clan themselves. This claim is not just an acknowledgement of success in 2020, but an understanding that Griselda is set to be an iconic generational influence on the culture.

Lo-Fi Lethargic Raps

Over the past 5-7 years there has been a growing sub-genre of hip-hop characterized by low-energy rapping over lo-fi, sample-central beats. Counter to stereotypical rap braggadocio, artists in this style write more genuinely introspective. Despite their lethargic leaning tone, they write in a way that is both deeply expressive and seemingly therapeutic. The consistent themes are self-reflection and social observation from an introverted perspective.

The beats can be easily digestible, or in many cases can break rhythmic norms, providing an embrace of dystopian aesthetic. This approach gives the artists flexibility to maintain a refreshing level of unpredictability. It may not be a coincidence that 2020 was such prolific year for this style of hip-hop, being a year defined by isolation, depression, and dystopia. As a point of reference, the most notable emcee in this style and debatably the originator of it is Earl Sweatshirt.

I often refer to this style of hip-hop as “the other mumble rap”. While this sounds nothing like the commonly referred to sub-genre of mumble rap, these artists undeniably rap in a way that could be described as mumbling, but are nonetheless far more articulate as lyricists. There have been about a dozen or more notable artists operating successfully within this style, and while there is a common thread connecting them all, each has their own unique stylistic contribution. Above are 6 projects within this style from 2020 that I recommend from Medhane, MIKE, Redveil, Demahjiae, Chester Watson, and Navy Blue.

Boldy James Banner Year

I’ve declined to explicitly choose an album of the year for 2020, but if any artist should be recognized for their productivity it would have to be Boldy James. This year James dropped 3 collaborative projects with The Alchemist, Sterling Toles, and Real Bad Man, as well as a mixtape released by none other than Griselda Records (The Versace Tape).

Boldy James has been on the scene for over a decade, but his presence has never been more prolific than it was in 2020. Between the 4 projects, Boldy generously delivered 47 tracks (not including features), easily making 2020 his banner year. Despite the abundance of production, he didn’t cut corners. There are almost no intros or skits, and The Price of Tea in China & Real Bad Boldy are legitimate contenders for album of the year.

Like other Griselda artists, Boldy is a great storyteller, and his laid back flow guides the listener through a mesmerizing tour of illicit struggle raps. Each project has a different producer and corresponding sound, demonstrating James’ versatility and ability to adapt without compromising his own style.      

Check out other notable albums from: Apollo Brown & Che Noir, Armand Hammer, Clipping., Denzel Curry x Kenny Beats, Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist, R.A.P. Ferreira, Run The Jewels, Sa-Roc, and Statik Selektah.


Notable Videos of 2020

Anderson .Paak feat. Jay Rock – Lockdown

Run The Jewels feat. Greg Nice & DJ Premier – Ooh LA LA

D Smoke feat. Jackie Gouche’ – Black Habits I

Spillage Village feat. EARTHGANG, JID, Jurdan Bryant, Mereba, Hollywood JB – End of Daze

Princess Nokia – Gemini

Royce Da 5’9″ on The L.A. Leakers

Benny The Butcher on The L.A. Leakers

Symba on The L.A. Leakers


The Latest Playlist 2020

Conway the Machine feat. DeJ Loaf – Fear Of God

Boldy James & Real Bad Man – Street Shit

serengeti – parisian romance

Evidence – Unlearning

MIKE – More Gifts

K.A.A.N. – Breakthrough

REASON feat. Rapsody – I Can Make It

Apollo Brown & Che Noir – Freedom

Black Thought feat. C.S. Armstrong & OSHUN – We Could Be Good

redveil – Campbell

Jack Harlow – Keep It Light

R.A.P. Ferreira – Mythical

$ilkMoney – Not the Cat Y’all Saw Yesterday

Statik Selektah feat. Bobby Sessions – Immortal

Sa-Roc – Gold Leaf

D Smoke – Rapture

Joell Ortiz & KXNG Crooked – Caddy Bump (LBC)

Grafh – Anonymous

clipping. – Say the Name

Denzel Curry & Kenny Beats – Pyro (leak 2019)

Knxwledge – Gangstallthetime

Benny the Butcher feat. DOM KENNEDY – Over The Limit

Meyhem Lauren & Harry Fraud – Yucca

Preservation feat. Roc Marciano – Medicine Drawer

Willie the Kid – Dirty Game

Freddie Gibbs & The Alchemist – 1985

Chuuwee – Knocked Off

Chester Watson feat. Salami Rose Joe Louis – Atlantis

demahjiae – Divinity

Anderson .Paak – Lockdown

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Quarantunes XXXIV


Kateel – Different Problems

Preed One & Blame One – The Calling

Murs & 9th Wonder – God Black / Black God

Vel The Wonder – Double Line

Quakers – We Tried

Aesop Rock – Flies

Wax – Straight to Paradise

Billy Woods – Gazpacho

Mello Music Group feat. Finale & Apollo Brown – Protocol

Mr. Lif & Stu Bangas – Wave the Flag

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Quarantunes XXIII


Black Milk – Cold Day

Meyhem Lauren & DJ Muggs – Street Religion

Vast Aire – The Man Without Fear

MIKE feat. Jesse Brother – GREEDY

K-Def – Street Jazz

Noname feat. Smino & Saba – Ace

Dynasty feat. Apollo Brown – One Day

Damu The Fudgemunk – Movin’ On

The Grouch – Never Die

Sims – Roll Down

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Quarantunes XIX


Homeboy Sandman – Canned Goods

Crown feat. Soulstice & Mainflow [cuts by Dj Nixon] – Here We Are

Sammus feat. Latasha Alcindor aka L.A. – 100 Percent

Danny Brown – Grown Up

Madlib – Movie Finale

Blue Scholars – No Rest for the Weary

Caleb Giles – Blxckberries

Danger Doom – El Chupe Nibre

Killah Priest – High Explosives

Apollo Brown & Skyzoo – Care Packages

 

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Five Track Friday #67


Kemba – The Get Back (Riot)

Joey Bada$$ – Shine

Apollo Brown & Che Noir – Winter

Boldy James & The Alchemist – Bernadines

Blu & Exile feat. Fashawn – Requiem of Blue

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Quarantunes XVII


LeRoyce – A1 Since Day 1

Murs, 9th Wonder & The Soul Council feat. Rapsody & Rueben Vincent – High Noon

Apollo Brown & Che Noir – ’94

Medhane – Na Fr

HashFinger – Blue Picasso

Cro – Easy

Ivyleague 12 – Fakes

Markis Precise feat. Locksmith – Decisions

RoQy TyRaid – Barefoot Running

Mick Jenkins – The Fit

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Quarantunes XIII


Psalm One – Let Me Hear

Quakers feat. FC The Truth – Chicken Livers

Open Mike Eagle feat. Hot Sugar – 5ree Thinkers

Apollo Brown & Guilty Simpson – Neverending Story

Meyhem Lauren & DJ Muggs feat. Conway – Hashashin

Apes on Tapes – Les

BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – Tone’s Rap

KA – Knighthood

Brock Berrigan – Four Walls and an Amplifier

Joell Ortiz – Sip Slow

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Quarantunes V


Blu & Exile – Cold Hearted

Grieves – Sunny Side of Hell

Jay Rock feat. J. Cole – OSOM

Epidemic – We Back Now

Robust – Beats/me

Moderator – Side By Side

Apollo Brown & Joell Ortiz feat. DJ Los – Grace of God

Casual feat. Moon Shyne – Divine Dreams

Jericho Jackson – Thank You

Cavalier – Reprise

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2019 In Review

Below are some of my favorite hip-hop highlights of 2019. Check the following playlists, albums, and videos for my personal run-down of the year.


The Latest Playlist: 2019

*Track listing at bottom of post


Notable Albums of 2019

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Bandana

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The most universally accepted rap album of 2019 was Bandana from Freddie Gibbs & Madlib. Legendary producer Madlib brings some of his finest work to this highly active Bandana instrumental. The samples are chosen brilliantly and blended masterfully, contributing layers of drama and grandeur to Freddie Gibbs’ tales of criminal lifestyle. Gibbs raps about life struggles through the lens of his experiences in illicit activities, primarily drug dealing. He provides generously detailed stories and references of past experiences with criminal activity, women, and law enforcement. Though he raps with the demeanor of an experienced member of organized crime, Gibbs doesn’t shy away from expressing his emotional state as he describes struggles he experiences as a result of his lifestyle. It is not at all lost in his message that his involvement in criminal activity is born out of a struggle to survive in an environment that doesn’t care if he succeeds, fails, lives, or dies. With outstanding production and heavy descriptive lyrics, Bandana is already considered a classic.

Billy Woods & Kenny Segal – Hiding Places

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For years Billy Woods has been one of the most prolific emcees in the subgenre of abstract hip hop; 2019 was his banner year. Hiding Places represents a thoroughly developed and sophisticated Woods on the dark beats and crushing drums of his perfect producer counterpart: Kenny Segal. Hiding Places from Billy Woods & Kenny Segal is not an album for passive listening. Over the course of this project, Woods weaves in and out of fragmented thoughts, metaphor, memories and tangents. This is a deeply personal and emotional Woods, as he speaks passionately in heavy reflection of his childhood and life experiences. There is a fine line between rapping and spoken word, and Woods is constantly playing with that line. The overall aesthetic of this collaboration is dark, ominous, aggressive, and a bit uncomfortable. Hiding Places can be off-putting at first, but listening to this project in its entirety is a truly captivating experience. I also recommend checking out Billy Woods’ other 2019 release: Terror Management.

Kota the Friend – Foto

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The album I listened to the most in 2019 was Foto from Kota the Friend. Kota the Friend has to be the most genuinely humble emcee out. Foto is not a complex album musically, conceptually, or otherwise, but it is a true gem for fans of boom bap conscious rap. Through mellow melodic delivery Kota speaks frankly about his life, relationships, and the importance of family. Kota is nearly void of rap braggadocio. The occasional boasting is done with a subtlety that points more towards a comfort in himself rather than any self-righteous arrogance. Foto is highly optimistic from front to back, and Kota speaks from a place of content and joy, consciously leaving hardships in his past. The beats are simple but solid. People looking for more innovative styles and sounds might find the album a bit repetitive, but I personally cant get enough of it.

Check out other Notable Albums from: Rapsody, Dreamville, EarthGang, Anderson .Paak, Mavi, Little Simz, YBN Cordae


Notable Videos of 2019

Freddie Gibbs – Fake Names

Little Simz – Venom

Tierra Whack – Unemployed

Tobe Nwigwe feat. Paul Wall – Juice

YBN Cordae feat. Aanderson .Paak – RNP

Boogie on Sway’s Universe

King Los on Power 106

Open Mike Eagle feat. Danny Brown – Unfiltered (Comedy Central/The New Negroes)


The Latest Playlist 2019

Little Simz – Venom

Freddie Gibbs & Madlib – Fake Names

Qari & Greenslime – Operation Hennessy

Rapsody – Serena

CRIMEAPPLE & DJ Skizz – Wet Dirt

YBN Cordae – Wintertime

Mach-Hommy feat. Tha God Fahim – Mozambique Drill

Flying Lotus – Andromeda

Tobe Nwigwe feat. Lanell Grant – Caged Birds

Anoyd & Statik Selektah – Purple

Kill Bill x Rav feat. Rekcahdam – Now you don’t

Kota the Friend – Sedona

Danny Brown – Best Life

Dreamville & JID feat. T.I. – Ladies, Ladies, Ladies

Kemba feat. Portugal, The Man – The Feels

MAVI – Love, Of Money

Maxo – Time

Medhane – Affirmation #1

Hemlock Ernst & Kenny Segal – Back at the House

Slowthai – Crack

Apollo Brown feat. Nolan The Ninja & Dopehead – Skimmin’

Homeboy Sandman – Step Inside

Your Old Droog – Train Love

Earl Sweatshirt – MTOMB

Billy Woods feat. Mach-Hommy – Windhoek

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